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 NO, if it's solely focused on 'sharpening the saw' (i.e., fine-tuning the current, outdated system).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?

3 Responses to “My responses on the SAI legislative platform survey for the 2010 session”

  1. Good stuff Scott. My survey response were very similar. Our comments on the funding formula, written exam component, and administrator PD were very similar.

    I like the idea for innovation grants. The state tried that for a couple years but it was a complete failure because the funding was quite small and only included 5 or so districts each year. I would love to see innovation grants focused around K-12 online learning!!

  2. Oh my…you are singing my song! I wonder when PA powers to be will listen to thoughts like yours. It is so frustrating when I sit on a class on how to move students into the 2ist century and my hands are basically tied because the resources are not there for me to use effectively. I enjoy reading your posts.

  3. In Iowa statewide penny funding for school infrastructure carries the same constraints for technology that the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) does. It would be helpful to obtain more flexibility in the PPEL language for technology expenditures. This would then allow not only PPEL funding but also SWP funding to support technology. Construction lobbies are firmly against any expansion in the PPEL language, and have effectively blocked any attempts to place more flexibility in the PPEL language.

    As it stands now, teacher quality funding provides a good source of funding for professional development. With good planning, PD in support of technology integration can be imbedding the teacher quality initiatives. SWP and PPEL funding potentially provides more funding for technology equipment than we’ve had in Iowa since the days of categorical technology funding in the late 1990s. The problem is there is no funding for technology support, and to some extent, for software (PPEL can only be used for software if it comes bundled with the hardware, which is not the case in many districts).

    Technology is going to only be as strong as its weakest link, and if the links are professional development, equipment, and support, then support is going to be the weak link for most Iowa districts. This link will get weaker as funding cliffs in the next couple of fiscal years require districts to cut staff, and technology support will not be left unscathed by this.

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