“School choice shouldn’t be limited to those who have the financial means… So, let us make choice an option for everyone.” -Governor Kim Reynolds
Recently, Governor Reynolds became the first governor in the nation to sign the Education Freedom Pledge. The American Federation for Children sponsors the pledge. The pledge states:
“I pledge to support policies that promote parental rights in education and educational freedom. This includes the right of parents to voice their opinions at school board meetings and to take their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to the education providers of their choosing – whether it be a public, private, charter, or home school.“
Governor Reynolds is sending a clear message that she will continue to fight and to stand with parents so that they can have the best educational opportunity for their children. The election of Glenn Youngkin as governor in Virginia demonstrates that parents are tired of being sidelined by school boards, administrators, and the woke ideology that is infecting and radicalizing school curriculums.
By signing this pledge Governor Reynolds is not only standing with Iowa parents and children, but it sends a clear message to policymakers that she wants to build upon the education reforms that were enacted by the legislature this year.
“Governor Reynolds understands that education dollars are not for propping up a monopolized system but rather are for educating students. I hope that expanding school choice with a universal ESA is at the top of the list in this next session’s agenda,” stated Walt Rogers, Deputy Director of Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation.
Iowans can be encouraged that Governor Reynolds will be working to not only improve public education in Iowa, but also to increase opportunity and defend the interests of parents.
Nothing from the local elections here in Iowa, nor races across the country, will have changed the perception that this political environment is toxic for those who want to push a tax and spend agenda.
In the weeks leading up to election night, as President Biden struggled to build Congressional support for his agenda, a theory was being developed about how state-level races might impact federal legislation. While Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have been vocal about their opposition to some of the pricier federal reforms being considered, other legislators have also been hesitant, if less publicly so, to fully embrace the President’s agenda. If the President’s agenda wasn’t passed before the election (it wasn’t), and if the elections went poorly for Democrats (they did), it was thought that more Democrats in Congress would get uncomfortable with the size and scope of Biden’s ambitions. If these members of the president’s own party grow louder with their objections, it may force Biden to further scale down his proposals.
Iowa’s school board and city elections obviously didn’t draw national attention on Tuesday night, but turnout for our local elections hit a record high. It’s likely that the tug of war in education was the primary driver for voter turnout. Issues as divisive as masks, vaccines, curriculum, and gender have kept school board meetings intense all year and that translated to a group of very motivated and very vocal candidates seeking seats on their local school boards.
Iowans feel very strongly about education (and that passion likely isn’t going away just because the election has passed) and there are very distinct ideas about what education should be. We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this points us to a need for real school choice that acknowledges that one size does NOT fit all. Just as school board elections within the same metropolitan area pointed in two very different directions, so too do the educational needs of different students in the same community. Families should have the choice, and government backing in the form of an Education Savings Account, to put their child into the school that best fits them.
The focus will now quickly turn toward next year’s legislative session before Iowa voters go the polls for midterm elections of our own one year from now. Nothing from the local elections here in Iowa, nor races across the country, will have changed the perception that this political environment is toxic for those who want to push a tax and spend agenda. In the most recent ITR Foundation poll from October, Iowans stated that their property taxes are too high (63%), budget surpluses should be used to cut income taxes (59%), and parents should be able to use state funding at the school of their choice (57%). Given the surprising results in Virginia and New Jersey, there is every reason to believe these poll numbers, and believe that Iowans want conservative legislation delivered from the State Capitol.
ITR Foundation Deputy Director Walt Rogers had a great interview discussing education with Jeff Stein on 1540 KXEL this week.
Here is some of what Walt had to say:
Connecting school choice to taxes:
“If we’re going to advocate for the taxpayer, we should be looking probably at the #1 eater of tax dollars, which is public education. We should be looking more closely at how these dollars are actually spent.”
What school choice means:
“Giving parents more options of how to educate their children and making sure the dollars follow that student to wherever they go.”
What parents are feeling:
“Throughout the course of the pandemic…things became much more known and prominent to parents and some of these parents started to go, “we’re not really on board with some of these things.”
How do we solve this? (Spoiler alert):
“The only real way out of this is school choice.”
Listen to the full interview for more of Walt’s comments.