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Ragan: Building a strong Iowa future through education, jobs

From Senator Amanda Ragan:

Iowa’s local schools aim to provide a world-class education and opens doors to a better tomorrow. That requires on-going efforts to improve. To help, the Iowa Senate has approved comprehensive education reform.

In recent years, we’ve taken the advice of parents, teachers and students, as well as state and national experts. Together, we have improved Iowa education by establishing a statewide public/private partnership to improve preschools, expanding efforts to help children learn to read, raising standards and establishing consistent graduation requirements.

We’ve made schools safer for all children by outlawing bullying and smoking on school grounds. And we’ve taken steps to keep the best teachers working in Iowa classrooms and to provide more opportunities for teachers to improve their skills.

This year’s education reform, Senate File 2284, will build on those successes.

The Senate also approved an Economic Development budget that will help Iowa businesses create new jobs and put more Iowans back to work.

House File 2337, as amended by the Senate, now includes incentives to create jobs by attracting businesses and helping them expand. Our plan also supports Iowa’s state universities by investing in partnerships with local businesses on technology, entrepreneurship and marketing opportunities that create jobs.

The Senate and Governor Branstad both support the plan that provides incentives to help businesses create jobs and significantly funds for community colleges and public universities.

In addition, we are resisting the cut to Iowa’s local workforce offices. The cut would mean fewer local offices to help out-of-work Iowans looking for jobs and businesses looking for employees.

The budget plan I voted for would keep the current field offices open and reopen four workforce offices in areas where their services are needed most to continue Iowa’s recovery from the national recession.

To keep Iowa’s economic recovery going, we must also continue investing in our young people and in our universities. College should be affordable enough that Iowans can get the education they need to boost Iowa’s economy.

State support for our universities has fallen sharply in recent years, which resulted in higher tuition. That’s why Iowa student debt is among the highest in the nation.

Students from UNI, ISU and the U of I are our future leaders in education, bio-sciences, engineering, physics, business and other areas. In addition, our state universities help Iowa businesses of all sizes through direct technical assistance and technology transfers.

There are many good reasons to invest in our universities. Students from Iowa’s three state universities have started a new grassroots effort to spread that word in hopes of keeping a high-quality college education affordable for all Iowa families.

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