January 30, 2023

January 22-January 28 is National School Choice Week, and what better way to celebrate that parents now have more choices in their children’s education than ever before than to celebrate Tuesday’s signing of the Iowa Students First Act?

2011 was dubbed “the year of school choice” after 12 states introduced new school choice programs or expanded existing ones, including Arizona, which launched the nation’s first education savings account program.

A decade later, 2021 was designated the “Year of Educational Choice,” with 18 states enacting seven new educational choice programs and 21 expanding existing ones — mostly educational savings accounts.

Millions of children across the country now have access to school choices — like ESAs, tax credit bursaries and vouchers — that allow their parents to choose learning options that best meet their needs. Now 2023 looks set to be the biggest year yet for education decisions, with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, coming out the gate first.

In Iowa, the Students First Act was approved by the state legislature this week and signed into law by Reynolds on Tuesday. The Freedom of Education Act will allow Iowa families who exclude their children from the public school system to access, through an ESA, the state’s share of spending per student — about $7,600 — on private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, curriculum materials and special editions can be used – needs therapy and more.

Meanwhile, Utah policymakers are pushing to improve educational choices with the Utah Fits All Scholarship, a bill that would give students $8,000 in flexible scholarships for private tuition, home schooling, or tutoring. The Education Elections Act has been passed by the Utah State House and awaits debate in the state Senate.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner recently unveiled a plan to pave the way for universal education choice in Florida. This legislation would convert the current Family Empowerment Scholarship into an ESA, meaning parents would have even more flexibility in tailoring their children’s education.

It would also expand eligibility for ESAs to all Florida students, giving all families a chance to make the best decisions for their children.

Other states such as Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas are also expected to take steps to expand educational choices this year.

Efforts by state legislatures across the country to increase educational freedom are worthy of celebration and show how more educational options are needed. States should continue to work to create universal educational choices.

Congress should also take the opportunity to advance school choice through federal policy, where appropriate – beginning with the creation of educational options for students in areas subject to federal sovereignty, such as the United States. For example, children of military families, Native American children attending Bureau of Indian Education schools, and students residing in the District of Columbia.

We know school choice works. It ensures students are safe, meets their social and emotional needs, increases academic achievement and achievement, is more economical, and empowers parents.

For National School Choice Week 2023, we’re hoping for the brightest year in education choice yet.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal

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