Iowa Public Television

 

Senator Mike Connolly and Representative Jodi Tymeson

posted on February 15, 2006

Borg: SCHOOL FOR ALL FOUR YEAR OLDS... MOST AGREE IT'S BENEFICIAL BUT DISAGREE OVER WHETHER IT SHOULD BE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OR SHARED WITH PRIVATE PRESCHOOLS. WE'LL GET COMMENTS ON EDUCATION ISSUES FROM LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE CHAIRS SENATOR MIKE CONNOLLY OF DUBUQUE AND REPRESENTATIVE JODI TYMESON OF WINTERSET ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: IOWA LEGISLATORS TRADITIONALLY STRUGGLE WITH SCHOOL FUNDING. AS IS OFTEN THE CASE, THIS YEAR FUNDING INCLUDES RELATED DECISIONS. AMONG THEM INCENTIVES FOR CONSOLIDATION, TEACHER SALARIES, LENGTH OF THE SCHOOL DAY AND THE SCHOOL YEAR, STUDENT TESTING, THE SCHOOL AID FORMULA, AND SHOULD LEGISLATORS CRACK DOWN ON WHEN SCHOOLS BEGIN CLASSES EACH FALL. ALL OF THESE ISSUES FALL UNDER THE UMBRELLA TERM OF REFORM. CHALLENGED BY GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK, WHO REMINDS LEGISLATORS AND SCHOOL LEADERS THAT THE WORLD IS FLAT AND THAT IOWA STUDENTS ARE COMPETING WITH CLASSROOMS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES, LEGISLATORS MUST DECIDE HOW TO BEST SPEND SCARCE DOLLARS. AND THOSE DECISIONS FIRST COME TO SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE DEMOCRAT COCHAIR MIKE CONNOLLY OF DUBUQUE AND REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE JODI TYMESON OF WINTERSET, WHO CHAIRS THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. WELCOME TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Connolly: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Tymeson: THANK YOU. IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

Borg: ALSO WITH US HERE AT THE TABLE, 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR CONNOLLY, LET'S START WITH YOU. THERE ARE NEGOTIATIONS IN PLACE AT THE STATEHOUSE OVER SCHOOL FUNDING. THE ISSUES ARE BASIC STATE AID TO THE LOCAL SCHOOLS, TEACHER PAY, BOLSTERING PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS. WHERE ARE THOSE TALKS?

Connolly: THEY'RE ALL IN PLAY AT THIS POINT, AND THEY'RE GETTING TIED TOGETHER AS WE START THE SESSION OFF. LAST WEEK WE TRIED TO MOVE THE FUNDING PACKAGE FORWARD, AND BASICALLY WE'RE STALLED OVER THE REFORM ISSUES.

Glover: RIGHT.

Connolly: SO I THINK IT'S REALLY A TWO-PRONGED INITIATIVE UP THERE RIGHT NOW: THE FUNDING ISSUE ON ONE HAND, WITH REFORM ON OTHER.

Glover: WHERE'S IT GOING TO END UP?

Connolly: I THINK THAT -- I THINK THAT THEY'RE BOTH GOING TO MOVE FORWARD THIS SESSION. I THINK WE HAVE -- I THINK WE HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE A MEANINGFUL SESSION HERE ON EDUCATION.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. THE ISSUES ARE BASIC STATE AID TO LOCAL SCHOOLS, TEACHER PAY, PRESCHOOL. WHERE ARE THE TALKS?

Tymeson: WELL, OF COURSE, THE HOUSE HAS ALREADY MOVED OVER THE ALLOWABLE GROWTH BILL FOR 2008.

Glover: AND YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE THE LAST WORD ON THAT.

Tymeson: WELL, AS YOU KNOW WE'RE WORKING ON THE 2007 BUDGET THIS YEAR. THE ALLOWABLE GROWTH IS ACTUALLY FOR THE 2008 BUDGET.

Glover: RIGHT.

Tymeson: AND BY LAW IT'S REQUIRED TO BE A SEPARATE SUBJECT BILL ENACTED WITHIN THE FIRST THIRTY DAYS AFTER THE GOVERNOR PROVIDES HIS BUDGET.

Glover: AND BY LAW SAYS LAST WEEK YOU SHOULD HAVE APPROVED ALLOWABLE GROWTH. YOU DIDN'T, SO THE LAW REALLY DOESN'T MEAN VERY MUCH. WHERE DO WE END UP?

Tymeson: WELL, I'M HOPING THAT THE SENATE WILL MOVE THAT BILL SO THAT SCHOOL DISTRICTS HAVE SOME IDEA OF WHAT THEIR FUNDING WILL BE FOR 2008. THAT'S PRECISELY WHY WE SET THAT EARLY IN THE SESSION.

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, I WANT TO GO BACK TO THIS QUESTION, THOUGH, THE GOVERNOR AND KEY LAWMAKERS ARE MEETING TO DISCUSS NOT ONLY THE FUNDING ISSUE BUT THESE REFORM QUESTIONS. AND THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM. WHERE IN YOUR MIND DO THOSE TALKS STAND, AND WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD THAT THERE WILL BE A PACKAGE DEAL THAT COMES OUT OF THIS?

