Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds reiterated her support for school choice during Tuesday night’s Condition of the State Address. Reynolds, who spoke at length about sexually explicit books being in school libraries, said every parent deserves a choice in education.
“Even when the school is doing what it should, that doesn’t necessarily mean the unique needs and values of every student are being met,” she said. “Wealthier parents always have an alternative. But many middle- and lower-income families don’t. They don’t have a choice.”
Reynolds talked about Jacky Ochoa, a mother of four children who attend St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Denison.
“Writing to the Des Moines Register, she said that ‘school choice is personal; it’s about students. Choice empowers parents—a child’s strongest advocates, and the people who best know their skills and interests—to select the learning environment that will allow their child to shine,'” Reynolds said. “Jacky, I couldn’t agree more—which is why I’ll be introducing legislation that allows middle- and low-income families and students with an individualized educational plan to receive a portion of the ‘per pupil’ funds allocated annually by the state to move their child to the education system of their choice.”
More than $5,300 of the per pupil funds will go directly into an account for families to customize their child’s education, Reynolds added. The other 30 percent will be distributed by the state to smaller school districts.
“We want to ensure our small schools stay strong while, at the same time, empowering parents to choose what’s best for their child,” Reynolds said. “As I said last year, school choice isn’t a zero-sum game. It has the potential to raise the quality of all schools.
“After we expanded open enrollment last session, one superintendent responded by setting the goal of making his district the ‘destination of choice.’ That is precisely what we want: For every school, public or private, to strive to be the best it can be. Because when our schools succeed, Iowa becomes a ‘destination of choice’ for parents everywhere.”