DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law Wednesday a measure that expands Iowa’s charter school rules, allowing groups to set up such schools by applying directly to the state and bypassing local school boards.
Reynolds said she called for the change after disagreeing with some public school districts during the coronavirus pandemic over whether children should be required to be in classrooms as the virus continued to spread or wear masks.
Reynolds said she heard from parents who wanted more choices than offered by traditional public schools.
“If there’s one thing that the pandemic taught us, it’s that parents should have the opportunity to choose what’s best for their children,” Reynolds said. “Conventional public education may not work for all students.”
Reynolds signed the bill at the headquarters of Starts Right Here, a planned school in Des Moines being started by rap singer/songwriter Will Keeps.
Keeps, of Des Moines, said he he hopes to establish a charter school focused on educating youth confronted with overwhelming personal challenges.
“I want to be able to cut though that red tape and make sure they get everything they need to be successful,” Keeps said as tears streamed down his face. “That’s what passing this charter school bill is about, is to give these kids another option. What’s wrong with that?”
Opponents of the bill said it will shift tax dollars away from public schools to charter schools that have less oversight, accountability and transparency.