Accuracy in Media released an undercover video in Iowa on April 20. This showed, as with our investigations in other states, that the teaching bureaucracy was simply ignoring instructions not to use Critical Race Theory.
When told not to use CRT, they changed nothing but the name – it became social and emotional learning, SEL, or any number of new names designed to skirt the laws Iowa had in place.
The video gained 1.1 million views more than half of them from within Iowa. This added to the political pressure for school choice, but sadly, it didn’t pass.
The Senate did pass Gov. Kim Reynolds’s bill; the House did not. The major part of the bill was that parents would be able to use about 70% of the state education budget for one student to send their child to the school of their choice. The 30% retention is because in some of the very small school districts in the state of Iowa even one student less makes a large difference to the budget – that 30% retention is to go to such small rural districts.
Even though the governor kept the legislature in session in order to vote on the bill it never made it to the floor. This means that the next stage of work has to be done. This is to replace those legislators who won’t vote for it with those who will. For example, Reynolds opposed four current Republican members in their primaries, they then lost to challengers in favor of school choice. Including, gratifyingly, the chairman of the House education committee.
This is how democracy is supposed to work — politicians should do as the voters desire and if they don’t then let’s have some new politicians.
The point here is not that school choice – ESAs, or “Student First Scholarships” – have been defeated. The task is to make that happen. With change likely at the election as a result of the primary challenges that could happen.
The proposal is not full and complete school choice. It’s that 70% of the state budget – some $5,359 at present – and it only applies to those making up to 400% of the federal poverty level (about $105,000 for household income for a family of four) or those who have an individualized educational plan. It’s also limited to only 10,000 students a year. It’s a compromise, but one that those surveying the political reality in Iowa think is the best that can be passed.
This year it couldn’t be but with the change in the legislature – those primary losses to those Republicans blocking it – perhaps this coming legislative year. What’s necessary is to keep reminding the politicians that they work for us, not the school bureaucracy. Keep at it, keep voting that way, they’ll get the message.