The back-to-school displays are starting to appear in retail stores, not that anyone in Iowa invested in K-12 education needed a reminder that the school year is right around the corner. With the Governor’s veto last Friday of the bi-partisan agreement with state legislators for 55.7M in public school district funding, schools will have significantly fewer financial resources for teacher salaries and teaching tools when students start to arrive August 23rd. More on the veto in yesterday’s Iowa Daily Democrat.
Money for public schools was a hot topic this past legislative session. And it’s one that hits close to home for me. My daughters are just starting to enter Iowa’s public school system, as a 1st grader and preschooler this fall. I am concerned about their future—about the availability and access to high quality education through enough well-trained, well-paid teachers with the tools they need to succeed in helping my kids learn. It is every parent’s concern and should be every citizen’s concern as well, because as trite as it sounds, it is true that children are the future.
If we want our children’s future to be bright—filled with satisfying career choices that fairly reward hard work with good pay, then we need to start thinking and planning ahead.
While Iowa has had a reputation of excellent education, and many schools across our state are still examples of the best and brightest for our nation, it’s time we reassess if we are keeping up our investment, and the promise to our kids that ensures their future.
According to a 2015 report by Education Week Research Center, Iowa ranks 24th among the states in three areas—chance for success, school finance and K-12 achievement. That’s a “C” grade. One of the largest discrepancies between Iowa and other states was in PPE, or per pupil expenditure. In other words, Iowa spends less money on each student during the school year than most other states do. In fact, only 12.9% of Iowa students are funded at or above the 43.4% PPE national average.
State government needs to invest in a plan that raises Iowa to an “A” grade in education. We need to be thinking ahead to the days our school-age children are trading backpacks for briefcases.
Iowa legislators must get back to work before students head back to school. We need to guarantee the future of Iowa by passing on an excellent, not average, legacy of opportunity.