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School Superintendents Weigh in on EDU Reforms

Posted By News On January 18, 2013 @ 6:27 am In Today’s Local News | Comments Disabled

Governor Terry Branstad has released information on his education reform plans. Pella Schools Superintendent Greg Ebeling says that the part of the education reform plan that aims to improve newer teachers abilities by letting them learn from veteran teachers is something that fits well with the Pella School District’s goals. He says they try to foster that now through their professional development days. Ebeling says that sometimes “pockets of excellence form” and teachers may not know about a really great teaching strategy being used by another teacher. The professional development days allow those strategies to be shared on a regular basis.

Knoxville Superintendent Dr. Randy Flack says he’s concerned about Governor Branstad’s position that he’ll not consider increases in state financial aid unless the Legislature approves most of his plan. He calls financial aid the “lifeblood” of school finance. Dr. Flack says he’s also concerned about a spending plan that provides a small aid increase for 2013-14, noting legislators do not have a history of following through on funding long-term commitments to education programs. He adds he’s encouraged that education appears to be among the top priorities for the governor and most legislators, adding he hopes the legislation is adapted for the long-haul and not seen as a magic solution. You can see Dr. Flack’s full statement below:

I am extremely concerned about Governor Branstad’s position that he will not consider increases in state financial aid unless the Legislature approves most of his educational improvement plan. State financial aid is the “lifeblood” of school finance. Increases in state financial aid, which have been grossly inadequate for the past three years, provide the only mechanism for covering increased costs for utilities, benefits, salaries, texts, and other learning materials.

I am concerned about a spending plan that provides such a small increase for 2013-14. Our legislators do not have a history of following through on long-term commitments to fund educational programs. (State contributions to the Instructional Support Levy have been taken away; funding for AEAs has declined dramatically, limitations have been placed on funding for dropout prevention programs, and incentives for new teachers in “hard-to-hire” positions were taken away. {Interesting how this has been added to the Governor’s proposal}

It is appropriate to allocate money to improve teacher salaries, especially salaries for beginning teachers. However, if salaries are going to be raised then I believe that expectations also need to increase. Higher salaries should be accompanied by longer school years and requirements for more days of professional development.

I think many of our legislators, and the Governor’s plan, ignore the importance of early intervention programs designed to improve learning opportunities for children from low-income families. In many cases, those children do not have opportunities to receive early childhood experiences that can better prepare them for developing reading skills. Funds need to be allocated to provide more opportunities from preschool – 2nd grade.

I am encouraged that education appears to be at the “top of the list” of priorities for the Governor and most legislators. I sincerely hope that legislation adopted is for the long-haul and is not seen as a magic solution.


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