I fought hard for our local students and schools this year in the Legislature. I joined Iowans from across the state who spoke out against deep cuts to education at all levels, cuts that would limit the future of the next generation and of Iowa’s economy.|(From Sen. Amanda Ragan)
I fought hard for our local students and schools this year in the Legislature. I joined Iowans from across the state who spoke out against deep cuts to education at all levels, cuts that would limit the future of the next generation and of Iowa’s economy.
Educating our young people and helping workers improve their skills are smart investments in Iowa’s future. As we dig our way out of the lingering national recession, slashing education just didn’t make sense.
Fortunately, Iowans made their voices heard. That’s why, in the end, our students and schools fared much better than initially expected.
We reached a bipartisan compromise (SF 533) to maintain Iowa’s successful voluntary preschool initiative. The Legislature finally acknowledged that closing preschools would only hurt middle-class families already struggling in today’s tough economy.
A two-year starvation diet for our schoolsóno new money for K-12 for two years in a rowówas rejected. We won a 2 percent increase in basic state aid for local schools for next year. That should help ease the damage our local schools may suffer from no new state money this year, something that has never happened before.
We maintained our commitment to increasing student achievement through the Iowa Core Curriculm, which provides all Iowa children with high-quality educational opportunities. It is strongly supported by Iowa’s local school officials, parents and teachers.
The cuts to our nationally-recognized community colleges were reversed, making it possible for Iowa workers get the training they need to fill skilled-job openings at local businesses (HF 645 and HF 648).
Finally, the Legislature voted to increase accountability and transparency for your tax dollars. HF 645 would have required education-related, taxpayer-funded organizations (like the Iowa Association of School Boards) to comply with open meetings and open records laws, and to be subject to regular audits and whistleblower protections. In addition, school districts would need to show taxpayers how much they spend on services through these organizations. Unfortunately, Governor Branstad vetoed this important taxpayer protection.
In the end, the fight for education paid off. We weren’t able to do as much as we’d hoped for our students and schools, but we did take big steps forward from initial proposals to sharply cut funding for community colleges, eliminate universal preschool, and impose two years of no new state dollars for local schools.