IASB interviews candidates for governor

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
IASB interviews candidates for governor

The Iowa Association of School Boards interviewed both leading candidates for Iowa governor to determine their stances on issues related to education and how they would improve the state of public education for all Iowa students.

Republican incumbent Terry Branstad and Democratic challenger Jack Hatch met with IASB leaders on Friday, August 29 at Heartland Area Education Agency in Johnston.

In separate interviews, Branstad and Hatch answered questions from the IASB Legislative Resolutions Committee touching on strengthening classroom instruction, developing teachers, adequate funding, a new state assessment, children’s mental health services and more.

“The questions we asked were of utmost importance to our IASB members. They are issues we expect the new governor and the legislature to tackle this upcoming legislative session. Many of the issues – continued support for the Iowa Core Standards including the adoption of a new statewide assessment that measures the full range and rigor of the Iowa Core, determining who is responsible to implement and fund children’s mental health services and adequate and on-time funding for K-12 education, including the area education agencies - are crucial to the success of all students in Iowa,” said Amy Jurrens, IASB president-elect and a school board member from the George-Little Rock Community Schools.

IASB does not endorse candidates for political office. The interviews are intended as a balanced guide to help school board members, educators and community members understand the candidates’ views on education and make an informed choice in the November 4 election.

Each candidate was asked the same set of pre-determined questions in separate one hour interviews. The interviews were transcribed by a court reporter and an official transcript has been posted on the IASB website at www.ia-sb.org.

IASB is a nonprofit organization representing Iowa’s 338 school districts, 9 area education agencies and 15 community colleges. IASB’s mission is to educate, support and challenge school board members in their pursuit of world class education for all students in Iowa.

For more information about the interviews, contact Tracy Bainter, IASB communications director, at (800) 795-4272 or tbainter@ia-sb.org.

IASB is a private, nonprofit organization representing Iowa’s 338 school districts, 9 area education agencies and 15 community colleges.

An informed membership is the first step in making sound educational policy for the future of Iowa schools. With that in mind, IASB invited each of the gubernatorial candidates to share their views on the issues with our membership before the November elections.

At the meeting, Amy Jurrens, Legislative Resolutions Committee Chair and IASB President-Elect asked each candidate identical questions, submitted in advance to each candidate. Under the ground rules of the interviews, time for answering the questions was limited to three minutes per question. No additional questions from the committee were allowed. A court reporter transcribed the interviews.

IASB thanks the candidates for sharing their views with our members.

IASB encourages voters to read the interviews in their entirety to gain a more thorough understanding of the candidates’ views on the issues. These interviews were conducted to provide insight into the candidates’ perspectives and aid voters in deciding which candidates’ views on issues best reflect the priorities of education leaders. The interviews follow:

2014 IASB Gubernatorial Interviews

Amy Jurrens: We want to thank you for coming this morning and giving us this opportunity to hear from you and where you stand on education issues.

The Iowa Association of School Boards represents 338 school districts as well as the 9 Area Education Agencies, 15 community colleges, and over 2,000 board members. We’re very interested in hearing where you stand and how you can help us improve Iowa’s education system. With that, I’ll ask if you have any opening remarks.

Governor Branstad: Well, first of all, thank you very much for this opportunity. I am the beneficiary of an Iowa education. I had great teachers, and it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as the governor of the State.

As you know, I served four consecutive terms and went on to become a financial advisor and president of Des Moines University. And I gave up that job, which pays a lot more than governor, went back and served as governor again because the State was in a mess. You may recall my predecessor did a 10 percent across-the-board cut, which hurt school districts and hurt the Iowa economy a great deal and also underfunded the school aid formula.

The first thing I came back to do is get the State’s financial house in order. We had to make some really tough decisions. We cut the size and cost of government. We’re down 1,450 state employees from the day I took office. I tried to choose very capable competent people like Brad Buck, who is the director of education for the State of Iowa, and other department heads as well.

I’m proud to say we’ve got the State’s financial house in order. Iowa is now one of the best-managed states, and we have passed major education reform, our Teacher Leadership plan, property tax relief. We set the goal of being the healthiest state in the nation.

The country is on the wrong track. The nation is deep in debt. We don’t have leadership in Washington, D.C. I’m proud to say that in Iowa it’s a different story. We have made the tough decisions, so we have the State going on in the right track. We’ll have some challenges.

