Too often, the issue of education becomes a political football and lost in those battles is the purpose of it all: education is about our kids. Costs are escalating but student performance is either unchanged or declining. As one of the great equalizers in our society, no child should be denied an education and a bright future because of costs. Both my husband and I grew our way out of poverty with a solid education, the help of inspiring teachers and hard work.
I believe the answer is competition in education. Charter schools and school vouchers will improve the quality of an education and reduce costs to taxpayers. Increased accountability and merit pay based on classroom performance (rather than standardized tests) will reward our best public school teachers and raise classroom performance. I also firmly support parental rights, and those who choose to home-school their children.
Generally, education reform must emphasize more local control, less administrative bureaucracy, and allowing teachers to teach, innovate and excel in their own classrooms. The needs of every student differ, and therefore the needs are different from classroom to classroom. That also means reforming No Child Left Behind to prevent "teaching to the test" and allowing more freedom for teachers to teach.
Finally, an affordable college education isn't just about low-interest rates on government backed loans, since it does not bring down the cost of a higher education. As someone who went through the community college system, I fully support bolstering these areas that help with certain skills, training and technical courses which are vital to our economy and provide good-paying jobs for middle class Iowa families.