State Policy Network
Iowa Gives Thousands of Children More Opportunity with New School Choice Program

In a win for Iowa students and their families, the Iowa Governor signed legislation that creates an Education Savings Account (ESA) program in the Hawkeye State. ESAs are state-supervised funds that parents can use to pay for a wide variety of education options. The state government deposits a portion of what the state would have spent to send the child to public school into a private account for parents to spend on education.

Iowa now joins Arizona and West Virginia, who also have “universal” ESA bills, which means all families in the state can access the program.

Phased in over three years, the law will allow Iowa families to access an ESA of up to $7,598 per year to pay for education-related expenses, including private school tuition.

Like many American children, some Iowa students struggle to access a quality education that sets them up for successful, meaningful life. These students are often from low-income families, who do not have the resources to access options when it comes to their child’s education. This new law gives those families hope—with an ESA in hand, they have the same opportunities as wealthier families when it comes to education.

Jane McEnaney, State Policy Network’s Director of Education Policy Initiatives, added:

“Thousands of parents and guardians in Iowa will rest easier tonight and throughout the year knowing that their child(ren) will have access to the education that best fits and serves their unique needs, regardless of income or zip code.”

John Hendrickson, Policy Director at Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation, an organization that spent years advancing school choice in the state, added:

“This is historic because it builds up previous educational reforms to expand parental choice in Iowa. No longer will a child’s educational opportunity be blocked because of their zip code or socioeconomic status. This bill is not about dollars, but it is about creating life-changing opportunities for families across Iowa.”

Fast Facts

State Policy Network Partners with Education Groups to Promote Parental Choice

State Policy Network partners with groups across the country who are working to improve education for the families in their communities. In Iowa, SPN supported the efforts of Inspired Life and School Forward, organizations that played a key role in building the case for Iowa’s universal ESA bill.

Inspired Life is a ministry that, among other goals, seeks to improve the quality of children’s education through new initiatives and schools. Inspired Life recruited and trained Iowa parents and local community leaders on how to effectively communicate with state lawmakers. An ESA program would benefit these parents and leaders, and Inspired Life equipped them with the tools they needed to share their stories with their representatives.

The outreach to lawmakers was ultimately successful, with the Iowa Legislature passing the universal ESA program on January 25, 2023.

Related Reads:

Everything You Need to Know About Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
State Policy Network

School Choice In 2023: 10 States To Watch
State Policy Network

Iowa Legislature Passes, Governor Reynolds Signs Historic School Choice Bill
American Federation for Children

Jubilant Kim Reynolds signs Iowa’s seismic ‘school choice’ bill into law. What it means:
Des Moines Register

Categories: News
Organization: State Policy Network