Tymeson: I DON'T KNOW ABOUT A PACKAGE DEAL. HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE CONTINUING TO MOVE OUR EDUCATION AGENDA THROUGH OUR POLICY COMMITTEE, AND WE'RE GETTING GREAT COOPERATION FROM OUR HOUSE DEMOCRAT COLLEAGUES. SO WE'RE CONTINUING TO MOVE HOUSE REFORM ISSUES, AND THE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS, OF COURSE, WILL CONTINUE.

Yepsen: SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO --

Connolly: I DISAGREE WITH THAT SO I MIGHT AS WELL STATE THAT RIGHT OUT FRONT. THE HOUSE BASICALLY HAS MOVED FORWARD WITH NO NEW MONEY FOR TEACHER SALARIES AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. THOSE ARE THE CORNERSTONES OF THE GOVERNOR'S PACKAGE. AND BASICALLY, YOU KNOW, I'D LIKE TO USE MY LIMITED TIME TODAY TO REALLY FOCUS ON THE INSTITUTE FOR TOMORROW'S WORK FORCE REPORT. AND I HOPE ALL THE MEDIA AND ALL IOWANS TAKE A LOOK AT THIS REPORT.

Yepsen: WELL, SENATOR, LET US TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ARE IN THAT REPORT THAT ARE BEING TALKED ABOUT UP AT THE STATEHOUSE. AND I WANT TO START WITH A GENERAL QUESTION TO BOTH OF YOU. AND I'LL START WITH YOU, REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON. WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF OUR SCHOOLS?

Tymeson: WELL, WE HAVE HARD-WORKING PEOPLE IN OUR SCHOOLS, HARD WORKING TEACHERS, CARING PARENTS, A LOT OF GREAT FOLKS. BUT WE KNOW -- I KNOW THAT YOU'VE READ THOMAS FRIEDMAN'S BOOK ABOUT THE WORLD IS FLAT. WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT OUR -- THAT OUR STUDENTS -- OUR CHILDREN SHOULD BE BETTER PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE. SO I'M NOT HERE TO SAY OUR SCHOOLS ARE BAD. I'M HERE TO SAY WE NEED TO MOVE THEM FORWARD.

Yepsen: SENATOR CONNOLLY, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. FIFTY-FOUR PERCENT OF IOWANS IN OUR POLLS SAY THE SCHOOLS ARE OFF ON THE WRONG TRACK. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CONDITION OF THE SCHOOLS ARE?

Connolly: I AGREE WITH THOSE CITIZENS AND I THINK ALL OF US NEED TO REALLY -- THIS IS AN ALARMING SITUATION. WE ARE FALLING BACK. WE ARE FALLING BACKWARDS IN IOWA, AND THE DATA TO SUPPORT THAT IS THIS: BASICALLY OUR TEACHER SALARIES HAVE MOVED FROM 25TH OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS TO 41ST. AND WE CAN -- WE CAN SPLIT HAIRS OVER EXACTLY HOW FAR THAT IS. BUT IT'S -- WE ARE FALLING BACK IN TEACHER SALARIES. WE ARE FALLING BACK IN THE AMOUNT OF MONEY WE'RE PUTTING BEHIND EACH STUDENT. WE ARE THE LOWEST IN THE MIDWEST. WE ARE A THOUSAND DOLLARS BELOW OUR NEIGHBORING STATES. WE HAVE FALLEN TO 36TH IN THE NATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MONEY BEHIND EACH STUDENT. BACK IN THE '70S IOWA WAS NUMBER ONE. WE WERE LEADING ON THE AMOUNT OF MONEY WE SPENT PER STUDENT, AND NOW WE'RE 36TH. WE MUST STOP THAT TREND.

Borg: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, GIVEN THOSE FACTORS -- AND I DON'T KNOW WHETHER OR NOT YOU AGREE THAT THOSE ARE FACTORS -- BUT ONE THING THAT KEEPS COMING UP IS WE AREN'T RIGOROUS ENOUGH. DAVE ASKED WHAT'S THE CONDITION OF IOWA SCHOOLS. WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS THAT? DO YOU AGREE, NUMBER ONE, THAT THE CURRICULUM NEEDS TO BE INTENSIFIED, MADE MORE RIGOROUS? AND WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS THAT? WHO PICKS IT UP AND DOES IT?

