Iowa Legislature Passes, Governor Reynolds Signs Historic School Choice Bill
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Students First Act into law Tuesday afternoon, less than a day after the Iowa Legislature passed the landmark bill providing Education Savings Accounts for thousands of students. After school choice emerged as a significant issue during the 2022 election cycle, legislators returned to Des Moines with energy and urgency to provide educational opportunities to Iowa’s families. Under the Students First Act, students will be able to receive the portion of education dollars appropriated by the state, approximately $7,600 annually.
Governor Kim Reynolds was the first governor to sign AFC’s Education Freedom Pledge, signaling her commitment to expanding school choice. Her leadership enabled Iowa to be the first state to pass school choice legislation in 2023. In addition to Governor Reynolds, AFC also thanks Senate Majority Leader Whitver, Speaker Grassley, Senate President Sinclair, Speaker Pro Tempore Wills, and Education committee Chairmen Senator Rozenboom and Representative Wheeler for their leadership throughout the legislative process.
Statement from Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children:
“Today is a monumental one for children and families in Iowa. This vote commanded courage in the face of an entrenched status quo, and we are thankful so many of Iowa’s elected officials rose to the challenge their constituents issued when they made school choice a deciding factor at the ballot box last year.
“Governor Reynolds and legislative leaders like Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Speaker Pat Grassley are ‘First in the Nation’ for getting a massive new school choice law in place in 2023. Courage is contagious. We believe the momentum seen in Iowa will only grow stronger as leaders in other states see what is possible to expand education freedom.
“Once the Students First Act is fully implemented, Iowa will join the rapidly growing list of states recognizing the power of putting parents back in charge of their families’ education choices. Every child in America deserves the opportunity to thrive and achieve his or her potential through a high-quality education, and we will continue fighting for families across the country until that day comes.”
- The Students First Act gives parents access to approximately $7,600 which may be used for tuition and fees at a private school of their choice.
- The program will be phased in over the next three years, with all students in public schools and families whose income does not exceed 300% of the Federal Poverty Line currently attending private schools eligible in year one.
- By year three, all Iowa families will be eligible.
- The Students First Act passed 55-45 in the House and 31-18 in the Senate.