We appreciate that the importance of school leadership has been recognized by the State of Iowa with a proclamation signed by Gov. Branstad declaring October as Principals Month. It takes great leaders to get great results, especially during difficult times.
As Iowans, we appreciate a good value when we see it, and the education that Iowa children are getting in their local schools is one of the best values in the country. In comparing important data such as Iowa's first-in-the-nation graduation rate and year after year top-tier ACT scores, Iowa students consistently achieve at the highest levels nationally. This is accomplished in spite of the fact that 70 percent of states fund their schools with greater resources, according to the Iowa Legislative Services Agency FACTBOOK published last February. Simply put, Iowa's local schools consistently provide a combination of effectiveness and efficiency not found anywhere else - a great value indeed.
A key, but sometimes overlooked, component of this success are the people who lead our schools - those superintendents and principals who work with all involved to create effective and efficient learning environments that stimulate high-quality education.
An important point to note is that today's school leaders are asked to assume ever-increasing duties and responsibilities, as well as additional roles. In fact a recently released national study by The Wallace Foundation found that school leaders "appear to be bearing more and more weight as old responsibilities persist and new ones are layered on top of them." In the face of these mounting and increasingly complex demands, coupled with stagnant or decreasing resources, it takes great leadership to continually find ways to help keep the focus where it should be - squarely on the children and their learning. Superintendents and principals provide this leadership and keep all parts of the education system working together seamlessly.
This amazing combination of efficiency and effectiveness is an example of the Midwestern values and work ethic we as Iowans are proud to embody. Those values also include a high-quality education and the recognition that it is the greatest gift states can give their children. By creating and maintaining school communities that nurture student growth, helping children learn from both success and failure, and showing them what it means to be a contributing citizen, we are working together in the best interests of our children, providing them a path to do whatever it is they choose to do with their lives. Superintendents and principals provide the leadership needed to keep all parts of the learning community working together for this most valuable and precious purpose.
As we recognize principals and superintendents, I encourage you to take a moment to extend a heartfelt thanks to the school leaders in your community for their dedication and hard work!