Tymeson: YES, YOU PROBABLY HEARD SENATOR CONNOLLY'S FOCUS IS ON MONEY. OUR FOCUS IS ACTUALLY ON THE STUDENTS: WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS LEARNING; HOW WELL ARE THEY LEARNING IT; WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO NEED FOR THE FUTURE. AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE LOOKING AT FOCUSING ON BETTER RECRUITMENT OF MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS. WE'RE FALLING BEHIND OTHER COUNTRIES IN RECRUITING ENGINEERS INTO THE PROFESSION. SO WE CERTAINLY -- AT THIS POINT IN TIME IT'S A LOCAL SCHOOL DECISION ON THE RIGOROUS ASPECT OF THE CURRICULUM. I HAVE CALLED FOR A PUBLIC HEARING TO LOOK AT STATE STANDARDS. WE'RE THE ONLY STATE IN THE NATION WITHOUT STATE STANDARDS. AND SO WE WANT TO HEAR FROM THE PUBLIC ON IS IT TIME FOR US TO LOOK AT DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Glover: SENATOR CONNOLLY, LET'S GO TO THAT QUESTION. THERE ARE THOSE WHO ADVOCATE STATEWIDE STANDARDS. THEY SAY THE STATE -- THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS FACING OUR SCHOOLS IS FOR THE STATE TO IMPOSE RIGOROUS STANDARDS ON LOCAL SCHOOLS. THOSE SCHOOLS THAT CAN MEET THEM AND CAN THRIVE, FINE. THOSE SCHOOLS THAT CAN'T CAN JUST GO AWAY. WHAT ABOUT STATEWIDE STANDARDS?

Connolly: I AM FIRMLY -- AND I WANT THAT CLEAR TODAY. I AM FIRMLY IN SUPPORT OF STATEWIDE STANDARDS. IT IS ANOTHER -- WE HAVE FALLEN BACK IN OUR STANDARDS. WE HAVE THE LOCAL DISTRICTS. THERE'S WIDE DISPARITY OUT THERE ABOUT HOW THESE LOCAL DISTRICTS ARE IMPLEMENTING THEIR LOCAL STANDARDS. AND BASICALLY THE BOTTOM LINE IS THE CHILDREN. WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT'S GOING ON OUT THERE, AND RIGHT NOW WE ARE KIDDING OURSELVES IF WE DON'T NEED RIGOROUS, RIGOROUS STATEWIDE STANDARDS.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, AS YOU SAID, YOU'RE SCHEDULING A HEARING ON THIS. WHERE ARE YOU PERSONALLY ON THE ISSUE OF STATEWIDE STANDARDS?

Tymeson: I WANT TO HEAR FROM THE PUBLIC FIRST BECAUSE IT IS AN UNDERTAKING TO TRANSFORM OUR STATE TO STATE STANDARDS. IF I WAS TO LEAN ONE DIRECTION TODAY, I WOULD SAY THAT'S PROBABLY THE WAY FOR US TO GO.

Glover: WELL, THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY THE SOLUTION TO THE HOST OF PROBLEMS IN EDUCATION, THE RIGOR OF STANDARDS, THE RIGOR OF CURRICULUM, THE ANSWER TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS IS FOR THE STATE TO SIMPLY IMPOSE A STANDARD AND SAY IF YOU CAN LIVE UP TO IT, FINE, IF YOU CAN'T, YOU NEED TO GO AWAY. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

Tymeson: WELL, IF YOU'RE REFERRING TO SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION, YOU KNOW, A CHILD CAN ONLY RIDE A BUS SO FAR. AND SO WE HAVE CERTAINLY AREAS OF THE STATE WITH RAPIDLY DRASTICALLY DECLINING ENROLLMENT. IN FACT, IN SOUTHWEST IOWA, THERE ARE FIVE OR SIX DISTRICTS ACTUALLY LOOKING TO CONSOLIDATE TOGETHER. SO FOR US TO FORCE CONSOLIDATION OF SCHOOLS I THINK IS NOT NECESSARY AT THIS TIME. THE BETTER ANSWER IS TO LOOK AT HOW CAN WE PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOSE STUDENTS NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE IN THE STATE.

Glover: BUT THE ISSUE ISN'T REALLY CONSOLIDATION. THE ISSUE IS QUALITY OF CURRICULUM. IF YOU CAN OFFER A QUALITY CURRICULUM, WE DON'T REALLY CARE HOW BIG YOUR SCHOOL IS, HOW RURAL YOUR SCHOOL IS. IF YOU HAVE A SCHOOL WITH 20 KIDS WITH A GREAT CURRICULUM, FINE.

Tymeson: THAT'S RIGHT. AND THAT'S WHY WE HAVE TO LOOK AT INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SCHOOLS TO SHARE ADVANCED MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS, FOR STUDENTS TO ACCESS COMMUNITY COLLEGE COURSES OR UNIVERSITY COURSES OR ON-LINE COURSES, NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE IN THE STATE.

Yepsen: I WANT TO ASK YOU BOTH ABOUT AN ISSUE THAT'S BEEN A BIG DEBATE AROUND THE STATE, AND THAT'S ABOUT SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AND WHAT SORT OF GRADE POINT A STUDENT SHOULD HAVE TO HAVE IN ORDER TO BE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THOSE ACTIVITIES, PARTICULARLY ATHLETICS. REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, IS THE LEGISLATURE GOING TO GET INTO THAT DISPUTE?