Farm income is dropping, and farm income is important in this state, and we’ve seen it in the last several months’ revenue. So I’ve got to deal with that situation.

I already vetoed a one-time spending bill at the end of the last session after legislature went home, $130 million. I did that to protect the multi-year commitments we’ve made with education for our Teacher Leadership plan and to make sure we have the funding for that and for property tax relief.

It’s an honor to serve. I love this state. Yesterday I completed my commitment to go to all 99 counties. This is the fourth year in a row that the Lieutenant Governor and I have both done that. I find that very exhilarating to get out and visit the state, and I visited a lot of schools in the process.

One of the things that I really enjoyed when I was at Des Moines University is meeting the new medical students. And you would be surprised how many of them said we met you when you came to our grade school. It aged me a little bit with my visit to their kindergarten or first-grade class.

With that, let me just say I know that you have a group of prepared questions, and I’ll be glad to respond to those and, if you want to, have further discussions beyond that.

Senator Hatch: I thank you for inviting me. As you campaign, you have a set of standards, and you have an idea of what people want to hear. We had position papers in the beginning of the campaign, but the best part of this is, when you start hearing from the constituents.

There’s several education issues that I’ll speak about today that have caught on with our campaign, the things that people want to know most about.

For instance, early childhood education is at an extraordinary level of support all through the State. Also, what I would refer to as the lost children of education, those sixteen-, seventeen-and eighteen-year-olds who drop out of school. Why we allow that to happen as a state and as it is now emerging as a proposal, is something that I would like to talk about.

But it is an incredible opportunity to run for governor, and I’m ready to answer your questions. I know there are set questions, but I’ll be more than happy to answer individual questions if there are some later. Thank you.

Amy Jurrens: Consistent and ongoing funding is important for public schools and AEAs to cover our annual operating costs including salaries and benefits, transportation, curriculum and textbooks. By law, supplemental state aid is to be set 18 months in advance of the start of the fiscal year.

Do you agree that school districts should know the amount of state supplemental aid (formerly known as allowable growth) 18 months in advance of the start of their fiscal year? Please explain the rationale for your position?

Governor Branstad: Giving Iowa students a world-class education is one of my top priorities as governor. We must do that in a financially sustainable way. I told you the financial mess I inherited that we’ve corrected where school aid hadn’t been fully funded, and we’d been hit with across-the-board cuts. Setting supplemental state aid for two years — and, by the way, Iowa’s very committed to replacing a lot of the growth with supplemental state aid because that means it’s all state dollars and not property taxes when we provide additional funding. We need to do that in a predictable way.

I’m committed to a two-year bi-annual budget. It is my intention to submit my recommendations on supplemental state aid on the second day of the legislative session for both years. I expect the legislature to pass a two-year budget so that we have stability and predictability.

With K-12 education making up 43 percent of Iowa’s general fund a two-year cycle also allows us to plan for state budget needs that must be met.

Senator Hatch: Definitely. I will follow the thirty-day requirement as of the first bill. I think it’s almost necessary, especially when the Governor is putting a two-year budget together for himself, not to support an eighteen-month budget for education. It seems to be a little disingenuous on the theory of outline budgetary practices, and I will follow that.

There seems to be a pattern of culture with Governor Branstad of not following the rules and doing things that are considered, and had been ruled, unconstitutional.

I hold following the rules very highly. As you know, in any legislative process there may be delays, and I understand that. But, I would not hold out on my recommendation. I would push the Legislature for what they call Supplemental State Aid to be defined as early as possible, so that local school boards could create their own budget, and have a funding mechanism. Then, your teachers and school personnel are not guessing whether or not they’re going to be asked back at the end of the school year. I will follow the rules and follow the law.

Amy Jurrens: As governor, how would you balance the state’s commitment to funding for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation program, which will total $150 million per year when fully implemented, with school districts and AEAs need for adequate and timely funding of their operating budgets delivered through state supplemental aid?

Governor Branstad: Once Iowa’s New Teacher Leadership and Compensation System is fully implemented, funding is guaranteed because it rolls into the State’s school aid formula. I am also committed to sustaining other key reforms that we passed as part of the education reform and Teacher Leadership program including Iowa’s early literacy initiative to help children learn to read by the end of third grade and T.E.A.C.H. Iowa scholar awards to attract more high-achieving students to the teaching profession.

