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Guest Thinkers

My responses on the SAI legislative platform survey for the 2010 session

Every year the School Administrators of Iowa asks its members what priority it should give to various legislative and/or lobbying issues. Here are my responses to some of the items from this year’s survey…

Funding Formula: Continue to lobby the Legislature to put more items in the formula. Examples could be transportation, health insurance, energy costs, etc.

Technology, technology, technology. Also, where are our grants for innovation? To spur Iowa school districts, community colleges, and/or corporations to REALLY think outside of the box?

Core Curriculum: Request no substantive changes be made to the Core as districts are working to implement the current initiative.

The Core needs to be changed to put greater emphasis on 21st century skills and high-tech, high-skill workforce development. That onus may fall on the Department of Education rather than the legislature but is worth noting here.

Compulsory Attendance Age: Lobby for additional at-risk funding if the legislature decides to increase compulsory attendance age.

Upping compulsory attendance – where we force students to sit EVEN LONGER through the boring, traditional schooling paradigm – is not a game-changing idea. Doing more of the same will not get us where we need to go; doing something DIFFERENT will.

Professional Development/Educator Quality: Lobby for PD/Educator Quality funding and the expansion of administrator training opportunities, such as an additional year of mentoring and induction and funding for a Leadership Academy.

YES, if it’s focused on preparing administrators who can lead schools that prepare students for a digital, global age. NO, if it’s solely focused on ‘sharpening the saw’ (i.e., fine-tuning the current, outdated system).

Writing Assessments: Lobby to support writing component being added to state assessments.

YES, if it’s a technology-infused, intelligent, applicable-to-the-real-world writing exam. NO, if it’s like what most other states have done.

Open Meetings and Records: Lobby to support the provision of public records and open meetings to citizens, while advocating for the privacy rights of administrators, staff and board members.

The burden should not be on the public to request information from its own government. The burden should be on the government to show why its information shouldn’t be available to the public from the start. The default should be public and accessible from the start, not only by request.

Please note any other items on which you’d like to comment.

The state is not investing near enough in K-12 online education, technology leadership training for K-12 administrators, 1:1 laptop programs for secondary students, or statewide data collection related to the implementation of K-12 technology- and/or 21st century skills-related initiatives. Will SAI step up and make these a high-visibility priority of its legislative agenda or will it simply focus on issues related to the current system / status quo?

I jotted these off pretty quickly. What should I have said differently (or in more detail) if I had taken more time?


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