Tymeson: WELL, CURRENTLY THE STATE BOARD'S RULE IS BEFORE THE RULES COMMITTEE. I AGREE THAT WE SHOULDN'T SEND MIXED MESSAGES TO OUR STUDENTS ABOUT EXPECTING THEM TO DO WELL ACADEMICALLY. HOWEVER, THE CURRENT RULE THAT THEY'VE PROPOSED IS A LITTLE BIT PROBLEMATIC IN THAT -- LET'S SAY YOU HAVE TWO STUDENTS. ONE IS TAKING FOUR COURSES -- FAIRLY EASY COURSES AND PASSING ALL OF THEM. ANOTHER STUDENT IS TAKING SEVEN COURSES -- MORE RIGOROUS COURSES AND MAYBE ONLY PASSING SIX. THAT STUDENT WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PLAY. SO I THINK THE RULE IS A LITTLE BIT PROBLEMATIC, AND I'M NOT SURE WHAT THE RULES COMMITTEE IS GOING TO RECOMMEND TO THE LEGISLATURE.

Yepsen: SENATOR CONNOLLY, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

Connolly: YES, I'M ON THE RULES COMMITTEE. IN FACT, I JUST LEFT THE RULES COMMITTEE NOT JUST TOO LONG AGO. AND BASICALLY I THINK THERE WILL BE AN EFFORT IN THE RULES COMMITTEE TO FORESTALL THAT GOING INTO PLACE. I THINK WHAT THE GOVERNOR TRIED TO DO AND THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION IS REALLY AROUND RAISE THE EXPECTATIONS. THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN IOWA, TO RAISE PEOPLE'S EXPECTATIONS, TO DEMAND MORE RIGOR IN THE CURRICULUM. AND I THINK WE CAN ARGUE ABOUT HOW THIS FINALLY UNFOLDS ON WHAT IT WILL ACTUALLY SAY. BUT WE NEED TO -- WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE TO ALL THE KIDS, ALL THE STUDENTS, AND ALL THE PARENTS THAT THE EXPECTATIONS ARE RISING AND THAT RIGOR IS GOING TO INCREASE.

Yepsen: WELL, WAIT A MINUTE, SENATOR, YOU JUST SAID WE'VE GOT TO SEND A MESSAGE THAT EXPECTATIONS ARE RISING, BUT THEN I HEAR, WELL, BUT THESE RULES, YOU KNOW, WE STILL WOULDN'T WANT TO LOSE OUR STAR QUARTERBACK.

Connolly: I WILL NOT SUPPORT THE DELAY IN THE RULES BUT, YOU KNOW, I THINK THERE'S A CRITICAL MASS IN THE RULES COMMITTEE AT THIS POINT, UNFORTUNATELY, THAT MAY FORESTALL THAT RULE GOING INTO PLACE.

Yepsen: BUT, REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, IS THAT NOT SENDING THE WRONG SIGNAL TO HIGH SCHOOL KIDS THAT IF WE NEED A STAR QUARTERBACK, WE'LL BEND THESE RULES AND WE WON'T BE QUITE SO RIGOROUS WITH YOU?

Tymeson: WELL, ALL I'M SAYING IS THERE MIGHT BE A BETTER WAY TO GO AT IT THAN THE CURRENT RULE THAT IS PROPOSED. I DO AGREE WE NEED TO RAISE EXPECTATIONS AND STUDENTS NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF ACADEMICS.

Glover: SENATOR CONNOLLY, IN THIS WHOLE DEBATE ABOUT IMPOSING RIGOROUS STATEWIDE STANDARDS TO UPGRADE THE QUALITY OF CURRICULUM IN SCHOOLS, IS THERE ANY ROOM FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS TO EXPERIMENT, TO TRY THEIR OWN THING, TO COME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE LOCAL EFFORT THAT WORKS FOR THEM? AND HOW DO YOU BUILD THAT INTO THIS?

Connolly: WELL, I THINK THAT'S ALREADY -- BASICALLY LOCAL DISTRICTS HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN DEVELOPING THEIR LOCAL STANDARDS. AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN VERY HELPFUL IN TRYING TO PROVIDE MODELS TO THE LOCAL DISTRICTS. THAT'S REALLY THE STATUS QUO, MIKE. THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE NOW.

Glover: HOW DOES THAT FIT IN WITH A STATEWIDE STANDARD MANDATE?

