I was intrigued with a Des Moines Register story from last week about the Iowa Supreme Court refusing to reinstate a lawsuit based on disparities in education. Basically a group of parents and students from Des Moines, Davenport and West Harrison brought a lawsuit which alleged the existence of a “disparity in educational outcomes (in Iowa) based upon where one goes to school.” They said the Iowa Department of Education had “failed to provide similar opportunities for all of Iowa’s students.” Some thoughts about this story, the lawsuit and the decision.
I agree with the Court’s decision, they did fail to show a denial of right, so I’m glad that they decided this way.
Even if they did demonstrate a denial of a right the remedy, Jeff Eckhoff writes, would have been “injunctions that would have forced the state to institute statewide standards and close gaps between schools.” I have to wonder if the plaintiffs and Eckhoff has heard about the Iowa Core Curriculum which has been passed and has (in theory) done just that.
Also this story accepts the premise that the Iowa Supreme Court has the authority to write law which does not exist. That would be an unconstitutional use of power. It is one thing to declare an existing law unconstitutional, it is quite another to force the Legislature to write a law which apparently the plaintiffs don’t realize already exists.
I think we can chalk this up as evidence that even though the Iowa Core Curriculum has existed for a few years it has done little to improve the quality of education in certain school districts. So perhaps cookie cutter standards isn’t the silver bullet answer after all. There are external conditions and internal conditions that exist in each school district which impact the quality of education for students which have nothing to do with standards and benchmarks. A one size approach doesn’t work and it never will.
I find it interesting that these parents and students haven’t taken advantage of Iowa’s open enrollment law – unless they couldn’t because they live in a district (like Des Moines) where you make too much money to be released. Perhaps they should have challenged that law.
This also demonstrates why we need to bolster more opportunity for school choice – why should people have to settle for subpar education based on where they live? They shouldn’t.
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