What Exactly Will Iowa Strong Schools Look Like?

state-capitol-buildingIowa Senate Republicans, Iowa House Republicans, and the Branstad administration have worked on a unified election message called the Iowa Strong Initiative.  Yesterday they unveiled the Iowa Strong Schools component.  I wanted to focus on the “strong schools” component related to K-12 and it reads:

Advance education reforms that offer accountability, innovation and choice for parents

Achievement-driven Reforms

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

Invest in Educational Leadership

Put a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every building.  Invest in a strategy that brings the best practices of high performing school districts to our schools and rewards those doing an extraordinary job.

More Choices for Parents and Students

Increase educational choice options to allow more parents and students to choose the educational environment that best suits their needs.

Well this is pretty vague which is what it likely had to be in order to achieve any type of agreement between Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa House Republicans.  The devil is in the details so to speak.  How will achievement-driven reforms be implemented?  Will they be grassroots or dictated from Des Moines?  Will there be a centralized standard for evaluation and evaluation process be crammed down the throats of schools or will local school boards be able to innovate?  Will the choice they focus on be just charter and online schools like what we’ve seen Governor Branstad focus on during his first term or will they work to expand opportunity for private schools and give homeschooling families a tax break?  Will there be strings attached on accredited non-public schools?  These are questions you need to be asking Republicans (and Democrats) who are running for the Iowa House and Senate.

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