Accountability Funding Iowa

Amy Moore: Why Won’t Iowa Fund Its Public Schools?

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Amy Moore teaches fifth grade in Newton, Iowa, and writes often for the Des Moines Register. In this article, she chastises Governor Terry Branstad for promising to make education his top priority, then spending his time in office refusing to fund the schools.

 

She writes that educators will tell the Legislature how much money the schools need and legislators will lecture teachers and administrators about how greedy they are and why they need to do more with less. She says about Governor Branstad, “If this is how he handles his top priority, then I’d like to beg him to put us lower on his list.”

 

The way I see it he has reached into our pockets to steal millions of dollars set aside for our children. He put locks on our school doors until a date that he — and his business partners who care only about squeezing every last cent of profit from Iowa families — deemed appropriate. He plans to mess with school monies to try to help agricultural businesses get off the hook for water they polluted. He allowed for a push to implement Smarter Balanced assessments, which will make huge money for testing companies coming from our state, and is being dropped by other states that have found it to be problematic to say the least. The only real school improvement plan he has focused on is his teacher leadership initiative, which sends the clear and incorrect message that teachers are the main problem with our schools.

 

Aren’t Republicans supposed to believe in less government intrusion? I’d like governor to stay true to his party and trust local districts to spend the allocated state money. Districts have a strong track record of knowing what is needed to serve our local communities, and the diversity of school populations across the state makes one-size-fits-all mandates nonsensical.
With talk of next year’s budget there is inevitably the constant assertion that “just throwing money at it won’t help.” I wonder if the millions of Americans purchasing Powerball tickets this week would agree with that?

 

I have to admit there are times when having extra money cannot help. For example, if you’re being attacked by a grizzly bear, I don’t believe throwing money at him will help. Or if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, no amount of money can take away the pain.

 

But when it comes to children, having more money can almost always improve lives. More money can mean more books to read in the home and better quality clothes. It can mean more available time from a parent who doesn’t have to work three jobs to make ends meet. It can mean superior health care, child care and healthier foods.

 

It is the same with children in a classroom. Money means smaller class sizes with more individualized instruction. It means updated materials and technology. It means well paid, high quality teachers who feel appreciated to be compensated for their professional skills. It means fully staffed art, counseling, music, preschool and health departments. It means safe and comfortable school environments. It means the ability to offer courses to reach the interests and abilities of more students. It means field trips, extracurricular clubs and non-dilapidated textbooks.

 

Amy insists that the Governor and the Legislature must appropriate the funding that the children of Iowa need and hold the lectures about austerity.

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