What is our shared public education vision?

Heather Matson: It is abundantly clear that the governor and many Republican legislators are only listening to the Iowans who agree with them. -promoted by Laura Belin

It’s often said that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I am deeply disappointed, and quite frankly, furious, that what Iowans heard from Governor Kim Reynolds in her Condition of the State speech was a decision to cynically use the challenges we have faced over the last year as a means to further divide us and score long sought-after political points. And she is doing it under the euphemistic guise of “school choice.”

Let’s be clear: The governor, with the support of House and Senate Republicans, is continuing a war on public education in the state of Iowa. They have no idea of a shared vision for our state, and especially one for public education, which I will get to at the end, so please stick with me. 

But first, a few thoughts on the Republican proposals. 

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Iowa senators still won't debunk Big Lie about election

As Joe Biden’s presidency began on January 20, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst acknowledged the transfer of power “to a new presidential administration, a sacred tradition of our democracy.” Both she and Senator Chuck Grassley promised to work with the Biden administration on behalf of Iowans.

But Ernst and Grassley have yet to denounce Republicans who still claim, falsely, that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. On the contrary, in communications with Iowans, both senators continue to suggest there are legitimate concerns about election fraud in some states Biden carried.

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Open letter to Ann Meyer on teacher recruitment, retention

Republican State Representative Ann Meyer introduced a bill to address a pressing problem for Iowa schools. Randy Richardson argues we don’t need a new task force to figure out why students aren’t becoming teachers or why teachers are leaving the profession. -promoted by Laura Belin

Dear Ann,

I read with great interest House File 101, which you introduced this week. As you know, the bill calls for the creation of a Teacher Recruitment and Retention Task Force consisting of 21 people appointed by the Iowa Department of Education director. The task force will study why students aren’t entering the teaching field, why many teachers are leaving the profession, and what can be done to attract a more diverse group of teaching candidates.

A reasonable person would assume that the task force would be made up of a large number of teachers, since they would offer some key insights into the issues. Unfortunately, your bill requires the appointment of only three teachers (and one of them can come from an Area Education Agency).

While the intent of the bill is laudable, the need for a task force to determine why this is an issue is laughable.

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Joni Ernst among small group rejecting first Biden cabinet nominee

Two hours after President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst said in a written statement, “As an eternal optimist, I am hopeful we can work together with President Joe Biden, and the first female Vice President, Kamala Harris, in a bipartisan way to deliver for the American people.”

Later the same day, Ernst was among just ten Republicans to oppose the first Biden cabinet nomination considered on the Senate floor.

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We should not respond in kind

Jerry Foxhoven: Democrats who now control the federal government should try to work with Republicans. But they must be prepared to move on without them. -promoted by Laura Belin

The aftermath of our most recent election is a sad case of divisive politics on steroids, coupled with revenge and retribution by our outgoing president and his allies. It has shown the darkest side of the Republican Party as shaped by Donald Trump: a willingness to put our entire democratic republic at risk just to throw a temper tantrum over an election loss.

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