May 18, 2024

Kim Reynolds is hurting real people by dismantling Iowa’s AEAs

At a recent event in Marshalltown, a woman who wanted to tell me her story about why AEAs were so important to her approached me. She was so upset that she told me she couldn’t talk at the event because she didn’t want to cry in public. Even though I didn’t get to hear her full story, her sadness spoke volumes about the profound connection and support AEAs provide to our communities.

Another person whose story particularly impacted me is a woman I serve alongside on a local community committee. This woman worked as a school librarian before she went to work for the AEA. In April she was selected to be a member of a task force that would work to help ensure that the AEA legislation brought forward this session would be as helpful as it can be for Iowans – and most of all, to fight the efforts to dismantle them altogether.Soon after the task force was established, she and the other members of the task force got to work putting together materials that they hoped would influence the legislation being considered by legislators.

They put together information on the benefits AEAs provide. They gathered stories. They hired a lobbyist, they made phone calls, and they took every opportunity to speak to legislators themselves at the state capitol building in support of Iowa’s AEAs.

Yet, despite the task force’s tireless efforts to emphasize the massive benefits provided by AEAs, Republicans gave in to the governor and passed the bill anyway – even after the task force provided the statistics to prove AEA’s importance, and even after the Des Moines Register / Mediacom Iowa Poll showed that the majority of Iowans across party lines support Iowa’s AEAs.

After the bill was passed, the task force found themselves grappling with a sense of despair after witnessing the legislature’s disregard for their hard work. She asked me what went wrong, and what she could have done differently to prevent this outcome.

So, I told her the truth: this legislation transcends facts and logic. It has nothing to do with the quality of the information they provided, the people they hired, or the things they said. It was purely about politics.

Iowans across the political spectrum recognize the invaluable role AEAs play in supporting our students, educators, and communities. Yet, despite our collective efforts to protect them, the Republican-controlled legislature has chosen to prioritize politics over the needs of our children.

Since Kim Reynolds announced at her Condition of the State address earlier this year that one of her priorities was to divert funding away from AEAs, nearly 350 employees have left Iowa’s nine AEAs.

Those folks make sure all students have an equal opportunity to receive quality education through the services they offer, which range from emergency counseling to helping students with special needs, such as speech delays.

Schools are already tightening their budgets because the amount of money they are allocated from the state hasn’t matched the cost of inflation in several years.

We cannot allow partisan interests to undermine the foundation of our educational system.

This session, we’ve seen that one side of the aisle has stood with their constituents and one has stood bowing their head to the governor. The choice is clear: people or politics.

If like me, you’re tired of politics coming before public service, I encourage you to head to iowademocrats.org/take-action and support an Iowa Democratic candidate near you.

I urge every Iowan to join me in helping to elect the many Democratic candidates who are running up and down the ballot this November and help bring public service back to our public offices.