Iowa Senate Passed Education Reform; Hurdles Ahead

Marion Herbert's picture
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Iowa Senate passed its version of education reform, a significant step in what is becoming a legislative melee to find agreement between the governor and both parties in the final weeks before lawmakers go home.

Unlike Republican versions, the Senate’s doesn’t address such issues as high school student testing that would mandate end-of-course exams be factored into graduation requirements.

There are also key differences on how teachers would be evaluated, how online schools would be limited in scope and if third graders who fail to accomplish key literacy goals would be able to advance.

Both sides agree that some changes are necessary, but the manner and scope of those reforms are what’s on the line.

“Unfortunately, I think the Senate bill is a much watered down version,” Gov. Terry Branstad told reporters Monday. “We want bold reform.”

Senate File 2284 passed along party lines in a 26 to 24 vote.

Democrats adopted some of the governor and House Republican ideas but said their differences in latest legislative incarnation would better raise academic standards. Additionally, they say their plan better uses innovation to increase student achievement without wide-sweeping penalties like holding third graders who can’t read back without intense consideration about their other educational skills or consultation with their parents or guardian.

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