In the past several months, I have made it a top priority to meet and discuss with parents, local school board members and educators about the current state of our education system and the proposals that are on the table. During these meetings we all spoke freely about what was happening in our schools and how best to move the Iowa education system forward.
One thing we all agreed on is that the status quo is unacceptable. In order for Iowa to compete on the international stage, we must have a world-class education system – and it must start at home. As a former teacher and a parent of two boys, I believe the foundation of strong education system is an involved family. Research has shown that just doing the simple things such as reading and engaging our children in the learning experiences and repeating them will lead to habits that will carry into elementary and high school and beyond.
Another issue that repeatedly came up during my conversations with people when discussing how to improve our education system was that we are not challenging our students the way we have in the past. This may be the most troubling problem we face in my opinion. We as parents, educators and taxpayers must expect more from the education system. I believe that in order for us to expect more from our education system, we must critically evaluate everything we do. We must look at curriculum, how we evaluate student and teacher progress, parent/teacher interaction, cooperation between rural and urban districts along with our community colleges, private colleges and state universities.
When it come to our schools, two of the hot topics across this state are 1) There is never enough funding and 2) There are mandates are passed down from the federal and state governments that hamper local input and control. I am in complete agreement with those who believe local communities and standards are the best way to achieve the highest educational goals. As a member of the Iowa House Education Committee, I will continue to fight for local input and minimize the overreach of the federal and state government. There is no silver bullet to this complicated and important issue; however, I believe that if we are willing to have an open dialogue and work together we can build on the system we have and have a world-class education system.
State Representative Annette Sweeney (R-Alden) represents Iowa House District 44 which includes Hardin County and Western Marshall County