Education

Milken Family Foundation

A teacher in a small school district in southern Iowa is one of 44 teachers nationwide to receive a Milken Educator Award this year. It’s her job to train other teachers.

Joni Readout is an instructional coach at Central Decatur middle school and high school in Leon. She works with about 15 other district teachers to help improve their classroom work. Her efforts were noticed by the Milken Family Foundation, which honors teacher excellence each year.

Image courtesy of IPTV

Music is a powerful medium, allowing us to access and experience an entire spectrum of feelings. For children, music is an important educational tool as well, and all too often, children's music has a tendency to become bland. Host of IPTV's Kids Club Dan Wardell and musician Jim Sieck are on a mission to create interesting kids music, while also teaching them valuable lessons. One song in particular teaches kids about the alphabet.

Doc Searls

Iowa City public schools will stop using small, padded seclusion rooms by the start of the next school year.

The decision—announced Tuesday—comes after a state investigation found some improper use of these rooms and ordered the district to make changes. Schools use the rooms to temporarily isolate students who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

Iowa City Community School District Superintendent Stephen Murley says the district’s goal is to move away from using these tiny rooms for seclusion.

Photo submitted

Michelle Droe is the music teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls, Iowa. For a long time her students and colleagues have known that she’s a remarkable teacher, but now she’s receiving national recognition for her work. She’s a semi-finalist for a music educator Grammy award.

One special exercise Droe does involves sixth grade students pretending to be street musicians.  They work with a partner or come up with a performance on their own. 

John Pemble / IPR

A lawsuit against the Board of Regents in the recruiting and hiring of the University of Iowa president has been dismissed.

The lawsuit accused five current and former regents of breaking the state’s open meetings law by scheduling private meetings to recruit UI President Bruce Harreld. The regents asked the court dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that a majority of the board was never present at the same time during the back-to-back meetings on one day in 2015.

The court has sided with the regents.

ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Iowa State University’s new president is Wendy Wintersteen.

She’s been in various roles at Iowa State for nearly 40-years. She is currently Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the Ames campus.

Wintersteen, 61, becomes the first woman to hold Iowa State’s  presidency.

Iowa’s Board of Regents interviewed the three finalists  in closed sessions Monday, then in open session it voted unanimously to make Wintersteen Iowa State’s sixteenth president.

Sarah Boden/IPR

A group of state attorneys general, including Iowa's Tom Miller, are suing U.S. Education Sec. Betsy DeVos and her department for what they say is a failure to enforce a rule that protects student borrowers from predatory for-profit schools.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Dyslexia is a condition in the brain that makes it hard to read, write, and spell. It's the most common learning disability in children, but it can be difficult to diagnose and manage. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, dyslexia affects anywhere from 5-20 percent of the population depending on the severity of definitions. 

A suburban Des Moines school district says it will resume tomorrow after it canceled classes today due to threatening text messages that were anonymously sent to a number of students and parents.

The texts were received last night from a number with a 818 area code, which is used in Los Angeles County, CA.

Image courtesy of the University of Iowa After Class

A new honors seminar at the University of Iowa entitled "The Green Room" is more than just a class. It's a community-wide educational experiment. In addition to the 80 students participating, The Green Room has expanded its reach to hundreds of community members. 

Dave Gould, an administrator for the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa, is behind The Green Room.

stevepb/CC0CreativeCommons

The first test of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law concluded yesterday, with recertification votes ending for 13 Iowa schools and community colleges.   

When ballots were all counted, bargaining units in all 13 schools were recertified with nearly 1300 teachers and faculty overwhelmingly endorsing their union representation.

The new law set a high bar for teachers to continue to be represented by unions.   In the end more than 1100 yes votes were cast, with only 27 teachers voting no.  

Iowa State University
Wikimedia Commons

Iowa’s public universities are asking the state for a $12 million funding increase next fiscal year. The additional money would be committed to resident undergraduate student financial aid.

The request is intended to help with some of the tuition increases that Iowa’s public universities proposed this summer. State-level cuts to higher education funding triggered those proposals.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Teachers in some Iowa school districts and community colleges will find out this week whether they will continue to be represented by a union.  

It’s part of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law that makes it harder for public sector unions to operate in the state.    

Wartburg College

After 166 years of offering only undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts, Wartburg College is beginning a master’s program in 2018. The first graduate-level degree for the school in Waverly will be in music therapy.

Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers

Students at Grinnell College are looking to expand the reach of the nation’s only independent undergraduate student workers union. They want the labor organization representing dining hall workers to cover all student workers on campus.

The Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers has negotiated contracts for undergraduate dining hall workers since the spring of 2015. In that time, it says wages have increased 12 percent. A spokesman for the union, Carter Howe, says now is the time to represent all student workers on Grinnell’s campus.

Jeff Peterson / Flickr

Iowa Public Radio is airing several American Public Media documentaries in place of River to River, in the brief absence of the show's host, Ben Kieffer.

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

Iowa has submitted a new school accountability plan to the federal government as part of replacing the No Child Left Behind Act.

Iowa’s proposed plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act—passed in 2015—includes state-specific academic goals and methods of supporting struggling schools.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Grand View University on the east side of Des Moines is launching an effort to better connect with the school’s surrounding neighborhoods. The project is the result of dozens of meetings with community leaders over the past year.

The initiative is being called the Views Forward Project. Grand View will work with four of the Capital City’s oldest neighborhoods – Highland Park, Union Park, Capitol Park and Martin Luther King, Jr., Park. The pastor at Union Park Baptist Church, Wes Foster, says the ultimate goal is east side pride.

Grand View University

A five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education is coming to Grand View University in Des Moines to train English Language Learner instructors. Grand View will be working with six school districts across the state.

Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids is experiencing a surge in the number of students enrolled in its high school completion programs. The school is putting out a call for volunteer tutors to help manage the load.

The overall number of students served by the programs has increased by 4.6 percent in the past year. This includes higher enrollments of those seeking high school equivalency diplomas and ESL students. The director of the programs, Marcel Kielkucki, says most are trying to improve their standing in a strong economy.

Dean Borg/IPR

The Iowa Board of Regents hopes to persuade Iowa legislators to substantially increase state appropriations to the three state universities, but is developing its own plan for halting what regents contend is underfunding.

Referring to the Legislature, Regent Larry McKibben, a former state senator now heading a regents committee on tuition said, “I’m not going to sit around and worry about what they’re going to do in January. I’m going to lead a project that makes change.”  McKibben says he considers the current regents board a “change agent.”  He said he doesn’t know the outcome.

Iowa State University news service

Iowa State University is using a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to lead an initiative aimed at drawing more students of color into mathematics. Assistant math professor Michael Young will oversee the effort. He says few blacks and Hispanics are attracted to mathematics because they don’t see anyone who looks like them in the field.

“I went through college and graduate school, almost 10 years of schooling, and I never saw a black mathematician,” he says.

Young is looking to change what he sees in his own classroom.

Kim Whitley-Gaynor / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

The 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Shelley Vroegh, often cites an article written for new teachers that compares teachers to marigolds. She says that if you plant marigolds near vegetables, they are going to make those vegetables thrive. She adds that it's important for teachers to ask themselves what qualities are going to help other teachers thrive.

The article also talks about how walnut trees are poisonous and you don't want to plant near them.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

The state’s largest teachers union is reaching out to teachers and other employees in 14 Iowa school districts and community colleges where critical recertification votes will take place next month.  

The voting is mandated by Iowa’s new collective bargaining law that went into effect this year.        

For all public sector workers including teachers, the new law requires regular votes to stay unionized which used to be automatic.

Daniel Go/Flickr

Students returned to school this week at Des Moines Public Schools, and it’s the first year the district offers all elementary school students breakfast at no charge.

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

Early voting is underway on a $191.5 million bond question for the Iowa City Community School District.

It is considered the largest K-12 bond in state history, and it is supposed to fund the district’s "Facilities Master Plan."

Kate Moreland is a parent who has been advocating for the bond. She says she is excited for all the schools to be made accessible for students with disabilities, and for the installation of air conditioning.

Student Voice

A group of students is gathering in Des Moines to talk about the future of education. They want to be part of the conversation about educational priorities.          

A nonprofit called the Iowa Student Learning Institute is behind the meeting among students, community leaders and legislators. Ian Coon co-founded the institute when he was in high school. Now a sophomore at Wartburg College, Coon says students need to be included when talk turns to education.

Flickr / Max Goldberg

Iowa’s governor says proposed undergraduate tuition increases at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are too much. 

The schools in Iowa City and Ames are suggesting they raise costs by at least 7 percent annually for the next five years. These increases would mean that by 2022, tuition at UI and ISU would be more than 40 percent higher compared to what students currently pay.

The state Board of Regents asked the schools to look at tuition costs after the state cut funding by more than $30 million due to a statewide budget shortfall. 

bruce harreld
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The University of Iowa is proposing a 7.08 percent tuition increase in each of the next five years. The school presented its plan Monday to the Board of Regents’ Tuition Task Force.

Drake University

Fifty students of color from the Des Moines public schools are on Drake University’s campus this week preparing for college. It’s an effort to draw more minorities into higher education.

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