116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Many studies on early intervention have found that children who attend preschool have better cognitive, academic and social outcomes later in life. The state of Iowa was right to continue funding preschool for 4-year-olds who would otherwise not be able to participate. In these tough financial times, this includes many 4 year-olds.
Public investment in preschool for all 4-year-olds should be implemented so that we can ensure that preschool is available for all families. Our state can't afford to leave such a proven benefit for children to chance when families are deciding whether or not they can afford preschool for their 4-year-olds.
In the blueprint for education reform that the governor will be announcing soon, I hope to see:
l Full funding for all 4-year-olds to attend preschool. It's the best way to get education started off on the right foot and has been proven to work.
l All school districts in Iowa implement Reading Recovery programs or another equally successful reading intervention program in their schools. A proven program can dramatically reduce the number of first-grade students who have extreme difficulty learning to read and write. When students succeed, they are more likely to be on-level readers, do well on standardized testing, and maintain their gains in later years.
l Less student testing time so that classroom time can be spent on student learning and meeting educational goals.
l More opportunities for teachers to collaborate and share their creative ideas. Professional development needs to be funded for districts to allow best practices to be shared among educators. I do not support merit-pay programs. Teachers should be learning from each other, without the fear of competition for their salaries.
l Enhanced support for teacher and administrator preparation. As our state universities set higher standards for their teacher candidates, they also should make sure that they are using the best researched choices for preparing their education students. Our state universities, junior colleges and K-12 classrooms all need state-of-the-art technology to ensure teaching the skills that our students need in the 21st century.
l Specific ways to support all of our schools. The blueprint should state specific ways for the state to support all of our schools with the necessary tools that they need to get the job done.
l Our schools in Iowa deserve more than 0 percent allowable budget growth to continue to be successful and move forward to improve. All districts in Iowa, including the Iowa City Community School District, will have a challenging time trying to do more for their students with less. Our school board must make decisions with careful fiscal responsibility.
As a member of that team, I will advocate full evaluation of the potential impact of all decisions and use the best available research on educational practices to ensure that all decisions are putting students first.
Marla Swesey and her husband have lived in Iowa City for 31 years, with two daughters educated in the district's schools. She taught elementary school for 30 years, 26 in the Iowa City district. Retired, she volunteers at the Crisis Center of Johnson County and area schools. Comments: email@example.com
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