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Ragan: Iowa has a tradition of educational excellence

From Senator Amanda Ragan –

One of the most rewarding things about being your State Senator is the conversations I have with young people who are getting involved in our democracy for the first time. Each year, I give students and teachers a firsthand look at how our laws are made when they visit the Statehouse. I also visit them in their local classrooms to see what they’re working on.

This fall is no exception. I’ll be visiting local classrooms to meet personally with young constituents, answer questions, share ideas and listen to concerns. It’s a great way to give students—the nation’s future leaders—a glimpse at how representative democracy works, and to let them know their ideas count.

I will be one of more than 1,300 state lawmakers who will join students in schools across the country. It’s all part of the Back to School Program sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Trust for Representative Democracy.

If you’d like me to come to your school this fall, please give me a call or send me an e-mail.

Boosting education and job training for a stronger Iowa future
With the start of a new school year, students of all ages are returning to Iowa classrooms in our K-12 schools, community colleges and universities.

Iowa has a tradition of educational excellence, something we build on each and every year in the Legislature. This year, we focused on improving education in ways that will help Iowans build a prosperous future for our state. They include:

• Providing more intensive science, technology, engineering and math education through a $4.7 million investment in STEM.

• Keeping tuition affordable at our community colleges, state universities and private colleges so all Iowa families can take advantage of the educational opportunities that lead to great jobs.

• Reducing Iowa’s skilled worker shortage with a $15 million investment in worker training that will help Iowans qualify for skilled job openings at local businesses.

We also voted to:

• Ensure Iowa kids are good readers by keeping class sizes small in kindergarten through third-grade so young students get the one-on-one time they need with their teachers. Plus, a new statewide Iowa reading research center will spread the best practices for teaching reading.

• Invest in education, research and training facilities at our community colleges and universities so they can continue preparing a highly skilled workforce.

• Continue our commitment to strong local schools by raising academic standards, increasing teacher and administrator effectiveness, and supporting innovative teaching. This is a good first step on education reform, our multi-year effort to enhance educational opportunities for all Iowa students.

I also voted for important investments in student achievement that were not taken up by the House, including a 4 percent increase in basic state support for local schools for the 2013-2014 school year. These funds would have helped pay for textbooks, heating bills, technology and other necessities for students and teachers to be successful.

I’m proud of what we achieved by working together on this year’s education initiatives. We made investments that will pay off long into the future.

As we look at ways to continue improving Iowa education, we must build on the good things that are happening and fix real problems. If you have ideas or suggestions, I’d like to hear them.

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