One hundred six Iowans are not at home for the holiday weekend…they’re delegates to the annual Education Association “representative Assembly” in New Orleans. ISEA President John Heironymous says it’s an opportunity to talk with the other educators about trends and issues in teaching.School funding and the “No Child Left Behind” bill are issues he says all have in common, but many concerns vary widely from one state to another. With 2.7-million members, Heironymous says the National Education Association is the largest deliberative body in America, with perhaps 10-thousand of them at this convention to do the business of the association over four days. The funding of education is very different from one state to another, from how it’s done to its fairness and distribution to schools — and while some states grapple with the issue of vouchers to pay for private-school education, Iowa’s rejected that. He says most of the issues are “pretty global” and affect all states. Some positions are simply modified in the annual discussion, and Iowa contributes to the discussion because of its differences — like, instead of statewide standards, letting local districts have control. Heironymous says the biggest issue today is the “No Child Left Behind” bill, which Iowa has resisted because the measure offers no improvement to Iowa schools. It’s based on comparing one class to another, he says, then labels some schools as unsuccessful and sanctions them, whereas Iowa schools identify kids who need help and provide that, and we measure the progress of a student against that student’s own record. Heironymous says “No Child Left Behind” puts a lot more pressure on states without money to pay for all the work of testing and classifying their students and schools. The Iowa delegation will be at the NEA convention in New Orleans through July 6.
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