As students prepare to return to school later this month, Iowa House Democrats made education funding their big issue last week. But do their claims match statistics?
“Nearly all local school districts will face another year of belt tightening as Republican lawmakers approved just a minor increase in state funding this year,” said an excerpt of the House Democrats’ newsletter. “For the ninth time in the last decade, the funding increase is below the cost of inflation which means many school districts will reduce course offerings, put off technology or book purchases, increase class sizes and reduce their education workforce.”
However, since 2011, funding for K-12 education has increased by $864 million, or about 35 percent. Former Gov. Terry Branstad took control in 2011 as Republicans regained the Iowa House that year as well.
Since 2011, the Midwest Consumer Price Index has increased 13.5 percent. Funding of K-12 education in Iowa is at an all-time high of nearly $3.3 billion.
Democrats continually slam Republicans for a supposed lack of funding when it comes to education, but since 2011, the number of full-time teachers in Iowa classrooms has increased by 3,100. The student-teacher ratio has decreased every year, even as enrollment has increased. And, average teacher pay has increased to almost $59,000 statewide. After adjusting for cost-of-living, that’s among the highest rate of pay in the country.
Republicans credit their work on the collective bargaining reforms of 2017, multiple bills that have increased flexibility for districts over the funding they receive and home rule authority, which they did not previously enjoy.
***Figures from nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency and/or the Iowa Department of Education***