Americans observing recent Joe Biden speeches may be relieved to know that not all politicians think parents should have to wait another 100 days before their kids are allowed back into classrooms. Understanding that few teachers and even fewer students are at high risk from Covid-19, Iowa’s governor is determined to let kids learn in school. The encouraging reform idea is to let parents decide both where their children attend school and whether they want in-person instruction.
Rod Boshart and Erin Murphy report from Des Moines for the Quad City Times:
Two major education initiatives favored by Gov. Kim Reynolds and majority GOP legislators expanding school choices for Iowa parents and students and providing in-person instruction for those who want it will start getting Statehouse consideration next week.
The pending legislative action follows last week’s Condition of the State Address, when Gov. Reynolds declared:
The vast majority of our schools found a way to safely and responsibly reopen, all day, Monday through Friday. It’s past time that every district makes that happen. As one parent told me: “Options are good. But if some parents get the option to go 100% online, why don’t my kids get the option to be 100% in the classroom?”
I agree, so tonight I am asking the legislature to immediately send a bill to my desk that gives parents the choice to send their child back to school full time. We can’t wait any longer. Our kids can’t wait any longer.
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about education, it’s that our parents need choice. And it’s not just in-person versus virtual. Sometimes it’s about which school to attend altogether.
When some schools remained closed or went part-time this fall, a lot of parents sent their kids to private school or open enrolled. But not everyone had that option. Many parents can’t afford private school. And because some of our larger districts prohibit open enrollment, they won’t let you transfer to another public school.
One parent I talked to said that a school administrator actually recommended that she buy a house in the neighboring district if she wanted her son to go to school in-person.
We need to fix that. School choice shouldn’t be limited to those who have the financial means or are lucky to live in a district that’s confident enough to allow open enrollment. So let’s make choice an option for everyone.
Hear, hear. Distance learning simply doesn’t work for many children, and state data strongly suggests that Iowa’s teaching population is not elderly—the average level of experience is around 14 years.
As for Gov. Reynolds, her good sense appears to extend beyond education. The latest fiscal policy report card from the liberty lovers at the Cato Institute gives her a flat A and the second highest score among governors. She trails only New Hampshire’s exemplary Chris Sununu. According to Cato’s report card for Gov. Reynolds: