Something sinister is happening in my home town. The University of Northern Iowa, once known as the Iowa State Teachers College, and a national leader in the education and preparation of teachers may close down its laboratory school in order to answer budget concerns.
Let me put this in perspective. The stature of a university is predicated on the quality of the resources that are given to its core directive. The University of Iowa, known for its superior education in medicine created the University Hospital as a practical, applied-science laboratory for its students. How else, in fact, could a leading medical university, produce great doctors and dentists if they didn’t have such an environment? It would be unheard of for the Regents to recommend closing it down for budget reasons.
Iowa State University is renowned as an agricultural school and created a working laboratory from which students can gain hands on experience in agriculture and animal science. The applied, real life experience is what sets that education apart and gives it world status.
Our preeminent school for education, UNI, has had a K thru 12 school for UNI education students to learn firsthand how to teach and create cutting edge curriculum through the day to day experience of working with students in class, after class, intramurals, debate, theater, music, and social interaction. How, in fact, could good teachers learn any other way?
Hang on to your Panther caps!
UNI President Benjamin Allen and the Board of Regents think that it’s an unnecessary budget burden and that Online Education might serve as a better model for Teacher Development (It is certainly a less expensive one). In other words—-the core principle of the University of Northern Iowa, which is to offer students the best curriculum, environment and experience to become a teacher, is going to close down the Research and Development School that was created to do exactly that.
Education creates jobs. Jobs stimulate the economy. The economy secures our future. Teachers are the educators that give the students the tools to become educated. It’s a pretty simple cycle. What President Allen and the Board of Regents are preparing to do is a DIRECT affront to our future and our prosperity; it is short sighted; it is INSANE.
They say their budget can’t support the school and that we all must be aware of the economic hardships that our state and our country are facing, but…the state of Iowa is in the black. Our budget surplus stands at $900,000,000 (yes, that was a 9 followed by 8 zero’s). If you add the $600,000,000 in our “Rainy Day Fund” we have 1.5 billion dollars in budget surplus. The funds needed to continue the rich, wonderful, successful legacy of Malcolm Price Laboratory School are there. What is missing is common sense and vision and I urge you to write to Governor Branstad today.
Whether or not you are a Price Lab graduate, a teacher or student does not matter; this is a matter for our city, our state and our country. To close that school is a move in the WRONG direction and if we don’t try to stop it- shame on us for allowing it to happen. And shame on the legislators who vote to make it so- we are taking names.
Governor Terry Branstad, Office of the Governor, State Capitol, 1007 East Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50319