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To the Presidential Candidates: Open Letter

An open letter to the Presidential
candidates from the educators of Iowa:

Please listen to the voices from the classroom

Public education in this country is at a crossroads. Children in Iowa and around the nation are being hurt by cutbacks leading to larger class sizes, fewer programs, and lack of adequate materials. School struggle to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and teacher aides due to low salaries and working conditions that rob children of the chance for individual attention.

Meanwhile, the new federal law, the so-called “No Child Left Behind” Act, lays out admirable goals for the nation’s public schools. Unfortunately, it uses a rigid one-size-fits-all framework that relies solely on test scores to measure children and public schools. It forces states to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on bureaucracy, paperwork, and testing at the expense of smaller classes, better materials, and better pay and training for teachers.

The so-called “No Child Left Behind” law threatens to leave too many children behind…and it comes with a huge price tag.

The 32,000 teachers and school support personnel represented by the Iowa State Education Association work hard in classrooms every day to make public schools great for every child. But we can’t do it alone. We need you to listen to the voices from the classroom and do what it takes to truly leave no child behind. Here is our prescription for fixing the law’s many flaws:

• Recognize that one size does not fit all – states and school districts need the flexibility to develop real accountability systems and direct more aid to schools and children with the most academic problems – because every child
can’t learn at the same speed or in the same way.
• Reward success rather than focus on punishments emphasized in the law – including requirements to close down schools and transfer students. They simply won’t work in rural states like Iowa.

• Provide the additional $9 billion promised in the so-called “No Child Left Behind” law – not only is it an unfunded mandate, but it actually diverts existing state and local funding from the classroom to pay for testing and other requirements.


• Invest in what children really need – quality teaching, smaller classes, more parental involvement, and up-to-date materials and technology.

We know our nation faces many challenges, but is there any greater challenge than educating and preparing our future generation for leading our nation into tomorrow?

As educators and voters, we are asking you to make public education a priority for your campaign. We look forward to hearing your ideas on the so-called No Child Left Behind Act and other key issues affecting our public schools.

Sincerely,

The 32,000 members of the Iowa State Education Association who are dedicated to promoting and preserving quality public education for all students.


ISEA Great Education.
It’s An Iowa Basic.


777 3rd St. • Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1301 • Telephone 515-471-8017
Paid for by the National Education Association.

— Educators of Iowa
Cedar Rapids Gazette
2003-11-14


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