Connolly: OBVIOUSLY YOU WANT LOCAL INPUT BUT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION NEEDS TO PUT FORWARD RIGOROUS STATEWIDE STANDARDS. WE NEED ACCOUNTABILITY OUT THERE. WE ARE SLIPPING ON FUNDING. WE ARE SLIPPING ON OUR PERFORMANCE ON THE TESTS. WE SLIPPED FROM NEAR FIRST ON THE NAEP TESTS DOWN TO 19TH. SO I THINK THE SURVEY THAT DAVID MENTIONED BEFORE, I THINK IOWANS ARE FEELING THIS AND I THINK THEY ARE RIGHT ON TARGET. THIS REPORT ADDRESSES THAT IN A VERY MEANINGFUL WAY. AND I MIGHT SAY THIS: THE PEOPLE THAT ARE THE PRIME -- THIS WAS A BIPARTISAN REPORT, A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR. THIS REPORT IS WORTH READING AND IT'S REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS. AND I THINK THE LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS -- I'M GOING TO SAY THIS -- ARE OUT OF STEP. I WANT TO JOIN HANDS WITH MARVIN POMERANTZ AND DOUG GROSS AND LINDA NELSON AND THE FARM BUREAU AND ALL THE PARTICIPANTS OF THIS REPORT. THIS IS THE DIRECTION WE NEED TO GO. AND IN THE LEGISLATURE, WE HEAR YESTERDAY: NO NEW MONEY FOR TEACHER SALARIES; NO NEW MONEY FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION; NO NEW MONEY FOR INCREASED INCENTIVES ON SHARING. IT IS -- IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY. I AGREE WITH THAT. BUT TO SAY THAT IT IS ABOUT MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF -- THEY TALK ABOUT $300 MILLION OVER TWO YEARS ON THE MONEY SIDE, PLUS A MASSIVE EFFORT ON REFORM. IT'S A TWO-PRONGED APPROACH. I AGREE WITH IT. I SHAKE HANDS WITH THOSE PEOPLE TODAY, AND I THANK THEM.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, I THINK YOU PROBABLY OUGHT TO HAVE A CHANCE TO ANSWER THAT.

Tymeson: THANK YOU. AND I'D BE GLAD TO. I REALLY APPRECIATE THE WORK DONE BY THE FOLKS WITH THE INSTITUTE, AND I'M REALLY HAPPY TO HEAR SENATOR CONNOLLY BE SO SUPPORTIVE OF A PERFORMANCE-BASED SYSTEM. WE ARE ALL ALREADY MOVING ON A COUPLE OF RECOMMENDATIONS IN THIS REPORT, WITH A FOCUS ON THE CORE CURRICULUM, AS WELL AS WE'RE ASKING THE REGENTS -- WE HAVE A BILL THAT'S GOING TO COME OUT OF COMMITTEE ON MONDAY THAT WILL ASK THE REGENTS TO LOOK AT THEIR ADMISSION RULES, CONSIDERING THE AUTOMATIC ADMISSION OF THE UPPER HALF AND REALLY WHAT'S A RELEVANT ADMISSION RULE FOR THEM TO HAVE. THE PERFORMANCE BASED SYSTEM, CERTAINLY I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT. BUT THE PERFORMANCE MEASURE SHOULD BE: HOW MUCH ARE THE STUDENTS PERFORMING; WHAT IS THE MEASURE OF THE STUDENTS' PERFORMANCE; HOW IS THAT INCREASING; AND HOW IS THE TEACHER AFFECTING THE INCREASED STUDENT PERFORMANCE?

Borg: LET'S CLARIFY WHAT YOU WANTED TO SAY THERE ON THE REGENTS MODIFYING THE UPPER HALF AUTOMATICALLY ADMITTED. ARE YOU SAYING TIGHTEN THAT UP OR BE MORE LIBERAL?

Tymeson: WE'RE ASKING THEM TO LOOK AT THAT RULE TO SEE IF IT'S STILL A RELEVANT WAY OR THE BEST WAY TO FIGURE OUT WHO TO ADMIT TO THEIR UNIVERSITIES. BECAUSE IF YOU'RE IN THE TOP HALF OF A VERY SMALL SCHOOL, IT MAY MEAN SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN IF YOU'RE IN THE TOP HALF OF A VERY LARGE SCHOOL.

Glover: SENATOR CONNOLLY, YOU LOOK LIKE YOU WANT TO WEIGH IN ON THAT.

Connolly: I AGREE WITH THAT. I REALLY THINK THAT AS THE REPORT CALLS FOR MOVING AWAY FROM CLASS RANK AND GRADE POINT AVERAGE IN TERMS OF GETTING -- MOVING FORWARD INTO HIGHER EDUCATION THAT WE SHOULD MOVE TO MORE PERFORMANCE RELATED DATA. AND I'M FOR THAT. WE NEED SOME NOT ONLY RIGOROUS STANDARDS, BUT WE NEED RIGOROUS ASSESSMENTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE OTHER END.

Yepsen: I WANT TO GO TO -- JUST PARENTHETICALLY I SHOULD TELL OUR VIEWERS THAT IF YOU WANT TO LOOK AT THAT REPORT, YOU CAN FIND IT ON TOMORROWSWORKFORCE.ORG. I WANT TO TURN TO THE ISSUE OF TEACHER PAY, REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON. A LOT OF TALK ABOUT HIGHER TEACHER PAY. DO YOU THINK -- BUT THERE'S A FINITE AMOUNT OF MONEY. DO YOU THINK -- WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT, TO GIVE ALL TEACHERS A PAY RAISE, TO GIVE MORE PAY TO MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS BECAUSE THOSE OCCUPATIONS ARE SHORT, OR TO TIE PAY TO PERFORMANCE... THE TEACHERS WHO GET RAISES SHOULD BE ONES WHO DO THE WORK AND TURN IN A STELLAR PERFORMANCE? WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE?

