Every four years, America, and arguably the world, is focused on who will become the next president, and this election cycle is no different. But this year, education is playing a key role in national conversations about politics, and for good reason.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the teachers unions forced school closures nationwide.  This resulted in a decrease in reports of child maltreatment and learning loss.  In the summer of 2023 National Association of Education Progress (NAEP) showed that scores for thirteen-year-olds were the lowest in a decade.

With this bad news about government schools, education freedom has become a front-and-center issue in American public discourse, including politics.  

Recently, data coming out of Iowa suggests why education freedom remains front and center for parents and voters.  According to a Fox News poll that asked Iowans if local public K-8 schools are teaching too much about sexual orientation, 74%  replied: “too much.” When asked the same question about gender identity, 76% replied, “too much.”

To sum up, Iowans feel that gender and sexuality are being discussed too often in K-8 public schools. Coupled with the fact that some of Iowa’s National Association of Education Progress (NAEP) scores have declined (although Iowa’s reading and math scores remain higher than the national average), many families may benefit from opting out of government schools.

Thankfully, education freedom has become a reality for many Iowans. In January 2023, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law Iowa’s Students First Act, which made taxpayer money available to families who use accredited private schools. But Iowa is not the only state implementing policies that advance education freedom.  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has been a staunch education freedom advocate. In March of 2023, Governor DeSantis signed into law a sweeping school choice bill that removed financial eligibility restrictions, making taxpayer money available to all Florida students who don’t attend government schools.

According to the American Federation for Children, education freedom remains a top issue for voters and crosses traditional Democrat and Republican party lines, “1,000 registered voters in December 2023, candidates’ support of school choice makes voters of all political stripes more likely to support them.”

In 2023, 17 states around the country passed policies that expand education freedom. The data and the results are clear: education freedom is an important issue across America and party lines.

Let’s hope 2024 has the same positive momentum for school choice.

To learn more about school choice policy, download IWF’s podcast, Students Over Systems.