IOWA COUNCIL OF TEACHERS OF MATHEMATICS

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  • 1 Jun 2022 7:36 AM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Welcome to the final update on Iowa’s education-related legislation priorities and movement for 2022.


    This bill was signed into law since our last update:

    • “English Learners” wording and services  SF2128  This bill changes terminology from “limited English proficiency” to “English learners” and also extends services for English learners from five to seven years. This bill has been passed by the Senate and the House Effective July 1, 2022.

    The following bills were passed and await signature from the governor:
    • Teacher preparation program changes and end-of-program assessment: HF2081- Along with a number of small changes to practicum hour requirements (80 in total for teacher preparation programs, 50 hours for teacher intern programs, and 10 required before being admitted to a teacher education program), this bill omits the need for national or local assessments such as EdTPA, PPAT, or Praxis for initial licensure. Prospective teachers still need to meet all program requirements in order to apply for initial licensure. All teacher preparation programs must notify past students who failed to meet licensure requirements of these changes, so that they can apply for initial licensure if they choose to do so.
    • Open-enrollment changes  HF2589 - Parents are now able to open-enroll their children to other districts at any point in time. Receiving districts must accept the students’ enrollment if  they have classroom capacity and if the request will not jeopardize a school district’s court-ordered desegregation efforts.
    With the Legislature adjourned, we are now in the 30 day signing window, meaning the Governor has until June 24 to take action on legislation sent to her desk.


    The following notable bill did not pass:

    • SF2081 - Disbursements from computer science professional development incentive fund. Unfortunately, funds awarded in fiscal year 21-22 cannot be used in 22-23. However, the funds for computer science professional development are not impacted by this bill.

    The below bills did not pass and consist largely of items that would undermine trust in public education, provide scholarships for students to attend private schools, and allow individuals to substitute-teach without pay.

    • SF2356 - Volunteer substitute teachers
    • SF2364 - Dissemination of certain materials, prohibition of materials in schools, civil actions, penalties
    •  SF2369 (HF2498, HF2577) - Governor’s education omnibus bills, Senate (House) versions.
    • SF2377 - Teach Iowa scholarship grants, licenses issued by the BoEE, district management levy
    • SF2205 - Rights of students enrolled in public schools, parents.

    Have a wonderful summer! 
    Maryann and Ji-Yeong


  • 14 Apr 2022 8:52 AM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Welcome to the third update in 2022 on Iowa’s education-related legislation priorities and movement.

    Overall, no new bills were passed, some have advanced, and many have been referred to various entities or marked as unfinished business. Bills that deal with the state budget are exempt from deadlines, as are bills in the Ways and Means, Appropriations, or Government Oversight Committees. Lawmakers also have the option of marking a bill as “unfinished business,” allowing them to continue work after the funnel. Legislative leaders also may sponsor bills that are exempt from the deadline.

    Governor’s Priorities
    Similar to prior years, the governor would like to see more “student choice” in terms of attending either public or private schools and redirecting public funds to support private schools. There are several bills still in the funnel specific to establishing a voucher system and a “Student First Enrollment Supplement Fund” SF2369. This bill contains many elements now and goes beyond the governor’s priorities. A number of previous bills have been collected under this number (SF2369), including HF2081, which addresses the elimination of teacher preparation assessments. This bill has passed the Senate and now goes to the House.

    • Division I establishes a parental bill of rights, incorporating elements of the transparency provisions introduced in the original bill.
    • Division II establishes the Student First Scholarship program.
    • Division III modifies provisions related to social studies instruction.
    • Division IV relates to special education services for students receiving private instruction.
    • Division V allows siblings and stepsiblings of students who are subjected to “repeated acts of harassment” to file for open enrollment after the March 1 deadline.
    • Division VI incorporates HF2081, as amended, related to end-of-program assessment in teacher preparation programs and other matters related to practitioner preparation and licensure.
      • Division VI of the original bill made changes to teacher librarian licensure and credentialing. These provisions are not included in the amended bill.
    • Division VII incorporates HF2567, as amended, related to the reporting and investigation of misconduct by licensed practitioners.
    • Division VIII relates to licensure renewal requirements for practitioners holding a master educator teaching license.

