I Wish I Were Shocked Mr. Governor

Governor Branstad,

Your statement today, after vetoing $56 million in school funding, says that your administration is committed to giving students a “world-class” education.  Is there anyone who believes that you are a force for what is best for Iowa’s schools?  Legislators debated and negotiated for months past any reasonable deadline to come up with the compromise that sat on your desk for weeks.  Every school district in the state of Iowa told you that your proposal of 1.25% was inadequate.  You chose late in the day before a three day weekend to announce this decision.  The act of a bold leader?

Schools began their fiscal year yesterday not knowing how much money they would have to operate this year.  Schools found out today that $56 million in spending that had been negotiated by their legislators will not be available to buy books, musical instruments, art supplies, technology, and other resources necessary to make our schools better.  How does this move us towards “world-class” schools Mr. Governor?

You vetoed this bill today because you thought it would be buried before a three day weekend.  Let me promise you that your act today will not be forgotten by Iowans.  This is your legacy Mr. Governor.  Whatever you believe your legacy to be, this is it.  Today.  Not only the act of vetoing this bill, but the timing and your lack of leadership during this entire process.  That is your legacy.

You can say that you are not in favor of one time money.  You can argue that you are a champion of business interests.   But, you can not say that you are a leader when it comes to Iowa’s schools.  I won’t let you do it.  Iowans won’t let you do it.  What is your agenda when it comes to public education Mr. Governor?  Or, should I ask what ALEC’s agenda is when it comes to public education?  Who are you listening to when it comes to public education in Iowa?

I wish I were shocked, but of course I am not.  The young people of Iowa are too important to be forgotten over a three day holiday weekend.  You did something political today.  You made a political calculation.  The decision was bad, the timing was cowardly, and only time will tell if it was politically savvy.  I think you went 0-3 today Mr. Governor.


Patrick J. Kearney



  1. Keep pestering this bastard. If he were a true leader, he would have dug into the work with the legislators and figured this out and not left us all guessing. DAMN, this Governor and his barbie of a lt. governor. Shame on him!!!!

  2. The State of Iowa use to, I again say use to be top in the nation for education. Every since Valsick and Culver our ratings have dropped. You can’t buy the best. You have to have peopw running the schools inspiring that. We can’t have educators running the schools we need business people that know how to balance the budget and get the highest performance. In other countries that have surpassed us they have a lot more students per class room. In charter schools and private schools the scores are higher. Money won’t fix your problems!

    • There’s a lot that is inaccurate in your statement, but I’ll let it go. The elected legislators of Iowa spent months agreeing on a compromise that the Governor tore apart today. The timing of his veto was cowardly. He has a right to veto that funding, but he can’t do it and call himself a champion for “world class schools.” He agrees with you Wilson that bigger class sizes, smaller teacher salaries, and charter schools are the answer to public education (although evidence debunks this), but he, unlike you, isn’t willing to say it out loud. I would encourage you to ask the Governor to join you in telling us what his real agenda is.

    • Putting education in the hands of businesses and politically minded people is disasterous. We have allowed policies like No Child Left Behind to dictate how this country’s educational system is run. When politicians (who have no clue what goes on in our schools) get involved our whole system goes down the toilet…as is the case in this instance. This country needs to stop playing political games and start looking for solutions together. Comments like yours are ignorant to what is really going on behind the scenes in education…not just in Iowa, but nation wide.

    • First of all, your own lack of education is most obvious immediately within your statement. Tom VILSACK was our former governor. Also, the correct term is “used to” not “use to.” Second, if you want to be taken seriously, check your spelling when commenting in a public forum. Finally, be sure to get your “facts” from reputable sources, not Fox news or other biased conservative websites promoting the privatization of education. When you choose to debate highly educated people in forums such as this one, you must first make sure you are up for the challenge. You are obviously not. We, as effective educators, spend our “free time” analyzing the most current research on education and best practices. We get our information from professional peer-reviewed journals, not cable news. Those “other countries” (that apparently shall remain unnamed for some reason so I have no idea which specific countries to which you are referring but, lets go with Finland) do outspend many U.S. states in education prep programs and school funding. Below is just one resource to which you can refer. See, this is called citing a source. That’s what educated and informed people do to support their argument. You might want to write that down.
      It is short-sighted, narrow-minded people like you who have driven Iowa’s education system into the ground. Those of us who spend our lives trying to save it and the students are the ones who suffer. Stop trying to make excuses for leaders who couldn’t care less about education and their ineffective, highly damaging policies. And next time you choose to make a public argument, proof read your statement and cite your “facts.”

