Dear Iowans

Chad Aldeman:

Your schools are not what they once were. Last week you were named one of only four states to have its fourth-grade reading scores decline on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the nation’s report card.
This is sad news, but it shouldn’t come as any great surprise: Iowa’s scores have been flat for nearly two decades. In 1992, you trailed only four states in fourth-grade reading. You now trail 25, including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.
It might be tempting to blame your declining scores on changing demographics, and that’s fair to some extent, but you haven’t had the same influx of minority students that your neighbor Minnesota has, for example, even though their scores have risen much faster than yours.