There’s conflict at the statehouse over how far to go in mandating new state standards for Iowa schools. The House has voted to go farther than the Senate, endorsing the idea that new performance standards should spell out what kids should know before they graduate.

Representative Phil Wise, a Democrat from Keokuk, acknowledges the House approach has critics, like the state teachers’ union. "I know that there have been some people who have tried to construct scenarios that things are going to fall apart if we go down this road," Wise said during debate. "…This is not scary stuff."

Iowa has been the only state in the union without statewide standards for schools, opting for "local control" that left many decisions up to school boards. The bill approved by the House would create a task force to develop statewide standards. "This is a modest first step in bringing about the rigor that I think we all agree needs to be part of our childrens’ education in this state," Wise said.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Iowa Senate and there’s a possibility the House will reconsider its more far-reaching proposal and vote to back away from it.