A new poll finds broad support in Iowa for a state law that would let Iowans set aside money in “educational savings accounts” to pay for tuition at a private or parochial school for K-12 students. Trish Wilger is executive director of the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education, the group that commissioned the poll.

“We believe that type of program would be a better fit in Iowa than a voucher program would be,” Wilger says.

The poll found 54 percent of Iowans would support a “voucher” system that would let parents use state tax dollars to send their children to a private or parochial school, but Wilger says voucher programs in places like Milwaukee have required a whole new administrative bureaucracy. Wilger says advocates for Christian, Catholic and private schools in Iowa have instead decided to lobby lawmakers to create these new “education savings accounts” — and  money deposited in those accounts would be exempt from state taxes.

“We realize it’s going to be a bit of a challenge and it may not be something that happens in just one session,” Wilger says.

The poll for the “Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education” found Iowans consider the economy to be the top issue facing the state, but education ranked as Iowa’s second-most important issue.

“Iowans support all their schools — not just private, not just public, but that people are devoted to both of those options as well as some others,” Wilger says.

According to Wilger, that should tell lawmakers Iowans are interested in ensuring success in all facets of K-12 education, from homeschoolers to the state’s private and public schools.