Pella Chronicle

Opinion

August 28, 2009

McKinley’s Memos

It’s that time of year again. Students are busy relishing their waning moments of summer - a time that only seemed to quickly fly right on by. Soon, Tuesday evenings will be filled with cross country meets, Friday nights under the lights will bring communities together to root for the school’s football team, volleyball teams will bring gymnasiums back to life and marching bands and cheerleaders will delight crowds with pep and familiar tunes. Yet, most importantly, students will once again tackle tests and textbooks and await the newest lessons from teachers and professors.

Because the education of our youth is so important to the future of our communities, our state and the generations that will come after them, we must ensure that we are providing world-class education that prepares the students of today to be the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. A vibrant future rests with having a well educated populace that can keep our economy prosperous, our communities thriving and our families healthy.

Today, 20 to 25 percent of our students are one year or more below grade level. This drastic change in direction is one of the leading reasons why our eighth graders in 1993 were first in mathematics but have now fallen to 25th. We have spent billions of dollars and yet student achievement has stagnated and in many instances declined. The 2008 Iowa Condition of Education Report shows student proficiency has decreased over the past year in fourth grade reading, fourth grade math, eleventh grade reading and eleventh grade math.

I believe it is time to bring about real education reform, make our state competitive again and give our students the tools they need to be successful in this ever-changing economy. Reversing Iowa’s negative education trends will mean we need to shift back to the core basics and fundamentals of education and away from harmful gimmicks.

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