DES MOINES, Iowa – State Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, the Iowa Senate Education Committee chair, discussed Gov. Kim Reynolds’ education priorities during last week’s Condition of the State address.
She supports Reynolds’ belief that Iowa’s students need to return to in-person learning.
“I think some of the things that she brought up were really important. We do need to get kids back into school learning in the environment that is best suited to them; 85 percent of districts across the state are already doing that. And we have to get the rest of them back on board,” she told The Iowa Torch on Wednesday afternoon at the State Capitol.
Sinclair also said that the Iowa Senate needs to discuss how to help school districts recover from COVID-19 and deal with a decline in education and certified enrollment.
“I think just making sure that, that we’re not springing new things on them to have to implement while they’re living through what is a global pandemic, and the uncertainty that that brings to kids and families I think is really important, too,” she said.
“All in all, I’m excited to get to work on some of her priorities, and I hope we can make a move forward,” Sinclair added.
The Iowa Torch asked Sinclair about the governor’s school choice agenda and whether or not something like an Education Savings Account program is possible this session.
“I think it’s going to take some conversation. I do wholeheartedly believe in giving parents and students the choices and the opportunities that make the most sense for their child’s education. Frankly, I’ve always been a staunch advocate of parental rights and education. And that hasn’t changed. I think it’s likely we talk about it. In fact, I think it’s likely we talk about it soon,” she answered.
She also applauded Reynolds’ mention of the need to address Iowa’s open enrollment laws.
“My goodness, there are five districts in the state of Iowa that can disallow a child to open enroll to another district, unlike the rest of the state. And many of those districts, in fact, 12 of the schools that are on Iowa’s ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) failing schools list,” Sinclair explained. “So we’re literally trapping children in failing schools with that policy. It’s important we move that forward, giving some additional exceptions for transitioning and open enrollment.”
She noted that legislation backed by the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Board of Education proposes changing Iowa’s open enrollment law to provide families in every school district a public education choice.
Sinclair noted that Reynolds discussed charter schools and Education Savings Accounts, noting Reynolds discussed getting families “the best opportunity for kids that suit their needs, not necessarily just a one size fits all system.”
“So I’m happy to have all of those conversations and I think they’ll start soon,” she said.