School Choice Spreads as Pandemic Public Education Falls Short

Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

Across the country, a flurry of new legislation aims to expand educational options during the pandemic and beyond. Iowa is on its way to passing a major school choice bill backed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Nebraska may bring opportunities for homeschooled students to play team sports and participate in public school extracurriculars. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Washington state are also considering some positive changes.

In celebration of National School Choice Week, here’s a look at some of these reforms.


A new proposal from Reynolds establishes school choice in Iowa by granting state scholarships to public school students who want to attend private schools. “We do not believe this is a private vs. public school debate. It is simply a school choice for the parents to choose,” said Anne Rohling, president of St. Albert Catholic School and a strong supporter of the proposal. “Open enrollment in the public schools [has] allowed families the opportunity to seek out the best fit for their children. If this legislation will empower more families to have more choices, then we are in support of it.”

But the bill also faces strong opposition, in and outside the Iowa statehouse. The President of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP “says this could lead to segregation in some Iowa Schools,” reports CBS 2 Iowa. “We agree that parents should have the choice to enroll their child in a private or religious school, but not with public taxpayer funds,” said Council Bluffs Superintendent Vickie Murillo.

Larry Gray, director of the Council Bluffs Heartland Christian School, responded: