Letter to the Editor

The good, the bad and the equal

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Much has been made recently, as it should be, of Iowa’s 2018 U.S. News and World Report’s No. 1 overall ranking as a state. While there is much to celebrate, an overall good quality of life should not keep us from looking at and dealing with challenge points — the bad.

Education ranks high in the report, putting Iowa at No. 5 in the nation, but the movement has been in the wrong direction from No. 1. By report of professionals in the field, the trend is still downward. A closer look at rankings within the category shows Iowa behind more than half of states on pre-K quality at 29th, college readiness at 33rd, and low debt at college graduation at 32nd. Celebrate the good by all means. Also pay attention to flashing red lights.

Other red lights are Iowa's rank at 38th for pollution generally and 26th for the quality of its drinking water. Short-term fiscal stability and the growth of young population both register at 36th. These rankings point to areas that need work. Other measures indicate even greater challenges.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly defines women as the political equals of men. The self-evident truth from our Declaration that Americans are created equal is generic — it applies to us all. Almost a hundred years after the amendment's adoption though, the culture of compensation in America — and pointedly in Iowa — is still catching up.

Iowa’s income gender gap puts it at 40th among the states. Iowa women are reported to earn 77 cents on the dollar for the same work as men. The work is equal. The pay is bad. It's difficult for the state's business economy or those who depend on Iowa’s working women — most especially their children —to thrive under such circumstances.

Karen A. Larson, Candidate for Iowa House District 1

Spirit Lake