School choice teaches Iowa Republicans a big lesson

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School choice was on the ballot in the Iowa Republican primaries last week, and it won. It’s the latest in a series of state primaries where school choice has been emerging as a litmus-test issue for GOP primary voters. 

Iowa stands out as a bellwether because of the high-profile battle over school choice between Gov. Kim Reynolds — a rising leader in the GOP who was recently tapped to respond to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address — and fellow Republican lawmakers in the statehouse. 

One of Reynolds’s top legislative priorities this year was a bill that would have created state-funded education savings accounts (ESAs) that families could use to customize their child’s education. Similar to policies in 10 other states, families could use ESAs to pay for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, online courses, and a variety of other education-related expenses. 

Under Reynolds’s proposal, up to 10,000 ESAs worth about $5,000 annually would have been available to students with special needs or those from households earning up to four times the federal poverty line (about $110,000 for a family of four). 

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