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Though most bills pass with overwhelming bipartisan support, not all do.  I never want a vote that divides the House to be easy.   The more “right” I think I am, the more imperative for me to engage with those who disagree.  Failure to do so, makes me dangerous.

Therefore, I need your thoughts on School Choice.  Governor Reynolds informed me it is one of her key priorities for this session. I see merit in her proposal, with some tweaks.  But I know some oppose the concept. You can help by sharing your perspectives and thoughts.

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The proposed bill creates a limited number of Students First Scholarships for low to middle income families (10,000 out of 500,000 enrolled K-12 students). Selected families would receive an Educational Savings Account of $5,359 to be applied toward their child’s education.  These funds can help cover qualifying expenses like private school tuition or other education services and materials. Existing private school, homeschooled, or other educated students would not qualify.

The dollars being utilized come from the state’s investment in each individual student.  Funds are allocated annually to cover the educational costs of each student enrolled in a public school district. When a student withdraws from their public school to attend a school of their choice using a Students First Scholarship, their public school will keep the portion of per pupil funding generated by their local and federal taxes, even though that student is no longer being educated there.  Public schools in Iowa typically receive/spend between $14,000 and $17,000 per year per student.

School choice provides an educational opportunity for all children, regardless of race, income, or zip code.  School district boundaries have kept low-income families in low-performing schools for too long.  Students First Scholarships offer low and middle-income students in any school district a different path if they want it.  And for students who choose to stay in their public school, research shows that school choice can motivate lower-performing schools to make improvements that boost performance and help retain the students and families they serve.

So that’s the basic concept.  I’m hoping you will take the time to share with me your thoughts.  I can be reached at 515-325-7001 or [email protected] .  Please don’t hesitate to check-out www.jondunwell.com/events for any forums or listening sessions.  And don’t forget, you are always welcome to pay a visit to the Iowa Capitol for a personal meeting.

Author: Jon Dunwell

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