Iowa just fell the last government-school domino, and there’s nothing teacher unions can do about it

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Then Governor of Arizona. Doug Ducey enacted the biggest school pick win in US history last year. All Arizona families can now contribute their children’s state-funded education funds to the education providers of their choice. Little did he know that Governor Ducey had sparked a school choice revolution among the red states.

On Monday, the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature passed a sweeping school choice proposal championed by the governor. Gov. Kim Reynolds – who is the head of the Republican Governors Association and has fought for educational freedom for years – signed the bill into law on Tuesday.

Similar to Arizona’s policy, Iowa’s college savings account bill allows families to bring state-funded K-12 education dollars from their children – approximately $7,600 per student – to education providers of their choice. Most families in Iowa are eligible in the first two years – then, in the third year, all families become eligible.

The victory makes Iowa the third state to adopt a universal school choice policy. The bill passed the GOP-led Senate by a vote of 31 to 18. The House passed the bill 55 to 45. Last year, the Iowa House had enough of so-called Republicans who opposed their own party’s platform to block a similar proposal, even after immense pressure from Governor Reynolds, who delayed the budget and legislative session until after the 110th day.


Governor Reynolds lost the battle in last year’s session, but ultimately won the war. In the June 2022 GOP primary, the governor backed nine pro-school-choice candidates, challenging several incumbent lawmakers, winning eight of those races.

Although Iowa took the bronze — behind Arizona and West Virginia — in timing, Governor Reynolds and Iowa’s Republican lawmakers won the school’s choice sprint. . Arizona’s college savings account program took more than a decade to transition from a means-tested program launched in 2011 to universal in 2022.

FILE - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivers her statehood address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.  Reynolds introduces himself to the nation delivering the Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

FILE – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivers her statehood address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Jan. 11, 2022, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds introduces himself to the nation delivering the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

West Virginia also has its foot on the accelerator. In 2021, Republicans passed an education savings account program initially available to all families who had children who wanted to leave public schools. Like Iowa, West Virginia law allows the program to expand automatically over time, with full universality achieved in just a few years.

2021 has been dubbed “the year of school choice,” but 2023 might give you the money’s worth. Anti-school choice candidates have learned that opposing parental rights in education can be a form of political suicide. Seventy-six percent of candidates backed by my organization won their races in 2022, and we released 40 of the 69 incumbents we challenged. Red States are now engaging in a friendly competition to give all families a choice of school this term.

Utah’s House recently became the first legislative chamber of the year to pass a universal school choice bill. The GOP-controlled chamber passed the Utah Fits All scholarship program with a super majority, 54 to 20. The bill is now heading to the Senate floor after passing the Education Committee of the room 7 against 2 Monday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott campaigned on school choice and said that – this session – we’re “going to see a louder, faster, more powerful movement advocating for school choice than you don’t. never seen in the history of the state of Texas.” At Governor Abbott’s inauguration last week, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said “the governor and I are in complete agreement on school choice” and that “we’re going to pass the school choice”. As one of the largest states by population – second only to California – a victory in Texas would be the crown jewel of parent empowerment.

On behalf of Gov. Jim Pillen, Nebraska Sen. Linehan introduced a school choice bill last week with bipartisan support and 31 cosponsors, just two names short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a buccaneer in the unicameral state legislature. The South Carolina House and Senate separately passed college savings account bills last year before stalling — and the push has already reignited on Capitol Hill with a similar bill passed by their committee Senate for Education.

Oklahoma’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ryan Walters, said after his successful second ballot, “What we saw tonight is a mandate from Oklahoma voters. The vision for education and Governor Stitt’s school choice will come to fruition in Oklahoma State.” Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has spoken out in favor of school choice — and Indiana and Ohio are also set to unleash freedom of education for all this year.


Florida — a longtime national leader in school choice — has offered some families private school choice options for more than two decades, but the state still hasn’t unleashed educational freedom. for everyone. That may soon change, however, as House and Senate leaders have backed a bill — Florida House Bill 1 — sponsored by Rep. Kaylee Tuck and other Republicans. Gov. DeSantis is also a strong supporter of parental rights in education — thanks in part to his narrow 2018 gubernatorial victory thanks to “school’s choice moms.”

As Florida House of Representatives Speaker Paul Renner said last week on social media: “Nearly 25 years ago, under the leadership of Governor Jeb Bush, Florida became a leader a leader in educational freedom and opportunity by starting the school choice movement. It’s time to finish The job. The Florida House is dedicated to expanding choice for every student in Florida.


Maybe Florida will reclaim its school pick crown this term. I hope. This is the kind of friendly competition that I can support. Ultimately, this will lead to giving more American families the freedom to choose the education that is best for their children.

Arizona was just the first government school monopoly to fall. More freedom in education will come, and there is nothing the power-hungry teachers’ unions can do to stop it.