Keast for Iowa House

Issues

         
          EDUCATION

          A great education is an Iowa value. We market our state by it. Many of us have come to the state or chose to stay because of our schools. I believe public education is the great equalizer and is available to every student in our state. We then should expect to adequately fund our public schools to make it possible for them to be leaders of education in the global economy.

          Districts have a huge burden of tasks to complete each year, and knowing the allowable growth number on time and according to Iowa law allows districts to plan ahead for the next year. If we expect outstanding schools, we understand that will take resources to support and reasonable time to make plans for the next school year.

          Iowa’s statewide voluntary preschools are one of the best advances in our state’s education plan and should be continually improved upon to guarantee it is always accessible to families across Iowa.

          As a teacher, I know we are ready and able to renew and reinvigorate our public schools with reform. I want to see the reformers first work with those in the classrooms- the teachers. They and the parents know the student best and can guide plans with the actualities of Iowa classrooms today. In every other area people abhor “one size fits all” treatment and yet that is too often the reach of reform legislation. Reforms should recognize the expertise of the student’s family, teacher, and district in making local decisions about the student’s progress. When reforms come, they should be funded, not increase the burden on districts’ stretched budgets or on property tax payers. Reform ideas should be supported with research independently demonstrating its value to the learner. We need a long term commitment to consistently work together as stakeholders of education.

          I teach music, and see the inspiration stretching a young student’s self-esteem as they see abilities no other subject reveals. That is the case for many curricular areas not yet in the core curriculum. It is time we recognize the whole person and those unique ways we find our best path. Arts, Humanities and physical education should become a part of the core.  The unique 21st century skills are well demonstrated in these areas.

          Our new workforce needs a strong 21st century educational system for further job skills training. Our community colleges, small colleges, universities and trade apprenticeships can support a growing and advancing work force. I want to help the state plan the best way to keep those accessible and affordable to our high school graduates as well as our experienced workers  who need to update skills or expand to new skills. These institutions have become a life line to employment during these recent economic times. They should be encouraged to continue to expand the outreach to Iowa workers.


     Iowa’s Economy

        While we are fortunate Iowa’s economy has weathered the national recession better than most states, we must work together to strengthen our local economy, create jobs, and expand Iowa’s middle class.
It starts with a strong “Made in Iowa” law to help local manufacturers and small businesses by giving them first crack at state contracts – so we can keep our jobs and tax dollars here, not send them to places like India and China.  

        Here’s my plan to grow our economy:

Give local businesses first crack at state contracts.
Hold the line on property taxes to protect seniors and the middle class.
Make sure kids are learning the skills to compete for good jobs by giving students and teachers the resources to succeed.
Increase production and use of bio-fuels and wind energy.
Require ongoing audits of state government so we can reduce waste and keep the budget balanced.

        Our mainstay economies of agriculture, manufacturing, building, retail, can benefit from the excellent training available in the state as we encourage businesses to come in to the state and remain here to grow. Agriculture and renewable energy work hand-in hand and should be encouraged. Other states want Iowa teachers, Iowa trained workers,  and Iowa’s work ethic. I will work on policies that keep  those workers here and invite other businesses to locate here to take advantage of our skilled workforce. .  I will look for the best results for District 95 in these policies