Len Matthews / Flickr

In high school, Nick Seymour never saw himself doing stand-up, but once when he got the opportunity to take a class in comedy at Iowa State, he figured it'd be a fun way to spend a semester.

"At the beginning, I didn’t know there’d be a performance associated with it. The teacher shocked us all the first day with that information. Everyone freaked out for awhile."

Photo by John Pemble

The new University of Iowa president, Bruce Harreld, says his biggest challenge in his new job is building trust across the entire UI community. Harreld’s first day was last week. The former IBM Executive faced scrutiny before he was selected for the job for how the search was conducted. Harreld says right now his job is to listen. / Flickr

Iowa is facing a shortage of middle-skill workers, including those in the fields of nursing, welding, and manufacturing.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with people pushing for more technical and career training from the high school level onward, including Waterloo Community School District Superintendent Jane Lindaman and Dave Bunting, a longtime educator at Kirkwood Community College.

Fairfield Community School District

The 2016 Teacher of the Year in Iowa is a 35-year veteran of the profession. 

Fairfield High School English teacher Scott Slechta was introduced as the latest Teacher of the Year during a school assembly.

The 57-year-old has been teaching in the southeast Iowa town since 1984.

Slechta reflects on what the recognition means at this stage of his career.

“New opportunities, new doors opened," he says. "I always think there are points in my career when I kind of look for something new and adventuresome, and I’m sure this journey will offer both of those things.

Univ. of Colorado

Nervous about how your son or daughter will do at the big university?  Now, what if she found this assignment on her syllabus: "Understand Batman as an historically and culturally specific character," with one lecture called "Batman: The Long Halloween."  Or how about this assignment: "Does Harry Potter have a role in shaping your decision-making?"  Or this essay assignment: "Loyalty and Wit: Friendship and the Formation of Dumbledore's Army."

Boys Town National Research Hospital / Skip Kennedy

The greater degree a child’s hearing loss, the harder it is for that child to keep up with normal-hearing peers. But a new study by the University of Iowa, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, shows hearing aids can make a big difference.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A group of students in the Des Moines Public Schools are using art and poetry to address some of the nation’s most divisive social issues, such as racial divisions and immigrant rights. It’s in a course called Urban Leadership.

Sixteen-year old Jalesha Johnson has collected her thoughts on the plight of refugees in the form of a poem.

“This is us living the American dream.". she reads. "This is every migrant who never woke up, I wonder if the ships start sinking because they can’t hold all of that hope .”

THQ Insider / Flickr

Russ Laczniak has no doubt in his mind that video games are linked to increased behavioral problems. A professor of marketing at Iowa State University, he was still left with the question of how and if parents could change those consumption habits.

"We basically wanted to see how their tendencies, in terms of dealing with raising their children, might influence their children's ultimate play of violent video games. We did a national sample of approximately 230 parents. We talked to parents and children."

Penguin Random House

Banker, lecturer and co-author of the new book "A Path Appears; Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity," Sheryl WuDunn, was invited to Des Moines to share her ideas from the front lines of social progress with participants in the "Borlaug Dialogue" of the World Food Prize.

Fewer students than usual attended classes at West High School in Iowa City today because of an alleged threat. West High principal Gregg Shoultz says they received a report Friday of a post on Snapchat that included a picture of a gun and text about the high school.  He says officials met with the student who allegedly made made the threat, but the student never confirmed it. Shoultz says although there is no threat, many students opted to stay home today.

Courtesy of the Des Moines Register

Iowa has shuttered more than 4300 school districts since 1950 as a result of demographic changes in rural Iowa. What that means for residents and students in rural Iowa is highlighted in a new documentary “Lost Schools.”

A first-of-its-kind report out released today found most community college students leave school with debts of less than ten-thousand dollars.  But it also finds those who borrow the least are the most likely to default.

The executive dean of student services at Des Moines Area Community College, Laurie Wolf, contributed to the report. She says there may be a simple reason why students default on loan debts as small as 500-dollars.

University of Iowa photo

A group representing faculty in the University of Iowa’s Liberal Arts College is censuring the UI’s incoming president, Bruce Harreld.

Language and Cultures Professor Russ Ganim chaired the Faculty Assembly, a group representing the broader Liberal Arts faculty. He says censuring President-select Harreld isn’t meant to humiliate.

“The purpose was not to embarrass anyone,” he said.  “The purpose was to reaffirm our core values. First and foremost of those values being intellectual honesty. And academic integrity.

Huffington Post

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says Congress has its best chance since 2009 to fix the No Child Left Behind education law.

The House and Senate have passed different versions of a revised law.

The Republican-backed House bill allows parents to opt out of federal testing requirements and academic standards.

The Senate version retains the annual reading and math tests required under current law but give states latitude on how to use them.

Education Secretary Duncan says he has two other areas he wants addressed in a reauthorized law.

Joyce Russell/IPR

President Barack Obama Monday spent more than an hour in conversation with students, teachers and parents at North High School in Des Moines, talking about how to make college more affordable.

The president urged students and their parents to do everything they can to win some of the 150 billion dollars in annual federal student aid each year to avoid big debt on graduation, and to use new federal tools to rank schools for quality and affordability. 

