EDUCATION CHANGES: Lawmakers Debating Bill

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After a lot of talk this year about the need for change in Iowa’s schools, lawmakers in the Iowa House are taking up the issue of education reform Tuesday.

Republicans crafted a bill that includes most of Gov. Terry Branstad’s ideas for reform. But Branstad is challenging lawmakers to think big and embrace change.

“You know we’ve got such fear of change. ‘Oh, my god, we’ve got to do things the way we always did ’em.’ You know, this is not 1950. It’s a new era. We do need to look at what works best and most effectively for each individual student,” says Branstad.

Those changes include more rigorous testing for teachers and students, and allowing Iowa kids to enroll in online academies.

The State Teachers Union says educators aren’t afraid of change, they just want to have a say in it. Many teachers have voiced concern of lack of support in the classroom and opposition to things like holding back third graders who don’t meet certain literacy requirements.

“Why in the world would you wait until third grade. Number one it’s humiliating when your friends go on by and you aren’t going to go and you’re going to be labeled,” says teacher Nan Kloberdanz.

Teacher Heather Anderson Mauro says, “One thing that has happened from the beginning of my career to the present. We had a lot more support. My class size was smaller. I had reading teachers.”

The House and Senate will have to find some common ground if the state is to receive a waiver from the national “No Child Left Behind” law.

Education director Jason Glass submitted the waiver last month. The application is based on reforms the legislature is expected to make this session.