We should celebrate public schools, the students who learn in them, those who teach and work in them and the communities that support them. We all have a teacher, bus driver, cafeteria worker, custodian, or other school staff who has influenced them.
We know that here in Iowa it’s not an easy time to be in education, but it is so important. We need to work together to make sure that our system thrives so that every child in our state has access to quality education in our public schools.
We need our elected officials to support public schools and stop the attacks. The politicizing of our schools and vilifying our educators is not in the best interest of Iowa students.
This legislative session there are again attacks on our schools.
- The “student-first scholarships,” a variant of a school voucher program would put money into education savings accounts (ESAs) to help families pay for private school, rather than directing the money to the public school system. Essentially it is taking taxpayer money and giving it to private schools who don’t have the accountability and standards as public schools.
- The lack of trust in teachers turned up in House File 2499 where educators would need to provide all their textbooks, books, articles, syllabi, website links, outlines, handouts, presentations, videos, and other educational materials for documentation, review, and approval twice a year. Anything used in student instruction would need to be published on the school district’s website by Aug. 23 and again by Jan. 15, (the start of the school year and the end of winter break) requiring teachers to create lesson plans months ahead of time for each class they teach. If a school district is not compliant, the Iowa Department of Education would reduce state funding “in proportion to the actual damages caused by the school district’s violation” of the new code. The bill does not apply to charter or private schools.
- It’s said that the way a state spends our tax dollars reflects our values and Republicans in the Iowa Legislature and Governor’s office have shown where their priorities lie. Rather prioritizing cutting corporate taxes, they should focus on the underfunding of Iowa schools for the last decade. Instead, the Governor signed a 2.5% funding increase for education. Not only is this below the rate of inflation it is hard to understand when our state has over a $1 billion surplus. It’s a simple premise, funding and respect are inseparable. If we fund schools appropriately, we are showing respect for those who work there and those who learn there by providing the resources needed.
- One of the most high-profile bills of the session came from Senate President Jake Chapman, who called for criminal penalties for teachers or school librarians. Never mind that there is already a process in place for parents to opt out of having their child read a book in class or to request a book be removed from school libraries. Threatening to put public-school teachers and librarians in jail is one more attack on our public education system.
We need to tell our legislators that attacking teachers and staff with bills like these will not make our schools stronger. They need to invest in teachers and schools to improve educational opportunities. Strong schools build pride in our communities.
Contact your legislators and tell them: we need our schools to be places where parents want to send their children, educators want to work, staff feel valued and students thrive. Tell them We are public school proud.
Find your Legislator at: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find
Or Call: Senate Switchboard: 515-281-3371 // House Switchboard: 515-281-3221
Governor’s Office: 515-281-5211