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Congratulations to Mason City High School for being one of 19 schools nationally to be honored with the 2021 School of Excellence Award from the American College Application Campaign!  ACAC honored Mason City for its all-school effort, ensuring students were given support and were prepared to complete college applications. Nice job ALL!

Next week we finally head back to the Capitol to finish the business of the 2022 session. Much has been going on behind closed doors and, as of this writing Democrats have been left out of those conversations. We wait and hope to be able to vote for legislation that will be beneficial to all Iowans.

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We still have no idea as to the fate of private school vouchers or HF2577, the “teacher transparency” bill. HF2577 would require an incredible amount of extra work for teachers, with penalties of up to $5,000 if they do not comply. Curriculum materials are already easily accessible to all so the bill is not even necessary. Teachers and school administrators are more than happy to share what they are teaching. HF2577 is a requirement for only public schools.

I want to be very clear, I am NOT against private school or homeschooling if parents decide to go that route for their children. This year $104 million tax dollars will be going to support private/homeschool education. So there are tax dollars already going to these entities. There are close to half a million young children in public schools, depending on us to give them an excellent education. The primary charge of the State is to make sure those children can enter the working world with all the tools they need.  As the Iowa state quarter shows, that has always been the mission of Iowa.

Below is an editorial  I sent to several local North Iowa papers a few weeks ago expanding  my position on education in Iowa.

To the Editor;

As a lawmaker from a neighboring district over in Cerro Gordo County, I often read newspapers from different parts of North Central Iowa just to see what’s happening, what folks are talking about. The one message I’ve heard consistently from Iowans this session is that they’re sick and tired of politics. I don’t blame them one bit and, to be honest, I feel the same.

That’s why I was disappointed to read Rep. Henry Stone’s column from March 30 that was based on misinformation and included several unfair characterizations of debate in Des Moines regarding education and public schools.

As the lead Democrat of the House Education Committee, I can tell you our top priority this session is strong public schools. We believe public money is for public schools and, like most Iowans, are opposed to the Governor’s voucher bill that shifts money from public schools to private schools instead. The bill would benefit just 2% of kids while taking away resources from the other 98% of kids, mostly in rural communities.

Second, we want more parents to be involved in helping our schools and teachers give our kids the best education possible.  The truth is parents already have full access to what’s happening in their child’s classroom. I spent over 30 years in the classroom myself and I always welcomed questions from parents and provided regular updates on what’s happening in class. Teachers aren’t trying to hide anything from parents, they want parents to be actively engaged.

After a decade of low funding, we also believe the Legislature should use part of Iowa’s surplus to invest in our public schools. Unfortunately, the Governor decided to give a $300 million tax break to corporations instead.

Public schools have always been the heart and soul of communities across Iowa. I think it’s time to drop the politics and renew our commitment to strong public schools.   

Author: Sharon Steckman

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