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July 2012 Policy Study, Number 12-6


Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: School Choice in Iowa


Executive Summary



During the 2012 Legislative session our state Legislators failed our children. Instead of taking the lead on innovative school reform actions — as Legislators and Governors did in other states, our elected officials neither led nor followed. Specifically the Iowa Senate controlled by the Democrat party by two votes (26-24), spent the session obstructing reform attempts.


Importantly, Governor Terry Branstad’s reform proposal was not crafted in a vacuum, but came after an extensive series of state and local meetings, often contentious, with a wide variety of stakeholders, including teachers, private-school and higher-education officials, parents, and the Iowa State Teachers Association.


Yet, because the proposed reforms were not exactly what they wanted, the educational establishment opposed them.


Unfortunately, Governor Branstad’s proposal was silent on school choice — the ability of parents to be fully responsible for determining the best education for their children. In 2012 the Governors and Legislatures of many other states were bolder, and more successful, in their education-reform efforts.


In contrast to Iowa, “Thirteen states enacted school choice programs (in 2011). A total of 19 programs were enacted or improved — including the creation of eight new programs and the expansion of 11 existing ones” according to the most recent Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice report on school choice. Several states were even more proactive in 2012.


When did famously independent, self-reliant Iowans decide that parents are not the first and the correct decision-makers about what is best for our children? When did we decide that partisan and union foot-dragging are more important than our children are?


Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Milton Friedman advocated extensively for parental control of children’s education. July 31st is the 100th anniversary of his birth. His scholarship, vision, and leadership encourage us to move forward on serious education reform.


This led to the title of this POLICY STUDY — Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way! In it, I will review the positive actions and changes in school choice in the rest of the country during the 2012 Legislative sessions, and contrast that to the minor “reforms” passed by the Iowa Legislature.


2013 needs to be the year of Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way for school choice in Iowa!



Click here for pdf copy of this Policy Study


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