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Statehouse News April 16, 2015

I highly recommend you contact both Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds (The Lt. Governor’s contact has been changed to the governor’s office. Please address both in your correspondence to the office.) if you have concerns on the following issues:

  • Closing the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant
  • School start date
  • Privatization of Medicaid
  • School funding 1.25% which the governor supports vs. 4% which I support. These are decisions which the Governor has made without legislative input and/or is threatening a veto if the Legislature disagrees. Read this editorial for more information. Click on the links above to contact them. 

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.–Victor Hugo

Failure to govern

We are 8 weeks behind where we should be in creating a budget for this state. We are a year and 8 weeks behind setting a budget for public schools for FY16. Our non-partisan Revenue Estimating Conference estimated revenue growth is 6%.

The issues in as few words as I can get to:

We enacted a law that gives the legislature the authority to spend 99% of the Revenue Estimating Committee’s December or March estimate, whichever is lower, and carryover dollars from the previous year’s revenues.

  1. Republicans refuse to recognize carryover dollars even though we are given authority in the code to use them.
  2. We have the revenue, the House Republicans philosophically do not want to govern.
  3. We don’t have an economic crisis we have a leadership crisis.

Let me put a personal face on wha4-15-15_Wessel-Kroeschell_SchoolRally-1t this leadership crisis means to Iowa children: A science teacher from West Marshall high school wrote the following to me regarding the needs of kids who are outside the norm:

“Honestly kids outside of the “norm” are unlikely to get much of the help they really need at this point. The cuts to education or the pathetic growth given to it do not allow for the help, resources, and assistance these kids really need. My job is feeling more and more micromanaged and disrespected by everyone. This year is the first year in a decade of teaching where I am honestly considering leaving the profession. I feel more and more every year that my time is wasted on trivial test scores and making our district look good at the expense of teaching. While I have a child with special issues and feel tremendous empathy for anyone else facing these issues, school will unlikely be helpful until we as a society start treating education with the finances and respect it deserves. Maybe this is a pessimistic view that people really don’t want to hear but while I love my students and I love teaching and I love science, the institution (or what people are doing to it) is crushing me and many of my fellow teachers.”

Science teachers are hard to find and even harder to find in rural Iowa. If this teacher gives up, it is a huge loss to Iowa children. 

A teacher from the Ames School District wrote the following:

 “When our kids are in school, we do everything we can to make sure they have everything they need. The reality is that public schools are grossly underfunded and there is only so much that we can do for kids with any sort of “special” need. But some kids don’t thrive in this sort of setting.  Until we are more adequately funded, there will be needs that go unaddressed. “

Not all Iowa students are getting the education they need. Larger classes, fewer teachers, reduced programming will lead to more students missing out on opportunities that would lead to success.

We have no budget targets, we have no budget bills and only 10 more days remain in this year’ s legislative schedule.

If a child is perceived and perceives himself or herself as disabled, that is what he or she will become. If the child’s self-concept is that of a person with both ability and disability, that very belief will both strengthen and assist him or her in overcoming whatever problems exist. − Marlene Bireley