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The most recent ITR Foundation Poll determined how Iowans really feel about ESAs when asked:

Do you support or oppose a plan to allow parents to spend their child’s share of state educational funding at the public or private school of their choice?

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What may be surprising is where, geographically speaking, support for ESAs is the strongest. There is a belief that rural Iowans are not interested in school choice, but the data doesn’t bear that out. The strongest net favorability for ESAs (+21.8%) was from Iowans in rural communities.

While we are poking holes in common misperceptions, here’s another data point that may be surprising to some: support for ESAs was strongest among those making less than $50,000 per year (+25.4%). This gets right to the heart of the matter. Iowans believe having educational options shouldn’t be limited to those with higher incomes, and private schools need to be within reach for all students.

But we can also take a step back from all the numbers, charts, and research on the issue of school choice, and apply some basic common sense to the issue. Why do some want to single out K-12 education, and restrict the choice Iowans have to only government-run options? Let’s not forget what public funds truly are anyway- they are dollars collected from the taxpayer and then used for the public good; educating our students certainly seems to fit the definition of the public good.

Support for providing school choice should be boiled down to one simple premise: parents must be enabled to choose the best educational path for their children. A one-size-fits-all approach to delivering education in our splintered society doesn’t seem to work anymore.

Author: ITR Foundation

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