Legislative Update 2/10

Bills are starting to pile up in the House and Senate Education Committees at this point in the session.  Many bills never make it out of committee, but it can be interesting to see what has been filed.

House Education Committee (30 bills currently):

In addition to SF51 and SF52 setting allowable growth and the Governor’s proposed education reform bill, HSB4:

  • HF4, a bill to establish a centralized school bus purchasing program.
  • HF28, a bill to raise the compulsory attendance age to seventeen, except for students receiving competent private instruction.
  • HF89, a bill to add a requirement that at least one foreign language be taught to children in grades one through six.
  • HF113, a bill to allow nonpublic schools to be accredited by independent accreditation agencies rather than by the State Board of Education.
  • HF141, a bill to extend the deadline for school district’s to certify budgets if allowable growth is set after March 15.
  • HF142, a bill to establish an Education Remediation Council and to provide supplementary funding for students enrolled in AP courses who score a three or higher on the AP exam.  The Council shall identify measures to define and standardize the skill sets that determine the need for remediation and shall develop strategies to strengthen grade nine through grade sixteen standards, competencies, and assessment systems, and the professional development of teachers.  [Common Core comes for colleges and universities?]
  • HF143, a bill to hold parents, guardians, and custodians criminally or civilly liable for failing to prevent harassment and bullying by students.  [This seems like a bad idea for a number of reasons.]
  • HF144, a bill to consider students enrolled in voluntary public preschool as being of compulsory school age.
  • HF156, a bill to condition mandatory third grade retention upon a specific appropriation by the general assembly to fund all of the K-3 intensive reading remediation programs required by last year’s education reform bill.

Senate Education Committee (18 bills currently):

  • SF2, a bill to establish a “parent trigger”.
  • SF56, a bill to authorize school districts to adopt a mandatory uniform policy for the district or an individual school within the district.  A mandatory uniform or dress code policy would not violate Iowa Code Section 280.22 (Student exercise of free speech) if the policy is viewpoint neutral, is reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns, or protects students from sexually explicit, indecent, or lewd speech.  [ACLU of Iowa is registered against the bill, and lobbyists for the Urban Education Network of Iowa are registered for the bill.]



3 thoughts on “Legislative Update 2/10

  1. Chris Liebig

    Yow. Some of those proposals sound reasonable, but many of them sound awful. If I had to choose between all of those things and none, I’d choose none.

    Do you get any sense of which of those proposals are dead on arrival?

    Can you explain HF144? Is it saying that once you enrolled your kid in a public preschool, you’d be committed to keeping the kid in preschool until he or she reaches school age? (That would seem like a disincentive to enrolling in preschool.) Or is there some other effect of “being of compulsory school age” that they’re trying to get for preschool kids?

    HF89: Mandatory foreign language instruction all through elementary school for every kid in Iowa? My first thought: Well, there goes recess. My second thought: Where are all these foreign language instructors going to come from? I wonder if there are enough meaningfully bilingual people in the entire state, let alone within the teacher ranks, to staff that program. Whatever you might think of mandatory foreign language learning (I’m generally against it), wouldn’t everyone agree that it makes no sense to have non-fluent speakers teaching kids a foreign language?

    Can you explain HF142 further? What do students who score high on AP tests have to do with “remediation”? And how is that related to the rest of that bill?

    1. Karen W Post author

      Here’s my rule of thumb: if the bill is filed by the minority party–and doesn’t have obvious bi-partisan appeal–it is probably dead on arrival. For example, the “parent trigger” and mandatory school uniform bills were filed by Republicans in the Senate. If the Republicans were likely to want to move on these bills, why not also file in the House where they are in the majority? I will, of course, cheerfully eat crow whenever my rule of thumb fails.

      HF144 is similar to Division XIII of last year’s SF2284 which covered students enrolled in voluntary Kindergarten. I recall this being passed because of some administrative problems associated with students not attending voluntary programs regularly. Parents can withdraw children from the voluntary programs in writing and the student would no longer be considered of compulsory age.

      As for HF89, I agree with you but suspect this is dead on arrival (see rule of thumb above).

      I’ll have to get back to you on HF142 later–no time now!

  2. Chris Liebig

    Still seems strange that if you’re enrolled in preschool, you’d have to commit to all or nothing. I think that might be taking preschool “curriculum” a bit too seriously.

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