Category Archives: governor

Collective Bargaining

It’s been a doozy of a week for education, with Betsy DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education on Tuesday and Governor Branstad signing SF 166, setting SSA at 1.11% (with only $40 million or $73 per student of new money), on Wednesday, and now moving on to bills to change collective bargaining for public employees in Iowa (Chapter 20).

Based on my Twitter feed, the collective bargaining bills are the hot topic at legislative forums this weekend (see Twitter #saveiaworkers, #ialegis, #iaedfuture). This tweet, apparently relaying a comment made by Rep. Rogers at one of today’s forums, caught my attention.

Comments like this are hard for the audience to verify if the alleged supporters aren’t speaking publicly, but, for what it is worth, we can check lobbyist registration information on the bills.

Chapter 20 bills are HSB84, now numbered as HF291, and SF213.

The Iowa Association of School Boards is registered as undecided on HSB84, HF291, and SF213 (click these links to see all lobbyist registrations on each bill). Despite being registered on 74 other bills, School Administrators of Iowa has not registered a position on any of these three bills. The Urban Education Network of Iowa and the Rural School Advocates of Iowa are also not registered on any of the Chapter 20 bills as of today.

Added: Sweeping changes predicted for public schools if collective bargaining bill passes (Press-Citizen)

Postsecondary Remedial Math Data

The Iowa Department of Education announced a new website today, Iowa’s Postsecondary Readiness Reports, which, among other things, is meant to report student enrollment in remedial math and English courses at two- and four-year postsecondary institutions. The website offers information by individual Iowa high school and by demographic groups.

Radio Iowa reports:

Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says the report provides “more precise information” to help craft new policies and spending priorities.

But, as always, details matter, because the definition of remedial math is non-credit bearing math courses. Remedial math is not defined as retaking math courses already passed for credit at the high school level. Remedial math is not defined as having to take math courses that are pre-requisites for first year math courses for your major. Parents paying college prices for math courses already taken in high school might disagree with the State’s definition of “remedial.”

At the University of Iowa, credit bearing course work begins with College Algebra, even though many majors require students to be prepared to start with a pre-calculus or a calculus course. Only students placing into Basic Algebra will be counted as enrolling in a remedial math course. Consequently, the “more precise information” in these reports, don’t actually help school districts understand whether their students are having to retake math courses already passed at the high school or whether their students are really prepared to start with the first year math courses required for their selected majors. In short, the remedial course enrollment percentages will look the same for Iowa high schools that are preparing the majority of their students well for placement in calculus courses and those that are preparing the majority of their students for placement in College Algebra and Trigonometry courses.

This statistic, like high school graduation rates, isn’t difficult to game. We could drive remediation rates even lower by pressuring four-year institutions to grant credit for Basic Algebra, too. Despite all the talk about the importance of STEM education in Iowa, we still aren’t collecting (sharing?) the information we need to assess how well schools are preparing students for first year college math courses.

Smaller but not (yet) SmarterBalanced Government

In May 2016, explaining his veto of Section 18 and Section 19, subsection 5 of SF2323,  Governor Branstad had this to say about the Smarter Balanced assessments:

I am unable to approve the items designated as Section 18, and Section 19, subsection 5, in their entirety. These items unduly delay Iowa’s transition to a new statewide academic assessment system. The Iowa Department of Education can best serve students by moving forward immediately to prepare for implementation of the new assessment system on July 1, 2017. School administrators and teachers are eager for a new assessment system that is closely aligned with Iowa’s high state academic standards. By providing better information about students’ academic progress, the new assessment system will improve instruction. A well-aligned assessment is a key step toward providing a globally competitive education.

Interestingly, Governor Branstad referenced neither statewide assessments nor state academic standards when he delivered his 2017 Condition of the State address to the Iowa Legislature earlier this week. In addition, Governor Branstad declined to fund the Department of Education’s request for $10 million for LEA assessments in FY 2018 in his proposed budget, though he has proposed $6.1 million for LEA assessment in FY 2019. Thus, the Smarter Balanced assessments remain an unfunded mandate for the upcoming school year.

Meanwhile, Senator Sinclair (R-Wayne), new chair of the Senate Education Committee has wasted no time in addressing statewide assessments. On Tuesday, she filed SSB 1001, a proposed Committee on Education bill that would strike Iowa Code 256.7(21)(b)(2) and (3), which are the subparagraphs changing the statewide assessment requirements and creating the Assessment Task Force. The subcommittee met earlier today, with at least IASB organizing to advocate for aligned assessments–and presumably against the proposed bill.

