Advocacy in Action

This page is your home for all things legislative and advocacy related. We have an update from our lobbyist at the Capitol each week, summaries of important bills, and then steps for you to get involved!

Under the Golden Dome

Watch lobbyist Emily Piper's update from the Capitol. Her top takeaways from this week:
  • Public funds should go to public schools
  • Your advocacy is more important than ever

Week two is under our belt and what a week it has been. The governor introduced a 50+ page education omnibus bill, including proposals that allow the use of public taxpayer dollars for private school vouchers and private charter schools. Read our summary of SSB 1065. This bill will move through the Senate at warp speed but likely encounter a slower path in the House.

Leadership from the House and Senate continue to work toward an agreement on SSA and hope to announce that early next week. It will include more money than proposed by Governor Reynolds, but how that money will be distributed between the supplemental state aid rate, transportation and district cost per pupil equity and covering costs incurred by districts for in-person instruction is not clear at this point.

In-person instruction legislation is also going to move quickly. In essence, bills in the House (HF 103) and Senate (SSB 1064) will require districts to offer a 100% in-person instruction opportunity to parents. This will become law. Under the Senate bill, districts will have approximately two weeks from enactment to provide this option. 74% of public school districts are currently providing 100% in person instruction. The remainder (84 districts) are not and are operating under either a hybrid model, a remote model, or a combination of in-person and virtual.

Board members and administrators in those 84 districts should start planning now to move toward 100% in-person instruction. The final product (note the House and Senate bills are different) will include language that does not allow a district to count any time that is not 100% in-person toward instructional time. This means a district could be forced to make that time up or be out of compliance with the law.

Advocacy Action of the Week

Board members who are represented by Republican senators should immediately contact them and ask them to oppose SSB 1650. Go to our  Vouchers Toolkit to get updated information, charts and graphics to share on social media. Please check back frequently as this will be updated regularly.

When speaking with your legislators, use these talking points: 

  • Use public dollars for public schools. Period. The public’s investment should be used to support public community schools which are open to all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socio-economic status and disability, not for a new entitlement program for parents who choose private education.  
  • Public funds require public accountability and transparency. Public schools are overseen by a publicly elected citizen governing board, are required to report academic results to the general public, have an annual public financial audit, and be transparent with all expenditures and decision-making. Private and religious schools are not held to that same public standard. Taxpayers have a right to know how their funds are being used, but are left in the dark about the use and impact of voucher funds. 
  • A slippery slope toward a costly and expansive voucher program: This voucher program may start small, but as we've seen in other states, once a program is established, it is easy to expand. This will pull more resources away from public schools.

COVID-19 has changed how we lobby at the Capitol. Your voice is more important than ever. You can find contact information for your legislators here: Legislator Look-Up. Your voice will make a difference! 

FEDERAL UPDATE

IASB Summary of COVID Relief Package Funding: Read a summary of the recently passed and signed relief package, which includes $54.3 billion for K-12 education.

Bills on the Move

As bills begin to be introduced and moved through the legislative process, we will have summaries and updates on their status. 

Read Bill Summaries
With public health in mind, we made the decision to cancel our annual Day on the Hill, but we still have to stay involved in the legislative process. New this year, we will have several opportunities for you to learn about the most pressing issues affecting public education and then take action!

Priorities in Primetime Webinar Series

Feb. 2, Feb. 9 & Feb. 16
We are excited about our brand-new advocacy webinar series, Priorities in Primetime. These webinars are meant to be similar to the issue education portion of Day on the Hill. Each webinar will be focused on a different legislative priority and will take place in the evening for your convenience. Registration is now open. 

COVID-19 Remediation for Student Achievement
Feb. 2, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Register Now

Virtual Lobby Days

Although we can't gather together at the Capitol, we still want you to be able to effectively lobby your legislators as a powerful group. We invite you to join us for Virtual Lobby Days throughout the legislative session. The next lobby day is February 4 and does not require registration. It is simply a day designated for you to reach out to your legislator via email or phone on a certain topic. Watch your email for information!

Our next virtual lobby day will center around COVID-19 remediation for student achievement.  

Education Omnibus Bill Summary

Read IASB's section-by-section analysis of SSB 1065, which has been proposed by Governor Reynolds. The bill covers a wide swath of education policy issues, including vouchers, charter schools and open enrollment changes.

IASB's testimony submitted to the subcommittee, detailing the reasons we opposed SSB 1065. You can also leave a public comment for the subcommittee

Governor Reynolds' Condition of the State Address

Governor Reynolds gave her annual Condition of the State address on Jan. 12, 2021. Read IASB's analysis of her budget and policy proposals.   

Latest Podcast episode

Capitol Chats: Across the Aisle with IASB
Join our government relations team as they breakdown the policy initiatives proposed by Governor Kim Reynolds in her Condition of the State address, including an in-person instruction requirement, various school choice initiatives and her proposed funding amounts. The governor gave her annual address on Jan. 12, 2021.

Additionally, you can read IASB's analysis of the governor's school aid recommendation.
 
 

Essential Resources

2021 Legislative Guide
We are better together—a stronger voice in advocating for the needs of Iowa students and public education. This process consists of building relationships, telling the story of public education and brushing up on key legislative issues for 2021. As we continue to weather the effects of COVID-19, IASB will push for additional resources to help get students back on track, reliable and on-time funding, supports for mental health resources in schools, and ensuring preschool is funded so all 4 and 5-year-olds have access to crucial early education.

This advocacy guide includes background information on key issues, an in-depth look at issues for the 2021 legislative session, talking points and tips for you to use with legislators, and IASB resources that will help you advocate on behalf of your district.

View Advocacy Guide