Improving every local school


Improving every local school

By Sen. Brian Schoenjahn
District 32

As we work to improve local schools this year, my goals are to boost student achievement, increase teacher quality and develop innovative initiatives that help our kids learn. That’s why I was proud to support the education initiative approved in the Senate on March 26.

Highlights of Senate File 423 include:

1. Using innovative efforts and proven techniques to boost student achievement.

Competency-Based Education, for example, will individualize the learning experience for students and allow them to master content at their own pace. In addition, new pilot programs will test ways to improve how we teach foreign languages, as well as  ways to boost reading and math achievement at schools that serve students in high-poverty neighborhoods.

The bill also protects Iowa’s class-size reduction and early-literacy program. Working with young students who need extra help to read pays off by preparing them to succeed in later grades. 

2. Ensuring we have the best possible teachers in Iowa classrooms.

We want to help good teachers become great teachers by investing in teacher compensation and new “teacher leader” career pathways. All Iowa school districts will receive enough funding to raise minimum teacher salaries to $35,000 to attract more people to the teaching profession.

In addition, “teacher leader” career pathways will encourage highly skilled teachers to mentor and support other educators. Our plan allows schools to choose among three approaches to improved teacher career pathways or to develop their own custom approach for their local school district.

We also want to recruit the most promising future teachers by funding the Governor’s “Teach Iowa” effort. The top 25 percent of graduates from teacher prep programs nationwide will be eligible for up to $4,000 a year for five years.

3. Providing the funding local schools rely on to offer a world-class education.

We provide sufficient, sustainable, certain funding to our local schools with a 4 percent increase in basic state aid for the 2013-2014 school year and an additional 4 percent increase for the following school year. Schools rely on these dollars to buy up-to-date textbooks, keep the lights on, gas up the buses and pay school employees.

Senate File 423 now goes to the House for consideration.





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