US education secretary touts school freedom bill in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has met with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, legislators and advocates of private schools to promote a proposal that would provide grants to students to attend school anywhere they choose including private and religious schools.

The proposal DeVos outlined on Friday would provide up to $5 billion in federal tax credits to donors to a nonprofit organizations set up in participating states that would distribute the grant money.

DeVos called the Education Freedom Scholarships program introduced in Congress by Sen. Ted Cruz and others “a historic opportunity to expand education freedom.” She denied the proposal will take money away from public schools.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price says Reynolds and DeVos are working together to “enact their secretive school voucher tax credit scheme.”

Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett says Reynolds is open to looking at innovative ways to help public and non-public schools as well as homeschooling.

Rep. RasTafari Smith, the top Democrat on the Iowa House Education Committee says he’s disappointed public education supporters were not invited to the closed-door invitation only discussion arranged by DeVos’ office.

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