    Bills Currently Moving Forward

    Teach Iowa Scholarship Eligibility Requirements
    SF2377 This bill expands eligibility for students to qualify for the Teach Iowa Scholarship program. Students must be in the top 50% of their teaching preparation class versus 25% and the bill omits requirements for discipline-specific preparation opening up eligibility to all preservice teachers. A recent change allocates 50% of the funding to districts with less than 1200 students and 50% to districts with more than 1200 students. The bill has been passed by the House. This bill has passed the House and Senate and is now with the Ways and Means Committee.

    English Learners Terminology
     SF2128 This bill changes terminology from “limited English proficiency” to “English learners” and also extends services for English learners from five to seven years. This bill has been passed by the Senate and the House.

    Computer Science Funding and Disbursement 
    SF2081 This bill allows for unused funds in CS professional development to roll over into the next fiscal year. This bill has been placed on the unfinished business list.

    Supplemental Funding Bill
     HF2315 This bill has passed the House, but has not yet been discussed by the senate. The bill provides $19.2 million in additional funding for bus drivers, paraeducators, and other needs for schools. Passed the House.

    Renewal of licenses 
    HF2398 Strikes requirements for teachers with a master’s degree or Ph.D. to renew their licenses. This bill has been placed on unfinished business.

    Curricular bills & Transparency of Curricular Materials  
    HF2577 relates to education transparency and civics instruction and was passed by a vote of 60-36 in the House and goes to the Senate. The House adopted two amendments to the bill on the floor:

    • Clarification that instructional materials do not include lesson plans.
    • Specifies that a change in materials must be posted by the end of the school week in accordance with the requirements of the act. Exempts a teacher of record providing special education instruction from the requirements of the new section 279.76.

    Accountability bills
    Other bills related to targeting librarians with charges and fees if they provide certain reading material did not make the funnel. However, a bill making administrators and teachers accountable for ensuring that no obscene material is distributed is still under review, SF2198. If obscene materials are distributed, the crime would be a serious misdemeanor. This bill has been referred to the Judiciary.

  • 1 Mar 2022 5:40 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Welcome to the second update in 2022 on Iowa’s education-related legislation priorities and movement.

    Governor’s Priorities
    Similar to prior years, the governor would like to see more “student choice” in terms of attending either public or private schools and redirecting public funds to support private schools. There are several bills still in the funnel specific to establishing a voucher system and a “Student First Enrollment Supplement Fund”: HSB672/SSB3080 These bills have not yet been passed and are with the Appropriations committee.

    Budget
    HF2316 The budget increase for public school funding will be 2.5% with an increase of $5 per pupil. The increases were passed and signed into law on February 17, 2022.

    Bills Currently Moving Forward

    Teach Iowa Scholarship Eligibility Requirements
    HF2083 formally HSB519  This bill expands eligibility for students to qualify for the Teach Iowa Scholarship program. Students must be in the top 50% of their teaching preparation class versus 25% and the bill omits requirements for discipline-specific preparation opening up eligibility to all preservice teachers. A recent change allocates 50% of the funding to districts with less than 1200 students, and 50% to districts with more than 1200 students. The bill has been passed by the House.

    English Learners Terminology
    SF2128 This bill changes terminology from “limited English proficiency” to “English learners” and also extends services for English learners from five year to seven. This bill has been passed by the Senate.

    Elimination of Teacher Prep Assessments
    HSB 520  As amended, this bill would eliminate the need for state-required subject assessments before the completion of teacher preparation to be nationally recognized. A subject-specific performance assessment is still required with a focus on student learning at the end of teacher preparation programs. If passed, teacher preparation programs could administer a valid and reliable subject-specific performance assessment that are not nationally recognized. A prior requirement of teacher preparation programs to report pass rates related to these assessments is also removed.

    Computer Science Funding and Disbursement
    SF2081 This bill allows for unused funds in CS professional development to roll over into the next fiscal year.

    Supplemental Funding Bill
    HF2315 This bill has passed the House, but has not yet been discussed by the senate. The bill provides $19.2 million in additional funding for bus drivers, paraeducators, and other needs for schools.

