Republicans in the Iowa legislature are best to start with the schools. That is, choke funding, limit collective bargaining with union employees, restrict local control during a pandemic, and control the curriculum, especially as it pertains to racial equity. If Republicans don’t do these things, as children become educated they will vote them out of office when they get their first chance.
Public education is the largest line item in the Iowa annual budget approved by the legislature. How the legislature and governor handle education determines to a large extent whether Iowa is a desirable place to live. Republicans would like to significantly reduce the influence of public schools and their budget priorities show it. Issues with the Republican plan for Iowa’s schools are obvious.
- There are not enough substitute teachers to fill in for sick and quarantined employees.
- The Davenport school district cancelled school this week because of a shortage of bus drivers. Other districts did too.
- Parents of students with disabilities can’t find paraeducators.
- The legislature plans additional state control over compliance with CDC guidelines regarding vaccines in schools: not just COVID-19 vaccines, but the science of immunization as well.
- Discussion of centralized control of school curricula is not finished. Legislators want to mandate a peculiar history of the United States be taught and are willing to legislate what that is. Efforts to teach racial equity are expected to be hobbled.
- The legislature encourages use of public funds for private schools.
This Republican malarkey is far from over. In a Jan. 2 Washington Post article, Laura Meckler wrote, “The GOP’s case (in the midterm elections) will center on displeasure over pandemic-driven restrictions, including school closures and mask mandates, as well as the racial equity work underway in thousands of districts. … What’s clear is that the pressure on schools on both fronts will intensify.”
In this context, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Republicans in the Iowa Legislature are seeking a way to eliminate state income tax. Flush with one-time money, Republicans are looking for ways to spend it. They have the individual income tax in the crosshairs.
“It’s appropriate to call it a moon shot because you’d have to live on the moon to think that it was a good idea,” House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst told the Gazette. “It’s a political ploy, it’s a starting point, it’s a moon shot and it would have huge ramifications in the state one way or another for everyday Iowans. It is an extreme proposal to say the least.”
Education is the foundation of what makes living in Iowa a valued experience. Legislators should start with the schools, yet when we look at what Republicans have done, reasonable people scratch their heads and say, “Not like that.”
If readers have not done so, it is time to engage in what the legislature does in the second session of the 89th General Assembly beginning Jan. 10. It is also time to get to work to elect Democrats during the midterm elections. Republican control of our government has been a disaster. Just take a look at public schools.