Category Archives: state of the state

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.

Iowa is Working

Governor Branstad delivered his State Condition of the State address at a joint session of the Iowa Legislature this morning.

While Governor Branstad referenced prior work on education reform and highlighted the work of the STEM Advisory Council, he didn’t spend much time on K-12 education policy. He proposed The Connect Every Iowan Act “to encourage access, adoption and use of broadband technology by businesses and individuals,” a plan to repurpose abandoned schools and public buildings, and the Bully Free Iowa Act of 2014.

The Governor wrapped up his address with a call to “dream even bigger.” With regard to K-12 education he specified:

We must dream of an Iowa where a world class education is not a dream, but a reality for every Iowa child. An Iowa that embraces the simple goal that every child should be ready to compete in a 21st century marketplace.

Our Opportunity, Our Iowa

I watched Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State speech this morning.  Unsurprisingly, education is one of his top three priorities.

The Governor referred to a “truly transformational education system” at the outset of his speech and stated that teachers are not the problem, but that they are stuck in a 20th Century system.  The outlines for the education reform proposal are largely familiar for those following Iowa education issues.

Reporters noted that the audience was unusually quiet for a Condition of the State speech.  There was no applause for the Governor’s proposal to replace allowable growth (which causes some property tax increases) with one hundred percent state aid.  No further details were provided today (strings attached?) and some are unhappy that the Governor wants action on achievement-driven reform before allowable growth is set this session.