Branstad's Education Proposals Get an Early Hearing

Jan 23, 2013

Gov. Branstad speaks to a state bullying summit in November. His education reform bill does not address school bullying.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Governor Branstad’s education reform proposal received high praise from those that helped inform its creation at a House committee hearing Tuesday. But some say it doesn’t confront major problems that face Iowa’s students.

The package includes raising beginning teacher salaries from $28,000 to $32,000. There’s tuition forgiveness for teachers that stay in Iowa. It creates pathways for veteran teachers to mentor new teachers so there’s incentive for them to stick with teaching.

Numerous business groups threw their support behind the Governor’s proposal. But Rep. Mary Mascher, a Democrat and teacher from Iowa City, says there’s one glaring omission - poverty -which sends kids in and out of schools.

“They leave and we have turnover rates that are just unbelievable in some of our schools, she says. "So this isn’t addressing any of that.”

But Des Moines Public Schools teacher Jessica Gogerty, who served on one of education task forces that informed the governor’s package, says the proposal does address poverty by taking on the whole education system.

“We have to act much more systematically and systemically in order to address some of the needs that we have and that’s what this proposal is about.”

The proposal still has several committee stops before making it to the full House. Governor Branstad says next year's school funding - known as allowable growth - shouldn’t be addressed until education reform is passed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Governor's proposal might be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, because they're moving forward with next year's funding instead, but Senate Democrats say they will consider the governor's education reform bill AND work on providing funding for next year's school funding.