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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds spent part of her day Tuesday making a public push for her plan to potentially use tens of millions of tax dollars to help students switch. She visited St. Theresa Catholic School in Des Moines and talked with staff, students and the principal about the option of allowing more families to choose private education.

Her Students First Scholarship would use tax dollars for as many as 10,000 students to leave their public school to go instead to a private school. That could mean nearly $53 million shifting away from public schools. The governor said that the scholarships will help more families afford the cost of private education and allow them to have the choice of where their children attend school. “I believe with all of my heart that this is going to raise all of our school districts across the state,” Reynolds said, “You know, competition does that.”

The governor’s plan hasn’t yet passed through a legislative committee but she said that she is confident that it will before Friday’s deadline. “I feel really good about it,” she said.

Jessica Chapman, who said that she is a single mother with a daughter in private preschool, said that the scholarships mean a chance for her daughter to have the foundational learning structure to learn with a focus on God and country. She said of the scholarships, “…the opportunity for others, mothers like me, families like me that work very hard and deserve a chance to choose.”

Critics, including the Iowa State Education Association, believe that the governor’s plan would hurt public schools. It’s one of several efforts regarding funding for schools that the ISEA maintains fail to provide adequate resources for public education. The ISEA sent out this message: