Overall Rank: 27thTier 3 (Average)
The slide o Hawkeye students rom well above the national average in reading and math in the early to mid-1990s down toaverage in 2011 garnered signifcant concern rom state leaders.
In July 2011, Republican governor Terry Branstad hosted theIowa Education Summit, and Chris Bern, then president o the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), was pleased with theresults: “It was a good exchange o a lot o dierent ideas.”
He was not so enthusiastic when Branstad presented the blueprintor his education reorm bill, which included a progressive plan or compensation, increased tenure requirements, and a plan todecertiy teachers on the basis o unsatisactory evaluations.
Discussion o the plan in the legislature quickly broke along party lines, with Republicans supporting the governor while SenateDemocrats insisted on amending provisions related to student testing, the expansion o charter schools, and online education.The ISEA also pushed hard or such amendments.
The reorm bill that the Senate fnally passed replaced the ormal annualevaluations that Branstad sought with peer reviews two out o every three years, omitted a value-added assessment system,and reduced opportunities or online learning.
“Unortunately, I think the Senate bill is a much watered-down version,”lamented Branstad.
But the two chambers o the legislature passed the bill, which the governor signed in May 2012 (althoughnot without taking one last swipe at the law, calling it “a frst step” but afrming that “bold reorm is still needed”).
Turns out more than just Iowans were paying attention to the outcome. When the ederal government issued a stack o NCLBwaivers in June 2012, Iowa was conspicuously omitted. The state’s department o education and governor both pointed fngersat lawmakers, indicating that legislative (in)action was to blame. “Responsibility or the denial o this request lies squarelyat the eet o the Iowa Legislature, which did too little to improve our schools despite repeated warnings,” said Branstad.
Whether the legislature is to blame or its toothless reorm bill or the union or pressuring lawmakers to remove the teeth, littlehelp is in sight or Iowa’s still-sliding students.
MIRED IN MEDIOCRITY