At the same time, I understand the school districts and AEAs need adequate and timely operating budgets, and I will work to meet those needs as well. Working together to improve our education system is critical to prepare all of Iowa students to succeed in this knowledge-based global economy in which we live in.

Senator Hatch: I make no assumptions about the future of any program, initiative or rules of the current administration. I think it’s important to focus on teacher development, and I will do that. The most important thing a governor can do for education is to fund it.

The current governor, for two years, proposed zero increase in supplemental delays. You will not get that from my administration. No school board member in good conscience can believe that it’s the right policy not to increase supplemental aid every year.

Amy Jurrens: Area education agencies provide essential services in a cost effective manner to school districts including special education, technology, professional development, curriculum assessment and student assessment data analysis. As governor, how would you ensure that there is adequate financial support from the state to the AEAs and the students and school districts they support?

Governor Branstad: The area education agencies have long been important partners by providing school districts with vital services including special education. And by stepping up to support new initiatives like our Teacher Leadership program, we see them playing a very key role in working with school districts to implement this. As you know, it’s being phased in over a three-year period. About a third of the students will get the benefits for it this school year, another third next, and another third the year after. My administration in each budget cycle will examine how to best meet the long-term and newer funding needs that become available, that we become aware of.

Senator Hatch: It’s important that we support teachers and professional development, each to direct services to students. As you know, special needs are like an accordion, they expand and contract based on the needs and priorities of each district. I will expect that those special-need requests will be funded on a basis presented to the State through the Department of Education. I am determined that those expanded services will be in consideration to be funded.

Amy Jurrens: What is your vision for ensuring the sustainability a high quality education system in rural Iowa?

Governor Branstad: Whether students live in rural Iowa — and by the way, I grew up in rural Iowa, as did the lieutenant governor — we recognize that rural Iowa is vitally important to the success of our state, and we want to see growth everywhere. But whether they live in rural Iowa or in cities or suburbs, all students deserve to get a world-class education. Iowa’s new Teacher Leadership and Compensation System, I think, will better support a more complex work that we’re asking our teachers and principals to do across the state.

Expansion of Iowa Learning Online will provide more course opportunities. The new T.E.A.C.H. Iowa Scholar awards will encourage more top achievers to go into teaching in hard-to-find and hard-to-obtain subjects like math, science and special education.

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has already reached over 10,000 students in the last school year. It’s a great public/private partnership. We’re getting good private sector support. I just saw in the Farm Bureau Spokesman a $250,000 contribution made by them; I also know other companies like Rockwell Collins and John Deere and others. And the lieutenant governor is very actively involved in that along with Mary Andringa.

Many of these young people grew up in rural Iowa. I’m excited about the fact that we have record enrollment at Iowa State University especially in agriculture. Yet there are some real dangers because of what the EPA has done to renewable fuel standards, driving the price of corn below the cost of production and causing farm incomes to decline.

So we have to deal with the realities of what we have, but we’re committed to making sure educational opportunities are available everywhere. I also hope to attract more STEM teachers to rural Iowa through an application we have made with AmeriCorps for a federal grant.

Senator Hatch: One of the not-so-surprising issues that has come up is services for rural Iowa, whether it be transportation, education or health care.

Throughout the last four years, there has been a pattern of this governor not treating rural Iowa as strongly as people expected he would.

On transportation, he refuses to make recommendations on a gas tax or a sustainable funding stream that would repair the roads and bridges. That’s not only for commerce and for farmers, but for school buses and emergency vehicles. In Clinton County alone over 32 bridges have been closed, hospitals and nursing homes went the same way.

Rural school districts and rural Iowa are the third category that the governor has kept his eyes off of. What we want to do is be able to ensure that kids get the best education possible. And, to work with the school boards on continuing or deciding whether or not expanding program services or consolidating them is the best.

Long-distance learning is important, and we will expand that as well. But we’re looking to make sure that in rural Iowa we still have qualified teachers and certified programs teaching our young people in these areas, and we will continue to do that.

