This is my 26th year as a public school teacher and I’ve seen our student body change a great deal during this time. We are serving more students in poverty and with significant mental health challenges. The current amount of education funding being proposed by the Iowa Legislature is insufficient when it comes to meeting the diverse needs of the students we are serving.
The governor and legislators are fond of saying that education funding has increased $843 million since 2011. This is factually true, but the politicians should be honest about where that funding has gone. A $163 million slice of these dollars are part of the Teacher Leadership Program passed in 2013. These dollars are restricted and cannot be used for regular program costs. Some dollars also went to property tax relief. We also have 13,245 additional students since 2011 which call for more funding. Regular program costs for schools have increased close to 3 percent and supplemental student aid hasn’t kept up with that. That has led to cuts in programs and classes offered, positions not filled, and larger class sizes.
The increase of student behavior problems in our schools has coincided with insufficient funding. The inability of legislators and the governor to fund our schools appropriately are forcing teachers to do more with less and putting undo stress on students. The Iowa Legislature and the governor should fund our public schools at a minimum amount of 3 percent supplemental student aid.