State legislators like Ashley Hinson tout Iowa’s No. 1 U.S. ranking in graduation rates as a sign the Republican policy of consistently underfunding K-12 education is a success.
The Republican majority recently passed a 2.06 percent funding increase. While Republicans should be thanked for increased funding this year, what results could fully funding our K-12 system turn out?
Nine percent of students aren’t graduating. When you dig deeper into the numbers, white students in the class of 2017 graduated at a rate of 92.7 percent while black (82.3 percent), Hispanic (82.4 percent), and low socioeconomic status (83.7 percent) students lagged behind.
Non-graduating students have increased academic needs that could be met with an additional teacher at grade levels to lower class size, emotional needs that additional counseling services in the district could address, or decreased access to basic needs like food, shelter and safety that must be met before they can focus on academic progress.
This year’s increase will only allow districts to meet the basics. Districts aren’t going to be able to afford specialized interventions students who fall through the cracks need. Our goal should be to fully fund education at all levels so all students graduate. More graduates will fill jobs in our tight labor market. When more students graduate, crime rates and prison populations decrease.
Our state goal is to increase the state graduation rate to 95 percent. To do that, our legislature needs to fully fund education.