Zach is a Legislative Affairs Director for ExcelinEd in Action. In this role, he works with leaders and lawmakers from the midwestern states to promote student-centered solutions.
During the Condition of the State address, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted investments in several areas to address the challenges of the pandemic on education, including broadband infrastructure, educational opportunities and work-based learning, as well as maintaining public school funding levels to support all Iowa students.
Prioritizing education funding is essential at this time to get students back on track and to address pandemic-induced – and persistent – obstacles faced by schools and students. I applaud Governor Reynold’s commitment to reimagining education to better prepare students for success.
One-third of Iowa counties are broadband deserts, and the state has the second lowest broadband speeds in the country. To remedy this, Governor Reynolds proposed to expand affordable, high speed broadband to every corner of the state by 2025 through a $450 million investment in infrastructure. One of the pandemic’s most vivid lessons is that digital access must be a core component of how we deliver education. Significant investments in broadband like this is a critical step to connect all students to the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.
The pandemic also exposed the need for increased educational opportunities.
“School choice shouldn’t be limited to those who have the financial means or are lucky to live in a district that’s confident enough to allow open enrollment. So let’s make choice an option for everyone.
“We can do that by making open enrollment available in all districts and by allowing our communities more flexibility to create public charter schools where there is a need for an alternative. And we should create education savings accounts for students who are trapped in a failing school; let’s give them another choice by making sure money isn’t their barrier.”
Governor Kim Reynolds
Governor Reynolds also called for further integrating work-based learning into the K-12 curriculum. High-quality work-based learning programs provide a wide range of experiences allowing students to engage with employers and industries through a career exploration and planning process. In order to be most effective, these programs need to align with state education-to-workforce pathways and ensure all stakeholders – students, teachers, business partners and parents – are fully informed and ready to produce meaningful, relevant experiences.