Thursday, March 8, 2012

LCEA Hotline March 9, 2012

Education reform set to move in the house next week - take action now!

The ISEA has learned that the House intends to debate HF 2380 next week. The most important thing you can do is attend a Legislative Forum in your area and make sure your Legislators know how you feel about education reform issues such as 100 percent online learning, third-grade retention, and value-added assessments. Check out educators' recent testimony on these issues for more information.

Educators rock the House on education reform!

Kudos to ISEA members who spoke about various issues in the House version (HF 2380) of the Governor's Education Reform bill on Monday night. Members did an excellent job of explaining how education reform issues in the bill affect the classroom and students. Issues covered by ISEA members included the right/wrong drivers for education reform, professional development, 100 percent online learning, Iowa Core, third-grade retention, and value-added assessments. If you want to know what was said, read the testimony on the ISEA website
Governor Branstad made the unprecedented move of speaking at the beginning of the hearing, urging the House to pass his original version of the bill. Educators in the audience at the event noted that Branstad didn't stay to listen to comments by teachers and other education professionals.

ALERT: Next Monday, Governor Branstad will be joined by Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, during his weekly press conference. She was formerly the Chancellor of public schools in Washington D.C. where she offered teachers a salary incentive to end their collective bargaining contract. After resigning from her position, she started StudentsFirst. StudentsFirst advocates getting rid of collective bargaining laws; getting rid of last-in, first-out layoffs (90 percent of contracts in Iowa do not have last-in, first-out); eliminating teacher tenure (Iowa does not have teacher tenure); expanded charter schools where educators are not represented by unions; and annual evaluations. Rhee is also scheduled to meet with the Des Moines Register editorial board. ISEA will be working hard to counter Rhee's negative message about reforms.

Act now! There is still time to influence your Legislators on allowable growth

This week the Senate Education Subcommittee amended HF 2245 to include 4 percent allowable growth and reinstated allowable growth to be set 18 months in advance.

The House version of the bill strikes the current law requiring the Allowable Growth rate to be set 30 days after the Governor’s budget, and sets the rate for two years in the first session of a General Assembly.

Allowable growth is basically the cost of living increase it takes to keep our schools operating effectively. It is imperative we get 4 percent allowable growth to keep class size reasonable and program offerings rich.

Keep contacting your Legislator, urging them to support 4 percent allowable growth for the 2013-14 school year. Be sure to mention it at your Legislative Forum this weekend!

Is the House willing to allow 100 percent online learning in Iowa?

By now you've probably seen the television ads running statewide recruiting students for 100 percent online learning through the CAM and Clayton Ridge schools. This week the House Education Committee invited out-of-state, for-profit companies K12, Inc. and Connections Academy to speak with them. This may indicate House Republicans could be willing to consider allowing 100 percent online learning in Iowa. Contact your representatives in the House to let them know you oppose 100 percent online learning.

As ISEA member Timm Pilcher said at the hearing Monday night, "Online learning is the wave of the future--as an enrichment to traditional classroom instruction, not to the exclusion of it. The research is clear that online only students are losing ground. Students who transfer to online programs from brick-and-mortar schools posted lower scores on annual state exams after entering virtual schools."

Check to see if you have a Legislative Forum in your area this weekend and bring family and friends with you. Be sure education issues like allowable growth and online learning are discussed!