    Renewal of licenses 
    HF2398 Strikes requirements for teachers with a master’s degree or PhD to renew their licenses.

    Bills no Longer in the Funnel

    Curricular bills 
    Many curricular bills that required civics, HF2098, HF2089, HF2060, climate change instruction, SF2154, health, human growth, and consent, SF2071 and HF2183, and notifying parents about sexual orientation instruction, HF2054, are no longer in the funnel or moving forward. However, there is one bill related to requiring government and history classes still in the funnel HF2418. Another bill requires that students pass a government class and US citizenship test in order for a student to graduate from high school HSB706.

    Accountability bills
    Other bills related to targeting librarians with charges and fees if they provide certain reading material did not make the funnel. However, a bill making administrators and teachers accountable for ensuring that no obscene material is distributed is still under review, SF2198. If obscene materials are distributed, the crime would be a serious misdemeanor.

    AEA Consolidation bill
    A bill recommending that AEA’s be consolidated to four entities, HF8182, is no longer in the funnel.

  • 26 Jan 2022 7:52 AM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Welcome to the first update in 2022 on Iowa’s education-related legislation priorities and movement.


    Governor’s Priorities

    Similar to prior years, the governor would like to see more “student choice” in terms of attending either public or private schools and redirecting public funds to support private schools. In addition, there is concern about teacher retention and recruitment throughout the state. The emphasis of ideas at this point seems to be on lowering requirements, removing testing during teacher preparation, and one-time bonuses. The governor would also like to see “grow your own” teacher programs created throughout the state.

    Teacher Retention & Recruitment
    he governor proposed a $1000 retention bonus in order to retain teachers through the pandemic. Teachers who commit to teaching in the following academic year would receive a one-time stipend. In addition, the governor would like to see an apprenticeship program created to attract teachers and paraeducators.

    Private School Scholarships
    The governor would like to see an expansion of private school scholarships and the establishment of a mechanism for a portion of the per pupil budget dollars from public schools to be reallocated to private schools.

    Budget
    The proposed budget increase for public school funding is 2.5%. However, 4% is needed to keep current funding levels steady given inflation. The vast majority of the increase will be allocated to K-12 schools at about 154 million if the proposed rate stays at 2.5% with 5 million to be allocated to community colleges.

    Bills Currently Under Review and Moving Forward

    Iowa Teach Scholarship Eligibility Requirements HSB 519 
    This bill expands eligibility for students to qualify for the Iowa Teach Scholarship program. Students must be in the top 50% of their teaching preparation class versus 25% and the bill omits requirements for discipline-specific preparation opening up eligibility to all preservice teachers.

    Elimination of Teacher Prep Assessments HSB 520 
    As amended, this bill would eliminate the need for state-required subject assessments before the completion of teacher preparation to be nationally recognized. A subject-specific performance assessment is still required with a focus on student learning at the end of teacher preparation programs. If passed, teacher preparation programs could administer a valid and reliable subject-specific performance assessment that are not nationally recognized. A prior requirement of teacher preparation programs to report pass rates related to these assessments is also removed.

  • 25 May 2021 2:43 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    With the close of the Iowa Legislative session for 2021, a number of education related bills became laws.

    Passed into Law: Diversity Training and Curriculum Bill
    House File 802 A bill banning some mandatory diversity training concepts in K-12 and Regent Institutions was signed into law. The bill is framed as being opposed to diversity training that promotes stereotypes of sexist or racist people. There are implications for the curriculum through K-16.

    • Training cannot state that the US or Iowa is fundamentally or systemically sexist or racist.
    • Training cannot imply that anyone based on their gender, race, or other characteristics are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive consciously or unconsciously.
    • During training no one should experience psychological distress or discomfort because of their race or sex.

    The concern with this bill is that it could be used to ban teaching of the 1619 project, as the language is vague and broad. The general sense is that this law prohibits discussion and education related to institutional and systemic racism.

    Some public schools have cancelled equity training for teachers, staff, and coaches due to this bill. Faculty are unsure if they can continue teaching social justice content, as this might be viewed as divisive.

