Thursday, February 28, 2013

Update from Lobbyist Cal

This is the last full week before the first funnel week which means there have been a lot of subcommittees meeting and very little floor work in either chamber.  The education legislation on allowable growth and K-12 reform has not seen any action.  The House still wants to have 2% allowable growth funded from the general and have this in the reform bill they sent to the Senate.  The Senate is still saying with their 4% allowable growth from property tax Senate passed plan. A real stalemate at this point.  

It has been rumored that the chair of the Senate Education committee is drafting his own K-12 reform bill and
will pass and send this to the House.  This means that we will have two bills that cannot be reconciled with each other.  This is complicated by fact that one of the democrat senators had major surgery and will be out at least two weeks. I takes 26 to pass a bill and the democrats only have 26 so this will have a slowing effect on the process.  Please forward any questions you may have to IAAE President David Law.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

March Proclaimed Arts Education Month

The signing of the governor's proclamation of March as Arts Education Month is set for March 7, 2013 at 3:20pm in the Governor's office. IAAE members are invited to be present for the signing. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

House Passes Ed Reform Bill

After six hours of debate spanning two days, the House approved HF 215 on a party line vote. Over 20 amendments were offered to the bill but changes to the version approved earlier by the subcommittee were slight. A summary of the good, the bad and the ugly is listed below. There are several concerns for teachers. The Senate is expected to significantly alter the bill and the differences will be worked out in a conference committee.  


Summary of HF 215

The Good 

  • Requires the DE to develop a new statewide assessment of student achievement to be aligned with the core curriculum, administered in grades 3 – 11 and to have the appropriate rigor (IASB language)  
  • Requires the balanced use of student achievement data in teacher evaluation;
    - Eliminates the peer review process adopted into law last year;
  • Home rule for school districts;
  • Additional funding for schools identified as high need to help raise student achievement;
  • Pilot project for extended learning opportunities for students in low performing schools;
  • Competency Based Education task force to develop plan and timeline for taking CBE statewide;
  • Lowers the threshold for a district to request aid from the SBRC for transportation costs that exceed 70% of the state average (previously was 125%).

The Bad

  • Requires the DE to develop criteria and establish performance goals to evaluate each attendance center;
    - This provision was inserted at the last moment in the subcommittee process.
    - The DE is to submit its recommendations and report to the state board and the legislature by November 15, 2013;
  • Allows independent accreditation for nonpublic schools;
  • Eliminates state oversight of home school students;
  • Allows home school parents to teach children driver ed.

Mixed Bag

  • Expansion of online learning opportunities for students, BUT gives DE authority to charge fees to use online learning;
  • Certificate of Distinction Program for students who follow specific pathways; this provision is significantly modified from the original proposal for diploma seals;
  • Requires all job openings to be posted on a newly created DE state jobs board. IASB sees this as unnecessary, but it does not allow DE any authority to guide hiring decisions.
  • Requires annual evaluations of teachers and administrators. While not necessarily bad, IASB continues to stress that we need continuity and not continual change in how teachers and administrators are evaluated.
    - Some concerns with the lack of flexibility for districts to design their own evaluation process
  • Sets allowable growth rate at 2% for FY 2014, FY 2015. IASB is pleased with movement on AG but would prefer 4%.
  • Implements governor’s school finance proposal to freeze current funding mix and future growth to be delivered through “supplemental state aid."
    - Freezes property tax inequity into the system. IASB is concerned about loss of stability of future state payments if revenues decline.
    - Growth above current per-pupil amount does not include spending authority.
  • Raises base teacher pay to $32,000 (current law is $28,000).
    - Concern with financial impact on school districts if sufficient funding is not provided.
    -Appears that this figure includes TSS payments.
  • Establishes a career pathway for teachers with the promise of additional payments to teachers who participate.
    -Changes from original proposal provide districts more flexibility and option to participate

Other Provisions

  • Stipends to top students who commit to teach in Iowa for at least five years;
  • Student teaching year-long pilot project;
  • Residency year for new teachers with reduced teaching load and increased learning opportunities;
  • Teach Iowa Marketing & Public Outreach Initiative;

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Education Reform Bill Progress

HF 215, education reform bill, passed the House Wednesday on a party line vote 52-44 with four absent.  The debate went until midnight on Tuesday before they recessed until morning.  The House rules prohibit voting after midnight.  The bill will now proceed to the Senate for consideration.  Hopefully they will work on this bill and amend it to their thinking and not send a separate bill back to the House.

The bill did a number of things including raising the beginning salary to $32,000 from the current $28,000. This is lower than the Governor originally recommended.  The four different types of teachers from beginning teachers to mentors was not mandated to the school districts but rather a local option.

