Republican State Rep. Dustin Hite has been one of the most vocal opponents of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to provide Education Savings Accounts in the state of Iowa. Hite, who chairs the House Education Committee, refused to even give the measure a vote in his committee because he “didn’t have the votes.”
Whether he did or didn’t, nobody knows.
We know that in 2021, Hite was an opponent of the Student First Scholarships Reynolds was hoping to pass through the House after they breezed through the Iowa Senate. But it didn’t happen.
And in 2022, we know that Hite has been a vocal opponent of the Education Savings Accounts Reynolds and the Iowa Senate wanted to offer Iowa families in an effort to expand educational freedom.
Hite has been outspoken in his opposition, constantly parroting talking points from the Iowa State Education Association (Iowa Teachers’ Union). Hite said that he “wished” he had the power to be the roadblock to ESAs.
As chair of the House Education Committee, he does indeed have the power to simply refuse to bring a bill up for a vote and can indeed be the roadblock. The bill was eventually moved from Education to Appropriations.
Hite says he has concerns over the autonomy of private schools and homeschool families — yet the biggest proponents of the ESAs happen to be private school and homeschool families. One wouldn’t think they’d be willing to sacrifice their autonomy or that Hite is more concerned about their autonomy than they are.
But it is a convenient excuse to not take the Republican position on the issue.
There may be other reasons for Hite’s opposition to Education Savings Accounts for Iowa families.
For instance, the biggest PAC check Hite received this reporting cycle came from the Iowa State Education Association (Iowa Teachers’ Union). It was a $2,500 check he received just before session started on Jan. 9, 2022.
The second-largest PAC check he received — just for context — $400 from Iowa Cable PAC.
We know how Hite feels about providing Iowa families with expanded educational freedom. He doesn’t like it. We get it.
But the Iowa State Education Association despises such an idea. Fights tooth and nail over it. It infuriates them.
We also know Hite was meeting with the Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa Association of School Boards (another group adamantly opposed to school choice and ESAs) on Nov. 30, 2021.
If you’re curious, and you may be, in 2021, ISEA contributed $2,500 to the Iowa Democrat Party on July 1…$75,000 to the Iowa Democrat Party on Aug. 26…and $25,000 to the Iowa Democrat Party on Nov. 10.
So, what must it mean that ISEA, which gives six figures to the Democrat Party, is also comfortable enough with a “Republican” that they give that “Republican” $2,500?
Voters in Hite’s district do have a choice, however, in the primary. Helena Hayes has expressed support for providing parents and families with expanded educational choice and freedom. She has sided with Gov. Reynolds and conservatives in the Republican Party over the Democrats and moderate Republicans like Hite in the House.