    Passed into Law: Charter School Bill
    House File 813 The bill creates:

    • A new method for establishing charter schools in Iowa with or without the approval of a local school board.

    There are currently two charter schools in Iowa, and the concern is that charter schools will funnel monies away from other public schools. Charter schools will still be part of the public school system but not necessarily accountable to local school boards. There are currently two proposed charter schools likely to move forward in Des Moines: Jordahl Academy and Starts Right Here Movement.

    Passed into Law: School Choice Expansion Bill
    House File 847 This bill relates to HF 813 and contains a large variety of education related provisions. There are a number of fiscal guidelines, the no mask mandate, and a requirement for charter school governance documents to be public domain. In addition, a new program for using Teacher Supplementary Salary and Teacher Leadership funds toward innovations in instruction was created and called the “Flexible Student and School Support Program”. In addition, “good cause” was expanded to include athletes wishing to open-enroll. A number of changes to tax credits for parents of children in private schools were also included as well as tax credits for teachers.

    Passed into Law: Voluntary Diversity Plan
    HF228 This bill eliminates the implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment.

    Budget Passed:
    The budget for schools has been passed and set at 2.4% for public schools. Originally, Des Moines was going to receive less than other districts to account for two weeks of unapproved online instruction, but this did not get included in the final budget. The budget increase is less than likely needed due to lower enrollment numbers during the 2020-2021 school year. Administrators estimate that a 4% increase will actually be needed to cover expenses.

  • 3 May 2021 6:52 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Diversity Training and Curriculum Bill
    House File 802

    A bill banning some mandatory diversity training concepts in K-12 and Regent Institutions has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The bill is framed as being opposed to diversity training that promotes stereotypes of sexist or racist people. There are implications for curriculum through K-16.

    • Training cannot state that the US or Iowa is fundamentally or systemically sexist or racist.
    • Training cannot imply that anyone based on their gender, race, or other characteristics are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive consciously or unconsciously.
    • During training no one should experience psychological distress or discomfort because of their race or sex.

    The concern with this bill is that it could be used to ban teaching of the 1619 project, as the language is vague and broad. The general sense is that this law prohibits discussion and education related to institutional and systemic racism. Lawsuits are likely to result if this bill is enacted into law due to the lack of clarity and specificity.


    Charter School Bill
    House File 813

    This bill is waiting for the governor's signature to be signed into a law. The bill creates:

    • A new method for establishing charter schools in Iowa without the approval of a local school board.

    There are currently two charter schools in Iowa, and the concern is that charter schools will funnel monies away from other schools. Charter schools will still be part of the public school system, but not accountable to local school boards.

    Lack of oversight is another concern, as well as requirements for the principal to be licensed.


    School Choice Expansion Bill
    HF 847

    This bill relates to HF 813 and contains a large variety of education related provisions. If passed, this bill would place limitations on the number of charter schools that can be formed, require that the chief administrator of a charter school have an administrator's license, a teaching license or a new authorization created by the BOEE, and expands open enrollment options. The bill also provides a tax credit of up to 25% of the first two thousand dollars that families spend on private schooling per child.


    Budget

    The state budget was not agreed to by the two bodies of the legislature, and representatives are now in “overtime”, which means working past the deadline of April 30th without per diem pay. The budget is critical for public schools, so administrators know the funding for the upcoming year and can staff appropriately and make other key operational decisions. It is possible that other bills not voted on this session might be added to the budget.

  • 12 Mar 2021 3:05 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Here is a short legislative update thus far. The first funnel has passed, and the second funnel process will conclude on April 2. In addition, the state budget will be voted on by the end of March, which includes school funding levels for next year.

    BILLS THAT ARE STILL ALIVE

    HF 496 Banning Tenure: The House Education Committee advanced a bill that would do away with tenure at Iowa’s three public universities. Republicans say the measure is due, in part, to concerns that conservative students feel their viewpoints are unwelcome on campus. Opponents say it would hurt the state’s ability to attract and retain talented faculty members.

    HF228 Diversity Plans: Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. This bill passed the House and is scheduled for a Senate subcommittee meeting this week. *This language is also found in SF159.

