Prall: Branstad’s education plan is a farce

BY JACOB PRALL | AUGUST 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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Now is not the time for shortcuts in the educational system. So long as we invest in the future, we invest in what this nation stands for: liberty, opportunity, and equality. The less you invest, the less the return.

When the Common Core, a set of educational standards that aims to raise student literacy and achievement in certain “core” areas, becomes politicized, some have to object for their constituents, who are largely uninformed or inexperienced in education.

Gov. Terry Branstad’s farcical “rejection” of the Common Core program has cost Iowa more than $180 million in education funding. The cuts that inevitably followed threaten the future of Iowa.

Preschool programs across Iowa have seen drastic reductions, weakening vertical economic opportunity while stifling the mental growth of Iowa’s youngest. Instead of working, furthering their education, or both, the least affluent families are forced home by expensive preschools.

This harms everyone, not just the less affluent. Further, research from the National Institute for Early Education Research has shown that children who attend preschool enter kindergarten with reading, writing and number-recognition skills far surpassing their preschool-lacking counterparts.

Preschool austerity impairs today’s working class and tomorrow’s students.

Austerity hasn’t found itself solely in the realm of preschools. The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa have all seen budget reductions. UNI has experienced the most drastic measures and has been forced to close facilities that for years have attracted inspired soon-to-be teachers from across the country to Iowa.

The students of Iowa deserve determined, passionate teachers to make the difference in their lives. Smaller endowments also make for less opportunity in higher education, absolutely essential for the competitive worker in our markets.

We no longer live in a society in which people may forgo attending college and find themselves in the middle class. Less education means less value, and Branstad is actively undercutting the group of people who will become Iowa’s educated workforce.

Branstad’s executive order to edit the Common Core is no more than a foolish political move to appease a small, uninformed, but very vocal group of voters. Education is too valuable to push further into the quagmire of political partisanship.

Perhaps Branstad should stop acting like a candidate and start fulfilling his duty to Iowans, doing what’s best for today and tomorrow. Not all the blame belongs to Branstad, however. The loud do not have to be uninformed, and participating in the political process at local levels can make the difference.

Branstad might be sweating over the security of his employment now, but his supporters will dab his forehead and tell him things will be OK. Until the rest of us speak up, he will continue to be bullied into poor decisions affecting every Iowan. Education in today’s globalized economy is essential. The essentials should be bolstered, not castrated.

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