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Student achievement, quality schools remain key sticking points

June 5, 2015
By State Senator Steve Sodders - D-State Center , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald


Adam has made it through another year at Iowa State with great grades. He is now studying journalism and media. He was able to apply for and got an internship with the Times-Republican. Let me know what you think of his writing.

Maggie finished her junior year and is now ready to be a senior in high school at West Marshall.

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State Senator Steve Sodders

I have been working on a trade trip to Cuba with a bipartisan delegation. There are a lot of moving parts, but I hope to hammer out the details so that we can promote Iowa ag and trade with Cuba.

At the Statehouse, the Legislature has not yet adjourned for the year due to disagreements over education funding. Iowa families count on our schools to give their kids a leg up in life. High-quality schools make Iowa workers among the nation's most productive, which in turn attracts high-skill, high-wage jobs and businesses to our state.

Educational opportunity has long been a key factor in Iowa's economic growth, and economic opportunity is directly related to education funding. It determines if schools can pay teachers and staff, how much one-on-one attention students receive, and whether classrooms have up-to-date materials and technology. Funding will help determine the success of the education reforms launched in 2013.

Today, Iowa invests $1,600 less per student than the national average. Education leaders say a 3 percent increase in funding for our schools is necessary to prevent Iowa from falling farther behind.

Republicans, who control the Iowa House, proposed an increase of 1.25 percent five months ago. Democrats, who hold the majority in the Iowa Senate, approved a 4 percent increase earlier this year and have made several attempts to compromise since.

We are willing to split the difference by giving schools a 2.625 percent increase, which would prevent cuts at most schools. Unfortunately, House Republicans won't budge. As a recent Quad City Times editorial put it:

"Instead of doing the work of legislating, House Republicans hung fast to their session-opening position of limiting education funding to less than the rate of inflation, assuring unnecessary and harmful education cuts for Iowa schoolchildren."

So far, the House position has forced schools across Iowa to send out "pink slips" to more than 1,000 Iowa teachers. This is not the way to strengthen student achievement, Iowa communities and our state's future.

With Iowa's finances in good shape, this is the year to renew our investment in education and our commitment to a strong economy.



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