Grassley says new Iowa House committee will develop wide-ranging education reform package

DES MOINES — Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley says he’s created a new committee to consider an array of changes to Iowa’s K-through-12 education system. 

“The name of it — Education Reform — is as clear as can be,” Grassley says.

Grassley says the panel will obviously focus on the much-discussed “school choice” initiative — giving money to parents who send their kids to private schools.  “That’s a big part of it, but there are also other things that we need to look at as what we can do to not only make public schools better — we can give choice to parents,” Grassley says, “but we can also give flexibility to school districts.”

For example, a year ago the House voted to increase state incentives for small school districts that share superintendents or other staff. Grassley expects other ideas to be included in the plan, like more spending flexibility for public schools and new pathways for teacher licensure.  “The goal would be at this point is  to have an education reform bill/package,” Grassley says. “Not just bill after bill after bill, meeting after meeting.”

The new House Education Reform Committee will have five members. Three will be Republicans and that includes Grassley, who’ll be chairman.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst will be one of the two Democrats on the panel. “Frankly, I’m grateful that the committee exists because instead of getting lost in the chaos of all the other work that committees do, we can focus on this one and truly listen to what Iowans want on this,” Konfrst says, “and — by the way — they don’t want school vouchers.”

The 2023 Iowa legislative session starts in 21 days.