116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gov. Terry Branstad is disconnected when it comes to the needs of families of preschool-age kids. His idea to cut universal preschool misses the point.
Of the nearly 40,000 4-year-olds in the state, slightly more than half attend preschool; about 19,000 do not.
It should be easier, not harder, for families to help prepare their kids for K-12 education instead of throwing up financial burdens for already-strapped families. Cutting the funding, as the governor has proposed, might cripple a child's education before it even begins. It's wrong. It will push families away from preschool and undo the progress the state has made in universal preschooling.
The current system of state support has been working well. Let's leave the program as it is without cuts.
Every parent of school-age kids - like me - would love to see more funding for schools, but the governor has already stated we are in a “zero-growth” budget. This will make it very difficult to meet the needs of our district, and students will pay the price.
It would have been a real surprise if the governor had pushed for more funding for the schools, since the deadline for 100 percent “No Child Left Behind” compliance (federal rules) is looming. All signs point to the governor pushing off more and more privatization of public school services, and that's not acceptable.
His emphasis on charter and magnet schools is just alarming. Many charters are long on buzz words and short on substance as to how children will learn. Charter schools do have a place in school districts in real need of assistance. Having a charter or magnet school in the Iowa City district means we have failed. Failure is not an option when it comes to our children.
As a parent, I am very disappointed that most elementary students in our district are given only 15 minutes for lunch. How is that even possible, when research proves that it takes more time than that for your stomach to tell your brain you've had enough to eat? It's absurd that students are being forced into bad eating habits in the school. Wolfing down food is a terrible thing to teach our kids - it leads to obesity, overeating, and health problems which were unheard of when I was growing up, such as juvenile diabetes.
So kids are forced to either “speed-eat” or go hungry! In terms of performance in school, teachers know that hungry kids don't do well in class. This is evident during the week of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, when the school actually sends a letter to parents, asking us to pack healthy snacks for the week. Shouldn't healthy eating habits be a part of every school week? You bet.
Jim Tate, of Iowa City, is a former Marine Corps corporal and has lived in Iowa City for 12 years. He has volunteered for DEEDS, is an assistant leader for Campfire USA and works at United Natural Foods, where he also is a Teamsters union steward. Comments: email@example.com
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