I have heard from parents, teachers, and school administrators who are alarmed by the rise of disruptive behavior in some school classrooms. This is an issue the news media has covered recently as well.
This week, Senate Education Committee Chair Amy Sinclair introduced legislation to address this issue. Her bill requires the Department of Education to create additional training and professional opportunities for teachers to learn how to address disruptive classroom behavior. It establishes a program to provide competitive grants to school districts that want to establish therapeutic classrooms for students who may not be well-suited for the general student population.
Finally, the bill requires “room clears,” which force students to leave a classroom during lessons while a disruptive student is left behind, to be a last resort for dealing with disruptive students. Room clears can still be used if a student’s behavior is an immediate threat to the health or safety of others.
I recognize many teachers feel under-equipped to address behavioral problems in the classroom. My hope is this bill will give teachers and school administrators the tools they need to better educate our kids.
Senate Republicans this week also introduced an education funding package that puts almost $92 million of new money into K-12 education. This will leave room in our budget to fund other priorities like mental health, Medicaid, and public safety. Since 2017, Senate Republicans have added more than $300 million in new funding to K-12 schools.
Our investments are resulting in positive outcomes for our kids. Iowa has the best public high school graduation rate in the country. We are tied for the highest average ACT score among states where at least 50% of students in the graduating class take the ACT. Iowa is also first in concurrent enrollment, according to the Iowa Department of Education, which helps students graduate from college sooner and take on less debt to pay for it.
While I am very proud of our work on education, the Iowa General Assembly will consider literally hundreds of other bills and issues before it adjourns in the spring. Please reach out to me to share your thoughts on things happening here at the capitol. I look forward to hearing what you think!