We have an action alert in our “Action Center!” Please email your Senator today and ask to see improvements to the Governor’s Ed Reform/School Choice Bill.
The Iowa Association of Christian Schools (IACS) applauds Governor Reynolds for highlighting Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in her Condition of the State Address last week. We fully agree with her statement: “Let’s work together to make sure every child receives a quality education, regardless of income, and no matter their zip code.” We also agree with her that school choice and parental rights in education is not a zero-sum game. We stand ready to work with her and the legislature to ensure that every Iowa parent has the choice of a great public, private, or other education option that best meets their child’s needs.
To that end, we want to thank the Governor for submitting her education bill, starting a conversation on how best to meet that goal we should all share: a quality education for every child. As currently written, the bill is divided into eight “divisions,” and a couple of those divisions directly impact IACS member schools.
Division V expands the tuition and textbook tax credit. This tax credit has been in existence for many decades and benefits families utilizing public and private schools. We applaud the Governor for including this in her proposal.
Division I creates “students first scholarships” at a rate we estimate to be about half the per student dollar amount available to students who choose a charter school outlined in Division II of the bill. As written, these students first scholarships are only available to students residing within the boundaries of 34 schools in Iowa with the lowest classifications of performance based on federal ESSA standards. In essence, this limits choice based on zip code. IACS has consistently discouraged basing a family’s ability to choose an educational environment that best meets their needs based on “failing” schools or the actions of a third party in general. There are practical concerns about implementing a program of this nature along with the philosophical questions. We are hopeful that the Iowa legislature considers replacing this division of the bill with an ESA program that serves Iowans statewide based on a parent’s choice because we agree with the Governor that these programs should be offered “regardless of income, and no matter their zip code.”
Division IV creates a database we believe is unnecessary, doesn’t align with our accreditations, and that would require us to pay up to $7 per student to report to. We will be encouraging the legislature to amend or remove this division.
For these reasons, we are currently declared “undecided” on the bill as we work with the Iowa legislature to improve it. As soon as we see the changes we highlighted above, we’ll declare “for” the bill. We are hopeful and we are, again, extremely grateful to Governor Reynolds for introducing parental choice as an issue this year and the many legislators who have voiced their support of Iowa parents.
We do not currently have an action alert up on our website as things may change quickly but you are welcome to visit our website and email your legislators directly. Just scroll down and enter your zip code under “Find Officials.”
We may have a call to action soon and we encourage you to sign up for alerts using that same page on our website.
The Iowa Association of Christian Schools exists primarily to strengthen, grow, and advocate for Christian schools in Iowa. We are, however, supportive of every option and want to see public options and private options of all types succeed so all Iowa students get the education that is best for them. We have an amazing opportunity to empower parents AND support public school students this year. Let’s ensure all ships rise and keep students first in our discussions.
**Update – Jan 26** – We now have an action alert on our website and the bill number has changed to SF 159 (link above changed)
The Iowa Association of Christian Schools (IACS) applauds Governor Reynolds for looking to empower parents in the education of their children. For the first time, we have a Governor willing to champion an effort that includes Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and other measures to ensure parents have access to choices that best meets their child’s educational needs: whether public, private, homeschool, or other educational service. For over seven years, we’ve been a part of a coalition of parents and schools that has introduced a number of ESA proposals and we stand ready to support efforts that simultaneously empower parents while preserving what makes each option unique and high quality.
In her address, Governor Reynolds mentioned her proposal would include a form of ESAs, charter school changes, and open enrollment reform. We agree with Governor Reynolds that “school choice is not a zero sum game.” We believe the legislature has a chance to ensure every option is adequately funded, supported, and empowers parents to make choices and have ownership over their family’s education. We look forward to working with the Iowa legislature to advance ESAs and ensure that whatever is considered and passed meets the needs of families looking for options and respects the diverse missions and role of Iowa’s private schools.
NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK – JANUARY 24-30 – 2021
We are proud to be a part of the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education and they are Iowa’s conduit for all things #SchoolChoiceWeek this year! This year’s celebration is completely virtual – but we are still going to have fun! Iowa ACE is sponsoring two contests for K-12 students:
- I Love my Education Video Contest – Submit a short video on why you love the way you learn and you could win a Lenovo Chromebook! Contest details available here I-love-my-education-NSCW-2021-Video-Contest-1-1 (2)
- NSCW Official Dance Contest – Looking for something to do with your classmates, or with your family/friends during winter break? Learn the NSCW Official Dance and submit a video of your performance to Iowa ACE! You could win a prize party – and launch your dance career! Contest details available here NSCW 2021 Dance Contest Details
Also available this year:
Calling all K-5 Iowa Teachers! National School Choice Week is hosting a Penpal Program for NSCW 2021. Find out more and sign up your class for this easy, fun activity on the NSCW website HERE
There are lots of investing opportunities in life. Savings, financial markets, business opportunities – but few opportunities have the impact of a great education, loving teachers, and schools responsive to their students and parents.
Today is #GivingTuesday but every day is an opportunity to invest in the future of Iowa’s children. Give to a School Tuition Organization (STO) and make a Christ-centered education possible for a child in need. You can learn more about Iowa STOs at the Iowa STO website. You can find an IACS-aligned STO below:
HEART OF IOWA STO
- Ames Christian School
- Ankeny Christian Academy
- Cedar Valley Christian School
- Des Moines Christian School
- Grand View Christian School
- Heartland Christian School
- Isaac Newton Christian Academy
- Marshalltown Christian School
- Morning Star Academy
- Mt. Olive Lutheran School
- Pella Christian Grade School
- Tri-State Christian School
- Waterloo Christian School
IOWA LUTHERAN SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATION
Lutheran Schools (Missouri Synod) across Iowa
LEGACY OF GRACE STO
- Central Iowa Christian School
- Newton Christian School
- Oskaloosa Christian School
- Pella Christian High School
- Peoria Christian School
- Sully Christian School
NORTH CENTRAL IOWA STO
NORTHWEST IOWA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATION
- Orange City Christian School
- Unity Christian High School
- Inwood Christian School
- Sioux Center Christian School
- Ireton Christian School
- Sanborn Christian School
- Rock Valley Christian School
- Sheldon Christian School
- Western Christian High School
- Kanawha Christian School
- Netherlands Reformed Christian School
- Hull Christian School
- Northwest Iowa Protestant Christian School
- Hull Protestant Reformed Christian School
- North Iowa Christian School
- Siouxland Christian School
204 Kentucky Avenue N.W.
Orange City, Iowa, 51041