Iowa gets more school choice applicants than anticipated

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

In a surprising bit of news, Iowa said that there were more applications for education savings accounts than anticipated.

The Des Moines Register reported that the state initially budgeted $107.4 million to fund 14,068 students in the coming school year, but it could exceed that number due to 17,250 applications as of June 13. Meaning, the state may have to spend more than its budgeted amount, to the tune of $133.1 million (or $25.7 million over budget estimates).

The deadline for applications is June 30 and it is anticipated that the number of applications will continue to rise, but not all applications will be approved by the state.

Each child, if accepted into the program, can receive $7,600 as a scholarship to pay for a private school education.

To allay fears that education savings accounts will not be fully funded, a spokesperson for Gov. Kim Reynolds said, “If there are more applications approved than what we originally estimated, and those students secure spots in a private school, the additional money will come out of the general fund — just as it does with an increase in students in public school.”

Teachers’ unions and their supporters have criticized school choice efforts as an unfair attack on public education, as if public schools are a sacred cow that cannot be changed or challenged. Case in point is their uproar over Iowa’s education savings accounts, where state taxpayers can use their taxpayer dollars to fund private education for their children. Iowa Senate Democrats tweeted that education savings accounts means “less funding for our public schools” and that this program is “a bad deal for Iowans.”

If it is such a terrible deal for Iowans, then why are the number of applications exceeding estimates? Also, critics of school choice programs (programs like Iowa’s education savings accounts) do not address parents’ concerns of getting a quality education for children if their children are enrolled in a struggling public school.