Iowa Republicans appear to planning major reforms to the state’s education system in the next legislative session.
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) announced on Wednesday the formation of a new, five-person Education Reform Committee, which is in addition to the House’s original Education Committee. The purpose of the new committee is to deal “with bills containing significant reforms to our educational system.”
Grassley will chair the committee himself.
This is likely an indicator that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ long-standing desire to establish a voucher-like program in Iowa and more may finally come to fruition.
During this year’s legislative session, Reynolds attempted to pass a scholarship plan that would divert public school dollars to private school tuition. Reynolds faced resistance from some Iowa House Republicans who halted the measure, but her endorsement in primary races helped to oust much of her intra-party opposition.
Corey DeAngelis, a prominent figure nationally in pro-voucher circles, shared a photo with Reynolds on Tuesday that was taken at the Republican Governors’ Association annual meeting. The caption was “Iowa will fund students, not systems.”
Iowa will fund students, not systems. pic.twitter.com/RUcjtblK9h
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) November 16, 2022
This past legislative session, Republicans rolled several bills into Reynolds’ voucher program, including curriculum review, limiting what books could be used in schools, a so-called “parental bill of rights,” and more. Those provisions would only be enforced on public schools while charter and private schools would be exempt.
Republicans in the Senate advanced the bill, but it stalled out in the House. Reynolds made sweeping education reforms a centerpiece of her successful reelection bid this year.
House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst pointed out, however, that opposition to school vouchers “stretches beyond party lines,” which was reflected in Reynolds’ inability to pass a voucher bill last year despite overwhelming Republican control of state government.
Iowans are proud of their public schools, and are tired of elected officials playing politics with their kids’ education,” Konfrst said. “Iowans don’t care if a new committee in the Iowa Legislature is created to consider the Governor’s voucher plan, or other bad ideas like jailing teachers and banning books, because it’s just all politics.
“House Democrats stand alongside Iowans and will oppose any bill that shifts money from public schools to private schools,” she added. “It’s time to put people over politics.”
by Ty Rushing
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