House Republicans form new ‘education reform’ committee

By: - November 16, 2022 6:34 pm

Legislation regarding significant changes to Iowa public schools will be discussed in the new Education Reform Committee in the Iowa House. (Photo by Terry Vine/Getty Images)

The Iowa House of Representatives will have a new committee for the upcoming session to take up bills on major changes to the state education system.

House Speaker Pat Grassley speaks to press Feb. 16, 2022 following the passage of the 2022 House tax proposal. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

House Speaker Pat Grassley will chair the new Education Reform Committee for the 2023 session, according to a news release. Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Hull, will head the existing Education Committee.

The new five-person committee is meant to take up any legislation which contains “significant reforms to our educational system,” according to the news release. The formation comes after Gov. Kim Reynolds made changes to the state public school system a major part of her reelection campaign platform, advocating for a private school voucher system.

The governor’s proposal to provide 10,000 taxpayer-funded scholarships to private schools failed in the House during this year’s legislative session, with insufficient Republican support. But in the election, Republicans expanded their numbers in the House. In addition, some GOP candidates won in primary races where Reynolds backed challengers over Republican incumbents who opposed the private school scholarship program.

Grassley said in a news release that the new Republican majority will “deliver results” for Iowa.

“We are in a better position than ever to listen to Iowans and deliver on their priorities in this upcoming session,” Grassley said.

Grassley did not specify what proposals the new committee will address. “The House Republican caucus plans to consider a broad set of education reforms this session,” Grassley said in a statement, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “This new committee will allow these important issues to be put in front of the entire caucus for the in-depth discussions they deserve.”

House Democrats, who have been the minority party since 2011, released a statement Wednesday saying Iowans “believe that public money is for public schools.”

“Iowans don’t care if a new committee in the Iowa Legislature is created to consider the Governor’s voucher plan or other bad ideas like jailing teachers and banning books because it’s just all politics,” House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst said in the news release. “House Democrats stand alongside Iowans and will oppose any bill that shifts money from public schools to private schools.”

The 2023 legislative session begins Jan. 9.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.