It is no surprise that this is coming, but the Associated Press reports that schools received a letter from Dr. Brad Buck, director of the Iowa Department of Education, who said that the Department will no longer grant automatic waivers to school districts who want to start school early. State law currently states that schools can not start school earlier than the calendar week that includes September 1st. The law also gives the Iowa Department of Education the ability to grant waivers to schools who wanted to start earlier.
This change which is effective immediately took place after Iowa Governor Terry Branstad requesting that officials only grant the waiver only if the district can jump through the appropriate hoops with the state and show that starting classes later will have “significant negative educational impact.”
Governor Branstad said starting school earlier “unnecessarily interferes” with family summer plans, seasonal hiring and the Iowa State Fair (which is the real reason for the letter).
I’m not a fan of the year-round school or starting school in early August. I enjoyed my summer breaks as a kid and so many youth activities (and businesses) are designed with this type of calendar in mind. I also understand the concerns of educators who say it helps with retention.
Regardless of what I think about giving kids a late start and preserving a traditional school calendar this is a bad law and the Iowa Department of Education cracking down on waivers at the Governor’s request is equally bad. The law should be changed this session. Until then the Department has the ability to give waivers and they should.
It is a mystery to me that Governor Branstad, some state legislators and the bureaucrats in the Iowa Department of Education believe that elected school boards can not make this decision on their own?
If people want a later school start date (as I would if my kids were in public school) petition the school board. They serve at your pleasure! If they don’t listen to you, vote them out. If you are in the minority you can either homeschool, send your kids to a private school or change school districts. If that isn’t a possibility then if you want to go to the Iowa State Fair, take your student out of school for the day. Adjust your travel plans if necessary or if there is an activity (like say a family reunion) that you can’t plan around – take your student out of school. They are your children, not the school district’s.
Local control makes the most sense when it comes to decisions like these as the local community, parents, business owners, farmers, and other stakeholders know what makes the most sense for their community.
Adapted and reposted from Iowa RestorEd.