The biggest item in the state budget is education. Investment in people is important and pays off handsomely in added value created by better educated people. In the days of Google what you know isn’t as important as it once was; what matters more is what you can do. Education must provide basic knowledge but also problem-solving skills and skill with high tech devices. Our schools are the best they’ve ever been but compared to what they need to be they are falling farther and farther behind. Teaching those skills requires equipment and well-trained teachers. That’s expensive, but second-rate education makes Iowa noncompetitive in attracting workers with children, and lack of skilled workers handicaps our businesses.
School funding needs to increase by more than the current proposals. You get what you pay for, and underfunding results in underperformance. Public money should be used for public schools, not for private schools. We already have school choice—open enrollment. Too many teachers leave the profession because their work is hard and their pay is low. They are highly skilled professionals who deserve better pay.
Higher Education, including community colleges, needs help too. College is not for everyone, but for those qualified and interested it needs to be more accessible. Loans and grants should pay everything for those who can’t afford it. I’m against cancelling student debt (except if incurred through fraud), and I’m for making students take out loans, but the debt incurred in the past has been too high and there should be a way to pay debt with service.
Universities pass on knowledge, but they also create it. We need new knowledge and techniques in agriculture like regenerative agriculture, how to prevent pandemics, growing healthier food, diversifying agriculture so a drop in prices for corn or soybeans doesn’t trash our economy, etc. Supporting research is also a hugely valuable investment in our future.