Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Iowa Core Speech to Legislature

I thought I'd share the speech that I delivered to the House and Senate members hearing public comment on House File 45. This file would eliminate the Iowa Core. Thank you for everyone's comment on the google doc that helped me generate these ideas. I focused on making sure the legislators knew that the Iowa Core was the "how" and "what" to teach based on the feedback you provided.

Good evening,
I am the Director of Teaching and Learning for Van Meter Schools, a K-12 district of 630 students just 20 miles west of this capitol. We are a 1:1 district where each of our students in grades 6-12 have a laptop computer. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you regarding the work of the Iowa Core.

The Iowa Core is often mistaken to be only the "what" to teach. Some see it only as a broad set of skills we want for the students of Iowa. Many don't know the "momentum, excitement and energy" (Dr. Brad Buck, Waukee Schools) starting to grow in our state around the significant pieces of the Core that deal with "how" to improve instruction for students.

Think about your profession, business fields and backgrounds. Was there a process for continual improvement in your industry? That's in the Iowa Core. The outcomes of implementing the work of the Iowa Core are focused on the continual improvement of schools around leadership, community, curriculum, collaboration and professional development. "It’s not just about making changes to what happens inside the walls of our schools, but also about reaching out to the community and getting their involvement in education. It’s a valuable piece of the Core that we have only begun to tap into." (Alynn Coppock, Newell-Fonda Schools).

As you consider the skills that make you a successful legislator, do you need to be creative? Communicate in a variety of ways to a variety of audiences? Do you need to be flexible? Critical thinkers? Those skills are in the Iowa Core. They are called the Universal Constructs. These are the 21st Century skills through which our students learn content (Lynn McCartney, AEA11)

As you first came into your position as a legislator, and I'm sure even now, you probably sought out information on how to be the most effective representative you could be. The Iowa Core has that too. For the first time in our state, educators have a common language to reflect upon the most effective strategies for learners and improve upon our practice.

Standards that over 40 other states have adopted are embedded into the curriculum of the Iowa Core as well. Determining "what" we will teach is an important part of the work that is being done in our state. The Iowa Core puts us well “ahead” of many other states because of this initiatives unique ability to tie the “what” and “how” together. (Matt Townsley, Solon Schools)

As we envision the future of education in our state, we recognize that our state has financial issues to consider and priorities to establish. If the Iowa Core goes away, it will be a clear message to every teacher in our state that our legislature believes nothing needs to change in the way we educate all of Iowa's children. I respectfully ask the legislature to help our state continue the work of the Iowa Core and make it a priority as you consider House File 45. There is always room for improvement. That is the work of the Iowa Core, and it must go on.