It looks like there will finally be some opportunities in Iowa to pass legislation that will roll back Common Core and Smarter Balanced in my home state. Three events have taken place that are promising.
1. Republicans win the Iowa Senate and now control the Legislature.
We’ve had a split legislature that for the most part guaranteed status quo. That will not be the case for the next two sessions at least. Republicans not only won the Iowa Senate, but they won big flipping the Senate to a 29 to 19 majority (there will be a special election at the end of the month to replace State Senator Joe Seng who passed away). Not only that, but Iowa House Republicans expanded their majority in the House by two seats and have a 59 to 41 majority.
So while that doesn’t guarantee positive action it, at the very least, makes it a possibility.
2. Anti-Common Core legislators now chair the legislative education committees.
This is huge news because before any good bill was pretty much guaranteed to be assigned to a subcommittee to die. That should change in 2017.
State Representative Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls), who was a co-sponsor on all of the anti-Common Core legislation in the past, is now the chair of the Iowa House Education Committee. Complementing him State Senator Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) will chair the Iowa Senate Education Committee. Sinclair also was involved in the anti-Common Core and Smarter Balanced legislation in the Senate.
This is an exciting development.
3. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to China.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is pro-Common Core, has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to China by President-elect Donald Trump. He is likely to be confirmed. Branstad has been a significant roadblock to legislation addressing Common Core, the Next Generation Science Standards and Smarter Balanced. In fact the only related bill to make it to his desk, a delay to Smarter Balanced that was included in an appropriations bill, he line-item vetoed.
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds who will be his successor when he resigns has not taken a public stand for or against Common Core, the Next Generation Science Standards, or Smarter Balanced.
On education policy there is certainly some uncertainty, but she has the chance to make her mark and differentiate herself from Branstad. There is promise she will be a more conservative governor than Branstad was. Let’s hope that includes education policy.
The timeline for Branstad’s departure is uncertain. He has said he will wait to resign his seat until he confirmed so we could be well into the new legislative session before that happens. If that is the case the 2018 legislative session may provide a greater opportunity than 2017.