There was progress, but no final deal on education reform at the statehouse this week.
Last week Republicans offered to spend almost as much as Democrats wanted, if Democrats would accept all the GOP’s policy proposals. Late Thursday morning Senator Herman Quirmback of Ames announced Democrats would accept that level of spending, if Republicans accepted the “career pathways” concepts for teachers that Democrats propose.
“We’ve taken most of the rest of what they’ve talked about,” Quirmbach told reporters. “I’m hoping we’re getting closer to agreement.”
Democrats want “teacher accountability” measures cut, too. “The tests just aren’t ready that would do that,” Quirmbach said.
Representative Ron Jorgensen of Sioux City is the lead Republican negotiator.
“The accountability piece of the whole plan is very important to us,” Jorgensen said, “and so any reform initiative, in my opinion, must have an evaluation part.”
On Thursday afternoon Jorgensen held a news conference to outline changes Republicans would be willing to make, like taking away the plan to issue letter grades in a new ranking system for Iowa schools.
“We’re doing this now because we want to more the process forward as quickly as possible,” Jorgensen said. “We want resolution to meaningful education reform that can get done quickly so school districts and individuals have an idea of what they’re going to be working with.”
AUDIO of Jorgensen’s 12-minute news conference
It’ll be next week before all 10 members of the conference committee reconvene to discuss the next steps that could lead legislators closer to a deal on education reform.