Gov. Kim Reynolds has made education choice a top priority—and she’s right to do so. Among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., the Heritage Foundation’s newly released 2022 Education Freedom Report Card ranks a middling 22nd in education freedom.
Although Iowa comes in ninth in terms of school choice on the Heritage Report Card, the current options are limited in scope, and pale in comparison to those available in states like Arizona, which offers a universal education savings account program to all families.
In Iowa, low- and middle-income families have access to the School Tuition Organization Tax Credit, which provides more than 12,000 students scholarships to attend 143 private schools of choice. But the benefit is modest, providing an average scholarship of just $1,400, or 12% public school per-pupil spending.
Iowans also have access to a small Tuition and Textbook tax credit they can put toward educational expenses like tuition, books, and school fees. Again, the benefit is modest. While 111,000 taxpayers participate, their average credit was just $133 in 2019—or 1% of public school per-pupil spending.
>>> Education Freedom Report Card
Iowa could do much better. Earlier this year, the Iowa House thwarted a measure that would have provided education choice to thousands of additional families across the state.
Legislators would do well to heed Reynolds’ call to expand education choice by increasing the value of the School Tuition Organization tax credit and removing the existing $20 million cap. They should also increase the value of the Tuition and Textbook tax credit, which is currently capped at $500.
But to really lead on education choice, lawmakers should follow Arizona’s lead and establish a universal education savings account program.
Although there is significant room for improvement in Iowa’s school choice landscape, choice is the bright spot on the Hawkeye State’s report card. Iowa’s standing in terms of educ …