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On Friday, May 16, Loebsack brought his “Our Schools, Our Future” tour to Clarke Community Elementary School. He held a roundtable with top school district officials in the elementary school’s library.
Loebsack was recently chosen to serve as ranking member, the senior most Democrat, of the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.
The purpose of the roundtable and tour throughout Loebsack’s Iowa district is to use the information and ideas gathered and bring what is working in Iowa back to Washington, D.C.
No Child Left Behind
One of Loebsack’s first main concerns is No Child Left Behind education legislation is still operable and in effect in Iowa.
“The question of No Child Left Behind is, one, is it unrealistic? And, I think, yes it is, that by a certain date, 100 percent are going to proficient,” Loebsack said. “ … Well, you’re not going to have everybody be above average. You’d love to have everybody do well, but statistically, it’s not possible.”
One of Loebsack’s goals is to change from an educational model that is dependant on a single test score to one that measures growth so that all students are served.
Loebsack said he wanted to move away from the punitive, or punishing, nature of No Child Left Behind.
Tom Roff, Clarke’s curriculum director, also discussed the “sticks and carrots” motivational effect of No Child Left Behind.
“It doesn’t make sense if a school is really hurting, struggling, is going to get a stick and getting beaten down and the punishments that come with it,” Roff said.
Roff also addressed a local educational concern with Loebsack. He said the English language learners (ELL) population in Iowa quintupled in the past 20 years.
Roff said Osceola was one of the 23 largest ELL populations in the state, and 25 percent of Clarke’s school district is Hispanic.
According to Roff, a challenge at Clarke is a Hispanic student who moves to Osceola will pick up on the math curriculum quickly, but might be held back a grade or two because of the language component. This also impacts testing in many areas.
“As much funding as can be generated toward that cause is going to be great for the whole state of Iowa, in particular,” Roff said.