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July 2012 Policy Study, Number 12-6


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





Iowa is not leading in educating our children. We are not even following ― we are, as one State Legislator put it, “tottering” like a child just learning to stand up.[19]


A primary reason for this tottering was that the Iowa Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (Democrat, Council Bluffs), defeated virtually every proposal coming from the Iowa House of Representatives — on a straight party-line vote, 26-24.


An important component of the federal requirement for a NCLB waiver is increased flexibility in teacher and administrative evaluations. The Iowa Legislature did not implement such a program and instead decided to study it for action in the future.[20] This proposal, as were virtually all education-related issues in 2012, was defeated by a 26-24 party-line vote in the Iowa Senate.


An earlier Public Interest Institute BRIEF[21] encouraged the Democrats in the Iowa Legislature to join with Democrats For Education Reform (DFER), a reform advocacy group supported by Democrat Legislators from a wide variety of states. DFER supports a wide variety of reforms, including increased school-choice programs.


It appears the Democrat Legislators in the Iowa Senate did not follow up on this suggestion.


For advocates of free-market education, the 2012 Legislative session and Governor Branstad’s education-reform proposal was a disappointment.


If Iowa is to regain a leadership position in education nationally, our elected officials must lead, follow, or at the very least, get out of the way and let parents decide what is best for their children. We at least have taught them to walk.



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