While it isn’t much in terms of school choice, Iowa Republicans provided a little more choice by passing a law that will allow students attending public schools the option of open enrolling into any district at any time of the year.
Some Iowa school officials are expressing concern with the law, which some in the media have dubbed a new “parental choice” law (as if it should be called something else), because it has the potential to interfere with district funding and a district’s ability to plan yearly budgets.
The superintendent of Lu Verne Community Schools called Jon Hueser criticized the legislation as well as the process the legislation went through.
“There was no discussion anywhere up until that point of eliminating it,” he told 3 News Now. “So that to me is kind of backhanded. If you are going to make such a major change, you shouldn’t be doing that at the last minute and expect everyone to be OK with it.”
Casey Berlau, the superintendent of Carrol Community Schools, said there will be more work to make sure the district has accurate records in its student information system because kids could move multiple times within a school year.
Mike Beranek, the president of the Iowa Teachers’ Union, said the law could cause “great financial harm” to rural districts that lose students.
“Instead of seeking ways to punish our public schools and our communities, we should be seeking ways to enhance and build up those schools,” he said.
Beranek said the potential for students “bouncing around” from district to district could be “detrimental” to a student’s academic achievement.
Keep in mind it is the parents who will ultimately be making the decision on which school a child attends. And the parent likely wouldn’t do anything intentionally that is “detrimental” to a student’s academic achievement.
Finally, though, one of the administrators quoted in the story offered a simple solution. And he should be thanked.
“My philosophy has always been try to create a school and an environment that kids want to be at and that issue of kids wanting to leave kind of takes care of itself,” said CAL Community Schools Superintendent Todd Lettow. “If you hold people against their will, so to speak, they probably aren’t going to be as happy and it is a negative to the cultural climate you’re trying to create.”
Hueser, though, said the change has turned enrollment into the “wild west.”
“Now they (students) can move multiple times, all the time and that is not good. I don’t understand why they made the change because I don’t know what was wrong with what was there,” Hueser said.
If the idea that parents and families will be free to leave the district at any point, maybe the district should work on ways to keep parents and families from wanting to leave the district instead of complaining over their expanded freedom.
Lettow has it figured out. Provide an educational experience families want and it’s not likely they will leave.
Perhaps Hueser would have a better grasp on that if there were more competition in the world of education.