(Not the first time and won't be the last that Iowa lawmakers get bogged down in a dispute based on a false premise. Click here to read the full text of the school start date bill and here for the bill history, which shows how it changed from the Iowa Senate version to what passed the House. - promoted by desmoinesdem)
We have a debate in the Iowa Assembly on constraining early school starts. It arose after the Iowa Department of Education indicated it would no longer routinely approve school starts prior to the week containing the 1st day of September. Governor Branstad weighed in as well indicating that early start dates negatively affected attendance at the State Fair and threatened tourism. School districts squawked, and the legislature weighed-in. The current Iowa House bill wants no starts prior to the 23rd of August, which is around the time when the State Fair typically ends. The Iowa Senate would allow districts to set school dates based on their localized preferences. Reconcilliation is in order.
Without citing any evidence at all, school start dates and tourism were pitted to be at odds with each other. But it is a phony argument: there is no evidence that early start dates interfere in any meaningful sense with the Iowa State Fair or with any other tourism activity in Iowa.
Our state economy has two major dynamics that make it hum. The first is you and I buying goods and services from one-another. I buy your wares, you buy my services. You and I are continually exchanging goods and services with one another. My economy does not change in size at all, however, if I buy a service like in-state tourism in early August versus buying it in late August. The only thing involved is timing, nothing else. Furthermore, if a family does not spend its money on, say, a state or county fair or a trip to the Amanas, it will likely spend its money on some other recreational or consumer good in Iowa eventually. Again, nothing has changed except for the kind and nominal timing of good or service purchased.
There is no positive or negative economic impact occurring. The economy stays the same.
The second dynamic is export sales. Tourism, by definition, means you visit from someplace else. Out-of-state tourists are considered true export sales for Iowa. They in fact bring money into the state economy from the outside, and when they do so there is a multiplier effect, albeit a relatively small one. Within-state tourism, staycations as they are called, shifts money from different parts of the Iowa economy, and there may be localized gains as a result. But again, the state’s economy does not grow as a result; interior economic shifting is all that is occurring.
With all that noted, early school starts have nothing to do with genuine tourism. Out-of-state visitors don’t decline coming to Iowa because the schools are in session, and in-state tourism is unaffected by school start dates.
If in the end attendance at, and the status of, the Iowa State Fair is really all that people opposing early starts really care about, then asserting that spectacle's prerogative against that of all of the school districts in Iowa is quite a statement: a handful of special interests with the ear of the governor and a few legislators can completely thwart the abilities of dozens and dozens of Iowa school districts to determine the timing of educational services for their students and their families.
Local education control versus funnel cake sales: could that be what this boils down to?
What a sham.