The Des Moines Public School’s refusal to comply with the law, even after a court ruled against the district’s weak legal arguments, is showing a contrast in leadership styles. 


At her press conference yesterday, Governor Reynolds, who was proven correct by two separate courts, could have talked about who how bad Des Moines Superintendent Tom Ahart has bungled this, about how bad Des Moines Public School’s legal arguments were, and demanded that the district come into compliance with the law (which is what one is supposed to do–comply with the law). 


Instead, her focus was on the students. On how, for many, “virtual learning” is no learning at all. On how, for students from lower-income homes, missing school means more than just missing out on an education.  


Importantly, the governor also acknowledged that the Des Moines Public School Board members care about these issues too. From WHO 13’s coverage:


In her weekly news conference, the Governor made a humanitarian plea to the school board. The governor pointed to the district’s high rate of low-income students who rely on schools for food and a safe environment.

“I know without hesitation the members of the Des Moines School Board care about these issues as well,” Governor Reynolds said, “That is why I’m asking them to meet with my team … to work out a way for us to get the district into compliance.”


How did Superintendent Ahart respond to that plea to work together? He told the New York Times, “It kind of feels like science versus politics.”


The contrast is incredible. And it shows why, if Des Moines Public Schools continue to be under Ahart’s leadership, the district will fail. 


Governor Reynolds makes a passionate plea to the Des Moines Public School to get kids back to the classroom for their own safety (a belief that at least some members of the school board seem to share). She attributes good motives to those making the decisions at the school district, noting that they also care about the health of students but also acknowledging there is a disagreement as to how to achieve their shared goal. 


Ahart, on the flip side, insinuates that this is just political. 


What a guy.  What a contrast.