    SF467 Online Learning: Prohibits a school district or accredited nonpublic school from offering online learning or continuous remote learning unless they meet the requirements of Iowa Code section 256.7(32) or section 256.11(17), as appropriate, or are offering the online learning or continuous remote learning in accordance with a proclamation of public health disaster emergency from the Governor. Establishes that a school district or accredited nonpublic school can use an online learning platform to deliver regular school day coursework for up to five days when inclement weather causes the schools to close.

    SF478 School First Amendment Rights: Contains various provisions establishing training, prohibitions, and requirements for school districts and public postsecondary educational institutions in the attempt to protect the first amendment rights of students, staff, and faculty. Prohibits schools and institutions from providing training that contains “divisive concepts” and defines that term. The Senate passed this bill and moved the bill to the House.

    BILLS THAT ARE PARTIALLY ALIVE

    "SCHOOL CHOICE" PROPOSALS: Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed a wide-ranging bill that would give some students taxpayer-funded scholarships to attend private schools, ease rules for creating charter schools, expand some tax credits and make it easier for students to transfer between districts. The Senate has passed the entire package as proposed, while the House split it into three bills, focusing on private school scholarships and charter schools separately. The private school scholarships portion did not advance in the House. Senate File 159. There is concern that these bills could be amended onto ALIVE bills.

    BILLS THAT ARE DEAD

    School Choice (Private School Scholarships) and Banning 1619 Project didn’t make it through the funnel. However, HF802 may also prohibit teaching history with curricular materials from the 1619 project.

    BANNING THE 1619 PROJECT: This bill would have prohibited Iowa’s public schools, community colleges and regents universities from teaching using the New York Times’ 1619 Project “or any similarly developed curriculum.” Those that did would lose funding. Published in The New York Times Magazine in 2019, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning project aims to reframe the way slavery and the contributions of Black Americans are presented. House File 222.

    “BATHROOM BILL": Transgender people in Iowa schools would have had to use bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate under this bill, which passed through a Senate subcommittee but did not advance further. The bill would have applied to people using bathrooms in elementary and secondary public and nonpublic schools. Senate File 224.

    LIMITING GENDER IDENTITY CURRICULUM: Iowa schools would have needed to receive written consent from a student’s parent or guardian to provide instruction relating to gender identity in grades one through six, and could not have provided such instruction to kindergarten students, according to this bill. Senate File 167.


  • 17 Jan 2021 3:36 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) statement on the events that took place at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th:

    We are deeply disturbed and saddened by the recent acts of terror at the U.S. Capitol that continue to reverberate across this country. Hate and insurrection have no place in government, communities, schools, or classrooms.  We have witnessed a challenge to our democracy—a democracy that has not treated historically excluded people and communities with equity, dignity, and opportunity.  

    As educators, we embrace the responsibility to create and implement systemic change to support students and provide them with the knowledge and ability to make sense of our world, and to analyze and critique information as active participants in democracy. We believe in and commit ourselves to supporting teachers, schools, and districts to ensure that students flourish and have opportunities to learn.

    The recent events are a sobering reminder of what is at stake and the work that lies ahead. As educators, we have an obligation to be catalysts for the needed changes.

    As mathematics teachers we teach more than mathematics.

    In the Governor Reynold’s “Condition of the State” annual address on January 12th, she outlined four priorities regarding education:

    1. School-work pathways: The governor said she wants to set an expectation for all high schools to establish school to work programs throughout Iowa, knowing that not all students will go directly to college upon graduation. 
    2. F2F Instruction: Governor Reynolds asked the legislatures to propose and pass a bill that requires all schools to provide students with an option to go to school five days a week face-to-face, similar to the option of attending school online five days a week.
    3. School choice: The governor wants school choice to be an option for all students and families. She wants to see open-enrollment as an option in all districts and provide avenues for public charter schools where there is a need for an option. She also recommended creating education accounts for students who are trapped in schools that are “failing” so that they might be able to attend private schools.
    4. School Funding: The governor emphasized that it is critical to have a robust public school system and that funding must be maintained for education and schools despite budget shortfalls due to derecho, COVID, and other factors. She also emphasized that quality education must be provided regardless of a family’s income and zip code. There was no mention of funding private schools beyond the suggestion of creating education saving accounts for students in “failing” schools.

