Guest Post: The Slow Assassination of Iowa’s Public Education

Photo courtesy of University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

By Guest Post

August 23, 2023

The Iowa State Fair may be a good place for conspirators to be in public, to say the quiet part out loud, and hardly get noticed. People are too busy eating food on sticks and taking pictures of the Butter Cow.

If you happen to walk by the “Fair-Side Chats,” you may have watched Gov. Kim Reynolds clap gleefully as one of the GOP presidential hopefuls spoke of wanting to do away with the Department of Education.

Here are the Five Rules of Getting Away With Murder: Public Education in Iowa edition:

Rule 1: Put it out there. Normalize the concept to avoid real thought about what that will mean to our future students.

Rule 2: Make public education the enemy in the eyes of the people: Against parents. Against norms of society. That way, it looks like you are actually in a red cape saving parents and children from propaganda, from pedophiles, from books that brainwash you, from history that destroys your self-esteem.

Rule 3: Allow public education to starve itself. Take away its funding. That way, resources can become even more scarce and staff can’t get a living wage, so they have to leave the profession.

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Rule 4: Strip away all power and control away from public school teachers who are still here. Make them voiceless and mindless like the Butter Cow.

Belittle them. Take away their respect by not treating them as the professionals they are. Tell them what they can or cannot teach, what books they can or cannot have in their libraries, and threaten them with punishments if they dare to challenge the status quo. Make them less than. And make them want to leave the profession too.

While you’re at it, dumb down the requirements for teaching as a response to the “shortage” you have created. Now, the public schools are not only short teachers, they are being replaced by those with less credentials and expertise.

Rule 5: Shake it up from the top. Merge the Iowa Department of Education with another department. Appoint an anti-public education person to lead it. Don’t give direction to any of the new laws, in order to sow confusion, chaos and fear.

Most chillingly, turn a blind eye as public education takes a turn for the worse. After all, Gov. Reynolds, you need to get that photo op with the Butter Cow.

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Bernie Scolaro is a member of the Sioux City Community School District school board. She can be reached by email here.

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