Poll: Large Majority Of Iowans Oppose Reynolds’ Private School Voucher Plan

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall File)

The private school voucher program pursued by Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Republican leaders in the legislature doesn’t have widespread support from Iowans.

Conversations during the legislative session showed widespread pushback to the proposal, and Data for Progress polling done for Starting Line confirms it.

When asked, 71% of respondents said, “Public schools are vital in educating our children. They have been underfunded for too long, and we need to fund and protect them so they can continue to serve our communities.”

It was the majority position across political parties with 56% of Republicans, 70% of Independents or third-party members and 91% of Democrats agreeing.

Data For Progress poll for Iowa Starting Line

Similarly, a 60% majority of Iowans oppose Reynolds’ proposed policy to create state-funded scholarships for students to attend private schools.

Republicans were the only group that supported it by a small plurality, with 48% in favor and 44% opposed. Only 11% of Democrats and 29% of Independents/third-party members support it.

Data For Progress poll for Iowa Starting Line

The poll was conducted from July 22 to 29, with a survey of 637 likely voters and a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.

Her plan, contained in Senate File 2369, would have diverted $55 million from public school budgets for up to 10,000 scholarships to pay for students to attend private schools.

Advertise on Iowa Starting Line

The measure failed in the Legislature this spring, mostly due to a handful of rural Republicans in the Iowa House who recognized vouchers could hurt public schools in their districts, which are less likely to have nearby private schools. Those Republicans wouldn’t vote for the measure, despite weeks of negotiation.

“I think many people in rural Iowa are very concerned that that could mean the end of their small school districts at some point — not today, not tomorrow but maybe five or 10 years down the road,” Rep. Jon Thorup (R-Knoxville), an assistant majority leader, told the Des Moines Register at the time. “There’s just a lot of fear amongst even a lot of Republicans.”

In response, Reynolds threw her support behind those Republicans’ competitors in Iowa’s June primary elections, many of whom supported the voucher plan. As a result, many of those Republicans who opposed Reynolds’ plan lost their primaries.

Thorup was one of them.

Reynolds has said the voucher proposal will likely come back in the next legislative session, for a third time, despite the fact Iowans don’t want it.


Nikoel Hytrek

Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at nikoel@iowastartingline.com. You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

3 Comments on "Poll: Large Majority Of Iowans Oppose Reynolds’ Private School Voucher Plan"

  • This lifelong Democrat supports vouchers. Choice is good for parents and students. Competition is good for both teachers and public schools. Who wants to send their kids to a failing public school? Dirty little secret is that teachers union doesn’t like competition or scrutiny.

  • This lifelong Democrat begs to differ.

    Choice is good, I agree, which is why if parents aren’t happy, they can open enroll their students, now, whenever they want. They can homeschool their children. They can send their students to private schools.
    The dirty little secret is that Iowa spends an enormous amount of money on school choice, $37.1 million in 2018. It could be used for the following:
    – $12 million for tax credits that incentivize donations for scholarships
    – $10.6 million to fund voluntary home-school programs
    – $8.2 million in private-school transportation support
    – $4 million in special education and other services
    – $1.6 million for part-time public schooling
    – $650,000 in textbook purchases for private schools


    Since schools have been underfunded for the past decade, a voucher program on top would not be doing anything but adding to that damage. Iowans see this. They want their public schools to be strong for their own children, grandchildren, and the state as a whole.

    Why not continue to fund private schools with public money at the current rate and try adding funds BACK to public schools?

    We used to be #1 in education. I’m not saying more money is the answer, but we’ve found that less money isn’t helping out at all.

  • In all liklihood, when Reynolds has “her people” bring it up again this coming session, it will fail once again. Public schools are horribly underfunded in this state, and she want to strip MORE funds from them in the name of “choice”? Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for choice (it saved the education of my youngest child), but if you make a “choice”, you should be able to pay for that choice, not use PUBLIC funds for PRIVATE schools/academies/whatever-the-term-is-currently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *