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July 2012 Policy Study, Number 12-6


Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: School Choice in Iowa


National Overview



“Thirteen states enacted school choice programs (in 2011). A total of 19 programs were enacted or improved — including the creation of eight new programs and the expansion of 11 existing ones,” according to the most recent Friedman report on school choice.[4]


At the end of 2011, states offering some version of school choice included Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin. This is being followed in 2012 by a wide variety of new school choice decisions nationwide.


The most ambitious program in 2011 was enacted in Indiana, where Governor Mitch Daniels (Republican) pushed hard for significant action. The Indiana School Scholarship (voucher) Program served almost 4,000 children last fall, of a potential 7,500 allowable. As it was not passed until spring of 2011, requiring very quick implementation, many interested parents and private schools were unable to get signed up in time.


Of the children participating, 85 percent were in the free or reduced lunch programs and received the full scholarship amount. The other 15 percent were middle-income and received a 50 percent scholarship. Almost 70 percent were from urban areas and over 50 percent were minority children.


A total of 185 government-school districts participated and 250 private schools were authorized to accept students, with broad coverage statewide, according to the Indiana Department of Education.[5]


For the 2012-13 school year, 15,000 students can participate in the program, and in the third and following years, there will be no participation cap, just the income eligibility limits.



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