elementary-school-kidsEducation issues remain in the spotlight as the Iowa Senate continues to debate education reform. We must pass meaningful legislation that helps Iowa students compete at a global level and contribute to the overall economy. Unfortunately, the Senate education reform plan that was passed this week spends even more money while demanding less accountability.

I offered an amendment that required accountability from the Department of Education. This would have been a five year assessment that set up guidelines for measurable student performance expectations in our schools. Some of the requirements;

  • 4th grade students goal – 90% proficiency in reading, math and science
  • 8th grade students goal – 85% proficiency in reading, math and science
  • 11th grade students goal-80% proficiency in reading, math and 85% proficiency in science
  • Iowa placing in the top five states in the nation for grades 4, 8 and 11 in reading, math and science on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

If these goals were not met a commission made up of the Governor, Director of the Department of Management, Executive Director of the Area Education Agency would be formed. The Governor would act as the Chair and would appoint seven additional members including individuals that represent a small, medium, and large business, a post-secondary institution, school districts, and a teacher. Their mission would be to submit its findings and recommendations in a report to the Governor and the General Assembly on how to move forward in disbanding the Department of Education.

We all remember the days when Iowa schools ranked at the top in the nation. It is my belief that the Department of Education is a hindrance to our schools’ performance and that this top down approach is not working. I have full confidence in our local school boards and administrators to make decisions for what is best for their individual school district.  The failed core curriculum and the broken teaching methods are mandates that, I believe, are crippling our schools. We certainly do not have a ‘teacher problem’ in this state and we are blessed to have some of the best teachers in the nation, but their hands have been and remain tied. The legislature has been paying lip service to reform education for years and while spending billions of dollars to improve education, our children still wind up getting short changed.

Unfortunately, my amendment was ruled non germane to the Education Reform Bill on a procedural decision so no vote was taken. However, I remain committed to the future of Iowa students and will continue working on increasing accountability, reducing costs for Iowa students, and ensuring students coming out of school are prepared for the global marketplace ready to contribute to the overall economy.

Photo Credit: Missy (Last Name Not Given) via Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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