Iowa political reaction to the Sandy Hook school massacre (updated)

The horrific mass killing at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Connecticut has dominated news coverage since Friday, and almost everyone I know has been talking about the tragedy. But only a few Iowa politicians have publicly discussed the events or possible ways to prevent similar crimes.

Remarks by Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Dave Loebsack, State Senator Rob Hogg, and Governor Terry Branstad are after the jump. I’m disappointed but not surprised that the governor is not open to any new restrictions on assault weapons or large ammunition clips. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who like Branstad has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, today called for moving “beyond rhetoric” on gun control. His comments are also below.

I’ve sought comment from other members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation and will update this post if I hear back from any of them. UPDATE: Added Representative Bruce Braley’s comments below.

SECOND UPDATE: Added Senator Chuck Grassley’s comments during a December 17 radio interview.

LATER UPDATE: Added comments from Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass.

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Iowa Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit news roundup

More than 1,100 people attended the Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit in Des Moines yesterday. To his credit, Governor Terry Branstad stayed all day to listen to speakers like Sioux City Superintendent of Schools Paul Gausman and Rosalind Wiseman, author of the book “Queen Bees and Wannabes.” The governor also announced a new hotline and website designed to help young people targeted by bullies.

I was unable to watch the livestream from what sounds like a fantastic event. After the jump I’ve posted a bunch of news and links about the summit as well as background on Iowa’s anti-bullying policies.  

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Education Department grants Iowa temporary break on No Child Left Behind

The U.S. Department of Education has approved “one-year freeze of the target increases that schools are held to under the federal No Child Left Behind Act,” Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass announced on July 2. Iowa had requested the one-year freeze last week, shortly after federal education officials denied Iowa’s application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

After the jump I’ve posted statements from Glass with more details and comments on the latest development, along with reaction from Iowa Senate Education Committee Chair Herman Quirmbach. I also added the statement announcing members of the new Instructional Time Task Force, created under Senate File 2284, the education reform bill approved at the end of the legislative session.

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Blame game ensues as feds deny Iowa waiver from No Child Left Behind

The U.S. Department of Education recently denied Iowa’s request for a waiver from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, which went into effect in 2002. Late last week, Governor Terry Branstad and members of his administration traded accusations with Iowa Senate Education Committee Chair Herman Quirmbach over the eternal political questions “What’s to be done?” and “Who’s to blame?”

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Who's teaching the kids? The corporate takeover

(The school districts are Clayton Ridge, covering Guttenberg and Garnavillo in Clayton County, and CAM, covering Cumberland, Anita, and Massena in Cass County. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

A recent DMR article highlighted the growing scam of for-profit corporations using tax dollars to provide substandard education via online learning.

Two companies are advertising on television in Iowa to have parents sign up their children for “free” online education (at public expense.) The companies, K12 Inc, and the Iowa Connections Academy, are exploiting a loophole in Iowa's open enrollment law. Two small school districts have signed agreements with the companies. Parents from anywhere in the state can open-enroll their children to one of those districts. The districts then will turn in their enrollment to the state and receive state money as if the students were enrolled full time in the district. Ninety-seven percent of the state money is then passed along to the companies. The students will receive 100% of their “education” online. 

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