    • Wilson, what you are saying is simply not true. The worst schools (many of them charter schools) are those that have been run like a business. Children are not products. We can’t send them back to the vendor if they are defective. The reason schools are in trouble, besides underfunding, is the educators have not been part of the process. Politicians and business people have been making very poor choices that educators have had to live with and try to make them work. Don’t take my word for it, do your own research.

    • With all due respect, wilson, you are wrong. I am a public school teacher who previously spent 20 years in the business world, and I hold an MBA. I have experience making decisions, cost benefit analysis, creating and being responsible for balanced budgets and continuous improvement philosophy. The problem with your assessment of public education is that you are not dealing with products, you are dealing with children, our only hope for a productive society. Private schools have the right to deny admittance to any student they fear might make them look bad by not achieving at a high level. Public schools are required by law to provide ” a free and appropriate education”. We do not have any control over who walks into our classroom, but we meet them where they are and help them move forward. We are still expected to bring them to the same level of achievement as the most privileged, inherently intelligent and talented student in a private or charter school. Furthermore, we live to do this. We work approximately 60 hours per week during the school year and spend our summers attending professional development and conferences (usually at our own expense) to make sure we can do an even better job the next year. At the same time, Iowa’s demographics have dramatically changed. Many of our students are llearning English as a second language, and an appalling number of our kids are living in poverty. In addition to educating them, we are providing food and clothing, not to mention school supplies. Again, often at our personal expense. We do this because we care about kids, and selfishly, I care about our society when I am retired. Today’s students are going to our caretakers…of our economy, our society, and even our physical well being. I want them to be educated, caring, productive citizens. Please understand, I am not bitter. I am fighting for all students, and all I ask is that you and others who share your beliefs make sure you understand the problem before you offer “the” solution. It IS true that money will not solve all our problems, but it would certainly help take care of many of them. More importantly, repeated underfunding dooms us to never again reclaiming our top in the nation status. It is not possible to create anything meaningful without all essential components, and money is a significant necessity. I believe I have the best job in the world, but people like Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds make it nearly impossible to do.

    • Private schools and charter schools do not have to follow state regs nor the Iowa Core. Enough said. Your idea that “business” people should run schools contradicts your statement that in the past Iowa schools were #1. Business people were not running them then, nor should they run them now. Superintendents are trained in Iowa law and budgeting rules. More importantly, they have an educational background and know that students come first- not dollars.

    • Charter schools are NOT better. And scores don’t mean anything if the kids are only being taught for the test. In other countries that have surpassed us they spend MORE on education than we do. We started dropping long before Culver and Vilsack (get the name right, okay?), during Branstad’s FIRST set of corrupt governorship.

  3. The veto is appalling and frustrating. Branstad has and continues to be missing in action on creating education that will enhance Iowa’s children and youth. Iowans must pressure the governor and legislature to meet the needs and challenges our young people face today.

  4. I guess it’s time patents actually stand up and take care of their children’s education rather than relying on the Govt to do it for them. There’s a reason parents get so excited when their children move from daycare to school, and it’s not due to them getting a good education.

    • It is definitely time for parents to stand up. Parents should demand that legislators articulate their real agendas. In Iowa we reward big business, tourism interests, and out of country business interests. And, to be clear, most parents are excited for their kids to go to school because TEACHERS do the work of our schools and they do it well under harder and harder conditions each year. If there are an army of better qualified teachers who want to do these jobs for less money, bring them on. For the moment teachers are going to work very hard with the resources we have been allotted. I dare you to go into a public school and find a staff member who isn’t trying to do what is best for kids. So, yes, parents need to get involved. If you want charter schools or private schools then say so. Say it out loud. It’s time that the agenda’s of our legislators cease to be secret. The agenda of public educators is simple, we want what is best for the students we teach. We want quality textbooks, we want reasonable sized classes, we want them to have access to programs like music and art, and we want them to have the best possible teacher in every classroom. That’s the agenda.

