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Iowa students deserve the best and brightest teachers in our public schools. That’s why I am pushing for more public school funding.  Decent funding matters if Iowans want smaller class sizes, competitive salaries and benefits, and innovative classes, programming, and extracurricular activities for our kids.  Strong public schools help build strong communities.

Teacher-prep faculty and educators in training visited the Statehouse this week to talk with legislators about how teacher preparation programs are working to recruit, retain and support a diverse group of educators for Iowa schools.

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These future teachers have a passion for educating our next generation. I want to see them succeed. Unfortunately, Governor Reynolds and Republican attacks on public education and teachers is such an incredible shame.  It is leading many wonderful educators to consider leaving Iowa for other states with better pay and treatment, or leaving the professional all together. Iowa is better than this.

A recent survey found that nearly half of teachers said they’d considered changing jobs in the past month, up from 32% just five months before. And not enough qualified new teachers are entering the field to replace those leaving.

It’s not just a shortage of classroom teachers that’s making it tough for students to get the world-class education they need. School districts are also struggling to find bus drivers, paraprofessionals, nurses, office staff, custodians and food service workers.

Iowa ranks 39 out of 50 in public school funding per student. That’s well below the national average, as are Iowa’s starting teacher salaries. Educators often pay out of their own pockets for items that should be covered by the school—classroom supplies, paper, snacks, books, educational toys, first aid kits and more.

Our students, schools and educators need a solid boost. I support increasing funding for education by 5% so local schools can address many long-standing needs and our state can send a message that we value teaching and learning.

It makes more sense to invest an additional $300 million in our public schools than it does to give big corporations another $300 million tax break. Let’s make Iowa students, educators and public schools our #1 priority again.

If you have stories you’d like to share with me about how underfunding our public education system is impacting you or the people you love, please email me at: [email protected]

Author: Janet Petersen

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