educationHF 2380, Governor Terry Branstad’s proposed education bill was debated last week was passed on the morning of March 14th on a 53-46 vote.  A number of amendments were passed changing the language of Governor Branstad’s original proposal significantly.  Some items to note:

  • Competency-based education was expanded which will allow a public or nonpublic school to award high school credit upon the required competencies being demonstrated.  The assessment for this will be provided by each school.
  • Accredited nonpublic schools are not required to meet the core curriculum and core content requirements which are in conflict with their tenets and practices of the bona fide religious institution of the school. 
  • As noted last week, the expansion of the Iowa Core Curriculum was struck and the Department of Education was tasked with conducting a study of the core curriculum and core content standards.
  • School districts are still required to do yearly evaluations (I don’t think this is a bad thing necessarily, but again it is another state mandate on principals which may already have a lot on their plate).
  • The statewide teacher and administrator system is still in the bill.  Which will be for use of by all schools.  Schools (public and nonpublic) can submit their own for approval by the Department of Education.  The good in this is that it may not become implemented as they have to form a task force to study pilot programs.  If the recommendations which will come to the Legislature in the form of a separate bill are not passed then this section of the bill will be repealed.
  • Nonpublic schools now may utilize Iowa Learning Online.
  • Public and nonpublic schools can request exemptions from one or more of the PK-12 educational program.  The exemption language is broader for nonpublic schools.
  • Nonpublic schools are no longer required to submit job openings to the Department of Education’s job opening website.  Language was changed from “shall” to “may.”
  • Preschool program was expanded.
  • The Department of Education establishes an accountability system for all Iowa’s schools.  All public schools are required to incorporate end-of-course assessments.
  • There will be a value-added assessment implemented for school districts.
  • School districts will administer kindergarten assessments for every pre-kindergarten student or 4-year-old enrolled in the district.  This does not include nonpublic schools.
  • The state board will still adopt rules for a statewide plan for professional development, but the professional development money will not be removed from school district budgets to fund.
  • Ineffective and biased charter school language is still present in the bill.
  • Third grade literacy plan is still present.  If a child’s reading deficiency is not remediated by the end of the third grade that child shall be held back.  A decision that should be made by local school districts and parents, not the state.
  • Professional services and guidance counseling services will only be provided by those who completed approved endorsements or have a state license by 2015.
  • Kept the alternative pathway to a teaching license.

While this is a much better bill that the original, especially for nonpublic schools, it still expands the power of state government and erodes local control.  Though it is improved it is still disappointing to see that 53 Republicans who mostly say they favor limited government vote for this bill as the bill doesn’t nothing but expand state government through the Department of Education.  The bill will now go to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.  You can read the bill below:

HF 2380 Reprinted

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