Tymeson: WELL, THAT'S WHY I SAID I WAS GLAD TO HEAR SENATOR CONNOLLY ENDORSE THIS REPORT BECAUSE CERTAINLY PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY IS A LARGE SEGMENT OF THIS REPORT. BUT HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE LOOKING AT TARGETING MINIMUM SALARIES TO HELP RAISE THE AVERAGE TEACHER SALARIES, AND WE ARE ALSO LOOKING AT A MARKET BASED APPROACH, WHICH IS ALSO IN THIS REPORT, AND LOOKING AT PAYING MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS MORE.

Yepsen: SENATOR CONNOLLY, SAME QUESTION.

Connolly: I'VE ENDORSED THE REPORT AND I THINK THE HOUSE HAS NOT ENDORSED THE REPORT BY SENDING -- STARTING OUT WITH A BUDGET THAT ZEROS OUT TEACHER SALARIES. THEY ARE CALLING FOR MASSIVE INFUSIONS IN TEACHER SALARIES AROUND A PERFORMANCE STANDARD. I SUPPORT THAT. WHAT WE HAVE PASSED THE HOUSE LAST WEEK AND PUT FORWARD BY THE LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS -- I WILL FRAME IT THAT WAY -- IS ZERO FOR TEACHER -- THAT'S THE BUDGET WE HAVE. IS IT NOT, DAVID?

Yepsen: WHY ARE YOU SO PARTISAN ABOUT THIS QUESTION? YOU SEEM TO BE JUST ON THE ATTACK HERE TODAY --

Connolly: I'M SHAKING HANDS WITH -- NO, I'M SHAKING HANDS WITH DOUG GROSS AND MARVIN POMERANTZ ON THAT, AND YOU'RE CALLING ME PARTISAN? I'M SAYING THIS IS BIPARTISAN. I DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THE FOLKS THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH IN THE LEGISLATURE. I DON'T THINK THEY'RE LISTENING TO THE LEADERSHIP OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STATEWIDE. I THINK THEY'RE OUT OF STEP.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, ANOTHER BIG ISSUE IS FUNDING FOR PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS, TO ENHANCE PRESCHOOL OFFERINGS. WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON HOW WE SHOULD ENHANCE PRESCHOOL? SHOULD WE SPEND MORE? HOW SHOULD WE SPEND MORE? WHAT'S YOUR POSITION?

Tymeson: WELL, AS YOU KNOW, THE WHOLE AREA OF EARLY CHILDHOOD WAS AN IMPORTANT TOPIC LAST SESSION. AND WHAT WE DID, FIRST OF ALL, IS LOOK AT WHAT ARE WE ALREADY SPENDING ON EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS. AND WE FOUND THAT THERE ARE $220 MILLION GOING TO PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN ZERO TO FIVE. AND THEN WE FOCUSED IN ON THE PRESCHOOL AND WHAT PROBLEM WERE WE REALLY TRYING TO ADDRESS. AND WE DEDICATED $4.5 MILLION FOR PRESCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES. THE MOST RECENT INFORMATION WE HAVE IS THAT THAT $4.6 MILLION WILL HELP 4,000 FAMILIES ACCESS PRESCHOOL IN THEIR AREA.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU DO THIS YEAR?

Tymeson: WELL, AS FAR AS I KNOW, THAT FUNDING IS STILL THERE, EVEN THOUGH WE DON'T HAVE THE RESULTS YET OF HOW -- BECAUSE IT'S NEW MONEY.

Glover: SO NOTHING MORE THIS YEAR?

Tymeson: AT THIS POINT IN TIME, BUT THE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS ARE CONTINUING TO GO ON, BUT I THINK THE STRENGTH OF OUR COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM, WHICH ALLOWS THE DOLLARS TO GO OUT THROUGH THAT PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC PROGRAMS AS WELL AS PRIVATE PROGRAMS IS THE WAY WE SHOULD CONTINUE.

Glover: SENATOR CONNOLLY --

Yepsen: LET ME INTERRUPT. REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, ONE OF THE PROPOSALS IS THAT YOU INCLUDE FOUR YEAR OLDS AS PART OF THE SCHOOL AID FORMULA SO THAT THERE'S MONEY ROUTED AS A MATTER OF ALLOWABLE GROWTH INTO THESE PROGRAMS. DO HOUSE REPUBLICANS FAVOR OR OPPOSE THAT IDEA?

Tymeson: HOUSE REPUBLICANS OPPOSE THAT IDEA. WE WOULD RATHER PUT THE DOLLARS THROUGH THE COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM SO THERE IS ACCESS TO ALL PROGRAMS THAT ARE OUT THERE.

