Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 7, 2013

Senate Education Committee passes Education Reform

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Des Moines — Sen. Amy Sinclair reports that the Education Committee passed an education reform bill this afternoon along party lines, 9-6. 

The Senate's education reform bill, SSB 1228 (http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&menu=false&hbill=SSB1228) calls for 4 percent allowable growth, compared to the House's 2 percent allocation. Included in this bill are reforms for defining different levels of teachers, as proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad, as well as financial proposals and school district requirements into the future.

Sinclair and the other Republicans on the committee voted against the bill. Among her concerns with the bill are that the cost is unknown. There is also no mention of parental or student responsibility. She believes that if education is going to be reformed, parents and students need to be part of the discussion. 

Iowa law also dictates that allowable growth be addressed in its own bill, separate from any reform bill. Accountability for students is also not addressed. 

Several pages of the bill spell out the duties and responsibilities of each level of teacher, as well as providing time and compensation for peer discussions among teachers. When asked about the role of teachers teaching teachers in an education reform, Knoxville High School Principal Kevin Crawford agreed that teachers should continue learning. Teachers can use their experience to find out what works to reach students and what may not. Time is not always afforded to teachers to be able to do this during the course of the school day. Annual peer reviews are included in the bill.

The base salary for a beginning teacher in the Senate bill is established at $35,000. In Knoxville, every new teacher is afforded three years' of experience when setting pay. The Senate's standard may not affect this. 

Sinclair was unsure when the bill will be brought to the Senate floor for a full vote. She believes this bill was rushed out of committee today, to avoid the self-imposed funnel deadline.