Mike Gronstal, from Council Bluffs, has been the Senate Democratic Leader since 1997. First elected to office in 1982, Gronstal served one term in the Iowa House (1983-85), and is currently in his seventh term in the Senate. He is the State Democratic Leader in the Iowa Senate and has been a lifelong advocate for public education and smart politics.


We are fortunate to have Mike Gronstal represent us, our students, our schools and our profession. In the current political climate it is vital that you understand that we need YOU. Your time, your talent, and--eventually--your treasure will be needed to make sure that we reverse the trend of legislators who are willing to sell out our children for corporate tax cuts.

Fight over future of preschool takes center stage at Statehouse

Republican proposals to eliminate preschool for Iowa children have received a lot of attention this week.

Before Iowa’s statewide preschool program was started, only 19 percent of 3- and 4-year-old children in Iowa had access to a quality preschool education. Today, 60 percent of our kids are able to attend preschool. It’s a popular program that is preparing our youngsters for a brighter future.


On Tuesday night, the House of Representatives held a 3½-hour public hearing where parents, teachers and early childhood advocates argued that giving our kids the best start possible makes sense and should be continued. On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee invited experts to present key research on preschool and share their experiences.

Patrick Kremer is a former teacher and superintendent who works as a case manager for troubled youth in Marshalltown. He told senators that quality early learning helps set young people on the right path to adulthood.

Dr. Betty Zan, director of the Regents’ Early Childhood Institute, showed how quality preschool produces some of the best returns of all investments we make in our children and in our future workforce. Research has found that children in quality learning environments are less likely to drop out of school, less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to need special education, and less likely to get into trouble with the law.

Some think we should target quality preschool to only the neediest children. In contrast, the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University reports that the “most practical and cost efficient way” of getting the best return on investment may be by providing access to preschool for all children.

Many hard-working Iowa families simply can’t afford high-quality preschool programs for their children. Even if every eligible child participated in programs targeted to them, a large group of kids would still lack access. These are children from middle-class families and families whose incomes hover just above the eligibility requirements. And for families that can afford it, many are not able to find high-quality programs in their neighborhoods or smaller communities.

Iowa’s statewide preschool program has helped eliminate those barriers for thousands of Iowa families. What I’ve heard in recent weeks—from experts and constituents alike—tells me we shouldn’t leave any Iowa children out when it comes to high-quality preschool and the chance for a brighter future.

For the complete video testimony by Dr. Zan and Mr. Kremer, go to


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