Government Update

I am writing this on January 31, 2019. The Iowa Legislature has been in session for about three weeks now, so there are many bills being filed regarding education. The Federal Government is also working on issues related to education. NCTM has been consulting with White House staff about a five-year STEM education project, Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education (click on the title for program details or see the list of links at the end of this article). Our NCTM representatives are calling for programs that meaningfully integrate mathematics and statistics education priorities for funding. This outreach will continue with NCTM reaching out to federal Department of Education staff regarding Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics (NCTM, 2018) to provide updates to policymakers on what NCTM finds is needed to improve high school mathematics education for all students.

Remember that NCTM consultants are our voice in Washington DC. Currently (as I write this) NCTM is joining 48 other national education and advocacy organizations in responding to the Federal Department of Education’s decision to eliminate School Discipline Guidance of 2014. NCTM’s position is to keep children in school, eliminate and not enable discrimination. You can view NCTM’s announcement about this, including a link to the policy in question by clicking on this link or with the URL at the end of the article.

Governor Reynolds, in her State of the State address on January 14, indicated she will ask for an increase of $9.3 million in funding for pK-12 schools. She has also asked that the Regent’s funding increase by $18 million, matching the Regents request for funding. Remember that the state’s budget starts with the Governor’s proposed budget, which is presented to the Legislature for debate, sent back to the Governor for approval of the new version. This means we will not know what education funding will be for the fiscal year 2020 until this process is completed later in the year.

Several of the bills that have been filed will be familiar. Two bills were filed, that have already been withdrawn, eliminating the requirement for teachers who graduate from Iowa programs to take a nationally normed, end of program test/assessment. In its place, a new bill have been filed keeping the test, but removing the requirement that a new teacher’s score be in the upper 25 percentile to get a license. Instead, the Department of Education would set the cut off. There are various bills regarding the authority of school districts, including one that would limit their ability to deny a charter school application, Another bill filed is about replacing Dillon’s Rule (where local government powers are derived from the legislature) with Home Rule for school districts, which is when local governments’, in this case school districts’ power is derived from Iowa’s constitution. I highlight these two bills since they are sort of contradictory when it comes to local control in Iowa’s education. It might be a rollercoaster session in Des Moines again. Stay tuned.

None of the bills I have read are specifically about mathematics teaching and learning in the state, but all of the bills related to education that are filed could impact the work mathematics educators do in Iowa. If you want more information on any of the education related bills or resolutions filed during this Legislative session , use this link found on the Iowa Department of Education’s website. You can also check the monthly updates I write during the school year, where I share current government happenings. To read these, more timely updates, visit ICTM’s website , open the News tab, then select Government Updates.