Together We Can [updated]

Governor Branstad delivered his 2015 Condition of the State Address to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature this morning.

The Governor referenced past education efforts in establishing the “most extensive teacher leadership system in the nation” and having “invested historically in our children’s future through transformational education reform.”

Otherwise, the Governor’s K-12 education comments focused largely on his proposed Bully Free Iowa Act of 2015. The details announced today include parental notification provisions, a bullying prevention program, investigator training, and a provision to allow immediate athletic participation if a student changes schools due to bullying.

The Connect Every Acre broadband expansion plan is being pitched as key to modernizing farming, although schools are mentioned in the title of the “Iowa Farms, Schools and Communities Broadband Grant Program.” [Note that broadband expansion is essential for the move to online statewide assessments, in addition to other education initiatives like 1:1 programs.]

The Governor did not reference Iowa Core standards as a past accomplishment to strengthen Iowa schools, nor did he reference the Common Core aligned assessments that are sure to be an issue this session; the task force recommendations are in and we are running short of time to prepare for administering new assessments in the 2016-2017 school year, particularly if technology and infrastructure upgrades will be required.

The Governor made a reference to Iowa children counting on us to give them a world-class education, yet failed to reference his supplemental state aid proposal. Radio Iowa reports that he is proposing a supplemental state aid increase of about $50 million or 1.75 percent. This falls far short of the six percent some have been hoping for.

Update: The Gazette calculates the Governor’s $50 million supplemental state aid proposal to be a 1.25 percent increase and reports that the Governor has proposed supplemental state aid of $100 million or 2.45 percent in 2017. It bears repeating here that the teacher leadership system funding will be costing the state $150 million per year by 2017.

Update: the Iowa Association of School Boards has analyzed the Governor’s school aid recommendations for 2016 and 2017.

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