Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds and Education Director Jason Glass at Capitol View Elementary

I know many of you are not used to going to Iowa Grounds for Iowa political news and commentary now, so I wanted to draw your attention to a piece I published there early this morning related to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s education bill.  I know that education policy isn’t as “sexy” as Presidential politics, but it is vitally important.  Abraham Lincoln once said that “the philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of the government tomorrow.”  With the current state of our educational system that should horrify us.

At yet some in their well-meaning attempt to bring about reform will just make things worse.  Enter Governor Branstad’s education bill whose likely architects are Jason Glass, the director of the Iowa Department of Education and Linda Fandel, Governor Branstad’s special adviser for education.  The proposed bill has been introduced in the Iowa House as HSB 517 and in the Iowa Senate as SSB 3009 the bills are virtually identical.

If you are an Iowan and you care about limited government, school choice, and local control in education; you are going to hate this bill.  Even so there is lipstick on this pig, and out of fairness I will mention a number of things that I like:

  • An expansion of educational choice in the form of public and nonpublic online education.
  • The creation of a 5-year probationary period for newly licensed teachers.
  • Ending social promotion of third graders.
  • Introducing an alternative teacher certification for those who have life experience in the subject they would like to teach.
  • An expansion of the current charter school law.

Unfortunately, the bad far outweighs the good.  You can read a fuller, more detailed analysis here, but here are some items to note:

  • The legislation promotes an expansion of the Iowa Core Curriculum (which has been written extensively about) in the following subjects: music and other fine arts, applied arts, foreign languages, physical education, character education, and entrepreneurship education.
  • It provides for strict accountability for adherence to the Iowa Core; even for nonpublic schools.  It provides onerous requirements for nonpublic schools for reporting to the Iowa Department of Education.
  • The suggested change to Iowa’s charter school law has inherent bias toward faith-based non-profits present.
  • It provides for the takeover of professional development by the Iowa Department of Education.
  • It provides for a universal job application to be applied to even nonpublic schools.
  • It requires nonpublic schools to inform the Department of job openings.
  • The Department of Education will determine teacher eligibility for nonpublic schools.
  • The Department will dictate evaluation measures and methods used for nonpublic schools.
  • It renders the charter school law ineffective by requiring adherence to laws and regulations in place for public schools such as collective bargaining for teachers.
  • No private school choice expansion or expansion of liberty for homeschooling parents.
Please take time to read the full analysis and then contact your legislator.  This is something that I would have expected from former Iowa Governor Chet Culver, not Governor Branstad who up until this point had been friendly on the school choice issue.  His administration has now become hostile to not only public schools but local school boards as well.


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