BRANSTAD'S LETTER TO EDITOR NAILS EDUCATION SPENDING
Greetings, Governor Branstad and all—
Your 10-21-15 letter to the Des Moines Register nailed wasteful K-12 education spending to the wall. Iowalive couldn’t have said it better!! You recognized state aid to school districts increased from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion, a waste of $1.4 billion per year—and teacher pay increased from $30,700 to $50,730, a waste of $20,030 per teacher per year, as academic achievement in Iowa dropped in comparison to other states.
There is $1.4 billion and $20,030 per teacher per year, wasted on things that don’t work, waiting to be reallocated to things you expect to work.
There is no need to add more taxes and spending to that waste.
Would you please tell Iowans how much gain in student achievement you expect to result from “investing strategically in education improvements” you cited? And When and at What Reallocated Cost you expect it to be achieved. If you won’t provide your best numbers, Iowalive net workers will once again have to step up to fill the leadership void.
“The facts speak for themselves: In the past 20 years, state aid to school districts has increased from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion. The portion of the state’s general aid fund for public schools has gone up from 37.8 percent to 41.9 percent. Per pupil, state public school costs have increased from $3,406 to $6,446. The average teacher salary has risen from $30,700, 32nd in the nation, to $50,730, 25th in the nation.
During the same period, academic achievement in Iowa has dropped in comparison to other states.
It is clear that just spending more money has not improved academic achievement. This is why Iowa is now investing strategically in education improvements. Those programs include enhancing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities, at a cost of $5.2 million a year. They include establishing the most extensive teacher leadership system in the nation, for $150 million a year. Our $11 million early literacy initiative is doing more to assure children read by the end of third grade, with the Iowa Reading Research Center focused on sharing best practices to support stronger instruction.
Let’s continue to work together to build on those landmark initiatives, including rewarding outstanding teachers. We don’t need another prolonged session fight over supplemental state aid; we need to assure students succeed in school. I will make my recommendations to the General Assembly on the second day of the session in January after we review the December revenue estimate.”
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