Loebsack at Mid-Prairie

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (left), visits with Mid-Prairie Middle School Principal Marc Pennington during a school tour on Thursday morning.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack toured Mid-Prairie Middle School Thursday and talked with school officials about federal funding.

The six-term Democratic congressman who represents Iowa’s Second District said he want to spend the remainder of his final term focusing on education. Loebsack is not seeking re-election in 2020.

“Education is a big part of what I want to do the rest of my time here,” Loebsack said. “I taught at Cornell College for 24 years.”

After touring the school, Loebsack sat down with school officials, asking them how they felt about the Every Student Succeeds Act, which passed in 2015 as a replacement to the No Child Left Behind Act.

Superintendent Mark Schneider and Principal Marc Pennington agreed that, while there are still issues, the law gives more local control than did No Child Left Behind.

Loebsack called the Every Student Succeeds Act a “decentralization of the system.”

“Just keep the funding coming,” Schneider said.

Loebsack said that the House is doing its job getting more federal funding for education, but the Senate and administration are less than enthusiastic about the issue.

“I have less confidence in the administration and trying to deal with the administration, in part because the people there we’re trying to deal with,” Loebsack said. “I’m not sure our secretary of education (Betsy DeVos) really knows enough about all this to be that great at this. 

“Mick Mulvaney is not in charge of the Office of Management and Budget any more, but he is kind of the de facto because he’s the acting chief of staff to the president. He was one of the co-founders of the so-called Freedom Caucus, and they just don’t like to fund these things.” 

Pennington asked, “Is education valued in this administration?”

“I think education is valued, but not to the extent most of us would like it to be,” Loebsack said. “That’s what we’re up against. Most people in Congress understand the importance of public education, but the funding part is so difficult.”

James Jennings, News Editor at The News, can be reached at news@kalonanews.com

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