Amy Jurrens: Locally-elected school boards have repeatedly seen attempts, many of which have been successful, by policymakers in Des Moines to usurp local school boards’ authority to operate their school districts including the school calendar and scheduling. As governor, will you fight to maintain the rights of locally-elected school boards to make these decisions? Please explain your rationale for your position.

Governor Branstad: Well, as you know, we have a new option for 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction which gives schools valuable, new scheduling flexibility. A globally competitive education can be provided within that framework regardless of when school starts. It would be ideal when setting the school calendar to balance the interest of schools, families, and tourism by starting after the State Fair is completed.

Senator Hatch: Another interesting level of conversation I’ve had around the state is the referral of problems in Iowa as being Des Moines’. Being a Des Moines Senator, I take that pretty personal. It seems like it’s always my problem that I’ve created. But, the State government, Legislature and the Governor have created issues for local government and, in this case, the school boards.

We had hundreds of unfunded mandates. Under my administration, we’ll have a policy that every unfunded mandate will be presented to the legislature. Every mandate will be presented to the legislature with the expectation that there’s a funding mechanism to fund those mandates.

If it’s identified as a local mandate that would be funded, it would be done and voted on in total openness so that everyone is given a chance to argue one way or the other. Nothing will be done in the dark of the delayed sessions when it comes to unfunded mandates. I know it’s a problem.

I’ll do the same thing with county and local government. We will make a concerted effort to ensure that any requirement of the State will be totally and completely funded. The financial responsibility will be totally understood before anything gets passed so that we have a clear understanding of what we’re doing.

I can’t guarantee that we would not do it or that I would not support it in the public policy, but it won’t be a surprise to any of you, and you’ll be given the opportunity to discuss alternative ways of getting good public policy done.

Amy Jurrens: Early childhood education is vital for future student success. Iowa’s statewide voluntary preschool program provides one such opportunity but many children are unable to take advantage of the program due to space considerations, transportation concerns and lack of awareness of the program. As governor, what initiatives would you propose increase the number of Iowa children who take advantage of this opportunity?

Governor Branstad: I’m a strong supporter of early childhood education. I’m also the grandfather of six, and we have one of those in four-year-old preschool this year. I’ve got a couple more that are coming up in the not-too-distant future and more following. So I understand how important early childhood education is. My administration has been looking this summer at how we can expand preschool opportunities for low-income four-year-olds, and we will continue to explore how that can be done. We have held meetings with legislators and with school districts like Dubuque, Cardinal, and Sioux City and the Department of Education staff to discuss different options.

At the same time, it’s important for school districts to work with, find space for, and to publicize statewide voluntary preschool because state funding automatically follows each child that they enroll, and we have provided additional funding, as you know, to meet that requirement.

Dubuque is an outstanding example of a district that’s done really well. Eighty-five to ninety percent of four-year-olds are enrolled in either public or private voluntary preschool in Dubuque, and I would encourage other districts to look at how Dubuque has been so successful in doing that.

Senator Hatch: I tell voters all around the State that while I was in third grade I was reading first-grade books, and I struggled with reading all my career. In fact, I still do. My mother was an educator and worked with me from very early on. Throughout my career my mother and father tried to steer me away from college. Standardized tests were nearly impossible for me to do well. I insisted, though, that I was going to perform. So, my mother saw this as a challenge, and she called it perception to handicap. You know and I know it today, as dyslexia.

I went to summer school. I was tutored, went to Drake University because my mother picked Drake, not me, because Drake had a program that was going to work with remedial students. To be honest, my mother never thought I would graduate from college. That’s why, when I did graduate, my mother came to the graduation exercise. She saw my name, and I thought that was enough proof that I graduated, but there was an asterisk next to my name. The asterisk, she brought that up afterwards and asked if I had graduated conditionally. My mother was always expecting that I wasn’t going to make it. I told her no. I said that was a footnote that I got the Oreon E. Scott Award for the most outstanding student. She didn’t know that.

I tell that story because, if I didn’t have an educator early on in my career intervening in first, second and third grade, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you as a gubernatorial candidate. My support for early childhood education is real. It’s for every four-year-old in every school, and it would be funded as a general fund item, and will be complete within the first four years of my first term.

It is essential that children get early education and those issues that are challenges are worked through the school districts of AEAs, so that every kid has a real opportunity to succeed.

