Category Archives: teacher leadership

Legislative Update 1/28

The House debated HF 80 (successor to HSB 58) setting percent growth of SSA at 1.25, and HF 81 (successor to HSB 57) setting the categorical state of percent growth 10 1.25 last night. After several hours of debate HF 80 as amended and HF 81 each passed on a vote of 56-42.

Representative Jorgensen opened the debate on HF 80 by acknowledging that our supplemental state aid money went, in part, to fund teacher leadership compensation programs instead:

I’ve heard a number of times, if we didn’t spend money on the education reform we would have more money for SSA. If we didn’t do the property tax reform we would have more money for SSA. That is true. But if you are going to succeed in any venture you must be willing to invest strategically into the future. If something is not working you must change it; if the competition is changing you must also change. Refusing to change will assure only one thing. Failure. Continuing to prioritize funding into a system that has seen declining enrollments and stagnant achievement results will result in future failure. That is why our investment with Education Reform AND property tax reform is so important. If we don’t spur economic development through improving our education system and lowering our tax rates we will only continue to see enrollment declines and stagnant achievement results. But that takes money and that–and for the short term creates hurt and sacrifice in other areas. But the future benefit is worth it.

[Note: the DE reports that statewide public school enrollment is up for the third year in a row, and expected to keep going up (page vii and page 3 of the 2014 Condition of Education Report).]

An amendment to HF 80, H-1002, was filed by Ruff (D-Clayton) and forty-one co-sponsors to set SSA for FY 2016 at six percent. It failed on a vote of 43-56. An amendment to HF 81, H-1003, was filed by Ruff (D-Clayton) and forty co-sponsors to set the categorical state of percent growth to six. It failed on a vote of 42-56.


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.

Teacher Leadership System Grants

The Iowa Department of Education has released the list of one hundred twenty-five six* Iowa school districts awarded teacher leadership system grants for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.

Districts that apply to start teacher leadership systems are required to set a vision and goals for what they plan to accomplish. They also must address “must-haves,” such as setting a minimum teacher salary of $33,500, improving entry into the profession through efforts that include mentoring new teachers, and a rigorous selection process for leadership roles.

The teacher leadership system will cost nearly $50 million in fiscal year 2015. That amount is expected to grow to about $150 million annually by fiscal year 2017.

Local districts winning grants for the 2015-2016 school year include Clear Creek-Amana, College Community, Iowa City, and Solon. Marion and Mid-Prairie won grants for the 2016-2017 school year. These schools will join thirty-nine school districts that won grants teacher leadership system grants for the 2014-2015 school year, which include Cedar Rapids and Linn-Mar.

In case you missed it, the ICCSD school board discussed the district’s teacher leadership system grant application at the October 14th meeting. At least one-quarter of ICCSD teachers are expected to serve in leadership roles each year.

Questions: How will we know whether this is an effective use of $150 million per year? If at least one-quarter of your teachers are qualified for leadership positions, how much need is there for this program? Are the leaders just leading other teachers who were also quite capable of being leaders themselves? Would a smaller mentorship program aimed at new teachers be just as effective?

*The Iowa DE corrected the press release 12/21/14.