Republican State Rep. Dustin Hite continued his crusade against school choice and Education Savings Accounts on Feb. 26 at a local legislative forum. Hite, who is chair of the House Education Committee, said that when it comes to ESAs, legislators represent their “entire district.”
Hite expressed concern over what sounded more like a voucher plan than the actual ESA plan that is being touted by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. He said he is concerned there will be strings attached to the dollars and, while Gov. Reynolds has written into the bill that won’t happen, he said there are no promises for the future.
However, ESAs do not send so-called state dollars from the government directly to the schools. Instead, it returns money intended for the educational use of students to the parents. Then the parent decides where to spend that money. So it is not so-called state dollars going directly from the government to private schools.
Hite highlighted a bill he said was sponsored by a previous Iowa House Speaker that would have forced Faith Bible Baptist College in Ankeny to allow an atheist group to form on campus and utilize campus resources just like any other group. It would’ve done so due to the use of the Iowa Tuition Grant funds.
“That bill didn’t go anywhere,” Hite said. “I’m not making that up.”
He also said homeschool families have fought for a long time for independence from government oversight. And he cautioned that those freedoms would be at risk if ESAs were used by homeschooling families. Homeschooling families are not included in the ESA proposal currently, however.
Hite then referred to being called some names on the radio because people think he is standing in the way of school choice and ESAs for Iowa moms and dads.
“I wish I had that power,” he said. “I don’t. The support was not there in my Education Committee. If it was, it would’ve been brought up for a vote. It just wasn’t there.”
The bill was moved from Education to Appropriations.