Iowa’s path to a high-skill, high-wage economic future depends on quality education and training for all Iowa students. That’s why providing solid funding for our schools is always at the top of my list as a state legislator. |From Senator Amanda Ragan
Iowa’s path to a high-skill, high-wage economic future depends on quality education and training for all Iowa students. That’s why providing solid funding for our schools is always at the top of my list as a state legislator.
In the Senate this week, we approved the dollars necessary to increase basic state aid to our local schools by 2 percent AND maintain Iowa’s popular statewide preschool program, as part of Senate File 533.
With state finances continuing to improve, this is a $65 million investment worth making. State revenues are up 4.4 percent for the past 12 months. Our reserve funds are full at $600 million, and we’ll add another $300 million by the end of the fiscal year.
Some want to eliminate the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program. That would dramatically reduce access to quality preschool for thousands of Iowa parents and their children.
Here are the facts. Before universal preschool, attendance was just 19 percent. It jumped to 60 percent in the first four years of the Iowa’s nationally praised effort. That tells me Iowa families need and want quality early education opportunities. It’s no wonder when 79 percent of Iowa families with children under age 6 have both parents in the workforce.
If we eliminate statewide preschool and switch to the “voucher” system proposed, many quality preschool centers will close and attendance will plummet. To ensure all Iowa children have the best opportunity to succeed, we should keep the successful program we have now.
Budgeting is about setting priorities, and nothing is more important that educating our kids. I hope my colleagues will join me in putting our local schools and students at the top of their list of priorities also.