In 2013, the Iowa Legislature and Governor enacted sweeping education reform, including a focus on improving teaching through teacher leadership and compensation (TLC) grants destined for sustainability in the school foundation formula as TLC supplements per pupil. The roles of teacher leaders and the framework for improvement emerged out of two years of education stakeholders and Iowa Department of Education and legislative leaders digging deep into the research and best practices of high performing systems. The system was estimated to require just over $300 per pupil to fund additional teacher leadership time and responsibility, and substitutes during the day so teachers could work together to improve instruction model and mentorship, focused on improving instruction and outcomes for students. The system expects 25% of teachers to have some leadership role toward this end.
The TLC system goals were simple, as stated on the Governor’s web page
: “The Teacher Leadership and Compensation System is the centerpiece of the Branstad-Reynolds landmark transformational education reform package of 2013. In addition to raising student achievement, the reforms aim to make the teaching profession more attractive by increasing career advancement opportunities for Iowa educators.” These goals were stated as Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds convened a Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium, Aug. 4, 2014 to continue to look at high performing systems and engage the entire state in working toward world class education for Iowa students.
Lt. Gov. Reynolds states, “Sustaining this work will depend on the commitments of Iowans, on continuing broad, bipartisan support in the Legislature, and most of all on Iowa’s dedicated teachers and principals. We appreciate the wonderful work of teachers and principals and look forward to continuing our conversation at the symposium.”
Not one of those high-performing systems at the symposium showed improvement absent of investment or recommended cutting basic funding while trying to implement meaningful education reform.
The Education Coalition is concerned about current proposals of 1.25% funding for FY 2016 and the lack conversation about FY 2017. These proposed levels undercut the energy and resources of the schools to sustain the education reform effort and fail to demonstrate the commitment that Lt. Gov. Reynolds talked about. Continued program and staff reductions for nearly every school district in Iowa, at this funding level, will have the opposite effect. Schools will have a more difficult time attracting and retaining great teachers, as schools can’t promise future employment. Hoisting more work on teachers with larger class sizes and fewer resources for those teachers remaining in the system doesn’t make the profession more attractive to our best and brightest high school and college graduates.
Supplant vs. Supplement:
Typically in the accounting of categorical funds, schools are prohibited from supplanting existing funding with new resources. From the DE’s Uniform Administrative Procedures Manual
, the annual audit requires:
“The audit of school districts [and AEAs] shall include at a minimum a determination that the laws of the state are being followed, that categorical funding is not used to supplant other funding except as otherwise provided.”
It makes no sense to create positions of teacher leadership for 25% of teachers in the system, while at the same time schools are cutting teaching and other positions. It makes consistent sense, with the theory of education reform, for adequate resources to be provided as the system builds teacher leadership capacity.
We reiterate the findings of economists quoted in the Jan. 26 Money Matters edition of this Education Fact of the Week, “Money alone may not be sufficient, but our findings indicate that provision of adequate funding may be a necessary condition. Above all, we find that how the money is spent may be important. As such, to be most effective it is likely that spending increases should be coupled with systems that help ensure spending is allocated toward the most productive uses.” http://www.nber.org/papers/w20847 The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms, written by C. Kirabo Jackson (Northwestern University), Rucker C. Johnson (Northwestern University) and Claudia Persico (University of California-Berkeley)
Perhaps our best authority on the intentions of the TLC to build capacity rather than supplant existing teaching positions comes from Jason Glass, former DE Director, who led the state toward the creation of the TLC reform. He tweeted this last week:
The Education Coalition calls on our Legislature and Governor to set at least a 4% growth rate per student for the 2015-2016 school year and set the 2016-2017 rate at 6%, within 30 days of release of the Governor’s budget, returning to the practice required by Iowa Code 257.8.
Schools need sufficient notice to anticipate revenue, make timely staffing decisions, and thoughtfully plan to invest the funds wisely for student learning. The future of Iowa’s students and our state’s continued success depend on a solid investment in the priority of public education.
Brought to you by the joint efforts of Iowa Association of School Boards, School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa Area Education Agencies, Iowa State Education Association, the Rural Schools Advocates of Iowa, and the Urban Education Network of Iowa in support of adequate and timely school funding.