The Courtney Report

Courtney Report

This fall, I will be working with 10 of my fellow legislators on the Medical Malpractice Study Committee. We will study current standards and potential options in medical malpractice actions, including the number of expert witnesses that may be called.

I will also serve on a committee studying the issues associated with claims that stray electric current or voltage is affecting dairy cattle milk production. And on the Public Retirement Systems Committee, we will review and evaluate all public retirement systems in place in Iowa.

On these committees, we will examine relevant data, look at what is working in other states, hear from experts and offer recommendations to be considered during the 2014 session of the Iowa Legislature.

If you have suggestions to share on these topics, please e-mail me. I welcome your input.

~~ Tom

Contact Tom
CAPITOL:
Iowa Statehouse
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-281-3371

HOME:
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
319-759-5334

tom.courtney@legis.iowa.gov

www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/courtney

STARTING A PROMISING SCHOOL YEAR FOR IOWA STUDENTS
With the start of a new school year, students of all ages are returning to Iowa classrooms. Some exciting changes await them, as the education reforms we approved during the 2013 session raise standards, improve teaching and encourage innovation.

What can we expect to see at our K-12 schools?

1. Greater investment. After several lean years, basic state aid to local schools was increased by 4 percent this year, and will jump by another 4 percent next year. This is the money our schools use to pay salaries, buy textbooks, gas up the buses and more.

2. Higher standards. Iowa schools will get the support they need to significantly raise student achievement. Iowa has slipped to 15th in nation when it comes to education, according to this year’s national Kids County survey. That’s a trend we’re all eager to turn around.

3. Stronger teaching. We’re improving teaching by recruiting, encouraging and rewarding great teachers. Iowa’s minimum starting teacher salary will increase from $28,000 to $33,500. In addition, schools will receive more funding if they create “leadership pathways” for teachers who agree to coach others.

4. Personal attention. Young learners will get the one-on-one attention they need to become good readers thanks to smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third-grade.

5. More innovation. Iowa schools will keep exploring new approaches in the teaching of science, technology and math, which are key to giving our state a competitive edge in the world economy.

These education reforms are getting praise from parents, teachers and business leaders alike. According to a recent Iowa Poll, most Iowans think boosting salaries and adding new leadership positions for teachers will have a positive effect on student learning. The Iowa State Education Association believes the changes will benefit students and schools by providing a reliable funding stream to plan for class sizes, course offerings and technology needs.

The Des Moines Business Record called education reform one of the top legislative wins for business this year, and local chambers of commerce have said it will contribute to workforce development and stronger outcomes for students.

ENCOURAGING STUDENTS TO BE ACTIVE CITIZENS
As a state senator, I enjoy talking with all my constituents, but it is a special privilege to meet with young people getting involved in our democracy for the first time. I give students and teachers a firsthand look at how our laws are made when they come to the Statehouse. I also go to their schools to see what they’re working on.

This year, I’ll be visiting local classrooms to meet with young constituents, answer questions, share ideas and listen to concerns. It’s a great way to give students—the nation’s future leaders—a glimpse of how representative democracy works, and to let them know that their ideas count.

If you’d like me to come to your school, please give me a call or send me an e-mail.

THE BEST TEACHERS FOR IOWA STUDENTS
A new online job posting system will help ensure Iowa students have the best teachers in their classrooms.

This year’s education reform legislation called on the Department of Education and the Board of Educational Examiners to launch a “Teach Iowa” website with all job openings in Iowa’s public schools, charter schools, Area Education Agencies, the Department of Education and the Board of Educational Examiners. Private schools may advertise their vacancies on the site as well.

The system connects employees with job openings and makes hiring and applying for jobs easy through an online process. Best of all, it is completely free to applicants and employers. While Teach Iowa centralizes the search for employers and employees, all hiring decisions remain local.

A quick glance at the Teach Iowa site today showed 797 job openings across the state for all types of positions— teachers, administrators, study hall associates, food service workers, bus drivers and more. Check it out at www.teachiowa.gov.

ENSURING A COLLEGE EDUCATION IS AFFORDABLE
Through this year’s Education Budget, we’re keeping tuition affordable at our colleges and universities so that more Iowans get the educational opportunities that lead to great jobs.

Because of action this session by the Legislature, students at Iowa’s state universities aren’t seeing a tuition increase for the first time in 30 years, as they head back to campus this fall. That’s especially good news for Iowa families when you consider that the average student graduating from one of our public universities has almost $27,000 in debt.

At Iowa’s private colleges and universities, many students take advantage of the Iowa Tuition Grant. This year, the Legislature approved enough state funding for the Iowa Tuition Grant to help more than 14,000 Iowa students get the college education that is right for them with a grant of up to $4,110. To qualify, a student must be an Iowa resident attending an Iowa independent, non-profit college or university and must demonstrate financial need based on federal Department of Education standards.

For more information on the Iowa Tuition Grant and other grants and scholarships for college, go to www.iowacollegeaid.gov and click on “Scholarships & Grants.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE
Teachers can gain real world experience

Real World Externships is a program for teachers to get the experience they need to show students how science, technology and math fit into real-world jobs. For five years, the Real World Externships Program has matched science, technology and math teachers with Iowa businesses for six weeks during the summer, allowing teachers to work side-by-side with their business world counterparts to see how school subjects are used in the workplace.

This is another great way to enhance the competitiveness of Iowa in a global economy, which is increasingly dependent upon science, technology and math talent. To learn more or to apply to for an externship, go to http://iowastem.gov/imsep/educators/externships.

Online driver’s license renewal now available

Nearly 284,000 Iowa drivers are now eligible to renew their driver’s license or ID online. Most Iowans will be able to renew their license at https://mymvd.iowadot.gov if they:

• Have a valid Iowa driver’s license or ID.
• Are between the ages of 18 and 70.
• Are a U.S. citizen.
• Do not have a condition that would affect their ability to drive.
• Do not need to change the address or name printed on the card.

Customers will be able to use the online system every other time they renew. Cards renewed online will contain the same photo that is on the current driver’s license or ID. Renewal periods and costs are the same regardless of how cards are renewed.

Seeking nominations for 2013 Iowa Nonprofit Awards

Through September 6, Iowans may submit nominations for the Iowa Nonprofit Awards, which recognize a variety of nonprofit organizations, professionals and volunteers for their work in making Iowa communities thrive. Award winners will be recognized during the Iowa Nonprofit Summit to be held Nov. 6-7 in Altoona. Nominations are accepted in several categories. Additional details and a link to the online nomination form are available at www.regonline.com/npsummit2013.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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