The Rozenboom Report – April 1st, 2022

by Senator Ken Rozenboom

Our main focus of this week was floor debate. Even after ten years in the Senate it amazes me how wide-ranging our discussions are in the legislature. This week we discussed many issues, including where fireworks can be sold, estate trusts, wind energy property tax, zoning commissions, taking fur-bearing animals for nuisance control, acreage limitations for hemp, and many other items. And despite the common perception that we disagree on most bills, this week only four of the bills we debated and voted on were decided on a partisan basis, while the other 16 bills were passed either unanimously, or with only one two votes against.

One bill that passed unanimously on Tuesday was Senate File 2377. This legislation will help Iowa schools recruit and retain high quality teachers in the face of the workforce shortage. One feature of this bill provides an alternate pathway to becoming a licensed teacher in Iowa, creating more opportunities to become a qualified teacher. Nearly all school districts are encountering difficulties hiring teachers, so the bill also removes the requirement for the Teach Iowa Scholar program that the applicant be entering a high-need area.

One of the more dominant issues in government across the country these last several months has been parental involvement in their children’s education. Elections last year dramatically illustrated the demand that parents want to be more involved in their local schools, to know what their children are being taught, and to be aware of the materials their children can access. Parents are asserting their God-given rights and responsibilities to raise their children in the manner they see fit, and they expect to be heard and to be respected.

Any discussion of K-12 education in Iowa easily becomes bogged down in partisan bickering and broad generalizations. That’s unfortunate. Most Iowa school districts are committed to their core mission of teaching Iowa’s children to be successful. However, in a small percentage of our schools, parents are becoming increasingly aware of politically charged curriculum, sexually explicit classroom materials, and obscene content available in school libraries.

This week the Iowa Senate passed SF 2369 to empower parents and give them the ability to become more involved in their children’s education. The first major policy initiative in the bill is commonly referred to as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” This language guarantees parents have access to the curriculum, library materials, guest speakers, and other information related to the public education of their children. Based on the emails I’m receiving, there is a great deal of exaggeration circulating about the burdens on schools. These requirements are very reasonable, and will respect parent’s rights to know what’s being taught in the classroom.

The second major part of the bill gives more parents a choice in education. Under the provisions of this bill, up to 10,000 Iowa students would be able to utilize a scholarship to pay for private school education if their family income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level or they have an individualized education plan (IEP). This proposal gives low- and middle-income parents in Iowa the same school choice options that more wealthy parents have.

The state portion of K-12 education funding is approximately $7,500 per student. In this bill, about $5,300 of that amount would be made available as a scholarship for a student for private school education. The remainder is allocated to a special fund to support increased operational sharing functions within our public school system. Operational sharing is a tool used by many rural districts in Iowa to share administrators and other leadership functions with nearby districts to meet the needs of the rural school at a reduced cost. This bill also extends the operational sharing authorization to 2034, and adds school resources officers to the list of eligible shared functions.

On Wednesday I was honored to introduce the 2022 Pella Tulip Queen and Court to the Iowa Senate for the tenth time. This is always a highlight for the entire legislature as these young ladies invite everyone to visit Pella on May 5, 6 and 7 for Tulip Time. Congratulations to these girls who proudly represent Pella!

Posted by on Apr 1 2022. Filed under Local News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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