Amy Jurrens: A student’s socio-economic status is the number one indicator in a student’s success in school. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds face more challenges than their higher SES peers due to numerous factors all related to poverty. Iowa’s public schools, both rural and urban, are seeing an increase in the number of students from poverty and are struggling to help them achieve success in the educational environment. As governor, what steps would you propose to address this growing challenge in Iowa’s schools?

Governor Branstad: Well, giving every student a world-class education is the surest way to ensure that children with low-income families can escape poverty. As my Jewish mother used to say, “Get a good education because they can’t take that away from you.”

At the same time, my administration has been working to create more new jobs and good-paying jobs all over the state to boost family incomes.

Our goal of Iowa being the healthiest state in the nation is also important because a healthy child is more likely to succeed in school. And there’s a recent report out that says we led the nation in child health. So I think there’s a lot we can do, and we’re going to continue to work harder on both improving job opportunities — and I think we’ve gone — we’re the fifth of the 50 states. We’ve had the fifth most growth in personal income during the time that I’ve been governor starting in 2011.

Senator Hatch: This is what I refer to as “the lost students”. Throughout the campaign we’ve talked about a variety of issues that we’ve got to focus on. I focus on sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-olds. I ask audiences everywhere, whether it’s teachers, superintendents, parents, from urban, and rural districts, why do we allow our sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-olds to quit high school? Nobody knows. If somebody here knows, I want to know the answer. Why do we allow a sixteen-year-old to quit school and join a pool of 40,000 adults that are unemployed, without a high school education? How is that helping the children of this state?

I will raise the age of a student to leave school to eighteen, and we will work with you as school boards, teachers, communities, and businesses to ensure that there is found a way to teach our children. Alternative high schools are one method, but that’s not good for everybody. Whether we do it online, through community colleges or at home, how we do it is up to you. You’re the experts. But I’m not going to give up on the sixteen, seventeen and eighteen year-olds. And we will have, before the end of my first term, a program that will provide opportunities for every kid to get a high school diploma before they reach eighteen.

This is important because most of the dropouts are members who are poor, from low income and, minority groups that just feel that there’s no future for them in school. They’ve been left out. They’ve been lost, and their only alternative is to leave. That may be okay in other states, but that’s not okay in Iowa.

That was one of the reasons for me graduating from college at Drake. I stayed in Iowa because I saw something that was different, and I’ve been proven right. Iowa is a great state. It’s a state that has opportunities. It’s a state that can make major changes. It’s a state that can lead in education, again, not just in America but in the world. I want to compare our growth in education not by standards that are established by America, but international standards.

Amy Jurrens: Mental health issues including behavioral disorders can, and are, negatively impacting students in our schools. These issues challenge teachers, administrators and school boards as they work collectively to improve student achievement. How can we best equip teachers, counselors and schools in responding to children with mental health concerns and behavior disorders?

Governor Branstad: I’m committed to high-quality and sustainable mental healthcare systems for our state that benefits all Iowans. Since we began, during this term the mental health redesign, I’m proud to say, that hardworking Iowa tax payers have invested more than $115 million in new state funding for mental health services statewide. This new regionally based system advances care and accountability for families ensuring more consistent and higher quality care and access statewide. Building a proactive and connecting system is critically important. Appropriate training for staff and informed access to community mental health resources are both important to support students with mental health issues. By working to improve access, increase the number of healthcare providers in Iowa, we can continue making gains in the health and well-being of Iowa children.

I’m aware we did put $2 million in for more post-graduate medical education opportunities, and one of the areas that we’re focusing on is psychiatry. I’m very hopeful that we’re going to see a grant provided by the Department of Public Health for — Broadlawns has made an application in that area to train more psychiatrists in the state of Iowa. That’s a critical need we have, especially in rural Iowa. Having been president of a medical school, I’m keenly aware of that.

We’ve also provided some funding in my budget last year, and we intend to continue that for forgivable loans for people that go into practice in rural Iowa as well into medical practice in rural Iowa.

Senator Hatch: As some of you might know, I was the lead sponsor these last three years on mental health reform, and mental health funding for years. Counties not getting enough money, or complaining that they weren’t getting enough, or that they weren’t getting reimbursed, and citizens leaving one county for others because they couldn’t get the services they needed. With good bipartisan support from the executive branch and republicans in the House and Senate, we passed major mental health reforms.