As of today, the Iowa Association of School Boards, Rural School Advocates of Iowa, Urban Education Network of Iowa, and School Administrators of Iowa are registered against SSB 1001. Also registered against this bill is Reaching Higher Iowa (see here for Board of Directors and here for corporate sponsors).

The Iowa Catholic Conference, Professional Educators of Iowa, and ACT are registered for this bill.

Registered as undecided on the bill are Advocacy Strategies, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, the Iowa Department of Education, the Area Education Agencies of Iowa, the Board of Regents, the Iowa State Education Association, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and the Iowa Chamber Alliance.

Stay tuned. It could be an interesting legislative session for assessment.

Added (Rogers is the new chair of the House Education Committee):

Added: KCRG is reporting tonight that the Smarter Balanced assessments are officially on hold:

The state had planned to launch the Smarter Balanced assessments for the 2017-18 school year. Department of Education spokesperson Staci Hupp confirmed the department has been told to put that work on hold so the legislature can review options for assessments.

Added: Iowa House Republican Caucus Newsletter coverage of the Governor’s decision to put the Smarter Balanced Assessments on hold.

SSA Reference Numbers FY2018

I occasionally find myself trying to find dollar figures for SSA, as SSA is frequently reported in percentages that can’t easily be compared to other budget item spending.

This year, Governor Branstad referenced specific dollar figures in his Condition of the State address [$78.8 million for FY2018 and $63.5 million for FY2019 from the actual speech, which are slightly higher than numbers in the speech as prepared].

For future reference, here are dollar figures for various SSA percentages for FY 2018 from the Legislative Services Agency.

These numbers are complicated by the fact that the Teacher Leadership program grant has ended and the money for the third year of the grants has rolled over to the regular education funding streams. The teacher leadership money is $54 million and accounts for most of the reason the numbers listed at each percent of growth are so much higher for FY2018 than for FY2019. Governor Branstad’s numbers don’t match the LSA numbers for 2% growth, in part, because he elected to exclude the teacher leadership money from the “new money” proposed in his budget. However, legislative discussions of percent growth will be based upon the numbers provided by the LSA, which must account for those teacher leadership dollars as “new” because they are new to this particular funding stream.

  • 0.0%                –$62.2 million
  • 0.5%                –$81.0 million
  • 1.0%                –$100.0 million
  • 1.5%                –$119.2 million
  • Gov. proposal—$141.0 million [LSA puts this at an increase of $132 per student for a total of $6,723 per student for the 2017-18 school year]
  • 2.0%                –$141.4 million
  • 2.5%               –$158.7 million
  • 3.0%               –$177.8 million
  • 3.5%               –$197.5 million
  • 4.0%               –$217.8 million

Update on Rules to Adopt SBAC in Iowa [updated]

In November 2015, the State Board of Education adopted rules to adopt the Smarter Balanced assessments as the statewide assessment for Iowa beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. Today the Administrative Rules Review Committee apparently put a session delay on implementation of those rules [ARC 2312C]. ADDED: Find the minutes of the discussion here.

A session delay is one of the powers the Administrative Rules Review Committee may exercise over agency rulemaking:

The session delay. The ARRC may delay the effective date of a rule until the adjournment of the next session of the General Assembly. The committee refers the delayed rule to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. The rule is then forwarded to the appropriate standing committee for study and possible legislative action {§17A.8(10)}.

This means that the new rules will not be effective January 13, 2016. What action the Legislature will take, if any, to rescind or block these rules remains to be seen as Rep. Jorgensen, chair of the House Education Committee, appears to be supportive of the Smarter Balanced assessments. Still, this is an interesting turn of events.

Also of interest, given that the Governor’s office has been supportive of the Smarter Balanced assessments, is another power of the Iowa Legislature:

The legislative veto. Under the Iowa Constitution the General Assembly has an independent power to rescind any administrative rule The process known as nullification is identical to the enactment of a bill, requiring an absolute majority vote in each chamber, except that it does not require the signature of the Governor (Iowa Constitution, Art. III, section 40).

