As a proud product of Iowa’s public school system (K-12, NIACC, and the University of Northern Iowa), I know the importance of strategic and sustainable investment in public education. Our schools have the power to build strong foundations for our students, strengthen our communities, and ensure Iowa’s future economic success. High quality, affordable educational opportunities provide the stepping stones for each Iowan working to achieve their dreams.
Unfortunately, our elected officials aren’t making public education a priority. Our state’s leaders are failing to provide sustainable funding for our schools and universities. They’re failing to prepare Iowa’s students for a 21st Century world and workplace. They’re failing to support teachers’ innovation in the classroom. They're failing to give teachers a fair seat at the table. They’re failing to put Iowa’s students first.
I will always stand up for our kids and our teachers and ensure we are fulfilling our commitment to our students and our state’s future. We need to increase our investment in public schools and universities, including early childhood education; innovate teaching and learning to better prepare our students for a 21st Century workforce; and affirm our commitment to creating safe and respectful schools for all students.
In order to ensure our students have the best opportunities to succeed, my priorities include:
Make College Affordable Again
State funding is the second largest source of funding for Iowa’s 15 community colleges (after tuition and fees), but with reduced funds over the last two years, our students are the ones who suffer. Our tuition is too high; 35.7% higher than the national average.
Gov. Reynolds and I agree Iowa families can not afford high tuition increases caused by reductions in state revenue and will be made worse by a proposed $18 million cut in FY 2018. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/15/governor-kim-reynolds-no-way-iowa-families-can-afford-proposed-university-of-iowa-iowa-state-univers/568915001/
Fund Education Innovation & Reform
We must redesign the way education is delivered in order to give all students the foundation they will need to thrive in the 21st Century.
Encourage and support all school districts in implementing Competency Based Education models.*
Our schools must encourage learning how to set goals, manage time, problem-solve, create, persist with the challenging tasks, and recognize when help is needed and be able to ask for it.
CBE and Project Based Learning allows students to advance based on proficiency of a subject, shown through skills and assessments (when feasible).
The CBE task force from Iowa stated that schools should engage students within their own areas of interest connected to their passions, as well as ensuring students have quality, engaging experiences with content.
Ensure Adequate and Equitable School Funding
Initiate a Task Force to Review Entire School Funding Model
With over $100 million sitting unused due to regulatory constraints, reform our funding model to allow more local control on state funding. (Source: Des Moines Register, November 21, 2016)
Our present funding structure was implemented over 40 years ago. The basic feature is the uniform level requirement, state foundation base, max on each budget, leveling up of low spending districts, minimum aid, and budgeting on the number of students enrolled.
The amount generated from the uniform levy is combined with state foundation aid to reach the foundation level of 87.5% of the established state cost per pupil.
One area where we are failing is transportation funding. In 2018, the Iowa Legislature proposed solution is to create yet another fund - for one-time use - to balance transportation spending. This is not a long-term fix, but rather a bandaid to a significant imbalance in the quality and fairness of our education system.
Move Toward Universal Pre-K Education
Universally accessible preschool is a critical part of protecting equal opportunity for all Iowans.
Protect All Our Students
Pass an updated, statewide anti-bullying law that would affect all schools’ bullying policies. As one of the first states to pass an anti-bullying law, we had lead the charge before and we need to update this law to protect our students and provide the best learning environments possible.
Re-visit the changes to Iowa Code Chapter 20 from 2017 to ensure both teachers and school districts have an equal footing in all contract negotiations. This will ensure the community has an equal voice on the teaching of their youngest residents and teachers are given a chance to provide the best education possible.
Do you have thoughts or concerns about education or any of my issues?