Two things emerged that were missing: one, we didn’t do anything for kids, which is why one of my proposals will be to break up the Department of Human Services. I’ll move the Medicaid program over to the Department of Health and create a new Department of Children and Family Services so we can begin to focus on kids and kids’ concerns, one of which is mental health. We have done very poorly identifying mental health services for children.

I had a bill in 2013 to provide teacher training on identifying mental health services, mental health conditions, how to spot possible issues and to hold training programs for every teacher, and every school personnel in the State.

We also had a requirement that every school would have an evacuation plan, in case there was an incident in school. I know most school boards and school districts have those. I was told that not every school has it, so we’re just trying to be consistent statewide.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Senate floor, another State Senator, Senator Joni Ernst, actually added an amendment that would allow any school personnel to carry a weapon. So that bill died in attempt to try to bring good assistance to schools and teachers giving you and your personnel, not just teachers, the ability to identify a student in distress and then have services available in the county to be able to deal with that.

And that’s when the mental health services was being statewide, and it was managed regionally and locally delivered so we would — physically we are beginning to build at capacity of the mental health communities to identify those opportunities. And we want schools to be able to provide some of those services to the kids who need it. But it died, and we didn’t have that opportunity.

But I would reintroduce that again and make sure that we have other necessary funding and personnel capacity to get it done. As you know, if there is an incident, and there has been across this country, it seems to land in schools. So we should have been much more aggressive as a state in working with you, as school board members, on giving you the necessary capacity and helping you identify those kids in distress. So we will do that with my administration.

Amy Jurrens: Thank you. We appreciate you coming and talking to us because, as board members, we are the voice for the children in the State more than any other group, and we’re very interested and concerned about our education system.

I think we all share the same goals. We want high achievement for all of our students, and we want to create those conditions where our students can learn and really be prepared for the future. We look forward to continuing partnerships through the Governor’s Office and making that happen.

Do you have any closing remarks, to share with us?

Governor Branstad: Well, I would remind you that a lot of politicians like to promise you everything. I would encourage you, instead of just looking at promises, look at performance. As governor, I’ve made the tough decisions. I put the State on the right track, and the result is we don’t have the uncertainty. We don’t have the danger of another major across-the-board cut. We don’t have the legislature being forced to underfund the formula because they don’t have the resources to do it.

Now, it hasn’t been easy. And I vetoed $130 million worth of additional spending in a one-time spending bill, some of which I actually recommended because I wanted to send a clear signal. When we pass that multiple-year commitment to the Teacher Leadership plan, we are going to fund it. We are going to make sure that we meet those responsibilities.

But I would also tell you, with the revenue situation falling below expectations, the budget I have to put together is based on the December revenue’s mess. So I’m going to be very cautious about how many dollars are promised until I know, because I know the law, and I know my responsibility, and I’m not going to overpromise. I would much rather under-promise and over-deliver.

But I think that, if you look at the track record we’ve had during the long time that I’ve had to serve these people, this state, I’m very strongly committed to education, and I want education to get a growing share of the State budget. But that means we have to have a fiscal discipline to say no to some other things that people would like and we’re never going to be able to do everything that you or anybody else wants in the education field as well. We just have to use our resources as well and as wisely as possible.

Senator Hatch: The two areas that have been most important to me in education and children, is making sure that kids are safe and that kid have the necessary opportunities in this state. When it comes to being safe, I mean that they need to have a family environment and a community environment and a school environment that allows them to grow and not to be defensive.

Bullying is real important, and anti-bullying laws should have been established. I was disappointed in the direction of that final bill that was passed. I think, more services outside the school are needed where cyber bullying takes place, and I think we fell far short on protecting the kids in that environment.

That’s not something that’s just in the school, but as you said, Amy, you are the place where kids land for six to eight hours, and you’re the focus. Many of these kids outside of their home think the school is their safe haven. It’s what makes them believe and dream. And, if we don’t have a place where they can dream, then we don’t have a place for them to grow.

So whether or not it’s your church, or your faith, or your home, or your school, or your community, Iowa is a place where most of this can happen. I want to make sure that as a state government we aid in making that happen. We can’t do it alone, but we can at least start to facilitate and move in the direction so that the decisions that are made locally are stronger for the kids and families in the State.