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Lawmakers discuss education reform at Friday’s luncheon

• Iowa Sen. Amy Sinclair will not likely vote for current education reform bill in Senate because it doesn't address student achievement

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:40 p.m. CDT
OST photo by KYLE WILSON Iowa Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, left, and Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Corydon, spoke to a small group at Friday's legislative luncheon held at Lakeside Casino.

Iowa Sen. Amy Sinclair and Rep. Joel Fry said Friday they are both on board with approving legislation this year that does away with 180 instructional days currently required by schools and change that to 1,080 instructional hours.

“This change helps turn control back to the local school systems so they can stand on their personal preference as to how to educate and keep kids in the classroom,” Sinclair said Friday during a legislative luncheon at Lakeside Casino. “I think most everyone in the Senate is on board with this change.”

Fry worked closely with the calendar days vs. hours portion of the bill in the Iowa House. That independent bill passed out of the House 84-16 earlier this month.

“The goal around this change, I believe, in moving from calendar days to hours is it gives the opportunity for teachers to engage with students in real time and with instruction emphasis,” Fry said.

Fry noted an instructional hour does include parent-teacher conferences, but does not include recess or lunch periods.

According to the Education Commission of the States, Iowa is currently one of 18 states and the District of Columbia that still uses days calculation. Still, Sinclair pointed out there are implications with moving from days to hours. Those include collective bargaining and inclement weather.

“But, I feel those problems can be resolved,” Sinclair said.

Discussion on education reform is slated to begin this week on the Senate floor, and Sinclair expects there “to be a lot of debate.” Sinclair made it clear to those in attendance Friday she will likely vote against the current Senate education reform bill. Why?

“It doesn’t address student achievement at all,” Sinclair said. “I want you to hear this now. Unless it’s addressed in amendment, I won’t likely vote for it. My two biggest sticking points in dealing with education reform are student achievement and parent involvement.”

Both Fry and Sinclair addressed allowable growth, too, at Friday’s legislative luncheon. The Senate is currently proposing 4 percent for allowable growth. Meanwhile, the House is proposing 2 percent.

“I believe schools can count on 2 percent, no lower,” Fry said.

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