Reynolds attack on public education


Karla DeBruin

As more teachers are voicing themselves retiring and leaving education; UNI Education majors make up nearly a quarter of the student population.


Since Nov. 6, 2018, public education in Iowa has become increasingly criticized, politicized and ostracized by Governor Kim Reynolds and the Republicans within the Congress of Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, 94% of Iowan students attend public schools. The bills gutting funding and pressuring teachers are affecting the next generation of leaders, doctors, farmers and educators. 

There are several bills sitting in Iowa’s Congress that have been receiving attention from local outlets, such as Senate Study Bill 3080 (SSB 2080), which enforces public school districts to publish their curriculums, libraries and book titles used in classrooms. Not only this, SSB 3080 will provide state funding for scholarships for students who wish to attend private schools in Iowa. They would also be required to keep a database of these materials for up to five years. The Iowa Senate also introduced Senate Study Bill 3085, which allows the board of directors of a school district to not provide compensation to substitute teachers in the district, even if they hold a teaching license. HF 2060 requires every textbook used in a school to be signed off on by the Iowa Department of Education. On top of going after teachers, substitute teachers, and administrators, the Iowa House of Representatives then turned on the students, introducing HF 2309, banning the participation of transgender athletes in the sport they identify in. 

According to U.S News, 22% of students at the University of Northern Iowa are pursuing a degree in education, which is more than any other field here at UNI. While UNI is known for its teaching program and has received many accolades for it, there is no teaching program that will prepare students for the world of pressure that the Iowan government is applying. By further politicizing the classroom, the Iowan GOP is making it harder for K-12 students to learn. Red tape is a term used for the amount of hoops one might have to jump through to complete something at the federal level. The bills proposed bring red tape into schools themselves. As someone who fell in love with the rows upon rows at my elementary school’s library, the attack on books within these bills are egregious. State legislators should be promoting literacy, not hindering the process. 

Beyond the attacks on literacy, students and teachers, we’re brought to the overarching topic: public education matters. As aforementioned, 94% of students in Iowa will receive a public education. The bills presented to the Iowa legislature are not strengthening the education the large majority of Iowa students receive, rather weakening it. The Iowa legislature should not be putting money towards helping students go through a private school; they should be making sure that citizens of Iowa’s tax dollars go to keeping the schools they went to open.

 What the Iowa legislature should be doing is buying school library books with that money, not taking books out. They should be replacing textbooks with that money, not making it harder to access them. They should be funding school athletic and arts programs with that money, not banning students from playing a sport. They should be funding the 94% of Iowan students in their public education system. They should be focused on giving them the best education possible, with as many resources as they can muster. That is where Iowan tax dollars are meant to go to, not private school scholarship funds. Private schools have never been a worry of the Iowa legislature, and they never should be. They need to focus on the students that they are supposed to be serving, and the students, teachers and administrators that they are currently failing.