Category: Education

Ed. Reform Bill: A Failure of Policy & Politics

Iowa HouseSoon after the final votes of the Iowa legislative session were taken late last week, many legislators from both Parties took to multiple media platforms trumpeting the “historic” and “sweeping” positive reforms they had just passed.  I would love to fully concur—and if I happened to be a Democrat I certainly would—but as a Conservative Republican I am less than impressed with some of these “achievements”.

Of the three major compromises reached I believe, at the most, Conservatives should be “somewhat satisfied” by the understandable terms reached on tax reform and health insurance coverage.  However, I am deeply disappointed by what has passed as “reform” in Iowa’s K-12 education system.  The following will focus on education reform and later in the week we will deal …


Another Potential Scandal Brewing In Iowa’s Education System

Iowa map educationWith a sweeping education reform package currently being worked on by a bi-partisan Conference Committee at the Statehouse, some potentially damaging information about how the state is representing student achievement is coming to light.  Late last week the citizen group Iowalive released a report that would, if true, give all Iowa parents and legislators cause for grave concern.

The crux of the report is Iowalive’s claim that the standards our Department of Education is using to report student proficiency levels is misleading.  This, according to the group, stems from Iowa having adopted a lower standard to measure student learning called the “40th National Percentile Rank”.  This current set of standards was adopted a decade ago by the then Governor Vilsack administration and is different from …


2013 Legislative Session Delivering Little Hope for Conservatives So Far

Iowa HouseQuestion: What has happened so far at the Statehouse this session?

Answer: Mostly a whole lot of nothing.

With potentially as little as three weeks left before they gavel out this has been one of the most uneventful sessions since I began following them closely.  There could still be some fireworks in store as the larger ticket items get discussed, but as it stands now nearly everything Governor Branstad has signed into law has been with near unanimous consent from both Parties.  In fact, of the 36 bills he has signed so far most have been technical or clerical items passed with no dissent—and all but a couple have had no more than 3 no votes between the two chambers (notable exceptions being SF 184 …


Education Reform is a Waste of Time

In my senior year of high school I took advanced physics with Mrs. Osborne; one of my favorite classes with one of my favorite teachers. Being an advanced-level course, only kids who wanted to be there had signed up for it. The teacher knew that we wanted to be there, and actually wanted us to be there as well. The class was very instructional and free of behavioral problems. Amazingly, the teacher treated us like full human beings – which is not always the case in public school.

The moral sentiment at work was that of voluntarism – not to be confused with volunteerism, which is when career politicians or community leaders want you to work for free. Voluntarism is the manifest free will; when …


Challenging Iowa’s Proposed Education Reforms: Part 1 of 3 (Increased Teacher Pay)

Later this session the Iowa Legislature will debate various measures, namely the Governor’s, designed to improve the performance of our state’s K-12 schools.  There are three main components to the Governor’s proposal and in a continuing series we will look at each separately.  Today we start with the most expensive—the $160 million for increasing the base teacher salary from $28,000 to $35,000 over the next three years.

First things first here, before they appropriate an additional dime of taxpayer money to this system it is both fair and prudent that at least three simple questions be asked and answered—Who are the great teachers in Iowa? Who are the average teachers? and Who are the bad teachers?

To clarify, by “who” I mean a literal list …


First Presidential Debate, October 3, 2012

Debate, Podium, President, Discorse, PoliticsThe most impressive thing about Wednesday night’s Presidential Debate is what it was not: a contentious barrage of angry epitaths like those being thrown throughout the blogosphere or even in some of the Republican Primary Debates. Both men were smiling, civil, and even appeared to be listening as the other spoke. President Obama carried on the same criticisms of Romney’s plans, and the Governor politely said that the President’s information was wrong. They both agreed with each other regarding areas of common ground. We suspect that the rules holding applause had a positive impact on the cordial nature of the debate, although it certainly didn’t hurt that Moderator Jim Lehrer’s folksy demeaner and attempts to steer the conversation helped keep the discourse on an even …


3 Questions With Iowa House Candidate Patti Branco

Patti Branco is the Republican candidate for Iowa House District 34, which covers the Southern portion of Des Moines.  She is running against long entrenched Democratic incumbent Bruce Hunter, in a district that has been traditionally tough for Republicans.

Bruce Hunter has “Labor Union Liberal” written all over him, as not only does he sit as the ranking member of the Labor Committee, his wife happens to be the State Political Director for the AFL-CIO.  His top three priorities, in his own words, are all union strengthening give aways–leaving absolutely no doubt on how he feels is the best way to grow the economy.

An example of the type of candidate we are talking about here is as follows, and I am not making this …


3 Questions With Iowa Senate Candidate Vicki Stogdill

(This is the second installment of a continuing series posing 3 questions to Republican candidates statewide) 

Vicki Stogdill is running for the seat representing Senate District 18 in the Iowa Legislature.  She has been campaigning hard for months to give this traditionally Democratic territory a new voice at the State House.  Every race in the Iowa Senate this year is of utmost importance, and Stogdill’s effort to engage the voters of District 18 will reveal much about the Iowa electorate at large.  Voters both in and out of her district should take the time to check out her positions and background on her website, and to show her support in any way they can.  She brings to the table a long career in small …


Tom Harkin Dissembles on Higher Education

Our esteemed Senator Harkin has been holding some hearings on for-profit colleges back in D.C., and now he has penned an editorial for the Des Moines Register. In full disclosure, I dislike Tom Harkin. Intensely. Then again, back in 2008, Charles Grassley voted for the TARP bailout, and now I don’t like him either.

But, back to the junior Senator from Iowa; Senator Harkin penned an opinion-editorial decrying the high tuition, poor student outcome, and massive debt of the students of for-profit colleges. If somebody would be so kind as to pass this on to the right honorable gentleman, would Senator Harkin please explain why his criticisms of the for-profit colleges are not extended to all colleges? Why does the servant of the people limit …


The Tea Party Comes To Ankeny: An Interview With Stacey Rogers(Part 2 of 2)

This is second installment of a 2-part interview.  To read part one click here.

Health Insurance Exchange

The debate raging on a national level regarding Obama Care has produced 50 separate state level clashes on this unpopular legislation’s viability, practicality, and future. Currently 27 states are suing the Federal government on the grounds the law is unconstitutional, while last week a referendum in Ohio resulted in 66% of voters expressing their wishes to be excluded.

In Iowa the form this debate has taken largely centers on the state level requirement to set up a health insurance exchange to work in accordance with Obama Care. Democrats tried last session to construct this exchange but the measure failed and set the scene for an all-out slug …


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