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Handful of Democrats join GOP in passing wide-ranging education bill

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has approved changes in how schools may use state funding for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation program. Republican Representative Holly Brink of Oskaloosa said not every Iowa teacher wants to be in a leadership role.

“Just like students learn differently, teachers may feel that they educate and lead differently,” Brink said, “so we should continue to support them.”

Former Governor Terry Branstad led the charge to send schools state grants specifically to boost pay for teachers who coach or mentor other teachers. If the bill becomes law, school districts could use any money left-over in other ways.

“Education is a priority. We’ve spent a lot of time this year talking about that already,” Brink said. “We need to continue to evaluate the process and the systems to ensure that we are doing the best we can.”

Representative Mary Mascher of Iowa City and many other House Democrats objected.

“We have one of the best mentoring programs for new teachers in the country,” Mascher said. “…To take funding away from that makes no sense at all.”

Some Democrats raised objections about other parts of the bill. The legislation would get rid of the requirement that students must wait 90 school days when transferring to another school before they may play varsity sports. Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat from Coralville, suggests there’ll be a “summer draft” for prospective high school athletes if the waiting period is reduced to 90 calendar days.

“This bill is a launching for high school trading cards,” Jacoby said. “…Interestingly enough, the bill also has a provision to be retroactive. Is this a carve out for specific players — sorry, for specific students?”

The bill would double the Iowa tuition and textbook tax credit for parents of K-12 students attending accredited public and private schools. Five Democrats, including the House Minority Leader, joined Republicans in voting for the bill.

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