U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talked about how Iowa has fallen out of its role as a leader in education during his keynote speech at the governor’s education summit Monday. Duncan says this has happened as the diversity of Iowa communities has changed. Elementary principal Ann Hart of Waukon was one of the educators the audience listening — and she was not upset with the negative remarks.

Hart says she is not upset as they are living it every day. She says she did like Duncan’s comments on the importance of early childhood education, teacher preparation and teacher salaries. Hart says educators realize from the things they’ve seen that he is right.

She says they all know it, for many reasons, some that were talked about, some that were not. “We’re dealing with changing society, I think schools reflect your communities,” Hart said. She says the communities are struggling in this economy and the schools are too. Hart says addressing the issue is important.

Hart says it can only help when you have a conversation about something. “It was a tough legislative session, I don’t think things will turn around really quick here. We’ll see what kind of commitment our governor will really make to us,” Hart said. Art Pixler is the superintendent of Sentral Community Schools in Fenton. He agrees that Iowa has not kept up in education.

Pixler says the demographics have changed in a lot of places in Iowa and that has been used as an excuse. “Whereas actually, we’ve been sort of complacent and willing to live on our laurels and other places have outpaced us,” Pixler said. Pixler says it will take some work to change things.

“We haven’t been the innovators that we were in the past and we’ve become stagnant because of it,” Pixler says. He says Iowa hasn’t looked at technology as much as we should have and the innovations that can be used through technology, and “it is a big challenge to all of us.” Some of the school officials attending the summit did not want to comment on Duncan’s remarks.