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A look at the arguments surrounding this year's push for publicly funded private school vouchers

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

This isn't the first time Iowa's governor has pushed for private school vouchers. A look at how this year's approach is different and how its the same.

A low-income family looking to send a student to a private school would have access to publicly funded scholarships under a new bill.

The bill — a priority for Gov. Kim Reynolds — would create 10,000 private school scholarships for income-qualified students statewide, amounting to 70 percent of the state's per-pupil cost. Supporters argue such a move would allow families to choose the classroom that best meets their learning needs — even if it's a private one.

But, the public money would be diverted from the public school districts that it would otherwise fund. Although under the current plan, the remaining 30 percent of per-pupil costs would still go to rural school districts. Democrats say this would harm already cash-strapped districts in the state.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legislative leaders about the push and its opposition with co-host Grant Gerlock, who covers education for Iowa Public Radio.


  • Sen. Jesse Green, Republican from Boone, District 24
  • Leon Cook, a sophomore at Manson Northwest Webster who formerly attended a private school
  • Sen. Claire Celsi, Democrat from West Des Moines, District 21
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa