Jochum: Iowa is losing our educational lead because other states invest more

pam jocum

Senate President Pam Jochum

January 29, 2015 statement

When it comes to educational excellence, Iowa is losing our lead.

For example, in 1996, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Iowa ranked 6th nationally in 4th grade math scores and 1st in 8th grade math.

Iowa didn’t have mountains.  We didn’t have beaches.  We didn’t have Silicon Valley.  But we had great local schools.

Iowa equaled educational excellence.  We didn’t miss a chance to point that out.

That’s why we put a one-room schoolhouse on the back of the Iowa quarter.

But, as Governor Branstad said a week ago: “We were complacent for too long, and others passed us by. Now we’re playing catch-up.”

By 2013, we had fallen to 21st and 14th in 4th grade reading and math.  We had fallen to 30th and 25th in 8th grade reading and math.

What happened?  Iowa test scores didn’t nosedive.  In fact, Iowa student achievement is about the same.

And that’s quite impressive, because today’s Iowa students face many more academic challenges, challenges like growing up in poverty or being non-native English speakers.

What happened is that other states realized the value of educational excellence. They realized that educational excellence is the key to attracting high skill, high wage jobs.

Other states started investing much more in their students.

During that same time, Iowa went from 24th to 35th in the nation in terms of overall investment in each student.

Iowa is losing our lead.

Iowa is losing our academic lead compared to other states because other states are investing more in their students and consequently achieving better results.

In the last election Governor Branstad ran on Iowa’s economic recovery.

On Tuesday, Republicans voted to keep Iowa students in a recession.

Iowa is losing our lead because Iowa Republicans are allowing other states to beat us at our own game: educational excellence.

That’s why we must do better.

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