Vilsack emphasizes education while campaigning for Shoultz, Kressig
Wednesday, August 30, 2006 12:11 PM CDT
By ANDREW WIND, Courier Staff Writer
WATERLOO --- Gov. Tom Vilsack said Tuesday during a campaign stop that great teaching is stretching Iowa's students and challenging them to do better in high school. And he said the state has a role in ensuring that it occurs.
"Every aspect of education is the state's business," Vilsack told about 30 educators from area schools gathered at Beck's Sports Brewery. "We began to talk about the importance of rigor and relevance, particularly in high school."
He noted that includes efforts to make some college courses available during high school, an option that a growing number of students are using. Two years ago, 6,700 high school students took college courses. The number rose to 23,000 last school year --- equaling nearly half of all seniors in Iowa's public high schools.
The educators came from the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Hudson, Waverly and North Tama school districts, plus Area Education Agency 267 and Hawkeye Community College. Vilsack, taking a break from his walk across Iowa, appeared in support of the re-election campaigns for Democrats Don Shoultz and Bob Kressig.
"I really wanted to be here for these two candidates in particular and talk to educators," said Vilsack. Shoultz is running for the House District 21 seat and Kressig for the House District 19 seat. He added that there are "no better supporters in the House for education, without a doubt."
Vilsack said that is important because students today are in "the most competitive circumstance" ever when it comes to education and the job opportunities that it will one day provide. They are not just competing with students across the state or nation, but from around the world.
"They are literally competing with every other youngster their age," he said, which makes teacher quality a top consideration.
"The reality is today it's more and more difficult to attract good quality teachers ... simply because we're not competitive when it comes to teachers' salaries."
Vilsack added, "This election is an important election because a promise was made. The promise was that we would start going down the path of higher teachers' salaries."
A report earlier this year ranked Iowa's average teacher salary as 41st in the nation. Afterward, the Legislature approved three years of teacher pay raises totaling $210 million.
Vilsack also talked about the 2007 reauthorization of the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act. Educators have raised concerns about what they say are punitive requirements of the law and inadequate funding levels for implementation.
"My hope is we have members of Congress, we have state legislators, we have educators that will be standing up and saying, 'Enough!'" Vilsack said to applause. He said the law should provide more resources and encouragement for achievement when it is reauthorized.
"For the sake of our country, we've got to elect people who care about education."
Earlier, Kressig said school funding has been inadequate during recent years with a legislative agenda primarily set by Republicans.
"I can just tell you here today that I am an advocate of education," he said. "A Democratic Legislature in the House will make a difference."
Contact Andrew Wind at (319) 291-1507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.