Why Should Iowa Support School Choice?

School Choice is a broad topic that encompasses public school, private school, charter schools, home school or any other learning environment a parent chooses for their child(ren). It means creating and supporting programs that empower parents to choose the K-12 educational options best suited for their children and in the best interest of their child’s educational future without the limitations of income or zip code.  


Parents have the primary responsibility of educating their children, and School Choice puts real opportunities in the hands of parents.

How can you help? Take Action!

Stay tuned for School Choice Action Alerts, petitions and other opportunities to share your voice.

Get to know your legislators

Recent School Choice Communications:

It is with great excitement that we celebrate a win for Iowa families – the ability for families to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs!  The Students First Act has been passed in both the Iowa House and Senate.  It is expected to be signed by Governor Reynolds very soon.  ESAs are now a reality for Iowa families beginning in the 23-24 school year and beyond!  Thank you for sharing your voice with your legislators and friends.  

We will maintain a focus on our Catholic identity and core values.  There is nothing in this legislation that requires us to stray from our mission and vision. This bill will not restrict or make changes to the academic and faith-based curriculum we offer today as accredited schools in the state of Iowa.  Our enrollment policies and procedures remain intact.  Our Catholic faith will continue to be at the core of all we do!

Over the next few weeks and months, we will learn more about the details of how the ESA program will be implemented.  Being new legislation, there are certainly things we do not know right now.  We ask for grace as we learn, implement and communicate about this opportunity for families.  We will continue to communicate with you as more information becomes available.  Until then, please review the information below to learn more about how ESAs will impact your family and invite others to consider our school for their family.
How will the ESA work?
Parents who choose to enroll their children in an accredited nonpublic school will receive $7,598, the amount of per pupil funds allocated annually by the state, to use for tuition, fees, and other qualified expenses.

ESA Eligibility:
ESAs will be available based on the following eligibility:


May God continue to bless us abundantly as we prepare to serve all families that desire a Catholic education.

The “Students First” school choice bills in the House and Senate passed out of committee and are eligible for debate as soon as Monday.

In Senate File 94 and House File 68, any public school student and any incoming kindergartener would qualify to receive an Education Savings Account from the state in the fall of 2023 and in future years. The ESA amount would be about $7,600, the same average amount the state provides to a public school for each student.

For students currently attending a Catholic school, the plan will be phased in over the next two and a half years, focusing first on the families with the lowest income levels next year. After three years, an ESA would be available for every student to help them pay for tuition.

If you haven’t sent a message to your legislators in support, please do so! Here’s more information and a sample message.  Now is a very critical time for lawmakers to hear from their constituents about parents having the ability to choose the right educational fit for their child.  Your voice matters!

There is an unprecedented opportunity for legislation to pass that would fund Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).  The Students First Act supports the success of all students by allowing families to choose the school that is best for their children.  The new school choice proposal marks a significant expansion of previous efforts and would apply to every family in Iowa over the next three years.  Not only would new families that choose our school receive an ESA, every one of our current families would receive an ESA within the next three years, some as soon as next year.
Everyone's efforts are needed! Please click here TODAY and complete this action alert through the Iowa Catholic Conference or call/email your legislators directly.  I cannot emphasize enough the impact local constituents can have by getting involved in this simple way.  Let's work together to promote parental choice in education! 
For a short explanation of the proposed legislation, click here.

Education Savings Accounts will empower parents to choose the best and most suitable education for their children, regardless of economic standing.  The Catholic bishops of Iowa have issued a new statement in support of an ESA proposal, saying this “innovative idea would further level the playing field for parents who lack the resources to choose freely their children’s education setting or who are struggling to keep their children in the school of their choice.”

To assist in supporting school choice and ESAs in Iowa, please:

  1. Read the Iowa Catholic Conference statement
  2. Take 30 seconds to sign the online petition asking Gov. Reynolds and the Legislature to offer Education Savings Accounts.

Resources from the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education

Click to enlarge resources:

What is School Choice?

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Choice During a Pandemic

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STO Tax Credit Program

Iowans Support School Choice

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ESAs and Why We Need Them

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Iowa K-12 Education Funding

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Korrin Schriver
Wahlert Catholic High School Science Teacher
February 2021 Telegraph Herald Letter to the Editor

School choice an issue of social justice

"There have been many voices, shouting loudly, about how the Student First Scholarship proposal will negatively impact public education, however, voices for students have been strangely quiet. As a science teacher, I feel it is critical to look at the evidence, setting aside our biases and prejudices, until we have information from all angles.
"Those that oppose SF 159 have been very vocal and I want to bring a voice to students/parents in need. As a former Milwaukee School Choice teacher, I have seen firsthand the impact that school choice can have on parents and students. Students that benefit the most are those of lower socioeconomic status making this, in my mind, a social justice issue. Parents with means can send their children to any school they wish, however, parents that struggle to get by do not have that option. They must send their children to the school in their district, but what if that school does not fit their child or child’s needs? Why do these parents not have a choice?
"If we truly wish to give every student “their best chance at life”, they should have a say where they attend school. Consider reviewing the Institute of Justice’s report on the impacts of school choice and reviewing the research before judging what impact SF 159 might have on the education system in Iowa. Or reach out to those that have lived the impact and ask them to tell their story. This is about choice, not force."

More Resources:

Links may lead to another organization’s website or a PDF file. These resources are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by Holy Family Catholic Schools.