Meeting Public Comments

Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act relating to voluntary diversity plans under the state’s open enrollment law. (See HF 86, HF 228.)
Subcommittee members: Hite-CH, Smith, Wills
Date: Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Time: 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM
Location: Law Library
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Comments Submitted:

adel kessler []
The governor needs to be supportive of public education. As I have repeatedly mentioned to GOP, who continue to cut education funding, this is a lifeline for many. Not everyone has a privileged and advantaged background. Think about everyone, not just the people who donate big bucks to you. . . . Kim, Joni, Charles, Ashley!!!!!!!!!!
Margaret Buckton [Urban Education Network]
See uploaded file for Issue Brief describing Diversity plans, the positive impact of diversity on student outcomes and the trends of poverty in Iowa's urban districts with and without diversity plans. UEN is opposed to the bill.
Tim Postville [Postville Community School District ]
The Postville School District would support keeping the Diversity Plan in place because the school district is benefiting from the current structure. We have had this plan since 2001. Our student population is 60% Hispanic, 30% Caucasian, and 10% Somali/African American. We also have a 75% Free/Reduced Lunch poverty level. The K12 enrollment is 735 students. The town of Postville has the worlds largest Kosher meat packing plant which employs 650 people. It is also the largest employer in Allamakee County. Our school is thriving based on the migrant/immigrants who are recruited to work there. The migrants/immigrants are working jobs that would not be filled otherwise. The result is, we have large families coming from Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Somalia. The migrant/immigrant families support our school system and make it a rich environment for teaching and learning. The teaching/learning here is very strong which makes us proud of what we do each day. I would predict that if the Diversity Plan went away, we would lose 10% our our Caucasian population and see an increase in our Free/Reduced Lunch Poverty level. My guess would be closer to 80% minority population or higher. Along with an 85% poverty rate. Now, I am not saying it will be the end of the world, but the change will further isolate our small school from our Northeast Iowa Neighboring schools with nearly Zero diversity. Please keep our Diversity Plan in place. It does benefit our school and community.
Jane Lindaman [Waterloo Schools]
As the superintendent of Waterloo schools, on behalf of our district and community, I urge you to vote against HSB64, which removes our ability to implement voluntary diversity plans. Diversity plans DO NOT eliminate OE out; they simply balance open enrollment out to prevent white flight. Removing a districts ability to have a voluntary diversity (desegregation) plan will negatively impact our community, demographically, educationally and fiscally.Each year, Waterloo Schools offers voluntary transfers within our district to ensure students have choice in which schools to attend. We know from analyzing open enrollment out requests that they are skewed toward Caucasian students with high SES status. If you overturn our ability to balance open enrollment requests, we will become less diverse, with higher poverty percentages and higher minority percentages. We are on a fasttrack to improved results. Our graduation rate has risen from 70% to 84%. We have had the highest growth in early literacy of any urban district in the state of Iowa. We have launched the Waterloo Career Center that is drawing students from seven different districts, with increasing enrollment of over a thousand students this year. Do not move forward with this legislation that will cause us to suffer such a blow to our improvement efforts, especially during such challenging times. We fervently ask you to vote no on any legislation that prohibits our ability to use diversity plans to balance open enrollment requests in and out and prevent white flight. Voting no ensures we can continue to offer realworld demographics and realworld experiences in Waterloo schools.
The majority of students in Iowa are allowed to use the open enrollment option to choose a school that works best for their educational needs. It is unfair that students living in districts with voluntary diversity plans are denied the ability to choose the educational option that works best for their education. Please support HSB 64.
Connie Ryan [lnterfaith Alliance of Iowa]
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund is strongly opposed to this legislation, as we have been every year it has been introduced. HSB64 will eliminate the voluntary diversity plans under the states open enrollment law for the five districts that opted into the plan several years ago (Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, Postville, and Burlington). The result for the urban districts in particular would be white flight, larger pockets of poverty, and segregated schools in those districts. The argument for the bill is parental choice, regardless of the harm to students remaining in those districts. Parental choice already exists in many other forms. This bill does not respect local control by the five districts and would prohibit the local leaders from making the best decisions for all of the students in the districts. We urge legislators to vote No on HSB64.
Ron Brandt []
I understand that some individuals may wish to eliminate diversity plans for our most diverse districts, but some things are bigger than individuals. Individually, I may wish not to pay as many taxes, but I do so for the greater good of our community and state. Do not support HSB64. Some communities are unique. Equity does not mean equal.
Jim Waterbury [Citizen of Waterloo]
I graduated from Waterloo Schools in 1965. Never in all the years since have the Waterloo Schools produced such solid opportunity and results for all students than they are doing now with the current diversity plan. There is no reason to cripple a plan that is working and producing talented, engaged graduates who want to remain in Iowa, hold down good jobs, raise families and pay taxes. Iowa employers are crying for more young employees, and our state needs every productive resident we can attract and retain. I urge you to vote against HSB64.
