LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Drop the politics and renew our commitment to strong public schools

To the Editor,

As a lawmaker from Cerro Gordo county, I often read newspapers from different parts of North Iowa just to see what’s happening and see what folks are talking about. The one message I’ve heard consistently from Iowans this session is that they’re sick and tired of politics. I don’t blame them one bit and, to be honest, I feel the same.

  

I was disappointed to read Rep. Henry Stone’s column (published elsewhere) from March 30th that was based on misinformation and included several unfair characterizations of debate in Des Moines regarding education and public schools.

 

As the lead Democrat of the House Education Committee, I can tell you our top priority this session is strong public schools. We believe public money belongs in public schools and, like most Iowans, are opposed to the Governor’s voucher bill that shifts money from public schools to private schools instead. The bill would benefit just 2% of kids while taking away resources from the other 98% of kids, mostly in rural communities. Private schools already receive tax dollars from the state, in fact this year they will receive $104 million.

 

Second, we want more parents to be involved in helping our schools and teachers give our kids the best education possible. The truth is, parents already have full access to what’s happening in their child’s classroom. I spent over 30 years in the classroom myself and I always welcomed questions from parents and provided regular updates on what’s happening in class. Teachers aren’t trying to hide anything from parents, they want parents to be actively engaged.

 

After a decade of low funding, we also believe the Legislature should use part of Iowa’s surplus to invest in our public schools. Unfortunately, the Governor decided to give a $300 million tax break to corporations instead. 

 

Public schools have always been the heart and soul of communities across Iowa. I think it’s time to drop the politics and renew our commitment to strong public schools for our Iowa kids.

 

State Rep. Sharon Steckman

Mason City