Sixteen States Offer Private School Vouchers—Will Iowa Become the Seventeenth or is the Opposition Too Strong?

 

Currently, 16 states in the U.S. have private school vouchers, which allow some public funding to be reallocated to a student’s private school education, according to Edchoice. Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa is trying to bump that number to 17 as she proposed a voucher program in her State of Address.

Is the public embracing the idea of private school vouchers? Actually, Hart Research Associates showed that voters value improving educational quality instead by a 4-to-1 ratio in a poll of 1,500 individuals. It seems The bill could begin in Iowa’s House next week ad would allocate 7,600 dollars to every student K-12, which is the amount provided to each public school student.

What, specifically, do voters value in education if they do not support private school vouchers? Michael Horn, Host of The Future of Education, explains the voter statistics say and why many individuals are not embracing the proposed legislation.

Horn’s Thoughts

“So there’s a new poll out from the American Federation of Teachers that they’re saying shows that the public is broadly opposed to private school vouchers or what they’re conflating as education savings accounts. Not the same thing, but just go with it for a moment. They’re saying by a four-to-one ratio voters say that they would rather improve public schools rather than give private school vouchers I, think is what the poll is saying in essence, which is not quite the same as saying that parents are opposed to this. So at the same time, you have another poll that shows because it’s School Choice Week, so you can get a lot of polls this week about this, but this one, and I’m just taking a look at it right now, is from the National School Choice Awareness Foundation. American Federation of Teachers has their vested interest. They obviously have their vested interest too in the school choice, but they say that 54% of parents considered a new school in the last 12 months.

And indeed 53.7% of parents are considering choosing new schools now, and we obviously see that in the data too. A lot of parents are leaving public school districts, they’re moving to micro-schools that might be educating up to 2.2 million students right now. Private schools continue to be up in enrollment and so forth.

There’s a lot of noise around this, and a lot of bias on both sides. I think what’s honestly true is a couple of things. One, the source matters, so a poll like Education Next that they do mostly on an annual basis, the 2022 version showed that the general public 50% favor universal vouchers and parents that rises to 57%.

So that’s actually most people believing in them. If you look for vouchers just for low-income students, then it becomes 48% of the general public in favor and 41% opposed. Parents are 48% in favor, and 41% opposed as well. So that’s a much more reliable, frankly, poll of public sentiment. Because it’s not asked with these axes to grind in either direction.

But even more importantly, it’s to not watch what people say, it’s to watch what people do. And it’s clear a lot of people are looking at making choices and looking for different opportunities for their children right now. And that is the bellwether to ultimately watch on this question.”

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