Michelle Majeski []
Both my boys have benefitted from open enrollment from our district into virtual school. They are thriving in this environment. It is unfair that families are limited in providing educational options due to voluntary diversity plans. Parents should be given the ability to choose the best educational options for their children. Please support HSB 64.
Diego Giraldo [West Liberty School District]
The West Liberty Community School District would support keeping the Diversity Plan in place because the District believes that diversity of all kinds strengthens educational effectiveness.The primary purpose of the plan is to promote diversity and avoid minority student isolation. We define minority student as the student coming from household of low socioeconomic (i.e. qualifies for free or reducedprice meals), a student who qualifies as an English Language Learner, or a student from a household with a home language other than English. Although they might represent a majority of students enrolled in our school district, students whose home language is not English are a minority in our country, as are students of low socioeconomic status.. Our community population is somewhat transient; our enrollment snapshot shows a large percentage of our students qualifies for free or reducedprice meals, and a large percentage lists a home language other than English. To complicate matters, some parents speak Spanish as their sole language, and some are unable to read or write any language. This means that many of our nonEnglish language students have not had experience with written resources of any language in their homes, therefore they are coming to preschool and other grades neither ready in their native language nor in English. Continuing with the diversity plan will allow the continuation of our very successful and acclaim dual language program. A program that provides learning opportunities to our native English and Nonnative English speakers grades K12. The number of low socioeconomic students, as well as the number of students who list a language other than English as their home language, has been growing whereas our Englishonly population has declined. All of these factors combine to complicate the issues of diversity in our school system. Ending the plan will be detrimental for our district enrollment and we will lose a large number of our Caucasian population and most significantly a detrimental impact to our students learning experiences. The district supports keeping the diversity plan in place.
Belinda Creighton-Smith []
Diverse schools benefit the classroom and allow all to interact with peers who are racially, ethnically, sexually, and economically diverse with whom they may otherwise not connect. This diversity provides more indepth conversations, the examination of academic and social issues as well as expands perspectives of the students. Research also reveals that diversity improves cognitive skills and critical thinking with is paramount to adolescent development for adult life. In fact, Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity simply does not (Scientific American). It is inimical to consider such a plan that would return us to educational environments akin to the conditions of school settings prior to the Brown vs Board of Education decision. Given the tragic regression of our nation and the ongoing homogeneity of too many schools and districts in our state and countries, greater efforts are needed to dismantle systems of oppression and to diversity our institutions. A proposal to expands diversity initiatives and requirements is needed that will catapult our society and country towards a more perfect union.
Jerry Kivett []
I write to ask that you keep school diversity plans in place. Our current divisions show they are needed. To do away with them would show we are comfortable with our prejudices. I cannot support that kind of will ignorance
Mike Young [Former Black Hawk County Republican Central Committee Member]
I ask that you continue to support diversity plans in our school districts because they continue to benefit the students of our state. I believe diversity plans are critical for the locallyelected Iowa school boards who have chosen to utilize them in their districts in order to raise student achievement for all children, including those living in poverty. I worry that gutting the ability to implement diversity plans will lead to more segregation, which would be harmful to our communities. Thank you for your consideration.
Carole Yates [NAACP Black hawk countu]
Diversity plans for public schools add strength for a community economically, socially, and provide a better worldview and education for all students and their parents. School districts need this opportunity to promote the best about their districts and their communities. I urge all legislators to vote against HSB 64.
Doris Dedrick [NAACP]
We need a diverse set of lenses examining policies, systems and structures in order to create systems and structures that are equitable. We have seen growth and positive impact of diverse representation every day in our schools and in our work. We are to continue working to dismantle systemic oppression. We have the power to eradicate the ills of the world that we live in. Urging legislators to vote NO on HSB64.
LaTanya Graves [NAACP]
We have seen such an increase in the need to keep these plans in place now more than ever with the current climate. We understand students learn at different levels however, there is no need to do away with a plan that works and benefits all households, especially those with lower incomes. Support public education so all students have the opportunity to be successful. They are our future.
Brian Carter [Iowa Conference Church and Society, Legislative Advocacy]
The United Methodist Church is AGAINST HSB 64. lATE LAST NIGHT WE IN ERROR ENTERED FOR we meant to are for diversity plans. We feel there is danger in doing away with voluntary diversity plans that local school boards will have difficulty in keepeing diversity in our schoolsDiversity is a positive atmosphere for learning, and our country is more diverse all the time. We need to affirm diversity.Late last night we mistakenly pressed "for" on this bill. We meant to press AGAONST.We are for diverseity plans. Thank you for letting me clarify this. Rev. Brian Carter