Dr. Roark Horn, AEA 267 Chief Administrator, recently sat down to share his perspectives regarding the recently released Education Reform Blueprint shared by Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and Iowa Department of Education Director, Dr. Jason Glass. In this podcast, Roark provides his perspectives on the plans in the reform, and more importantly, how he views the agency’s role in supporting it.
Along with addressing educational reform, Roark shares information about a white paper he recently developed with the help of Dr. E. Robert Stephens (widely considered to be the “father of Iowa’s AEAs” for his role in designing the system in the 1970’s) that addresses what would happen if AEAs were not in existence to provide services to the schools of Iowa. The document uses concrete evidence and statistics to illustrate the value of the AEA system and success of the “flow-through” model of funding. In the podcast, Roark sumarizes six “conjectures” that are supported by fact in the report:
Conjecture #1 – Most districts with enrollment of less than 2,500 would have great difficulty in replacing the level of support services and technical assistance they currently receive from their respective AEA’s. Approximately 90% of the districts in Iowa who enroll approximately 50% of the total student population would be included in this category.
Conjecture #2 – The options available to districts, who would be required to maintain these services, are limited; the few options available would likely require an added cost for those districts, as they would lose the efficiencies of the current system.
Conjecture #3 – The effect on Iowa’s accredited nonpublic schools would be similar to the effect on the state’s public schools – limited options that require an added cost, with the additional burden that they have no taxing authority to generate funds to support their efforts.
Conjecture #4 – The collective intellectual capital of the AEA State System, its shared competencies and skill sets, would be severely lessened, greatly diminishing opportunities for innovation, and handicap current AEA state-wide initiatives that already exist in the state.
Conjecture #5 – Iowa’s Department of Education would continue to be charged with state and federal mandates, but would not have the capacity of a regional system to provide support and technical assistance to local districts to help meet those mandates. No option available to them to do this would be as efficient and effective as the current AEA State System that is already in place.
Conjecture #6 – Long-held state goals for education, such as having an equitable, efficient, and effective state system for all of Iowa’s children, would be undermined.