February 13, 2013

IA ed reform?/Violence Against Women passed in Senate

Please contact your congressmen and let them know the Violence against Women bill is the least they can do for our smaller and smaller world.

Please stay in touch with your local legislators through regularly scheduled forums.  The League of Women Voters sponsors forums the last Saturday of the month in Johnson County at various locations.  The February 23 forum is scheduled for the Coralville Public Library and begins at 9:30 televised.  Cedar Rapids has a Linn County Forum on Feb 16.  The recent proposal in Iowa by Governor Branstad on education issues should concern us all.  Contact the ISEA for further information.  See below for current details.  Melissa is our ISEA lobbyist.

1. Melissa Petersen gave a legislative update.  She informed us that the special election in HD 52 to replace was successful with the election of Dem. Todd Pritchard.

The senate moved 4% allowable growth, and 4% categorical growth.  Branstad has announced that education reform will pass before allowable growth is decided. 

Melissa has asked that we take note of what the legislators say in their home districts and forums compared to how they vote when back in Des Moines.

The Governor's education reform bill (HSB 4 and SSB 1058) will be eligible for debate possibly the 3rd week in February.  Melissa commented that much time is spent sorting fact from fiction, and that the educational task force presentations do not seem to align with proposed legislation.

The education reform bill has five basic divisions:

Division 1.  Iowa Learning Online Program.  Currently, 872 students are using the program, primarily students with IEPs.  The program is run by the state as a non-profit entity.  The bill asks for $4.5 million dollars to expand the program and build more infrastructure capacity.  ISEA sees this as a possible state option vs. the private online companies such as K-12 Learning.

Division 2.  Training and Employment of Teachers.  Creates a marketing program and mandatory posting for teachers on a state run website.

There would be a Iowa Teacher Scholar Program involving loan forgiveness for $4,000. over teaching for five years in Iowa, but no loan forgiveness after $20,000.

Teacher Pilot Program to collaborate with colleges and universities to extend student teaching for one full year.  The idea is to student teach for four days, and on the fifth day, a college education professor meets with the student teacher.

Division 3. 
Iowa Premier Diploma Seal Program.  ("Decorate Your Diploma")  Appropriate $4 million  dollars to identify high school students as college ready, career ready, or not seal for not ready, diplomas.  Three of the four million dollars would be reserved for testing purposes.  A commission of 20 members would oversee the diploma seal program, only four member would be teachers, the rest heavily industry representatives. Concerns expressed by board members were that this could be potentially discriminatory and harken back to the old days of "tracking" students.

Division 4.
Teacher and Administrative Development System.  Melissa noted that the biggest problem she sees is that the program essentially gives all power to the DOE director and State Board of Education for the development of teaching standards and evaluation methods.  No one is happy to see this kind of power turned over to eleven people, and this leaves educators vulnerable.

Division 5.
Teacher & Career Compensation Matters.  This creates five teaching levels:
1.     Initial
2.    Career
3.    Model - Minimum $2,000 stipend for 5 additional days of work.
4.    Mentor - 10 added work days at $5,000.  Out of classroom 25%
5.    Leader - 15 added work days at $10,000.  Out of classroom no less than 50%

The legislation creates minimum $35,000. salary.

The proposal provides for $10 million for community colleges.  ISEA projects at least $22 million is necessary and can be funded in light of current budget surplus.

No funding for AEAs proposed.

Talking points for legislative forums and conversations with legislators can be found on the ISEA website.

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