  5. Again, an example of continuing the trend of political payback to professional educators in Iowa. This is the way of our governor and his supporters of continuing to show what happens to organizations who (organizations are people too)do not support him. The frustrating thing is it works. As the ISEA and educators speak out in opposition to actions such as this, the Branstad political machine uses this as an example to squash other political opposition.

    Certainly nothing surprising, especially after noting how easy his election was. He is on top and plans to stay that way. Next on the agenda is getting his heir apparent elected. He and his supporters will get it done if they can eliminate meaningful political opposition. This is not about education, just political power.

    The timing of his action is a stronger statement than his words. By Monday this is old news in the perspective of much of our media. The organizations he is sending a message to will get it however. Very frustrating but certainly not surprising or unexpected. He had no reason to delay this long to sign the legislation. Anyone who has followed his political actions had to expect this. I know I certainly did.

    • He is taking this right out of Wisconsin’s Walker’s play book. It was put together by ALEC. A goal is to have a work force that is able to read directions, do what they are told, and not have the ability to question anything they are told. We all know schools should not be teaching students to think critically for themselves.

  6. Perhaps teachers should consider refraining from spending their own money on materials for their students and removing all materials they have purchased in previous years so parents can see the impact this has had on their children.

  7. In Davenport, we hired a business to run an elementary. The scores initially went up, but then went back down and it was decided not to renew the contract. The reason? The business (Edison) did not live up to funding promises and because they weren’t making a profit, pulled resources.

  8. Public education must understand that their is not unlimited money for every program every year. Inflation has been at 1.5 percent for the last two years and is on pace to average 0 this year. If the state of Iowa’s income doesn’t increase how can it’s spending increase?

  9. Pingback: I Wish I Were Shocked Mr. Governor | okosundayoko

  10. WELL SAID….

    I think he should visit some of the places he’s closing prior to closing them. As a public school teacher in Iowa and one who works daily with kids with severe behavior issues-with 99% tied to mental health issues and who are living in residential treatment facilities (the few still remaining) Our teachers do the best we can, trying to teach students’ to be valuable members of society in our state and the future. However, when these students’ are coming from homes where they are physically, sexually and emotional abused at a young age, education takes a back seat. Some of the mental health trauma these kids have received at the hands of the people they trusted most, is so hard to fathom because they are so young. And yes, some of these students’ are straight up delinquents but a majority are in places like this because they have no other place to go, family members can’t and sometimes won’t keep them in their homes. When you have students’ who are so mentally ill they swallow wireless mouse USB pieces or stand on the toilet in the bathroom breaking the light bulbs to cut themselves with during school hours, they need to be in places like this. And our governor feels that these individuals shouldn’t be treated in a facility but as out-patient treatment?!?!? When IJH closed, our classroom numbers practically doubled and the residential facility numbers went up as well. Thirty students in a gen edu classroom is over capacity. Now imagine teaching a classroom of 6-10 high school students. You may be saying to yourselves “gosh, only six students, that’s nothing, why is she complaining?” Now, imagine those students, a majority who have in addition to a learning disability, having a reading level 4 or even 5 years behind their same-aged peers, having AHDH, ODD, RAD, severe manic depression, suicidial issues and Autism just to name a few. Then within their school day, they are constantly being removed from class to attend family therapy with family members who want nothing to do with them or having to relive a traumatic event. They are then sent back to class, where they are expected to continue learning but instead, begin throwing objects such as desks, chairs or anything they can get their hands on at their teachers, paras and sometimes peers. The other students’ are then removed from the room for safety reasons and now their learning environment has now been turned upside down. Because of one individual’s “distress” another student may use that opportunity to disrupt the environment, leave the area or even exit the school building. And this is a true and honest example of what we see in our building and in just one classroom. Think about this happening in eight classrooms, all at the same time. Filling facilities beyond capacities is a very dangerous for other individuals and staff as well, very underpaid staff. Our public school teachers (gen edu and special edu alike) are NOT trained mental health experts or psychiatrists by any means and we are educating students’ with these mental health issues. And this is only the beginning. What happens to these students and teenagers once they turn 18? They are practically booted from the system and expected to be productive members of society because insurance says they are 18 and ready to be in their own. Our state has a huge gap in resources for individuals who maybe 18 but still need education and mental health treatment. So where do these individuals end up if they are placed in a independent living facility or community program and they mess up? They are put in prison. Our governor stated he is concerned about the future. I’m also concerned about the future. I’m concerned about living in a state that will be the worst state in the U.S when it comes to education and the quality of the education students’ will be receiving. He’s praising the teacher leadership program he created and yes I’m a product of that and I agree it’s a great program but what’s going to happen when there are no veteran teachers to fill those leadership positions because they have left the profession and even the state? I saw the other day that the Cedar Falls CSD was unable to get the bond issue passed again for additional space needed for a growing district. My district also had a bond issue not pass. So the mentality that education is not important to some voters isn’t just in the governors office but within our communities as well. When are we gonna say enough is enough, when there are 30 students in a class-well that’s already happening, or how about when there are 40 kids in a kindergarden classroom and the teachers are then to blame when not every student is proficient in reading. How about when inspectors are telling districts their buildings are not up to code (that’s already happening with our county jails and voters still say NO to building a new one). Then the districts are penalized for not meeting standards and testing scores with inadequate funding. I LOVE my job and couldn’t imagine teaching any where else but I also want kids and want them to have a proper education and not be in a class of 40-50, like a college lecture class. And if that means moving out of the state or sending them to a private school, then I would make that choice as a parent.

