After an hour and a half of emotional debate, the Iowa Senate Tuesday on a bipartisan vote, agreed to let school districts decide when to start classes in the fall.
However, a Republican-controlled House committee has set the school start date in the week of August 23rd, and Governor Branstad also wants to prevent schools from starting earlier in August.
Ames Democrat Herman Quirmbach says starting later will put students at a disadvantage on standardized tests, such as Advanced Placement exams or the ACT. “A student who passes an AP exam with a sufficient score can get requirements waived or even get college credit on the basis of those exams,” Quirmbach says.
However, the dates are set nationally, and that won’t change no matter what Iowa does with the school start date. “If schools are forced to start later,” Quirmbach says, “that will deny students up to 3 weeks of critical instruction.”
The Senate vote was 32 to 17. Critics argue moving the school start date up interferes with tourism and the Iowa State Fair. Others say mandating a late August date would interfere with year-round schools. Students from two Des Moines elementary schools that hold classes year-round were at the Capitol lobbying for the Senate bill.