Deidre DeJear says state needs to better invest in education

The Democratic candidate for Iowa Governor says the budget surplus can be used as an investment
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - If you ask, Deidre DeJear will correct you if you say the economy is the number one issue in the 2022 Iowa Gubernatorial race.

“If I were to push back, I would say the biggest issue is education in our state,” she said in a one-on-one interview with KCRG-TV before a Cedar Rapids campaign appearance.

And DeJear, a Drake University graduate and the co-founder of a nonprofit called Back 2 School Iowa that supports students and provides school supplies, says state lawmakers are failing Iowa students.

And that starts with money: including the $1.9 billion budget surplus that was announced at the end of the last fiscal year.

“When we look at the nearly $2 billion surplus, I asked myself at what cost and the cost that we’re seeing is the degradation to our education system, mental health care and health and health care access.”

DeJear says education in Iowa needs to meet the needs of all students, not just those who may graduate high school with the intention they will attend college.

“It’s incredibly important that we think about education holistically,” she said.

“We have more than 90% of our students in the state who are enrolled in public schools, we have to make sure that we are giving this system what it needs.”

“When we hear from our administrators that they are having to do more with a whole lot less, that should be a signal to us. When folks are walking away from the profession, that should be a signal to us and our rural communities. Our kids are graduating from high school vowing never to come back. That should be a signal to us.”

DeJear’s background

DeJear was born in Jackson, Mississippi before her family moved to Oklahoma when she was still a child.

When she was eight years old, her mother died after giving birth to Deidre’s sister. She says she grew strength from “seeing her dad be present for her and her siblings”.

DeJear attended Drake University in Des Moines where she graduated with a B.A. in Journalism.

In her online biography, DeJear says she became “an early social impact entrepreneur while still a student”.

In 2018, she ran for statewide office, losing to Republican Paul Pate in the Iowa Secretary of State race.

DeJear says she’s a small business entrepreneur who helped 600 Iowa businesses “access affordable marketing tools and successful business strategies”.

Abortion rights in Iowa

DeJear says the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision which reversed the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling makes “it evermore apparent” that governors are on “the front line of protecting that right”.

“Pregnancy has infinite variables,” said DeJear.

“And we know a lot more, as the science has taught us and researches as research has taught us about abortion care and reproductive care than we knew 10 to 15 years ago.”

“This idea that we want to regulate this process in black and white, a process that has infinite variance from my vantage point, it is irresponsible and it’s undemocratic.”

DeJear says she believes the issue of abortion should be left to “an individual when they go in their doctor’s appointment to make a decision that’s best for them that that they don’t have to consider the opinions of everyone else. And let alone politicians.”

Working with Republicans

If DeJear wins the November election, it is very likely the Iowa House and Senate will remain in control of Republicans.

She says she still believes she can work with the legislature to make a difference in the state.

“I am going to be adamant about bringing us collectively together, I don’t want to work across the aisle, I want to work in the middle of the aisle to bring people together to have that sustainable type of change,” she said.

DeJear says her job will be to hold discussions with different viewpoints at a time when politicians on all sides are digging in to their own ideologies and constituent bases.

“I welcome those conversations, like I said earlier, because that’s how we get the best of the best.”

You can watch the full interview below: