DES MOINES, Iowa — Children are Iowa’s future, but the way they learn could change thanks to a new law now in effect.
Charter schools no longer have to rely on a local school board’s approval to establish themselves in Iowa. Instead, they can apply and seek approval directly at the state level.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds pushed for charter school expansion throughout the year, including a mention in her Condition of the State address this January.
Will Keeps was alongside Gov. Reynolds when she signed the bill into law. He runs Starts Right Here, a non-profit educational organization partnered with Des Moines Public Schools and plans to turn his concept into a full-fledged charter school soon.
“Before you knock it, come see it,” Keeps said. “A lot of kids that are lost have been coming to Starts Right Here and Option Academy and have been getting engaged back in school. We want to change how education looks.”
Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek criticized the expansion for its possible effects on established public school districts.
“After a few years, when we see the results of what happens from these schools, I think there will be an outcry,” Beranek said. “It reduces the funding stream to our public schools, and that’s going to do nothing but harm our pre-K-12 system.”
There are currently two charter schools in Iowa — one in Storm Lake and the other in Maynard.