Under the Golden Dome, Too – Week Six

Upmeyer UTGD

This week the House passed legislation targeted at returning Iowa’s education system to #1 in the nation.  In 1992, Iowa’s students ranked first in the country, and by 2012 our students had slipped to 25th.  Reforming our education system is an investment in the future of our state.

Prior to the start of session, we spent a great deal of time taking input and listening to Iowans from across the state about how best to reform our education system.  We heard from parents, students, teachers, and employers about the challenges facing our students in today’s classrooms and what is needed to move our state forward.

Since the beginning of session, we have worked diligently to craft bold legislation that took this feedback into consideration and brings accountability and innovation to Iowa’s education system.  HF 215, our education reform proposal, will provide students with the tools they need to be successful in today’s global economy and reward our teachers for their tremendous efforts in educating our future workforce.

HF 215 is not only a wise investment in our children’s education, but also protects Iowa’s property taxpayers.  The House unanimously voted to fund supplemental state aid, formerly referred to as ‘allowable growth’, at a rate of 2%.  This would provide an additional $69 million to our schools in Fiscal Year 2014 and $43 million in Fiscal Year 2015.  Unlike past years, property taxpayers will be held harmless under our school funding proposal.  Rather than placing additional burden on Iowa property taxpayers, HF 215 requires the state to pick up what would have been the resulting property tax increase from the traditional allowable growth formula.  This totals approximately $8 million in each of the next two years in property tax relief.

The bill creates an innovative career pathway system for teachers, including a structure for initial, career, model, and lead teachers.  The plan will provide incentives for teachers in high-need schools and creates a system where the best teachers are being used throughout the building in order to improve instruction and increase student outcomes in the classroom.  This structure will provide continual professional development opportunities, raise the performance of other teachers, and spread best practices throughout each and every school building.  Our proposal will reward teachers that excel in their careers and help teachers that need improvement.

We understand that local school districts know best how to serve their students.  HF 215 provides flexibility at the local level, allowing districts to implement innovative systems that best fit their own unique needs.  HF 215 implements home rule authority, which provides increased authority and empowerment to our locally-elected school boards, thereby giving parents and community members more input into their children’s education.

This plan revitalizes our education system in Iowa and puts us on the path toward reclaiming our status of having the best schools in the nation.  HF 215 is an investment in a strategy that brings the best practices of high-performing school districts to all of our schools, in order to improve student achievement throughout the state.

The bill has been sent to the Senate for further consideration and I look forward to working together to accomplish meaningful reform for our students.  I will continue to keep you updated as the legislation moves forward.

As always, I appreciate hearing from you!  Please continue to contact me with any feedback at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.