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Iowa Becomes Latest State to Drop DEI

November 27, 2023

Taking a page out of the Goldwater Institute’s playbook, the Iowa Board of Regents has delivered a major victory for university students and faculty against the political radicalism of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI)—voting this month to eliminate DEI positions and programming throughout the state-run university system. In doing so, the Hawkeye State follows in the footsteps of Florida and Texas, where the Goldwater Institute has enacted laws to eliminate taxpayer subsidies of this racially divisive ideology in higher education.

Earlier this year, Texas became the first state to enact “Abolish DEI Bureaucracies,” legislation designed by the Goldwater Institute and Manhattan Institute to completely defund the DEI apparatus in public higher education. Now, acting at the direction of their own state lawmakers—who ordered a review of DEI programming at their universities—Iowa’s regents have adopted a similar robust policy response.

Under the regents’ adopted recommendations, Iowa’s universities will “eliminate any DEI functions that are not necessary for compliance or accreditation,” terminate any “college, department, or unit-level DEI position” that is not necessary for compliance or accreditation, and ensure that campus programming is open to all students regardless of race.

Moreover, the Iowa regents have abolished the use of any mandatory “DEI statement” for faculty job applicants, adding to the list of states now prohibiting their use. This comes just months after the Arizona Board of Regents similarly ended the use of such screening practices after the Goldwater Institute released a report earlier this year documenting the chilling impact such requirements had on potential new candidates.

These new steps are also only the latest in a series of policy victories for Iowa students and parents against a radical education establishment more concerned with promoting political ideology than academic success. Earlier this year, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law the Students First Act, establishing universal eligibility for education savings accounts (ESAs). Likewise, with passage of SF496 also in 2023, Iowa state lawmakers took initial steps at promoting Academic Transparency by requiring that public school districts disclose online a list of all books available to students in school libraries.

Now, Iowa state lawmakers are poised to carry this momentum into 2024 by delivering on Gov. Reynolds’ proposal for full Academic Transparency in K-12 by ensuring that public schools disclose online all instructional materials used in the classroom. Modeled after the Goldwater Institute’s Academic Transparency Act, this legislation will ensure that parents and the public are informed of the content being shared with students in state-operated schools and that political activism can no longer be smuggled in amid other curriculum content absent public awareness.

Taken together, these current and pending reforms will offer Iowa students, teachers, and parents the assurances and protections they need to pursue high-quality educational options free from radical, racialized political activism.



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