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Even before the COVID crisis, it was clear what the Republican Legislature's thoughts were on education in rural Iowa. The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) lobbied for a 3% increase in Supplemental State Aid. The School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) called for a 3.75% increase. The Legislature's response? 2.3%.

As schools were forced to consolidate to save money and teachers lost their rights, Republicans touted their "commitment to education." It became painfully obvious during Governor Kim Reynolds' press conference last week, however, that the majority caucus does not care about students, parents or educators. After saying that school boards, administrators, teachers, and families were best suited to make decisions on how best to reopen schools, Governor Reynolds changed her mind and reclaimed authority of the process. Countless hours spent by all these stakeholders, all dissolved by executive order. That was not all. After lowering accreditation standards, underqualified candidates can now receive waivers to teach.

As a father of two young boys in elementary school, I am eager for my kids to return to a social learning environment. My wife and I are ready for this extended Summer vacation to be over. However, parents, teachers, administrators and kids should not be put at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to poor leadership. There is no question that students should be learning this fall, but school boards and other local officials are those most qualified to determine any course of action for the school year, not by edict from Des Moines.

As your State Representative for District 97, I will prioritize local control for schools during this difficult situation and will be more than just a rubber stamp for the Governor's reckless responses to education and safety.

Ryan Zeskey

Le Claire