The Death of Public Schools

Iowa is consistently ranked among the best states in the country for education, but recent legislation targeting our Area Education Agency (AEA) system puts our quality of education in jeopardy. AEAs were initially created to assist schools with special education programs, but quickly evolved to provide much more than that, as they believe the first step to quality special education is a quality general education. 

AEAs’ work in the background, often out of the view of students to provide services such as professional development for teachers, materials like textbooks and databases, technology support, mental health services and crisis emergency support just to name a few. It cannot be stressed enough how crucial AEAs are to schools.

“They [AEAs] train teachers, they train community members to be paraprofessionals, they provide support for teachers on problem solving if a student is struggling, they help monitor special education, they help analyze assessment data and they assist in curriculum review. They are a vital part of our team, they wear the Johnston jersey,” said Dr. Nikki Roorda, JCSD Superintendent.

House Study Bill 542 is a bill proposed to Iowa’s congress by Governor Kim Reynolds, initially discontinuing all services provided by AEAs that are not special education related before later being amended to only providing services upon request from the school district. 

HSB 542 also places the control of nine AEAs into the hands of the director of the Department of Education, whereas formerly they were each run by a board of nine consisting of former educators and administrators local to the area.  The bill intends to improve special education and close achievement gaps. HSB 542 is currently tabled in the House of Representitives and active in the Senate.