Fact Check | DeJear social media post says Reynolds thinks nurses required education, but she didn’t say that


Liam Halawith, Politics Reporter

PolitiFact Iowa is a project of The Daily Iowan’s Ethics & Politics Initiative and PolitiFact to help you find the truth in politics.

If your time is short: 

  • During the lone Iowa gubernatorial debate, Kim Reynolds made a statement that Deidre Dejear – Reynolds’ Democratic opponent –  said shows Reynolds believes nurses don’t have a college degree.  
  • DeJear posted a video in a tweet replaying the clip from the debate and then made this statement: Kim Reynolds doesn’t think nurses are educated. 
  • Reynolds didn’t say that, and the full context of her comments during the debate shows that DeJear’s campaign exaggerated what Reynolds said and took it out of context.

During a back-and-forth at the only Iowa gubernatorial debate on Oct. 17 Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds was criticizing President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. The plan, Reynolds said, would transfer college debt from people with high-paying jobs and a degree to those who choose not to go to college: 

“And if you’re the truck driver or a machinist or a nurse, or a person that decided not to seek a college education, why should you be responsible in paying somebody else’s off?” 

Deidre DeJear, Reynolds’ Democratic challenger from Des Moines, used Reynolds’ comment in a social media video, showing Reynolds saying in the Iowa PBS debate: “And if you’re the truck driver, or machinist, or a nurse, or a person that decided not to seek a college education.” 

The video, on Twitter and other social media, then states: “Kim Reynolds doesn’t think nurses are educated. She’s wrong.”  

But Reynolds did not explicitly say nurses are not educated so we took a closer look at what the governor said. In the debate, Reynolds begins with a list of professions that are unrelated, then adds: “or a person that decided not to seek a college education.” 

Here is more from her statement:

“And if you’re the truck driver or a machinist or a nurse, or a person that decided not to seek a college education, why should you be responsible in paying somebody else’s off? Especially when they often make more than you do? It’s not right. It’s not fair. People are upset about it and there were Democrats as well as Republicans that disagreed with the program that he’s put in place.” 

Pat Garrett, Reynolds’ campaign communications director, said Reynolds did not mean that nurses aren’t educated. “She is saying they shouldn’t be responsible for paying off the debt of others,” Garrett wrote in an email to PolitiFact Iowa. 

Lavanna Martinez, DeJear’s campaign manager, wrote in an email to PolitiFact Iowa: “It is social media content where viewers can see and hear Reynold’s comment at the debate for themselves.”

The federal loan plan would forgive $20,000 of student loan debt for students who received a Pell Grant and $10,000 for those ineligible for a Pell Grant. The plan is on hold after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals granted temporary injunctionary relief to six Republican-led states, including Iowa, that sued to keep the plan from being implemented.

The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan government agency that analyzes the fiscal effects of government policy, released a report in September that showed Biden’s plan would cost $400 billion if it makes its way through the courts. 

The broader context of Reynolds’ debate comments shows that Iowa’s Board of Nursing, which licenses and supervises registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and advanced registered nurse practitioners, requires all practicing nurses to have a degree from an approved nursing program in community colleges and universities to obtain a license. 

Certified nursing assistants are required to complete a 75-hour course at a community college or approved healthcare facility. They are registered through the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals

Our Ruling  

Deidre DeJear posted on social media during her gubernatorial campaign in Iowa a video that says Gov. Kim Reynolds doesn’t think nurses are educated. 

Reynolds’ campaign said Reynolds did not mean that nurses are uneducated when listing in a gubernatorial debate workers, starting with those who do not need college degrees for their jobs, who shouldn’t have to pay someone’s college debt. 

Using part of a comment to accuse Reynolds of thinking nurses are uneducated is an exaggeration. No evidence exists that proves she thinks this, plus state regulations require post K-12 training and certification for nurses. We rate this statement False.

Our Sources  

Iowa PBS, Iowa gubernatorial debate transcript, Oct. 17, 2022

Email exchange with Pat Garrett, communications director, Kim Reynolds for Governor campaign, Oct. 26, 2022

Email exchange with Lavanna Martinez, campaign manager, DeJear for Governor campaign, Oct. 28, 2022

Deidre DeJear tweet, Oct. 19, 2022

U.S. District Court lawsuit; Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Miquel Cardinal, and United States Department of Education

Reuters, “U.S. appeals court temporarily blocks Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan,” by Eric Beech and Steve Gorman, Oct. 22, 2022

The White House, fact sheet for student loan forgiveness plan, Aug. 24, 2022

U.S. Department of Education press release, “Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Student Loan Pause Extension Through December 31 and Targeted Debt Cancellation to Smooth Transition to Repayment,” Aug. 24, 2022

Congressional Budget Office about page

Congressional Budget Office Report, “Costs of Suspending Student Loan Payments and Canceling Debt,” Sept. 26, 2022

Iowa Board of Nursing web page

Iowa Board of Nursing, Iowa Administrative Code for nursing licensure

Iowa Board of Nursing, approved nursing education programs in Iowa

Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals healthcare training page

Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Direct Care Worker registry