Update: I hear the vote was 10-0. Members of the Administrative Rules Review Committee are:

  • Rep. Pettengill, Chair (R-Benton)
  • Sen. Horn, Vice Chair (D-Linn)
  • Sen. Chelgren (R-Wapello)
  • Sen. Costello (R-Mills)
  • Sen. Courtney (D-Des Moines)
  • Sen. Jochum [President of the Iowa Senate](D-Dubuque)
  • Rep. Heddens (D-Story)
  • Rep. Jones (R-Clay)
  • Rep. Olson (D-Polk)
  • Rep. Vander Linden (R-Mahaska)

SSA Reference Numbers

I occasionally find myself trying to find dollar figures for SSA, as SSA is frequently reported in percentages that can’t easily be compared to other budget item spending. For future reference, here are dollar figures for various SSA percentages for FY 2017 from the Legislative Services Agency by way of @IAHouseGOP:

ADDED: Per student calculation based on 2015-16 K-12 enrollment of 480,062 and rounded to the nearest dollar amount.

  • 1%        — $40.9 million     [$85 per student]
  • 2%        — $83.1 million     [$173 per student]
  • 2.45%* — $102.1 million  [$213 per student]
  • 3%        — $125 million      [$260 per student]
  • 4%        — $168.1 million   [$350 per student]

*SSA percentage suggested by Governor Branstad last year. He has since backed away from this number.

Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention

Governor Branstad signed Executive Order 86 yesterday, establishing the Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention. The only copy of Executive Order 86 I can find today is oriented sideways, which makes it difficult to read, so I have uploaded a rotated copy here.

Below are the details of Executive Order 86, with comparisons to the provisions of the proposed Bully Free Iowa Act of 2015 (HSB 39). [Note that HSB 39 is currently numbered HF 490 and SF 345, but here, I just want to compare the bill as proposed by the Governor to Executive Order 86, as signed by the Governor.]

Executive Order 86 establishes the Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention (“the Office”) within the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Violence Prevention (“the Center”).

Training

Ensure schools have access to training on establishing anti-bullying policies and conducting investigations of complaints pursuant to Iowa Code section 280.28.

HSB 39 would have required the director of the DE to ensure each district had adequate training, subject to appropriations of funds. HSB 39 would have appropriated $150,000 for training programs.

24-hour Hotline

Work with the Iowa DE and Iowa Department of Public Health to promote YourLifeIowa.org, an existing hotline.

Reporting Procedures

Work with the Iowa DE to develop a procedure for prompt notification of parents or guardians of the victims and alleged perpetrators in reported incidents of harassment of bullying.

HSB 39 would have required prompt notifications, but included an exception if a school official or a student who is a target of harassment or bullying reasonably believes notification would subject the targeted student to rejection, abuse, or neglect related to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

As I recall, the notification provision was a point of contention in the Legislature. This puts the development of notification procedures with a non-elected body.

Cyberbullying

Develop guidelines promoting safety from cyberbullying and how to respond to bullying that takes place electronically and interferes with learning at school.

HSB 39 would have expanded the definition of “electronic” to include social networking sites “or any other electronic communication site, device, or means.” HSB 39 would also have granted school officials express authority to investigate and impose school discipline for alleged incidents of harassment or bullying that occurs outside of school, off of school property, or away from a school function or school-sponsored activity.

As I recall, authority off school grounds was another point of contention in the Legislature. Again, this puts development of guidelines in a non-elected body. Question: does this provide sufficient assurance to school officials that they won’t be held liable for exercising authority off school grounds, such that they would feel comfortable adopting and acting according to guidelines as developed by the Office?

Data Collection

Work with schools and the Iowa DE to address inconsistencies in school reporting of bullying and harassment data.

Varsity Interscholastic Athletic Participation

Convene a working group to propose administrative rules to the State Board of Education to allow students subjected to harassment or bullying to open enroll to a new district and immediately participate in varsity athletics.

HSB 39 had a similar provision that would have required a founded incident of harassment or bullying in the resident district, and agreement from both the resident district and the receiving district that the student should be permitted to participate immediately in varsity athletics.

Bullying and prevention student mentoring pilot program

Promote a student mentoring program to promote student leadership to prevent and respond to bullying and violence in schools, and to spread best practices for preventing bullying and violence for middle and high school students.

HSB 39 would have required the DE to establish a student mentoring pilot program, subject to appropriations. HSB 39 would have appropriated $50,000 for the pilot program.

Radio Iowa reports that UNI will pay the initial costs of the Office and that Governor Branstad will request additional funding for the Office from the Legislature.