Each Iowa public school has a unique culture that often defines the community. All face many of the same challenges. Here are a couple.
Because public sector collective bargaining was gutted and funding for public education hasn’t kept pace with the cost of living, there are fewer people willing to enter the teaching profession. I’m not sure there is a teacher shortage as much as it is a shortage of highly educated people willing to work all day, take work home, get assaulted, called names, demeaned by some politicians, and by some parents to earn $40,000 or less to begin.
Another result of underfunding and lack of a strong teacher voice is increased class sizes. This causes some to pretend class size doesn’t matter. It does.
Public schools welcome all. There are children in our communities with untreated mental health issues. Those issues don’t end at the school house door. Without an adequate number of counselors, and mental health professionals, to help with these behaviors, educators and students continue to be at risk for violence.
It’s time for each community to step up and talk to legislators about protecting its public schools. After all, Iowa’s most precious resource isn’t corn, soybeans, or even windmills. It’s our children.
Bruce Lear, lives in Sioux City, IA and recently retired after 38 years of being connected to public schools. He was a teacher for 11 years, and a Regional director for Iowa State Education Association the last 27 years. He grew up in Shellsburg, Iowa.