Thursday, February 16, 2012

LCEA Hotline: February 16, 2012


Why you should care about online learning

What is happening with allowable growth?

NEW! Notes from the Inside - An inside look at a few of the education bills being proposed this legislative session that you probably won't hear about anywhere else. We'll feature one or two each week.

Why you should care about online learning

Two issues involving online schools surfaced in Iowa recently. First SSB 3009 and HSB 517, the education bill currently being debated in the Iowa Legislature, seeks to establish an online learning model opening the doors to 100 percent online schools. Second, two for-profit companies, K12, Inc. and Connections Academy have been hired to open online schools in Clayton Ridge and CAM school districts respectively.

The ISEA does not believe current Iowa Code allows schools to operate 100 percent online. Iowa schools are governed under "Dillon's Rule" which means they are only allowed to do what state law expressly allows them to do.

In addition, both for-profit companies will open-enroll statewide and charge Iowa taxpayers the maximum amount per pupil of $6,000. K12, Inc. and Connections Academy will then pocket 97 percent of the per pupil funding while the Clayton Ridge and CAM school districts receive 3 percent per student. By their own admission, K12, Inc. and Connections Academy are for-profit corporations and make their money on a high student-to-teacher ratio and charge the maximum tax dollar per student.

Both SSB 3009 and HSB 517 seek to amend Iowa Code to allow 100 percent online learning. The bill is still in the Legislature while K12, Inc. and Connections Academy are set to open their virtual doors for the 2012/2013 school year.

The ISEA believes there is a place for online learning and there may even be a place for full-time online learning for some children. But, for most students, especially our youngest, the school experience should not be replaced with the isolated online one. Social interaction, developing collaboration skills and teamwork, self-definition and even how to make friends are all processes of growing up.

Write to your Legislators today and ask them to just say no to 100 percent online learning! Let your local Legislators know how you feel about this and other education reform issues at an upcoming Legislative Forum in your area this weekend!

What is happening with allowable growth?

The House approved HF 2245, its plan on adopting Allowable Growth bills. The vote was on party lines, House Republicans voted for the bill; House Democrats voted against it. The bill changes the timing on setting the Allowable Growth rate. Under the House proposal, the rate for the school year that starts in the same calendar year will be set within 30 days of the Governor’s budget in the first year of a general assembly. The rate for the following school year will be set sometime during that regular session. The House did not vote on a rate; that amendment from Democrats was out-of-order.

The Senate approved a 4 percent Allowable Growth for the 2013-14 school year, on party lines. Senate Democrats voted for Allowable Growth; Senate Republicans voted against it. This information was provided by the Iowa Legislative News Service,

Notes from the Inside

Senate File 2187 repeals Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code which gives Iowa educators the right to collectively bargin. The bill was proposed by Senator Mark Chelgren (R-Wappelo). This is the kind of Legislation that your ISEA lobbyists are fighting against every day on your behalf!