# Jason Glass

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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Ethics board dismisses complaints against Brent Rastetter and Jason Glass

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on Thursday dismissed ethics complaints filed against Environmental Protection Commission member Brent Rastetter and Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass. Rastetter had been accused of a conflict of interest related to his factory farm construction business. The complaint against Glass focused on an all-expenses-paid trip to Brazil, which he took in September.

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Branstad's team reveal education plans, but not price tag

Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass and Governor Terry Branstad’s senior education adviser Linda Fandel rolled out a blueprint for reforming Iowa schools yesterday. The plan didn’t include any big ideas not mentioned by Glass and Fandel a few weeks ago. It also didn’t estimate how much state government and/or school districts would need to spend to make the blueprint a reality.

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Branstad to seek new teacher pay system for Iowa (updated)

New Iowa teachers would no longer receive automatic raises based on years of experience or post-graduate degrees under an education reform proposal to be revealed in the coming weeks. Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass and Governor Terry Branstad’s special adviser on education, Linda Fandel, shared the outlines of the proposed changes with journalists yesterday.

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Branstad to leave preschool program alone for now

Governor Terry Branstad won’t push for major changes in the state’s universal voluntary preschool program for four-year-olds during the next two years, according to Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass. While taping Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program on July 28, Glass said the governor had decided “to move past this debate” on whether preschool should be universal or targeted to needy families. Branstad’s communications director Tim Albrecht confirmed to Mike Wiser the same day,

“Now that preschool funding is in place, Gov. Branstad does not believe a preschool funding debate should overshadow a meaningful debate on how to again make Iowa’s schools the best in the country,” Albrecht wrote in a follow-up email. “Now that Gov. Branstad has allocated funding for preschool over the next two years, he does not desire this settled issue to get in the way of our education reform goals.”

That is the smartest thing Branstad has done all week.  

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Rejected Branstad nominee lands state education job

The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate has rejected only two of Governor Terry Branstad’s nominees this year. One of them, former Department of Human Rights Director Isaiah McGee, started a new job Friday as education program consultant for achievement gaps and student equity at the Iowa Department of Education. Controversy surrounding McGee’s instructions to Human Rights staff and members of certain state commissions hurt the nominee with Senate Democrats. He fell a few votes short of confirmation. McGee stayed in his position at Human Rights until today; state law allows rejected nominees to keep serving for 60 days after the failed confirmation vote. State Department of Education Director Jason Glass “sought out” and offered McGee his new job as a program consultant, Branstad told journalists today. Glass commented,

“I am excited Isaiah will be joining us, because he has numerous talents and knowledge that will benefit the people of Iowa,” Glass said. “He is the exact right person for this job, as we need to continually serve the needs of all students in Iowa. Isaiah is passionate about education and will offer thoughtful solutions to the challenges we face in our educational system, and work to see those solutions through.”

Branstad hasn’t named a permanent director for the Department of Human Rights. Today he appointed Danielle Plogmann as interim director. She handled communications for the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2010 election cycle and early this year, until McGee hired her in March to be his executive assistant. Speaking to reporters today, Branstad twice described Plogmann as “loyal”:

“She has worked there, in the department, and I wanted to have somebody that I thought was loyal and somebody that I thought would work well with everybody.” […]

Branstad is interviewing candidates to take over as the director of the Department of Human Rights and he does not anticipate that Plogmann will be more than a temporary agency chief.

“I think this will be fairly short term,” Branstad said. “But I think she is somebody that I think is loyal and competant and can do the job in the short term and we will have a permanent director named in the near future.”

I’m not clear on what Plogmann’s loyalty (to the governor? to McGee’s vision? to Republican values?) has to do with managing the Department of Human Rights. I hope Branstad appoints a permanent director with a bit more relevant experience.

In related news, this week the governor named Michael Mullins to the Iowa Court of Appeals. Mullins is a registered Republican and has served as a District Court judge since 2002. He replaces Edward Mansfield, whom Branstad appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in February. Mullins was also on the short list of Iowa Supreme Court candidates the State Judicial Nominating Commission sent to the governor.

Incidentally, one of Branstad’s appointees to the State Judicial Nominating Commission was the other person Iowa Senate Democrats declined to confirm. Branstad’s replacement pick for that position was Jim Kersten, whom the Senate unanimously confirmed last month. A Fort Dodge native, Kertsen served as a Republican member of the Iowa House and Iowa Senate and also as an assistant to Branstad during his earlier tenure as governor. Kersten currently works as Associate Vice President of Development and Government Relations at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. He recently was one of seven heavy-hitting Iowa Republicans who flew to New Jersey to encourage Governor Chris Christie to run for president.

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Iowa Senate may reject two Branstad appointees (updated)

The Iowa Senate confirmed six of Governor Terry Branstad’s appointees to state offices and boards yesterday, but Democratic senators indicated that two of the governor’s picks may not receive the two-thirds vote needed in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, Branstad suggested at his weekly press conference that race may be a factor in opposition to Isaiah McGee as director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights.

Follow me after the jump for more on who was confirmed yesterday and the battles coming later this week.

UPDATE: On April 12 the Senate rejected McGee as well as William Gustoff, one of Branstad’s appointees to the state Judicial Nominating Commission. Senators confirmed Teresa Wahlert with two votes to spare and three members of the Environmental Protection Commission. Details on the April 12 votes are below.

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