No Child Left Behind

The Iowa Department of Education issued its required annual report card on the federal No Child Left Behind law Thursday.

It shows more than 65 percent of the state’s schools are in need of assistance. 

Education Director Ryan Wise says the law’s requirement that all students meet annual yearly progress in reading and math is unrealistic.

Iowa Digital Library / Flickr

From one room country schools to high tech multi-million dollar facilities, schools in Iowa have changed a lot. What goes on inside the schools has changed a lot too.

“Every decade or two we see these large transformations in what the school is asked to do."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe kicks off "Iowa Week: Then and Now" with a look at education in Iowa over the years.

Flickr / SD Dirk

Both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa report record-breaking enrollment for their freshmen classes. 6,231 first-year Cyclones and 5,241 Hawkeyes are registered for the 2015 fall semester.

Tuition is going up next semester at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, but remains frozen at the University of Iowa.

The state Board of Regents has voted to hike tuition by three percent on the Ames and Cedar Falls campuses. 

The vote came after Iowa State and UNI student leaders from those campuses supported the tuition increase.  But, UI student body president Liz Mills said the mid-year tuition increase would shock some student budgets.

That resonated with Regent Patricia Cownie of Des Moines.

The University of Iowa’s Faculty Senate has approved a motion expressing ‘no confidence’ in the Iowa Board of Regents.

Tuesday afternoon’s action that followed a two-hour frustration-laced debate is the latest expression from the Iowa City campus, following the Regents’ hiring of business executive Bruce Harreld as the University’s new president.

Senate President and Law Professor, Christina Bohannan, told the faculty she’s heartbroken.

University of Iowa photo

The Iowa Board of Regents has hired Bruce Harreld as its 21st president.  The Board has unanimously approved him to replace Sally Mason, who retired last month.  Harreld is a former IBM executive and Harvard Business School Faculty member.

Harreld was the only one among the four finalists for the UI presidency who was not already leading a college or university.  At his public forum in Iowa City Tuesday, many people challenged his qualifications to head a major university.  Many others on campus have questioned the quality of the search firm that vetted candidates for the job.

Flickr / David Wilson

Enrollment in Denison community schools will likely drop this year, which means a potential loss of tens of thousands of dollars in state funding. 

On Friday, Crawford County’s second largest employer announced layoffs of 400 workers. Tyson Foods says it will "permanently cease" beef production at its Denison plant due to a "continued lack of available cattle." 

Photo by John Pemble

There is no shortage of veterinarians for house pets, but in some rural areas of the United States there aren’t enough veterinarians to go around for livestock.  A program called Vet Camp at the Iowa State Fair recognizes this problem and it is doing something to encourage youth to explore veterinary medicine on the farm as a career. 

The controversy flaring over state funding for Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools is focusing on Governor Terry Branstad’s veto of legislation that would have given schools an extra, one-time, $55-million appropriation during this fiscal year.

Forest City school superintendent, Darwin Lehmann, is feeling the fiscal squeeze.  He says his district is spending more than the state is increasing the district’s state aid.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 About 20 inner-city Des Moines middle school students spent the past week learning about flight at a special summer camp sponsored by Iowa State University. It was part of an effort to bring science and art together into one educational package. 

On a breezy morning outside the Grubb Y-M-C-A on Des Moines’s near north side, the project leader of the DAVinCI Flight Camp, Chris Whitmer, is giving some final instructions before takeoff.

“Before you throw, one last check, does it balance?" he asks the students. "You might want to wait until the wind goes a little bit down.”

Iowa State University President Steven Leath is receiving a five-percent pay increase, boosting his annual salary to $525, 000.

At its meeting in Ames, the State Board of Regents also extended Leath’s Iowa State appointment to 2020. 

During that five-years, Leath also will receive an extra $125,000 in deferred compensation,.

The Regents also approved boosting University of Northern Iowa President William Ruud’s pay by two-and-one-half-percent. He’ll now be paid $348,000 annually, with an extra $75,000  in deferred compensation through 2017.

TruckPR / Flickr

The Iowa Board of Regents is calling for a three percent tuition increase in the spring for Iowa’s public universities. Such an increase would break the tuition freeze on resident tuition from the past 2.5 years.

On this River to River segment, Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa State University President Steven Leath to talk about college affordability and other concerns in higher education.

The committee evaluating candidates for the University of Iowa’s next President is moving into the process final stages.

In a telephone conference this afternoon, the Search Committee heard from a representative of the Parker Executive Search, President Laurie Wilder.  She told the committee forty-four individuals had submitted material for consideration.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Education and landing a job are inextricably linked in the minds of most Americans, but after the Great Recession it wasn't as clear whether getting a college diploma meant getting, and keeping, a job.

Saba Ali, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Iowa, says that while statistics bear out the correlation between college degrees and higher paying employment, the question of whether college prepares students to do their jobs well is more nuanced.

West Midlands Police / Flickr

The Burlington Community School district is among the first in the nation to outfit administrators at each of the district's eight school buildings with body cameras. The district is already outfitted with fixed cameras, which Superintendent Pat Coen says have proven useful.