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Letters to the Editor

No ‘rich tradition’ of education

A term tossed around too lightly is Iowa’s “rich tradition” of education. Considering its basis of discrimination, with educators taking no responsibility for the discrimination, and no one holding them accountable, why call it a “rich tradition” as if it were something to be proud of? Iowa educators have resisted moving away from this “rich tradition” of discrimination since the national government stepped in with the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, followed by an updated Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016, and Supreme Court decisions concluding such discrimination violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment of citizenship rights.

Such resistance is no different than the Jim Crow South resisting the national government telling them their embedded discrimination (put in place after the Civil War) violated the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. In that case as well, the national government had to step in and not only enact legislation, but they had to enforce it — just as the national government is enforcing education legislation designed to end discrimination.

When Iowa wrote its ESSA plan to address one of the widest achievement gaps in the country – and the numbers in Special Ed continuing to increase (instead of decrease as they are in states out-educating us) — the basis was the embedded discrimination that the fault lay with the students rather than the system, and standards were lowered (as they have been over the decades on a regular basis). One of the first steps Iowa has also taken is to write its own alternative assessment test for students this discriminatory system falsely believes are disabled — with no medical diagnosis of support — clearly indicating its intent to continue the system of discrimination.

With the National Council for Teacher Quality findings that Iowa’s teacher training programs continue to use the wrong materials, Iowa educators clearly lack the ability to write assessments of any kind, including a plan to reduce the achievement gap, as well as create teaching methods to effectively teach concepts to all students. As a motivation, the Iowa Legislature needs to pass legislation requiring a medical diagnosis of a real disability before a student qualifies for Special Ed. In addition, legislators need to remove limits to online education and require those teachers to be licensed in states out-educating Iowa, in order for Iowa students to access concept-based education without discrimination as well as have access to effective remediation that Iowa educators are unable to provide.

Sue Atkinson

Baxter

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