June 2020 Government Update by Catherine Miller, UNI

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. 

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