In the Senate:
We are already in week five and busy with committee work. We are coming up on our first funnel week. This means all bills need to be through committee in order to be considered for the rest of the legislative session. The only exceptions to the funnel are oversight, appropriations and ways and means bills. The funnel is a deadline to help us focus on our priorities and move bills through the process so we can get Iowan's work done on time.
School Assessments SSB 1001
State Senator Jeff Edler
This week, SSB 1001 as amended, passed through the Education Committee with bipartisan support. This bill removes the requirement to select a new statewide assessment and repeals the assessment task force, since their work is completed.
Additionally, it would establish a request for proposal (RFP) process for selecting a new assessment. In the RFP process, the Department of Education is required to issue a request for proposal for a new assessment to be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year. Following the RFP process, the Board of Education will have the ability to accept the best RFP and write rules to implement the proposal.
The RFP requires the new assessment to do the following:
Measure growth; Be aligned to the Iowa's academic standards; Measure performance in English language arts, including reading and writing; mathematics; and science; Be available in paper and computer formats;
Be evaluated by the Department of Education on: Feasibility of implementation; Cost to schools and the state; Cost of necessary infrastructure and technology; Degree of alignment of the Iowa Core; Ability to measure growth and proficiency; Ability to meet federal ESSA requirements; Instructional time required to conduct the assessment
It also requires the bid be single source, meaning it must include all three subject areas and all grade levels, so we know all costs upfront and there are no surprises down the road.
This bill came about because of the push for Smarter Balanced assessments. The Smarter Balanced tests cost about 4 to 6 times more to administer than the currently used Iowa Assessments and would be an unfunded mandate on schools. The Iowa Assessments are valid and reliable tests developed in Iowa for Iowa students.
Senate Considers Collective Bargaining Reform
As you may recall, one of the issues I campaigned on was local control. I have always felt that the best way for an employee to be evaluated and compensated was by someone who directly worked with them, not by someone sitting in Des Moines.
This week the Senate introduced a bill that would reform collective bargaining in Iowa. This part of Iowa law has not been addressed for more than 40 years. This bill will change the way Iowa government does business. It empowers local school boards and elected officials to pay great teachers and employees more, while also removing the occasional bad employee. It gets the government out of the business of using taxpayer money to collect union dues and gives taxpayers a seat at the bargaining table.
Every taxpayer has an interest in this legislation. It will increase efficiencies at every level of government. When government gets more efficient, taxpayers get better services at a lower cost. These reforms are a better deal for Iowans. As my colleagues and I work to expand career opportunities and economic growth in Iowa, it is this type of legislation that will move Iowa forward to reach those goals.
I am continuing to gather input from constituents and other vested entities on the effects of SF 213. I appreciate the phone calls and emails from my constituents. There is a broad spectrum of opinions on this issue, and I respect that. Ultimately, my decision comes down to three things: Does this bill provide for local control? How does it affect my district? Are the majority of Iowans better because of it? As a father of five, I want to do what is best for Iowa's future.