All Posts Tagged With: "Education Reform"

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 …


3 Questions With Iowa House Candidate Jim Givant

After talking to a number of Des Moines based candidates in the last few weeks, we head out to Northeastern Iowa to touch base with the Republican candidate for Iowa House District 64, Jim Givant.

The republican side of the ledger in this district was pretty chaotic leading up to the filing deadline, as incumbent Republican Dan Rasmussen opted not to run at the last minute.  Oelwein Republican Jim Givant stepped up to the plate and set up a showdown with Democrat Oelwein City Council member Bruce Bearinger.  After getting a late start, Givant now has the campaign on schedule and already has sent 4,000 mailers and has signs and banners on the way.  For further info on his campaign and positions head to his …


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 …


The Conservative Reader: Iowa Interview with Representative Kevin Koester (Part 1 of 2)

After easily defeating a primary challenger in June, Iowa House member Kevin Koester was kind enough to sit down with The Conservative Reader: Iowa to discuss his upcoming general election in November, as well as the many issues he will be dealing with should he earn a third term in the Iowa Legislature.

The Primary, The General Election, and the Pulse of House District 38

The process of winning re-election for Rep. Koester began even before the legislative session ended, as the first order of business was winning a primary challenge by Saylor Township resident Brett Nelson.  As the session ran long, Koester made several hundred phone calls in his downtime and began getting acquainted with the voters in his newly re-drawn House District 38.…


84th General Assembly: Preview of Coverage

The gaveling in of the Iowa Legislature’s 84th General Assembly last week signaled an end to the 2012 Presidential Caucus season and the return of a more local political focus for Iowans.

There is no doubt that much of the session’s oxygen will be sucked up by the major issues that failed to produce any legislation following last year’s battles. These issues include reforming the tax code, mental health services, and education, as well as another round of sparring over Iowa setting up a health insurance exchange to work in conjunction with Obama Care.

While these will grab a majority of the headlines, and a good share of our attention here at The Conservative Reader: Iowa, there have already been a number of very interesting …


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