    Regarding COVID vaccines, the governor said that distribution would increase rapidly.

    The Republican lawmakers, who have the majority in both houses of the legislature, have previewed their agenda for the upcoming session. There appear to be three things that will be promoted.

    1. As soon as possible, pass a law that requires all Iowa public schools to offer face-to-face instruction, with no waivers to do otherwise,
    2. Allow school choice to be paid for by public funds. This has had several names over time, and not succeeded in recent legislative sessions. You may remember the move for a voucher system that would allow parents and guardians to send their children to private schools and tax monies taken from public schools to be given to the private schools attended by these students. This will be revisited and likely to pass given the composition of the legislature and would most likely be signed by the governor.
    3. More tax cuts appear to be on the agenda. This would result in less funding for public education.

    Since there will be a change in the presidency and cabinet soon, no new actions are happening in the federal government now. There is an active bill in Congress to amend the Higher Education Act related to forgivable federal loans and grants service requirements. The bill calls for active duty service members and their partners to still be eligible for repayment if their teaching commitment is not fulfilled due to relocating for the service. This bill was filed in February 2019 and had bipartisan support but has not been brought forward for a vote.

  • 22 Jun 2020 1:35 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    The 2020 Iowa legislative session ended on Sunday, June 14. It appears that PK-12 School Supplemental Aid (SSA) will increase by 2.3%, which was part of the budget approved before the break prompted by the pandemic. It was possible that this could change when the budget was revised due to the financial impact of Covid 19 in Iowa. The amount budgeted for Iowa’s Regents institutions was cut by $8M. I think this will be very stressful for UI, ISU and UNI and likely to affect the teacher education programs.

    The other bills that were passed during the closing weeks of the session were not all that surprising; some of them are listed below. The surprise bill was HF 2359, which removes the requirement of an entry test to teacher education programs. This was discussed earlier in the session, but did not appear when the legislators resumed their work. Late one night, this was added to the agenda and passed with bipartisan support. Now, Teacher Education programs can decide not to require PRAXIS Core, the test currently used by most institutions in Iowa to gain entry to a teacher education program. If a program continues to require the entry test, data on who passes or not must be filed annually with the Department of Education. The effective date for this bill is July 1, 2020! This gives programs very little time to make a decision and communicate with program faculty, staff and students about the change. The Governor has not signed this or the other bills listed below yet, but is expected to sign them all soon.

    SF 2310-Iowa Learning Online. The final version of this bill had lots and lots of additions and modifications at the last minute. To help implement this bill, the DE had a webinar that was recorded; it should be available now in the  Department's COVID webpage if you want more information about this. 

    HF 2340  Iowa 529 Plans. This allows Iowa 529 plan funds to be used for students’ to attend out-of-state elementary and secondary schools.

    SF 2356 - Student Dyslexia. This bill requires programs leading to a Dyslexia Specialist endorsement be developed and positions created for people with this endorsement. 

    SF 2360 - Classroom Management. Like the Learning Online bill, this passed at the end of the session with many additions and modifications. Among other things, this establishes state-wide practices for working with students who are uncooperative or violent in classrooms. 

    HF 2443 - Senior Year Plus Proficiency Requirements for Concurrent Enrollment. Students need to demonstrate proficiency, based on standardized testing,  college readiness measures or meet locally developed requirements to be eligible for concurrent enrollment.

    HF 2629 - Future Ready Iowa. This is a very large and complex bill. Part of it codifies the K-12 computer science requirements that were expected. 

    For a complete list of bills waiting for the Governor’s signature, and a list of the session’s bills that were not voted on, check the Iowa Department of Education’s Legislative Update for June 15

    The news from the US Department of Education is not different from what I wrote about last time. There is some news about work being done to expand the use of vouchers, and increased support for private and charter schools. Threats of suspending funding for PK-12 schools that do not resume in person instruction in the fall have been made, but I have not seen legislative or policy action that would make this happen. The social unrest and pandemic that are happening at the same times means things will change. Check NCTM’s Advocacy and Legislative webpage, including the blogs there, to stay up to date on how our work might be impacted by the Federal government. 