Connolly: I STRONGLY SUPPORT THAT. THAT IS A MAJOR DIFFERENCE. IF WE'RE GOING TO GET MEANINGFUL STATEWIDE PRESCHOOL FOR CHILDREN IN THIS STATE, THEY NEED TO BE FUNDED THROUGH THE SCHOOL AID FORMULA. THAT'S THE WAY OTHER STATES DO IT. THIS HELTER-SKELTER APPROACH THAT WE'VE SEEN IS UNACCEPTABLE. WE NEED TO FUND THOSE CHILDREN. ANY FAMILY IN IOWA THAT HAS A FOUR YEAR OLD THAT THEY WANT TO SEND TO PRESCHOOL SHOULD HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY, NOT MANDATED BUT VOLUNTARY, JUST LIKE OTHER STATES.

Glover: SO THERE ARE CLEAR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO CHAMBERS, BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES. WHERE DO WE END UP, SENATOR CONNOLLY?

Connolly: WELL, I -- YOU KNOW, MY FEELING IS -- AND I HOPE I'M WRONG ON THIS -- BUT I REALLY THINK THE BUDGET THAT THEY PRESENTED LAST WEEK THAT ZEROED OUT EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, WHICH IS A CORNERSTONE OF THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET, AND ZEROED OUT TEACHER SALARIES IS -- IT APPEARS TO MANY PEOPLE I THINK, AS A POLITICAL DOCUMENT, THAT THEY'RE SETTING THEMSELVES UP FOR NEGOTIATIONS AT THE END GAME. I THINK WE NEED TO GET BEYOND THAT. AND I THINK THESE PEOPLE HERE ASK US TO DO THAT. LET'S GET BEYOND THE GAME PLAN AND LET'S SOLVE SOME PROBLEMS AND MOVE THIS STATE FORWARD. LET'S LEAD.

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT ANOTHER ISSUE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION TODAY: TRUANCY AND WHETHER STUDENTS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO STAY IN SCHOOL UNTIL THEY'RE EIGHTEEN UNLESS, OF COURSE, THEY'VE GRADUATED. HOW DO YOU AND HOUSE REPUBLICANS FEEL ABOUT THAT IDEA?

Tymeson: THERE ARE THREE BILLS THAT I'M AWARE OF THAT HAVE BEEN PROPOSED TO RAISE THE COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE AGE FROM SIXTEEN TO EIGHTEEN. I HAVE ASSIGNED ALL OF THOSE BILLS TO MYSELF AS THE CHAIRPERSON. I WILL HOLD A SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING ON THAT TO GATHER THE ISSUES SURROUNDING THAT. IN THE PAST I'VE HEARD ACTUALLY EDUCATORS SAY WHY SHOULD WE KEEP SIXTEEN YEAR OLDS OR SEVENTEEN YEAR OLDS IN SCHOOL THAT DON'T WANT TO BE THERE. AGAIN, I THINK WE'RE LOOKING AT A MIXED MESSAGE. IF WE'RE SAYING YOU MUST HAVE A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA AND YOU MUST, TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN A LOT OF AREAS, HAVE POST SECONDARY EDUCATION, THEN WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO ALLOW A STUDENT TO DROP OUT AT AGE SIXTEEN. SO I'M INTERESTED IN GATHERING ALL THE ISSUES SURROUNDING THAT, AS WELL AS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW THE TRUANCY LAWS ARE WORKING.

Yepsen: SENATOR CONNOLLY, THE SAME QUESTION. DO SENATE DEMOCRATS LIKE THE IDEA OF COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE TO AGE EIGHTEEN?

Connolly: WELL, WE DON'T WANT TO STUDY IT ANYMORE. WE'VE BEEN STUDYING THESE THINGS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. IT'S TIME TO ACT. OUR FOLKS ARE INTERESTED IN MOVING FORWARD ON THIS. AS DEAN SAID AT THE OUTSET, THE WORLD IS FLAT. WE HAVE INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION NOW. WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE THESE KIDS TO STAY IN SCHOOL. WE NEED TO RAISE THE RIGOR. WE NEED TO BE -- MORE ACCOUNTABILITY, MORE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. OUR -- NOT EVERYONE IS IN UNISON ON THIS, BUT WE ARE FOR -- OUR CAUCUS IS FOR MOVING FORWARD ON COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE TO EIGHTEEN.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, THERE ARE A COUPLE OF PROPOSALS ON THE TABLE THAT DEAL WITH THE SCHOOL CALENDAR. ONE WOULD INCREASE THE LENGTH OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. ANOTHER WOULD INCREASE THE TIME THAT KIDS ARE ACTUALLY IN A CLASSROOM IN FRONT OF A TEACHER. DO YOU FAVOR ANY OF THOSE CHANGES IN THE SCHOOL CALENDAR?

