Sausage-making is ugly business.
Today the Iowa House is debating the issue of school start dates to which I say (predictably I’m sure) let schools, not the state, decide. Governor Branstad seems to think it is best for him to decide however. He said in his weekly press conference that he’d consider acting to stop schools from having earlier start dates.
Branstad said in his weekly press conference Monday morning that he shared those concerns, and would be willing to direct the Department of Education to stop granting start-date waivers if lawmakers fail to enact restrictions into law.
“If the Legislature fails to act, I think that might be something that we would seriously look at,” he said.
Now he can direct the Department of Education to do that if he likes, he has the authority current state law allows it. It would seem pretty heavy handed and again be a slap in the face of local control. I mean really? We can’t trust elected school boards and accredited nonpublic schools to make a decision on when to start school? I don’t always agree with Des Moines Dem at Bleeding Heartland, but she made a good point today, “Branstad has a long history of putting business interests first, but even I’m shocked he would take a stand against early school start dates when he’s been urging legislators for months to make boosting student achievement a top priority.”
It does seem counterintuitive. I understand the reasons behind the bill. I personally think it is ridiculous for a school to start before the State Fair and then to spend money taking a field trip to the Iowa State Fair. I don’t believe schools need to start super early, but since the Iowa State Fair ends on August 19th, what’s the problem with schools starting on the 20th? Why do they have to wait until September 1st? Then again if the school board, teachers and parents want to start earlier than that what I think is irrelevant.
Anyway back to my point is that it is better for school boards to decide, and not have the Governor dictate their start date to them. If they want to wait until September 1 good for them. If parents don’t like an earlier start date they can take it up with the school board whom they elected. They however have no recourse if they want to start early but have their school district’s waiver denied by some nameless bureaucrat in the Iowa Department of Education.
Governor Branstad has the authority to make such a decision, but he’ll just look like a bully and a dictator if he does.