Iowa Senate File 167 would expand the ability to work for young Iowans between the ages of 14 and 18. Part of the bill pertains to school work-study programs. One provision reads:
“A business that accepts a secondary student in a work-based learning program shall not be subject to civil liability for any claim for bodily injury to the student or sickness or death by accident of the student arising from the business’s negligent act or omission during the student’s participation in the work-based learning program at the business or worksite.”
I don’t see any good reason to grant this immunity to businesses for their own negligence. Of course, businesses would like this immunity, but what they would like does not make it the right thing to do. This provision should be taken out of the bill.
Recently, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported that a ninth-grade teacher in the Iowa City school district was teaching her students about the enormous challenges faced by freed slaves in 1865. She assigned her students to put themselves in the place of a freed slave and write four sentences about difficulties they would have faced, given that they were illiterate and had only known slavery. A student of color in the online class was “uncomfortable” with the assignment and her mother didn’t want to let, “one soul make you uncomfortable for who you are.”. The district put the teacher on administrative leave because of her actions. The mother is demanding that the teacher apologize. A spokesperson said the district “does not support and will not tolerate this type of instruction.” The teacher’s intentions were good – and that matters! The student, parent, and school district could have taken the opposite position: That going through an uncomfortable situation can make us mentally stronger and more resilient. Which approach has the better result?
Link to Press-Citizen article: https://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/2020/09/18/iowa-city-schools-teacher-leave-slavery-assignment-racism-race-education/5818146002/
School districts in Iowa are lobbying hard to extend the SAVE one percent sale tax that goes to fund school infrastructure. The current tax does not end until 2029! Why do school districts want to extend the tax now, when they still have tax money coming in for about 11 more years? It is because they have already spend all of their future sales tax revenues through bonding. Many metropolitan school districts already have beautiful facilities, and several central Iowa school districts just passed school bond referendums to pay for additional new facilities. We now need to get back to letting the individual school districts, and their own taxpayers, decide whether or not they need additional tax money. Contact your state legislators and urge them to oppose this future tax increase.
The Iowa House of Representatives should definitely not pass HF 230 – to extend the school infrastructure sales tax for another 21 years – to 2050!
In 1998, we were told that the 1% local option tax for school infrastructure would be temporary – for 10 years. In 2008 the temporary tax was changed from a local option to a state-wide sales tax, and was extended for another 22 years – to expire in 2029. Even though we still have 12 years left of the tax, school districts are pressuring the legislature to extend the tax for an additional 21 years!
Why would they want to do this? Because years ago, they borrowed against the future taxes and have already spent the taxes that will be collected during the remaining 12 years. If the tax is extended again, you can bet that some school districts will again quickly borrow against the future taxes and spend the money decades before the taxes are collected.
Do we really need this much money for school infrastructure. Some school districts might need the money, but it appears that many school districts are flush with money and already have excellent facilities. We really should wait until 2029, then allow local school districts have their own local option tax if the local taxpayers believe there is still a need.
In his essay in the Des Moines Regiser, T.J. Foley made at least two errors in the conclusions he drew from the statistics he used in his essay opposing changes in collective bargaining as it applies to teachers. (See link below.)
First, assuming it is true that test scores are higher in schools with unionized teachers, he provided no evidence that the existence of unions is the cause of higher test scores. It very well may be that unions are more often present in larger cities with higher incomes and larger schools, and that the higher scores are caused by those factors rather than the fact that a union is present.
Second, assuming it is true that the average teacher in Iowa earns 7% less than median household income in Iowa, that statistic is meaningless. Teachers are individuals and many households have more than one earner. Comparing individuals to households is simply not valid.
It is very difficult to say whether it would be better or worse for students if teachers lose some of their collective bargaining power. T.J. Foley’s essay did not clarify that issue.
The cost of a four year degree, even at our public universities, has gone up much even faster than medical care. For many college graduates, their post-graduate pay does not justify the amount of student debt that they accumulated.
Similar to community colleges, our public four-year universities should offer certificate programs that focus on specific skills, take less time, and cost less. The certificate should indicate that the student has specific specific skills that employers demand, without the extra classes, time and cost of a broad, liberal four year degree. If desired, students could live on campus and gain some of the non-classroom experience and relationships that colleges offer. This could go a long way towards lowering the cost of college while providing a college education.
President Obama is proposing that we, the taxpayers, pay for two years of community college for everyone who wants it and who meets relatively easy minimum requirements. The plan would save each student, (and cost taxpayers), about $3,800 per year. The total cost over 10 years for the estimated 9 million students for two years each would be about $60 billion.
The idea is bad for at least two reasons:
First, philosophically, under what circumstances should the force of government be used to require all taxpayers to pay for the benefit of a relative few? We are already paying for pre-school, primary, and secondary education for all children. We pay for health care for all of the poor, plus we subsidize health insurance for many others. We subsidize housing, energy, and food costs for the poor. To the extent that these things are provided for children and people who are incapable of providing for themselves, it may be morally defensible to use the force of government to require everyone to contribute. But to the extent that we are talking about adults who have reasonably normal capability, it is not. These kinds of policies not only weaken people’s ability to be independently responsible for their own lives, they also reinforce a belief and expectation that more government spending is the appropriate solution to every human problem.
Second, practically, why won’t a large majority of students currently bound for four year colleges want to do their first two years at a community college for free? The projection of 9 million students might be extremely underestimated. What happens if enrollment of freshmen and sophomores plummets in both public and private four year universities? How will they handle extreme down-sizing?
This proposal seems like a recipe for disaster. There will be many more unintended negative consequences if we adopt such a policy. We shouldn’t.