Tymeson: BEFORE WE LOOK AT INCREASING THE CALENDAR OR THE NUMBER OF DAYS ON THE CALENDAR, WE NEED TO FOCUS ON WHAT'S ALREADY HAPPENING IN OUR SCHOOLS. AND OUR COMMITTEE HEARD FROM DIRECTOR JEFFREY THE OTHER DAY. CURRENTLY IN THE CODE, WE REQUIRE 5.5 HOURS TIMES 180 DAYS, BUT WHAT WE HAVEN'T DONE IS DEFINED INSTRUCTIONAL TIME. AND SO THE TIME THAT THE KIDS ARE IN SCHOOL RIGHT NOW IS NOT NECESSARILY INSTRUCTIONAL TIME. WE REALLY NEED TO TIGHTEN THAT UP AND LOOK AT PROBABLY EXTENDING THE NUMBER OF HOURS THAT STUDENTS ARE THERE, AS WELL AS MAKING UP INSTRUCTIONAL TIME THAT'S LOST.

Glover: SENATOR CONNOLLY?

Connolly: I THINK THAT'S WRONG-HEADED. I REALLY THINK THAT IT'S FOCUSING AGAIN ON THE INPUTS. WE SAID AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PROGRAM WE WANTED TO FOCUS ON RESULTS, ON PERFORMANCE. AND, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE JUST GOING TO END UP REQUIRING MORE SEAT TIME, PUTTING MANDATES ON LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS ON HOW MANY MINUTES THE KIDS ARE IN THE SEAT. YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK -- I THINK THAT'S COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. WHAT THE REPORT CALLS FOR IS PERFORMANCE ON THE PART OF TEACHERS, PERFORMANCE ON THE PART OF STUDENTS, AND PERFORMANCE ON THE PART OF DISTRICTS. AND THAT'S THE MODEL THAT WE NEED TO MOVE FORWARD ON, NOT GOING BACK AND TRY TO REJIGGER IT SO THE DISTRICTS HAVE TO HAVE --

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS --

Connolly: -- A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MINUTES.

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED WAS SETTING ASIDE SOME ADDITIONAL MONEY TO GIVE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS WHO CHOOSE TO GO TO A LONGER SCHOOL YEAR THE MONEY TO DO THAT. DO YOU SUPPORT THAT? >>

Connolly: I DO. I DO. AND MANY STATES, YOU KNOW, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT YEAR-AROUND SCHOOL NOW IN A NUMBER OF STATES, AND I THINK WE HAVE A NUMBER OF DISTRICTS IN IOWA THAT WOULD LIKE TO MOVE IN THAT DIRECTION. WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE THAT.

Borg: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, MUCH OF WHAT WE'VE TALKED ABOUT TODAY CAN BE SUMMED UP WITH LOCAL CONTROL OR STATE IMPOSED CONTROLS. YOU KNOW, LOCAL CONTROL IS A SACRED TERM IN IOWA. THAT MEANS LOCAL ELECTED SCHOOL BOARDS CONTROL THEIR LOCAL SCHOOLS. IS IT TIME -- AND I'VE HEARD SENATOR CONNOLLY SAY LOCAL INPUT OF WE NEED STATEWIDE STANDARDS. HOW DO YOU COME DOWN ON THAT?

Tymeson: WELL, HOUSE REPUBLICANS THIS YEAR ARE REALLY FOCUSED ON LOCAL CONTROL IN THIS DIRECTION. WE WANT PARENTS TO BE MORE INVOLVED IN THE DECISION MAKING IN THE SCHOOLS AND HAVE MOVED A BILL OUT OF COMMITTEE WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT TO REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO HAVE PARENT INVOLVEMENT POLICIES. THIS IS BASED ON NATIONAL PTA MODEL LANGUAGE. PARENTS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT IN THE SCHOOLS. WE'VE ALSO MOVED A BILL OUT OF COMMITTEE THAT WOULD GIVE TAXPAYERS MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE -- WHAT THEY'RE PAYING FOR IN THEIR SCHOOLS.

Borg: SO RETAINING LOCAL CONTROL, THEN? RETAINING LOCAL CONTROL WITH PARENT INPUT? IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?

Tymeson: WELL, IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT STANDARDS, THAT CAN BE ONE DIFFERENT THING. IF THE STATE SETS THE STANDARDS, THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS WILL STILL NEED TO IMPLEMENT THOSE STANDARDS.

Borg: JUST FIVE SECONDS.

Connolly: YOU BET.

Borg: YES OR NO ON LOCAL CONTROL?

Connolly: WELL, I'M FOR STATEWIDE STANDARDS, DEAN. THAT'S WHAT I'M FOR. WE'RE PUTTING IN 70 PERCENT OF THE DOUGH RIGHT NOW FROM THE STATE LEVEL. IT'S ABOUT 70 PERCENT STATE DOLLARS, 30 PERCENT LOCAL DOLLARS. WE NEED STATEWIDE STANDARDS AND WE NEED THEM NOW.

Borg: THANK YOU. THANK YOU BOTH FOR YOUR TIME. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'LL QUESTION THE LONE DEMOCRAT IN IOWA'S DELEGATION IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THIRD DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN LEONARD BOSWELL OF DES MOINES IS A RETIRED ARMY HELICOPTER PILOT AND FORMER LEADER IN THE IOWA LEGISLATURE. THAT'S 'IOWA PRESS' NEXT WEEKEND: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; SUNDAY MORNING AT 11:30. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

Tags: Iowa