Pressure is mounting to end Iowa's reign as the only state without uniform school standards, according to some lawmakers.
"Basically, the bottom line is the children," said Sen. Mike Connolly, D-Dubuque, co-chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Connolly addressed the issue Friday during a taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press." He said the state needs to take control of the education system because there is a large disparity in standards between local districts.
"Obviously you want local input," he said. "But the state Department of Education needs to put forward rigorous statewide standards out there. We need accountability out there. We are slipping in funding and we are slipping in performance on the tests."
Connolly's views were shared by Rep. Jody Tymeson, R-Winterset, chair of the House Education Committee. But Tymeson said she wants to hear the public's opinion before any changes are made.
"If I was to lean one direction today, I would say that is probably the way for us to go," she said of setting statewide standards.
Tymeson said she opposes combining districts, but would support the sharing of advanced math and science teachers between schools. She said she also wants more districts to provide advanced placement courses so students can earn early college credits.
Tymeson said her committee will consider legislation asking Iowa's regent universities to reconsider policies of automatically admitting Iowa students who rank in the top half of their classes. She said universities should focus on other standards when determining admission.
The lawmakers also discussed the education department's proposal that would require students-athletes to pass all classes to remain eligible for sports.
The proposal is awaiting another vote from the education board and a review from the Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee. If approved, the proposal could take effect July 1.
Tymeson called the idea "problematic." Connolly, a member of the rules panel, said he expects the proposal will be stalled and that it won't be implemented in the summer.