Democrats in the Iowa House say Republicans aren’t setting aside enough money to help principals and superintendents refocus their time and improve student achievement.
Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City who is a retired teacher, is a backer of what’s called the “School Administration Manager” project, but the G.O.P. school reform plan sets aside half a million dollars for it this year, and a million dollars next year.
“That’s totally inadequate is the problem. That is not going to be able to be implemented statewide,” Mascher says. “…If we’re going to do something, we ought to do it in a way that says we’re committed to doing it and that is an expectation and the funding would be there for everyone.”
Carol Seid, principal at Fairmeadows Elementary in West Des Moines, has been part of a “School Administration Manager” project for the past three years. “My instructional time went from a baseline of 32.9 percent to the most recent was 75 percent of my time spent on instructional tasks and I’m worn out at the end of the day,” Seid says. “I mean, that’s the job.”
Seid cautions that requiring annual teacher evaluations alone won’t yield dramatic changes in the classroom, that it will take something like the time-management changes she has made. “The evaluation is a good measure of what’s happening right now,” Seid says. “But it doesn’t really focus on the growth and the improvement and the focus on teaching and learning on an on-going basis.”
When Seid got to Fairmeadows Elementary, 87% of the students could read at their grade level. Now, 94% of the students are proficient in reading. Seid says she’s “modeling” to the students and teachers that she’s “willing to do whatever it takes” to raise expectations and student achievement.