  11. When I graduated we where # 1 in education. We now are around #35. Brandstadt is the longest serving governor..IS THAT A COINCEDENCE. I think not. He also is out to decimate mental health care.. Those who cannot be heard shall be de-funded!

  12. I have seen a lot of whining and a bunch of bs. First almost EVERYONE works 50 to 60 hours a week and if they are a professional take CE courses AND work all year long. Boo hoo. Second I have an undergrad, grad and doctorate and i think what is taught in our public schools is a bunch of crap. Could our schools rewrite history a little more or come up with 30 more ways to do one math problem so our kids could be a little more confused? Or how about principals become a little more narcissistic than they already are because everyone knows that parents couldn’t know even a fraction of what principals and teachers know about our own children. When my son could read Harry Potter in kindergarten i got called in several times because there was no way i taught him to read that well on my own and they needed to know who taught him for their records. Oh and as for private schools “picking and choosing” who they accept. ….. my daughter has dyslexia. I had to get her tested privately because her public school would not. She couldn’t read or spell 4 or 5 letter words in the 4th grade. Her principal said and i quote “that’s what spellchecker is for.” They refused to help her and i took her to a private school. My son stuttered. Iowa public schools said they can’t help him because they spend too much money on English as a second language. Iowa schools are in bad shape. Teachers care more about bitching and whining than they do about teaching. Don’t believe me?…… read the above posts. The government needs to put parenting back in the parents hands where it belongs. Give us a choice of where we send our kids to school like a voucher program and I guarantee schools will shape up or close down.

  13. I am sorry your governor has apparently been bought by billionaires like ours, Sam Brownback, has. Many of our Legislators have also been bought. The schools have brought lawsuits against them and we find they are experts at prolonging the legal process. It is to the place many people will vote for Bernie Sanders because he is the only one that will take steps to stop big money in politics. The people are mad at the gov and his minions in the Legislature. We are looking to replace lots of Legislators in 2016, thus preventing Brownback from more cuts. We too have a state sec. that seems to be fixing elections. We hope to get help from the Feds to watch him next election. Good luck to us all.

  14. Because Iowans forgot about the 80s they forgot about tax heights and they forgot he is a crooked asshole who has saved his son from man slaughter saved his driver from speeding charges stopped a bill for medical marijuana for people who desperately needed it and only after he said it was ok he then helped get states surrounding ours to harden their patrols of our boarders to bring in said meds to the few people that needed them from other states who allow such things… Oh he is doing a bang up job

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