Guest Column | Keeping our promise to public education

The ICCSD has worked hard in 2023 to ensure quality education and support for students, with great results to show for it.


Grace Kreber

The Iowa City Community School District sign in Iowa City is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Six graduation ceremonies in five days. Sound tedious? It’s not when you’re the superintendent of the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD).

As I looked at the thousands of people who attended our graduations, I was struck by the beautiful community public education creates.

The nation’s founders knew our success depended on a well-educated public, not simply a well-educated few. Since the 18th century, the United States has appropriated tax dollars to ensure *everyone* invests in public education.

Today, public schools remain the home away from home for Iowa’s children, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, affluence, or physical and mental ability.

If there is any doubt about the strength of Iowa’s public schools, consider a few things the ICCSD achieved this year:

We employed over 2,400 teachers, staff, and paraeducators who arrived ready to tap into the gifts of 14,440 students.

We are constantly striving to adapt to a changing world to improve our academics, which is why we implemented an innovative platform called High Reliability Schools to ensure consistent academic experiences in every building.

The results speak for themselves. We outpaced the state in reading, math, and science on the Iowa Assessments, and we outperformed state and national averages on the ACT. We continued a tradition of exceptional graduation rates, with more than 91 percent of our seniors graduating on time.

Our services go far beyond just education. We help support children who are food insecure, have unstable housing, and have survived trauma. We collaborated with parents and guardians to address mental health and behavior challenges. When the ICCSD could not meet these needs on its own, we connected families with other organizations who could.

In a turbulent year, we helped our students, teachers, and staff navigate difficult state legislation and renewed our commitment to protect our community’s integrity, health, and safety.

Our commitment to inclusivity led us to welcome nearly 2,000 English Language Learners, who dramatically improved the education experience for all ICCSD students.

For example, at Longfellow Elementary, where English is the second (or third) language for many students, our team of educators redesigned lessons *across the curriculum*. As a result, all students gained a better understanding of grade level vocabulary.

I grew up in Traer, Iowa, which has a population of 1,500, and graduated from North Tama High School. While my town was small, public education made my world huge.

Sending my three children to public schools, where I am superintendent, and my wife, an educator, feels like the American Dream. In the Iowa City Community School District, we are committed to creating a bright future for all our students.

We welcome all with love, respect, and positive expectations because a commitment to public education shapes Iowa’s future – and we are ready for it.

  • Superintendent Matt Degner, Iowa City Community School District

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.