From Rep. Sharon Steckman –
With nearly 500,000 Iowa kids and 40,000 educators back in the classroom this month to start the school year, it’s more important than ever that we make sure our kids get the skills they need to land a good-paying job and be able to compete with workers from around the globe.
It starts with quality, affordable early childhood education. Continued by the Legislature again this year, over 20,000 four year olds will get at least 10 hours of instruction each week. Supported by educators and businesses, it’s a sound investment because research shows preschool participants are less likely to need special education, repeat grades, drop out, or get into trouble with the law.
Iowa K-12 school kids will also notice some changes this fall after legislators boosted funding to keep class sizes low and provide new opportunities. The Legislature gave schools a 4% boost in funding this year and also expanded on-line learning to give students new access to opportunities that may not be available in their own high school.
With Iowa facing a significant skilled worker shortage, Iowa’s community colleges play a critical role in building Iowa’s skilled workforce. With a new Skilled Worker Job Creation Fund created last session, over 100,000 Iowans will be attending one of the 15 community colleges to upgrade their skills and find a good job.
Iowa’s three state universities are also helping close the skilled worker gap in Iowa. The Legislature approved additional resources this year to ISU, UI, and UNI to keep tuition affordable for students. Iowa State is expecting a record 32,000 students this fall. UNI enrollment dropped to 11,800 this year. And while numbers aren’t final yet at the University of Iowa, a record 17,308 admission offers were made to prospective students this year.