Senate Republicans say they’re not interested in passing legislation that would force Iowa schools to draft anti-bullying policies. For the second-straight year, Senate Democrats are pressing for the policy to ensure students aren’t harassed because of their race, religion or sexual orientation.
Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Clarion, says the bill is unnecessary. “We have said for years (that) no one, no student should ever be bullied in school. Period,” Iverson told reporters as he pounded on a lectern. Iverson contends that schools already have anti-bullying policies and, in Iverson’s words, it’s “gobbledygook” to suggest teachers won’t enforce those policies without a “laundry list” of items drafted by legislators. “No student should be picked on,” Iverson says. “Every employee of a school system ought to be watching for that.”
Democrats also want to spend over seven-million dollars more to help school kids who’re immigrants who can’t speak English well learn the language, but Iverson says there may be other priorities, like raising teacher salaries. Iverson says he’s not saying it’s a “bad investment” to spend more money on English as a Second Language courses, but it will have to compete against “everything else in the education sector.”
Another Democratic proposal — to force businesses to give employees who’re parents up to 20 hours unpaid leave to attend their child’s school activities — isn’t getting an immediate veto from Iverson. “That’s an interesting concept,” Iverson says. “I’d like to hear more about it.” Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says anything that is “reform oriented” will be considered, and he says proposals like this that encourage parental involvement are in that category.