I Guess Rural Iowa Is Entirely Different than Rural Missouri
Rural Missouri families, I’m told, don’t want or need school choice. They love their local schools, and there aren’t any private schools to choose from anyway. Not so in Iowa. The state’s new scholarship program, Students First education savings accounts (ESA), was signed into law earlier this year and was up and running by summer. So far, over 18,500 students have been approved for scholarships and another 1,000 applications still need to be reviewed. ESA recipients can take nearly $7,500 in state education funding to the public or private school of their choice.
What’s interesting is that, to date, students in 96 out of Iowa’s 99 counties have received scholarships. In Kossuth County, with just 15,000 people, 183 students have received Students First ESAs. In Worth County, with a population of just 7,500 people, eight students have decided that they do, in fact, want and need school choice.
Is our neighbor to the north really that different? Missouri families need school choice. They need it when their local school is too small or too big, when it doesn’t serve their child’s disability, when their child feels bullied or lost, or when their high school student needs a high-level STEM or language course that the local district doesn’t offer. The assigned-school-only dominoes are starting to fall. And they’re falling in our backyard. When will Missouri leadership get it?