This update will focus on state legislation, most of which is still being debated in committees. Recall that the Governor proposed that Supplemental School Aid (SSA) be increased by 2.1%. While being negotiated in committees, proposals were made to increase SSA to 2.5% and 3%. Both of these proposed increases are well under what several state organizations have called for to make public schools functional in Iowa. I believe the 3% increase is no longer viable, so the SSA funding for schools in the next fiscal year will be somewhere between 2.1% and 2.5%. While it is not required by law for school funding to be finalized by the end of February, the legislature tries to do this so school districts can make budgets for the upcoming year. If the debate over school funding takes longer, it puts school personnel in a difficult position when finalizing plans for the upcoming year.
Vouchers are again part of the conversations in Des Moines. A bill was filed, SF 2206, to allow state funds to be used to pay for children’s education in private schools. This was not successful in the last couple of years, but some in Des Moines are determined to make this happen. Currently, this is being debated in the Education Committee.
Two bills have been filed with implications for Teacher Education programs and the preparation of teachers.
SF 2207 would allow a private provider selected by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) to offer a nontraditional educator prep pathway program, which would allow applicants who have a bachelor’s degree and complete a background check to teach. These teachers would start teaching immediately, with a special certificate authorizing them to be hired as a teacher in a school district or private school in IA. These teachers would be issued an interim license or interim endorsement by the BOEE. This means that your colleagues in K-12 classrooms may have no preparation for teaching other than a degree in something.
SF 3080 addressed how to help teachers work with students who might have violent outbursts in class. It is a very long bill, with lots of things that might be helpful for teachers, but at the end there is one small paragraph that includes a requirement for Teacher Education programs to prepare all, that is general education teachers, to write IEPs. If passed, this would have to be included in all our Educator Preparation Programs, which I think would be very difficult to do.
There have been some of the usual bills filed to continue the limits of collective bargaining, eliminate the Iowa Core, etc. These come up every year, but are not likely to make it out of committee and sent forward for a vote. I will try to let you know about what bills make it out of the first funnel where the set of active bills is reduced significantly. Then, there is a second funnel and only the bills that survive this are voted on during the session. The exception is the SSA funding bill, which is usually fast tracked to allow for schools to plan for the near future.