State leaders should advocate for public education

To the editor:

What kind of state leadership advocates to get kids out of their public schools?

Ours does. That is exactly what Gov. Reynolds and some current Republican legislators are doing when they try to push an initiative to transfer public taxes to support educational opportunities outside of the public school parameters and requirements. And that is exactly what they are doing when they fund public schools at a percent far less than that of inflation. How do public schools pay their bills? They must cut the services they provide.

Our governor and those state legislators should first be proud of the public education system they provide, not trying to replace it. But how can you be proud of a 48 out of 51 rating? That’s where Iowa is now.

On television, Gov. Reynolds says she’s for strong public schools, yet minimizes funding, and will personally campaign and support only those candidates who support her alternative charter schools agenda. While talking out of both side of her mouth, she is certainly, putting money where her mouth is: but not the side of strong and innovative public schools.

If you are one, like many, who thinks they “know” how school goes because you went to school, you are also part of the problem. There are so many ways to develop innovative learning and talent development environments that Iowa schools cannot now support because they are not fully funded to be great schools. They are only funded to be the 20 and 21st Century school model in which our governor and legislators attended: one grade level classroom with 20-30 some students and one teacher, with one level of readable text and one topic of which to learn. That’s not the model successful states are using. We, too, must demand higher standards of education to prepare our children for the future.

This old format doesn’t fit high standards needed to develop talent in today’s learners. Current funding from the state does not come close to keeping up with inflationary costs, let alone allow districts to provide a school system with the fluidity of reaching and teaching all students. Instead of waiting for the “rainy day,” we will find our children and grandchildren in a storm from which there is no way out. With proper funding, our education standards can rise and Iowa public schools could once again be in a top 10 position, instead of 48 out of 51. We need state leadership that supports this vision.

While the talent and dedication of current school staff in Iowa public schools has never been higher, the resources, finances, and political bias has never been more of an impediment. This diminishes both the number of students motivated to enter the teacher education fields, and the ability for Iowa kids to succeed and grow in their right to a free education. Lowering the standards of entry into education only perpetuates and wallows in the old century model of learning.

Current Republican state leadership and aligning legislators, please put your money where your mouth should be – or prepare to be replaced with those who value the right to a free, quality public education for Iowa’s children that our citizens value and deserve.

Diane Pratt

Fort Dodge


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