  • 1 May 2020 12:00 AM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

    Greetings,

    I have found it very difficult to write this update. The world has been challenged with a pandemic that threatens the lives and livelihoods of almost everyone. Moving classes and my committee work online abruptly was a huge challenge. I needed to find a way to do my job, be thoughtful about the lives and hardships faced by my students, while moving forward with the work already begun. Frankly, my concern and attention to the government activities related to mathematics education waned. This does not mean the government stopped doing things related to our work and the mathematics education of children in Iowa. Part of what I include here is dated, but may be picked up again once our government redefines what is normal and gets back to the work that was halted with the pandemic.

    Federal Government

    In response to the FY 2021 federal budget, filed in February, Robert Berry issued a statement regarding lack of support for mathematics education in the proposed budget. If you have not read the statement, dated February 12, 2020, be sure to read it now. The work on the federal budget for the next fiscal year has continued, with little attention or news about funding for education, teacher education and mathematics education. The pandemic has been important to focus on for our survival, but please do not forget that the challenges to education in our nation will increase. According to Berry, “The request that Congress eliminate more than $5.5 billion in education investments is short-sighted. And it does not reflect the much-needed increased attention on improving mathematics learning and achievement that is acknowledged by local, state and federal policymakers” (p. 1, 2020). It is important that we advocate for our profession now more than ever. To learn how you can do this, read one of Berry’s last blog posts, Advocacy: Let’s Work Together, as NCTM president where he describes NCTM’s recent advocacy work in Washington DC with tips on how you can extend NCTM’s reach locally.

    The cuts to next year’s budget that concerned Berry appear to be moving forward. I have not seen recent reports on how this will affect the TEACH grants and their fulfillment challenges. There appears to be a bill in the House of Representatives to allow teachers with forgivable loans more time to fulfill their full time teaching requirement if it is interrupted due to their spouses military deployment. I hope that this is the beginning of making TEACH grants work for more educators. Recall that you can see a list of bills being debated in Congress at NCTM’s page for Advocacy and Legislation. There is also an email list you can join to get updates about federal legislation NCTM follows.

    State Government

    The current legislative session was suspended due to Covid-19. Before leaving, a provision for using online meetings and voting was not approved, so the work in Des Moines is on hold. I wonder if the bills not yet through the second funnel are dead. If the legislature reconvenes, they might continue to work on bills related to school vouchers and eliminating the entrance test requirement for Teacher Education programs. One of the last acts of the legislature was to grant the Governor emergency powers in their absence.

    By now, your schools, colleges and universities have begun to make plans for Fall 2020. There continue to be many unknowns about what will actually happen when school begins again. If schools were required to close to face-to-face classes again, the Governor has promised to provide a 2-week notice. There is some Covid-19 federal funds coming to schools as part of the CARES act. Locally, this money will be used by public PK-12 schools starting May 13, 2020. The funds can be used by schools for expenses from March 2020 through September 2022. It is not entirely clear what the funds can be used for, but they can be used for nutrition, meals, at risk and drop out interventions, and Internet access. The CARES Act money for higher education will be used immediately to support students and student loans. A requirement of the CARES act is that public PK-12 and higher education maintain their average funding from the three previous fiscal years. The bill does allow the federal Education Secretary to waive this requirement if states face budget shortfalls in the future. If you want to learn more about the CARES Act funding, you can check the Institute for College Access and Success March blog post, where the bill is described in detail. Please note that my intention is not to endorse this organization, but I found their description of the CARES act helpful.

    I will provide additional government updates this summer if needed. It has been an honor and my privilege to advocate for mathematics education by sharing this information. With the support of ICTM and Iowa AMTE’s executive boards, I have redefined the position of Government Liaison to include these updates. I have an appointed position on each board. It is time for me to begin to consider phasing out of some of the work I do, to make room for younger people who will continue after I retire. If you are interested in joining me for a year, where we would work together to follow state and federal governments, please contact me. I hope to find someone who can add to this work, so we can make sure we are part of the conversations in Washington DC with NCTM, and in Des Moines with the Iowa organizations. I can be reached by email at millerc@uni.edu.

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