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Brad Zaun: Education Reform Moves to Conference Committee

Some of the most important work done during the legislative session is not completed on the House or Senate floor, but in conference committees. In conference committees, bills are negotiated until both the House and Senate members reach a final, agreeable version.

Of the bills education reform is currently in a conference committee. The committee is comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from the house and senate that have met the last few weeks to hammer out details of legislation that attempt to help Iowa students compete at a global level.

Funding of an education reform plan continues to be a point of contention as the conference committee meets. The Senate Democrats have boldly put a 4% allowable growth price tag on education reform and push to spend more taxpayer dollars with fewer accountability measurers. I understand true education reform will be a long road with costs associated with implementation; however, spending must be responsible and student-centered.

Last week House Republicans made a good faith offer that would meet the Senate Democrat funding demands. The House Republicans plan to keep intact policy language and appropriations for their bill, a 2% increase in allowable growth for Fiscal Year 2014, plus a one-time payment equivalent to 2% allowable growth. Finally, they offered a 4% increase in allowable growth for Fiscal Year 2015.

Personally, it is my belief that both proposals will do little to increase student achievement. History tells us that throwing more money does not guarantee improvement in student performance. We have the best teachers in the world that have their hands tied with mandated broken curriculum and teaching methods. True education reform should start in these two areas.

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