The Status of Education Reform in Iowa Legislature

GOP Education Reform Conference Committee Members

We heard back tracking from Iowa Senate Democrats when the Iowa House Republicans offered 4% allowable growth.  Governor Branstad’s office released the video below as a result:

“It appears that Senate Democrats are so opposed to fundamental, achievement-based reform they are willing to walk away from their own funding demand, and it is clearly putting us on a pathway to no new money for schools over the next two years,” said Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht.

“For two decades, we have put more money ahead of real reforms,” continued Albrecht. “For two decades, our student achievement has gone from best in the nation to middle of the pack. Governor Branstad and House Republicans are committed to breaking that cycle, and have offered a very generous spending package in order to achieve these reforms, allowing everyone to claim a great victory. Unfortunately, if Senate Democrats continue to oppose these achievement-based reforms, the only losers in this will be Iowa parents and their schoolchildren.”

After their last conference committee meeting on education reform the Iowa House Republicans offered another proposal (this would be an addendum to HF 215) to place on the table:

The House proposes the following offer:

  • 2% Supplemental State Aid + 2% equivalent payment for FY14
  • 4% Supplemental State Aid for FY15
  • 2 year extension on the sunset for the Early Intervention Block Grant

House File 215 language with the following changes:

  • Move minimum salary to $33,500
  • Create comparable model language and criteria
  • Local districts comparable model proposal reviewed by the commission, which makes a recommendation to the director, who will decide whether to approve. Add an appeal option to the State Board of Education.
  • Eliminate Teach Iowa Marketing program (HF 214 section 43) – move the money from that program to fund the Competency-Based Provisions in the Senate language (H-1248 sections 38 and 48)
  • Mentor teachers experience, move from 2 to 3 years (eliminate HF 215 section 77, subsection 7)
  • Take Senate language on preschool funding uses (H-1248 section 41)
  • Take Senate language on kindergarten assessment (H-1248 section 45)
  • Add language to ensure that the Teacher and Administrator Development Systems must be accomplished in a collaborative manner (SAI provided suggested language)
  • Remove letter grades from Attendance Center Rankings program developed per section
  • Take Senate language on School District Reporting Requirements Task Force (H-1248 section 49)
  • Take Senate language on Instructional Hours (H-1248 Division 1)

They are holding firm on educational liberty items for non-public schools and homeschoolers, and they seem to be the only ones negotiating in good faith.  What have the Democrats offered?  Nothing, nada, zip.  Unfortunately their has been no movement on removing the Common Core assessment language from the House Bill either.

C’mon guys we can scrap that.  It isn’t something Governor Branstad asked for in his original bill.  Why fight for language that (I believe) came from Students First?   State Representative Jorgensen told me it came from a third party and they’re the only group up at the State House that would likely offer language like that since we’ve established it didn’t come from the Iowa Department of Education.

So drop it all ready.  I don’t see Senate Democrats fighting for it either, and after talking with some State Representatives I don’t believe most realized what they were voting for when that amendment passed.

Below are the members of the conference committee.  Give them a call next week.  Encourage the Democrats on the list to accept the offer.  They’re getting pretty much what they’ve asked for.  The education liberty items are not vouchers or anything that would be deemed controversial.  It’s simply lifting some regulations.

Encourage all the members to can this particular language in HF 215.

Starting on line (30-3) under Division V of HF 215:

Annually, the department shall report state data for each indicator in the condition of education report. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall specify that the approved district=wide assessment of student progress administered for purposes of this paragraph the indicators shall be the assessment utilized by school districts statewide in the school year beginning July 1, 2011, or a successor assessment administered by the same assessment provider. (2) Notwithstanding subparagraph (1), for the school year beginning July 1, 2014, and each succeeding school year, the rules shall provide that all students enrolled in school districts in grades three through eleven shall, within forty=five days of the end of the school year, be administered an assessment that at a minimum assesses the indicators identified in this paragraph “b”; is aligned with the Iowa common core standards in both content and rigor; is developed by a consortium in which the state of Iowa is a participant; accurately describes student achievement and growth for purposes of the school, the school district, and state accountability systems; and provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of student progress toward college or career readiness. (3) The director shall establish a task force to review and assist with the final development and implementation of the assessment specified in subparagraph (2). The task force members shall include but not be limited to teachers, school administrators, business leaders, representatives of state agencies, and members of the general public. This subparagraph is repealed July 1, 2015. (bold emphasis mine)

Here are the members of the conference committee, please drop them an email:

Iowa Senate Members:

Iowa House Members:

Picture Credit: Iowa House Republicans

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

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