North Dakota lawmakers pass school choice, send to Governor’s desk

After much debate and a few changes, North Dakota’s first school choice bill has passed both the House and Senate and gone on to Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk for signing.

If signed, House Bill 1532 will create a statewide educational reimbursement program. Eligible families — those earning less than 500% of the federal poverty level, or $150,000 for a family of four — could have up to 30% of their tuition costs at a nonpublic K-12 school reimbursed.

Besides tightening the eligibility requirements for the program, the Senate amendments (all of which the House just approved) also reduced the total funding for the program from $24 million to $10 million.

The program would run for just one school year, 2024-25, and then be reevaluated.

“Education cannot be the great equalizer if financial barriers limit who can access better outcomes for their children,” says Education Policy Fellow Catrin Wigfall. “Empowering parents and families should not be controversial.”

Right now, North Dakota offers virtually no school choice. No charter schools, magnet schools, or private school choice programs are available, and even public school open enrollment policies miss the mark.

This is a historic opportunity for North Dakota to support a family’s right to choose their child’s educational environment. Research has shown time and time again that programs like these do not “steal funds” from public schools, nor do they hurt the students who remain in public schools. Other data shows that choice programs aid disadvantaged students, including those with special needs and those from low-income backgrounds.

American Experiment North Dakota’s Put Kids First, Put North Dakota First campaign has been driving awareness and support for House Bill 1532 since mid-March. If you haven’t used the form to contact Gov. Burgum yet, now is the time!