Iowa invests in education

State’s high school graduation rate leads the nation

Graduation from high school is a key benchmark event. It is a major transition point in life. For many young folks, not only does it represent completion of a critical educational phase, but it also is a time when adulthood is close at hand. For our state it means that these young people are ready to assume the responsibilities of citizenship. It also means that Iowa’s pool of potential workers is being replenished and enhanced.

Iowans have long put a high priority on education. Not long after pioneers first settled the Hawkeye State, one-room schoolhouses dotted the rural landscape. Today schools have evolved into high-tech centers of learning that surely would astound the settlers who first called Iowa home. Our state continues to show its determination to invest in education. The current Legislature recently passed funding to support pre-kindergarten through high school programs that Gov. Kim Reynolds welcomed enthusiastically.

“With the Iowa Legislature’s approval of historic pre-K-12 school funding, we can continue moving forward in preparing our young people for the challenges of a 21st century economy,” she said on Feb. 13.

It is a tribute to Iowa’s emphasis on education — and a source of pride — that our state typically has one of the nation’s highest graduation rates for high school students. In 2016, Iowa ranked ahead of all other states with a graduation rate of 91 percent. It looks like that performance could be repeated when the national figures for 2017-2018 are known because statistics just released by the Iowa Department of Education show that the graduation rate for that year edged up to 91.4 percent, which is an all-time high for Iowa.

“This latest success is directly tied to our strong K-12 education system and Iowa’s innovative, engaging approach to education, which shapes the lives of our young people as well as the economic vitality of our state,” Reynolds said. “We’re transforming how students learn by connecting what they’re taught in the classroom to the career opportunities that a 21st century economy demands.”

Not content with already excellent performance, the State Board of Education has set a graduation-rate goal of 95 percent for the years ahead. That is a daunting, but realistic target.

An educated public is vitally important to the success of democratic institutions. In a world where each of us is inundated by a vast amount of information, the ability to evaluate it is crucial. The analytical skills learned in school are relevant for a lifetime.

The Messenger congratulates state officials, local school boards and Iowa’s educators for helping bring about this impressive graduation rate. We also applaud the parents who support our young people as they move through their educational journey and the dedication of the students. There are many reasons to be proud of Iowa. This graduation rate is most certainly one of them.