June 25, 2021

LETTER: Gov. Reynolds mandates in-person schooling option

I am upset. No, I am angry with Governor Kim Reynolds. She used her influence and the power of her office to convince the Republican dominated legislature to pass a law mandating in-person face-to-face teaching as an option for every public school in Iowa.

When quizzed about the decision, she emphatically said how important the in-person contact is and that it must be done. Newsflash, every educator I have known in my 39 years in education agrees that in-person is the best. However, that is not the issue. The issue is about the potential impact on school employees. The list includes teachers, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, secretaries, teacher associates, and administrators. These people have just been put on the list to be eligible for the vaccine. Guess what. Not enough vaccine is available. So now, school employees from age early twenties to over sixty-five could be forced to be on the job during a pandemic without the benefit of a vaccine.

There is a second and potentially more serious issue. Governor Reynolds was quoted as saying. “It’s time to put local control into the hands of parents, where it belongs.” What a minute. Letting parents decide which option to choice is not a local control issue. It is a parental choice issue. Local Control means that a locally elected governmental body is given authority to make decisions on behalf of those that elected them. This means that an elected school board is given legal authority to make certain decisions that they feel benefit and are safe for the students they serve.

We must not let Governor Kim Reynolds redefine the meaning of Local Control. If we do, we must ask the question “What is next?” Will it be changes to City Councils? Will it be changes to County Supervisors? Will it be other changes to schools?

Clearly, the decision of which form of education to be followed, all face-to-face or all on- line or a hybrid or all three should be a school board decision not the decision of a governor with limited knowledge of school operations.