Common Good Iowa

Act now: Tell your lawmaker NO on open enrollment expansion

HF 228 is a strike against equal opportunity and local decision-making

 

Background: State law currently give Iowa school districts the ability to develop diversity plans to help achieve socio-economic balance in their schools. Districts with diversity plans can use them to guide open enrollment decisions.

HF 228 would repeal voluntary diversity plans, removing the authority of districts to use them to guide open enrollment decisions. Districts with diversity plans may use family economic status or English language learner status — not race or ethnicity — as the deciding element in whether to allow a pupil to enter or exit the district. In practice, however, gutting diversity plans would further segregate schools by both income and by race and ethnicity.

  • Gutting local diversity plans is a serious blow to the principle that every Iowa child should have quality educational opportunity, no matter their ZIP code. Children of color in particular face systemic disadvantages baked into our public systems over generations. We need to be enhancing equity in Iowa, not restricting it.

  • The bill will make inequality worse by targeting districts serving large shares of students of color and poor students. Since funding is diverted from one district to another when students open enroll, the sending district may well lose funding without any offsetting cost savings.

    • The Legislative Services Agency has conservatively estimated that the five districts that currently use diversity plans — Des Moines, Davenport, Waterloo, Postville and West Liberty — would lose more than $2.6 million collectively due to open enrollment expansion.

  • Eliminating diversity plans will undermine the sense of community that arises from a shared commitment to local schools. Honoring that commitment to shared goals and responsibilities is Iowa’s best hope to provide the strongest schools and equal opportunity for every Iowa child.

You can make a difference in stopping this bill. Ask your state senator to oppose HF 228, which has passed the House.

Here's how: 

  • Call the Senate switchboard at (515) 281-337. Ask to be connected to your Senator or to leave a message.

  • Not sure you represents you? Find your Senator here.

  • Not sure what to say? Feel free to start with this sample script:

“Hi, my name is [Name] and I'm a constituent of [Senator _____ ] from [City]. I'm calling to ask [Senator _____ ] to oppose HF228, the bill expanding open enrollment and repealing school district voluntary diversity plans. This bill takes our state in the wrong direction. We need to expand equal opportunity for every Iowa child, not limit it."

  • Do adapt the message to reflect your experience, but remember, you will likely be speaking to switchboard staff who will write down your message, so keep it simple.

Learn more. Read our fact sheet.

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