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Statehouse News February 26, 2015

K-12 Education a top priority for Iowans

“Excellence in education is when we do everything that we can to make sure they become everything that they can.”   − Carol Ann Tomlinson

A new Iowa Poll out this week found 61% of Iowans believe improving k-12 schools should be a top priority for the Legislature this year.

It isn’t surprising to me given the number of parents I have heard from supporting my bill to create an Academic Coach endorsement. Let me share one of those stories:

Mark is a high ability student with ADHD, mainly inattentive type. Test scores are always above the 90th percentile, and his most recent Iowa Assessments included a 99 in Vocabulary, 94 in Math, and 99 in Science. He was a member of the Wordmasters Team this year in his middle school his team recently placed in national competition. Mark’s day-to-day work at school is inconsistent and his grades are at times dismal. His attention issues and lack of organizational skills contribute to missed assignments, late work, and incomplete assignments.  Although he has a 504 Plan, the accommodations are not sufficient. The teachers lack time and expertise to follow-up with Mark’s unique needs and to provide the needed support to get daily work completed. Mark has soldiered through up to this point, but I see his experience in Literacy class this year as a turning point. He is becoming discouraged and his self-esteem is eroding. I am concerned about keeping him motivated throughout high school. An Academic Coach dedicated to helping these twice-exceptional students could make a world of difference in helping these students achieve their potential.

Families are frustrated that they can not get adequate services for their children to succeed in our K-12 system. Iowa’s K-12 schools need at least 4% allowable growth for status quo programming. However, the above story (and many others) indicate students are falling through the cracks and new programming would help. The Governor and Republicans want a 1.25% increase in basic state aid for schools next year while Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing for 4%.

Students, school leaders, teachers, and parents have all told me the 1.25% increase in school funding is inadequate and would lead to higher class sizes, an increase in property taxes, and allowing students such as Mark to fall through the cracks.

I’ll be pushing hard next week to not only provide adequate funding to our K-12 schools, but also to take quick action.  It’s a top priority for Iowans, our kids deserve it, and the future of our economy depends on it.

Please continue to share your stories with me. When I share your story, I will not  provide any identifying information.

Quote of the week: “Twice-exceptional students are among the most misjudged, misunderstood, and neglected segment of the student population and community, possibly due to limited awareness of twice exceptionality and modest quantities of researched-based information about diagnosis and intervention.” − Megan Foley Nicpon