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Iowa Week: Who's calling the shots?

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Iowa has long been known as a local-control state when it comes to schools.

This is Iowa Week and School is in Session.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, we explore how state laws passed in recent years have taken precedence over the decision-making power of local school districts and boards.

Host Charity Nebbe talks with IPR Education Reporter Grant Gerlock about how topics being debated nationwide have taken hold locally, such as masks to prevent COVID transmission, book challenges, critical race theory, and transgender student-athletes.

Later in the episode, Megan Goldberg of Cornell College shares findings of an ongoing study she's conducting with Karin Kitchens of Virginia Tech on how K-12 school board members nationwide have been thrust into the spotlight since the pandemic.

Attorney Alan Ostergren who has represented parents in multiple lawsuits against local school districts in recent years comments on how disagreements with board policy lead to litigation. Nebbe also chats with a former Des Moines School Board member who encourages fellow Iowans to pursue this volunteer role, and an elementary educator who was elected last summer to the Urbandale school board.


  • Grant Gerlock, IPR reporter
  • Megan Goldberg, assistant professor of American politics, Cornell College
  • Alan Ostergren, attorney, Kirkwood Institute founder
  • Rob Barron, former Des Moines Public Schools board member
  • Dan Gutmann, Urbandale Community School board member
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.