I feel like we have been spending most of this legislative session trying to prevent bad things from happening! Consider the current proposal that was passed out of the House yesterday afternoon that would not permit schools to begin classes before the fourth Wednesday in August. The bill was adopted by a vote of 54-44. Is this what we are now calling education reform? Apparently the legislature is taking it's cues from the tourism industry, because they came right out and said so. Seriously, this boggles my mind! Let's take a little trip down memory lane to see where we have been since this fiasco started:
- Online Learning: Well, you all know the lengths I have gone to voice my concerns about how two school districts in Iowa have partnered with 100% online virtual academies. To refresh your memory, these school districts (through their out of state intermediaries) engaged in a direct marketing campaign to recruit students to the online academy via open enrollment. This would of course result in the per pupil funding for that student to flow out of the local school district and to the out of state provider. To add insult to injury, not only will it flow out of the local school district BUT 97% of it will flow out of state. The loss of those financial resources that will have a direct impact on programs offered at your local school district. The House version limits the program to 900 students statewide and limits the number of students who can participate per local school district. The Senate version cuts the funding to that of a home school program.
- $30 Million Early Intervention Fund In Danger: Unless the legislature acts, this appropriation will expire on June 30, 2012. What is the big deal? This is the money that is used for class size reduction for grades K-3 and for early reading intervention. That's right, class size reduction. In case you were curious, our class sizes could use some reduction. If we were properly funded in the first place, I would be advocating along with my elementary principal for additional teachers in the elementary school, particularly kindergarten! If the legislature fails to act, what will happen to our class sizes? Oh, and by the way some legislators are convinced that this money isn't being used appropriately. They propose to 'repurpose' this money to pay for components of the education reform.
- Early Start Date: Seriously, this is what we have devolved to. The Governor is so serious about this he has indicated he may direct the Department of Education to stop granting early start waivers. Unbelievable.
Those are just a few of the little nuggets that we have been dealing with. It seems like every day something new and even crazier than before is being brought up for a vote. Today alone I received three different action items about proposed legislation. Hopefully it will end soon, then we can start picking up the pieces after all the legislators have gone home. I urge you, if you have not done so to please contact your local legislator. Here in Hudson you can contact Senator Jeff Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact Representative Walt Rogers at email@example.com.
|Construction Trades class shows me the progress on their ultimate|
mileage vehicle. These are the kind of innovative projects that we should
be talking about to reform education!