It also set up a campaign to entice teachers into the field by offering a $20,000 tuition reimbursement over 5 years. There will be a certificate of distinction awarded to students who are college "ready".  It expand the "learning on line" program which already exists and the other major thing is an evaluation process for all teachers and administrators.

To view this bill you may go to and enter HF 215.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Update from Our Lobbyist

Both chambers are starting to do some floor work and passage of some bills. The committees all have three more weeks before the first funnel date when bills have to be out of committee in the house of origination. A number of departmental bills are out of committee already and are waiting debate. For the most part these are noncontroversial. Work on the budget continues with daily subcommittee hearings.

The House education committee did pass out the Governor's education reform bill this week with a major amendment. The amendment lowered the beginning salary from $35,000 to $32,000 and made the career path with different levels of teachers an option for local school districts to make. This also was scheduled to pass out of the appropriations and ways and means committees on Thursday. I assume there will be public hearing and then the debate in the full House. The Senate is still in subcommittee on this issue and will start to negotiate with the house once the house passes it in final form.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More about STEAM

The Washington Post has published a repost of the Seven Skills Children Learn from the Arts.... This and several other advocacy articles are available on the Advocacy page of the IAAE Website. Read more...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lobbyist's Report

The House has continued work on the Education reform bill and has passed itout of subcommittee.  It is my understanding the full Education committeewill take it up next week.  This means it will probably pass the House before the end of the month. The Senate is a different situation.  They held their second subcommittee and do not appear to be in any hurry to move it out to the full committee.  They are still concentrating on allowable growth first which is contrary to the House The day of reconciliation on these issues between the chambers is
still a ways off.  Eventually they will come together and pass both issues. 

The first time this session the House and Senate came together on two issues. They agreed and passed the Internal Revenue Code update, which conforms Iowa tax code to Federal tax changes. Tax payers and preparers wanted this done early in the tax season. They also agreed on an appropriation to cover the transition cost of the mental health reform bill passed last year. This means the reform can begin to take place and eventually have uniform mental health care statewide.

The House has moved the education reform bill out of subcommittee to the full committee and has it up in that committee next week. This means it is likely to pass House before the end of the month. The Senate still has it in subcommittee and has met twice on it, but has been concentrating on the allowable growth issue. Eventually the Chambers will have to find common ground on both of theses issues and pass them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two Arts Council Job Openings Announced

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has announced two job openings for two Community Resources Specialists. Read the letters of announcement:
JOA Arts Prog 2 NPA | JOA CAD Arts Prog 2

Closing for applications for these positions will be February 18, 2013.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Advocacy and Lobbying Seminar

You are invited to attend the Advocacy and Lobbying Seminar on February 18. It will start at 10 am (notice new start time) at West Music in Coralville (map). The Alliance will provide lunch.  Free to our members. Arrange to bring a friend. Contact David Law to register:

Conductor Wanted

The Ames Children's Choirs (ACC) seeks a conductor to start in the 2013-2014 season. ACC currently comprises three choirs: the Preparatory, Chorale, and Concert Choirs. Candidates will possess strong musical, interpersonal and organizational skills and be available to attend weekly choir practices, meetings, and other special events in Ames, Iowa. 
ACC presents at least two major concerts per year and hosts biennial Midwest Children's Choral Festivals at the Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University.  The choir groups also tour regionally, nationally, and internationally. The conductor will be responsible for programming, recruiting, and maintaining high artistic standards for the corresponding choir.   Further details please refer to the job description online.
If interested, please submit an application consisting of a one page cover letter and resume, via e-mail to In your cover letter please summarize your qualifications pertinent to choral music education, experience conducting and working with children, and why you would be a good fit with the  ACC.  Attachments to the cover letter and resume can also include,  but are not limited to:
  • A  sample concert program of 5 selections (title, composer/arranger and publisher)
  • A list of choral conference attendance and festival participation (if not in the resume)
The search will continue until the position is filled.   However, to ensure full consideration in the current search, please submit your complete application by March 8, 2013
More information about ACC are available at
Ames Children’s Choirs Search Committee

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lobbyist's Report

The House and Senate continued down different paths on education this week.  The Senate brought out of committee the three bills it takes to fund allowable growth and passed them on Wednesday and sent them to the House.  The House continued it's subcommittee work on the education reform bill.  

On the surface that sounds good but in reality it is not. The Senate is adamant to raise the allowable growth by 4% using the old method before taking up the reform bill and the House is just as set to do reform bill first and take the 4% allowable growth out of the general fund. This will continue until all bills are passed in one chamber and sent to the other. This same report could probably be written for the next three weeks.  One observer quipped that the republicans do not want to spend money and the democrats do not want change.  

Democracy at work....