Education Reforms for Iowa’s Families

SpeakerKP42

This week the Legislature’s main focus was on House File 215, addressing education reform and education funding.

House Republicans spent a great deal of time over the past year listening to Iowans and hearing their concerns on the state of Iowa’s education system.  Iowans recognize that the current method of investing in education is producing the same results year after year, while we continue to be passed by other states and globally.   In 1992, Iowa’s students ranked first in the country and by 2012 they had slipped to 25th.

Last summer, House Republicans committed to Iowa voters that they would focus on education reform by developing bold ideas that bring accountability and innovation to Iowa’s education system.   House File 215 is the proposal House Republicans are putting forth to fulfill their commitment to Iowans.

Bold
–This is a record investment in Iowa schools and teachers – at full implementation it would be an investment of $157 million.

— Supplemental State Aid (formerly known as Allowable Growth) would provide an additional $69 million in Fiscal Year 2014 and $43 million in Fiscal Year 2015. With that, the bill promises the state will pick up the resulting property tax increase of around $8 million in each of the next two years, protecting property tax payers.

–Creates career pathways for teachers, including a structure for initial, career, model, mentor, lead, and emeritus teachers.  The plan will provide incentives for teachers in high-needs fields and create a system where the best teachers are being used throughout the building, providing continual professional development, raising the performance of other teachers, and spreading excellent practice throughout each and every school building.

Accountable
–Through the new changes implemented, we are heading towards systems where teacher and administrator evaluations will mean something and be based on a number of factors.  Communities will be able to see quantitatively how their local schools are performing.  Student assessments will test students beyond a bubble sheet for today’s learning standards, giving teachers and administrators the feedback and tools they need.

–The reform bill rewards teachers that excel and helps teachers that need to improve, again bringing more accountability to taxpayers and ensuring more accountability from the teachers.

Innovative
–We know that every school district across the state has different needs and faces different challenges.  In this plan, there is flexibility built in which allows local districts to implement innovative systems that best fit their own district.

–The proposal implements home rule authority to empower locally-elected school boards.  This again empowers local districts and gives parents more input in the process.

This plan focuses state education spending on achievement-driven reforms that align our investments with practices and programs that have demonstrated improving student performance.

We are investing in a strategy that brings the best practices of high-performing school districts to all of our schools.

The bill passed the House, 52 to 44 and was sent to the Senate for their consideration.

If you have any questions on this bill or any others, please feel free to contact me at my office at (515) 281-3521 or by email at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov

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  • Trace Frahm

    Our local community in Walnut, Iowa provided our school board with an excellent public charter school conversion plan last year. The charter would have provided character and core values curriculum, service based learning from K-12, required the Pledge of Allegiance be returned to the classrooms, and given our community school a new start. The community voted in favor of the conversion to a public charter school by a 93% margin, the teachers voted was tighter but it favored the charter too. After the votes were taken and the charter was presented to the school board for final approval the teachers created a petition against the charter apparantly changing their mind from their earlier vote. The teachers didn’t like the Pledge of Allegiance, volunteer signing of a letter of understanding by teachers and parents prior to coming into the school, and accused the charter of being a “religious school”. The “certified” teachers in our school essentailly were killing their own jobs because the school will be whole grade consolodated without the charter option. But that didn’t seem to matter! The school board voted 4-1 against the charter, the Iowa Dept of Education charter school employees were no where to be found when we needed them the most.

Dansette