Rep. Shipley’s emotional speech highlights significance of ‘School Choice’ debate

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Republican State Rep. Jeff Shipley shared an emotional moment on the House floor during debate Monday. The debate centered around school choice and Education Savings Accounts.

Shipley recounted the story of Dean Goodale, a parent who approached the Fairfield School Board at an April 2021 meeting with concerns about his son.

Goodale asked the board what potential unintended consequences mask policies might have moving forward.

“Is it possible depriving children of facial expressions, which inform much of our ability to process social cues could cause an increase in sociopathic behavior, violent crime, self-harm or alcohol and substance abuse,” he asked. “Can any of you say you know the answer to these questions? Yet the school board doesn’t think they are overstepping their authority by requiring students to participate in a human psychological experiment in order to find out the answer to these questions. I don’t know anyone who voted you on to the school board to conduct such experiments with our children. Recommending masks is one thing. When you mandate all of our students wear masks, you have overstepped your authority.

“It’s time to stop this useless and dangerous experiment on our children. Your mask policies have made me more supportive than ever for any and all legislation that diverts funds from this school district to parental choice and voucher options.”

Shipley said this was a “desperate plea for help” from the parent for his child, who was being negatively impacted by district policy.

The child, a 10th-grade student at the time, should be getting ready for graduation.

“Unfortunately the student is awaiting trial for first-degree murder,” Shipley said.

Jeremy Goodale is awaiting trial for the murder of a Spanish teacher named Nohema Graber. That incident happened on Nov. 2, 2021 — just months after Mr. Goodale asked the board for its logic in putting children through the psychological experiment.

During debate, Shipley said he hadn’t talked publicly about the tragedy in such a way before.

“It is unfortunately a heinous tale, but it is the truth,” he said. “This is the conversation that’s happening in my community.”

While he said he doesn’t know if school choice will solve the mental health crisis and behavioral health crisis plaguing Iowa children, he is thankful legislators are willing to “leave no stone unturned” in trying to create an education system that provides the best for each and every individual, unique child.

“Right now it’s not occurring,” he said. “And the consequences of that are very real.”

Shipley told The Iowa Standard the sequence of events is something many in his community noticed but haven’t known the right way to bring it up.

“We’re certainly not here to blame anyone,” he said. “But we are here to ensure that such tragedies never occur again. Sins can only be forgiven when they’re not repeated.

“The epidemic of mental and behavioral health issues is all our problem. It’s all of our faults. We’re all to blame for what we’ve let our society become. God have mercy on all of us.”

Mr. Goodale had expressed concerns to Shipley as early as May of 2020. Shipley said he wishes he had been more outspoken knowing what he knows now.

“The next time a heinous event occurs, the warning signs may not be so obvious as a parent coming forward asking for help,” Shipley said. “We really need an honest discussion on what we’re all witnessing.”


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