A bill that would allow peace officers and retired police officers to teach street or highway driving instruction portion of driver’s ed without authorization by the Board of Education examiners was signed off on in subcommittee by two Republican Senators, but both acknowledge the bill needs a lot of work.
“This isn’t as simple as I thought it might be,” concluded Sen. Ken Rozenboom at the end of the meeting. “My position on this is, that while it needs some work, I’d like to move it forward and recommend moving forward with the amendment. I believe I have an interest in furthering Sen. (Charles) Schneider’s wishes in presenting this bill, recognizing some work that has to be done.”
An amendment was discussed as well that would have required the peace officer or retired peace officer to hold a teacher’s substitute license. Officers also could not be involved in a motor vehicle accident causing death or serious injury or two accidents in the last two years.
Senator Johnson hoped that amendment would cure what ailed the bill in previous years.
“I view the amendment, I think it answers the questions we had last year and concerns,” he said. “I think now, finally at the point with the amendment strikethrough, after that should satisfy everybody’s concerns.”
That amendment, though, caused far more problems than solutions.
“I think you mean substitute authorization,” said Ann Lebo, executive director of the Board of Education Examiners. “A substitute license is for someone who has been a teacher.”
Lebo said the board would like to keep the instructors under their ethics umbrella.
Discussion ensued about the difference between a license and an authorization. An authorization requires a degree and training. They must also take so many credits during a five-year stretch in order to renew.
A license requires someone have taught in the past and substitute so many days in that five-year span.
Mary Braun of the Board of Regents said UNI is one of two universities in the state that provides coursework for a driver’s ed endorsement. The endorsement allows both in class and in car instruction.
Bradley Hudson of the Iowa State Education Association said his group was monitoring the bill, but would move to oppose with the amendment.
“We actually think what we learn in these courses (in the classroom) is of value,” Hudson said. “We would even have a problem with the way it’s drafted. A person with a substitute license could do this. Once again, you can hire somebody who did not have the background in this area.
“The other issue with classroom time, it’s with 30-50 students. When you get authorization in a school setting, there’s a principal and others around you. In this setting they’re in rented space in Waukee or Adel and there is no one supervising that person with their substitute authorization. The bill is drafted fine, but we would have great reservations about the amendment.”
Suggested language to move from being involved in an accident to being at fault in accidents.
It all added up to a subcommittee that left more questions than answers.
“I didn’t sign it last year, I will sign for you this year,” Sen. Johnson said. “But with reservations now with all the noted — we’ve got some work to do. To move it out of here, there’s going to be a time crunch now. We’re going to find out who wants this bad enough.”
Democrat Sen. Zach Wahls declined to sign. He struggled to understand what the bill did at the beginning of the meeting and with all the conversation, it’s unlikely it was any more clear afterward.
“I still don’t feel like I fully understand the strikethrough amendment,” he said. “It feels a little bit like a solution in search of a problem.”