Sinclair added that a quality educational system is necessary to attract quality workers for Iowa businesses. She has heard that Vermeer has struggled to find qualified workers, and when parents consider moving to take a job, the quality of the schools play a role.
Heartsill believes one of the problems with education is too much top-down control. Educators are expected to teach everyone the same way and to reach the same goals, when children learn in their own ways. Heartsill’s wife is a home school educator and has run into this issue. Heartsill wants to restore local control.
There is also difficulty in removing ineffective teachers from Iowa class rooms.
“The teachers’ lobby is strong in Iowa,” Rozenboom said.
Sinclair also discussed the potential for educational improvement by introducing more competition to the industry. This was revisited by Oskaloosa Schools Superintendent Russ Reiter. Reiter told the legislators that, as a public school, it has to take every child, and that finding the best way to reach every child is not always easy.
Reiter is also aware of the challenges presented by competition, as students in his district could easily enroll in area private schools or Pella Community Schools. He said he has no problem paying teachers more, but it will require more money, which may not always be available. Settlements with unions for future pay also present a challenge when the State dictates increases or changes.
“With every district, there come local settlements,” Reiter said.
“When you live in rural Iowa, your choices are limited,” Sinclair said. “We have to make sure we are protecting a parent’s choice.”
Teaching to the center, as Reiter described the requirements of his staff, can sometimes leave the brightest at the top from reaching their potential, while those at the bottom may not be able to reach theirs as well. There was no resolution to the discussion, but as a member of the Education Committee, Sinclair intends to take what she heard back to the Senate.