Education

Photo Courtesy of Nate Sletten

Nate Sletten leads the band program at Earlham High School, and he has twice been nominated for a Grammy for Music Educator of the Year. This year, he was a semi-finalist, chosen in a group of 25 music educators from across the country. He did not win, but he’s done some amazing work building the band program in Earlham, in part by continuing to play in bands himself and letting students sit in with him. 

He says he chooses to stay in a rural district because of the relationships he has the opportunity to build there. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says he will not seek reappointment when his term expires at the end of April.  Rastetter has been on the board that governs the state’s public universities since 2011.  He was elected president in 2013.  In an interview on Iowa Public TV’s Iowa Press two weeks ago, Rastetter called his time on the board a “unique and challenging experience.”

The Des Moines School Board has become the first in the state to adopt so-called sanctuary resolutions for immigrant and refugee students.  The seven member board voted unanimously tonight to enact two resolutions. One would give staff guidance if immigration officials inquire about a student.

Mike Gatzke/flickr

There’s another effort underway at the statehouse to make sure student athletes in collision sports get proper evaluation in the event of a head injury.  

A bill to require a health care professional at every high school varsity football, soccer, or wrestling match got its first hearing of the year at the capitol today.   

Lawmakers are trying again to address the problem of student athletes going back into games instead of being sidelined after a head injury or possible concussion.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad proposes changing how the state provides health insurance for state employees.  In his Condition of the State message earlier this month, he proposed replacing more than 400 existing plans with one statewide contract.

“Just a few adverse health outcomes can destroy the budget of a city, county or school district,” Branstad said. “By replacing this system with one, comprehensive health-care contract, we can spread the risk and dramatically reduce costs.”

It’s a statement that is confusing to educators.

Des Moines Public Schools

Iowa’s K-12 school year is only about half-way over, but many districts around the state have begun the process of hiring for the 2017-2018 academic year. Des Moines Public Schools, the state’s largest district, says it plans to hire more than 100 teachers based on anticipated retirements and resignations. 

More than 10 percent of the new hires will be special education teachers. These instructors are particularly difficult to find, due to the various certifications within this area of teaching.

Learning to read music helps students in math and having a health outlet for creativity is part of what encourages innovative thinking.

Do students in Iowa have enough access to things like music lessons and art classes? Should arts education be a part of the Iowa Core in terms of curriculum? Some arts educators, including David Law, Executive Director of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, say "yes." There's been an unsuccessful push to make arts a part of the Iowa Core for the last decade.

Recipes for Success: Students Growing in the Kitchen and School

Nov 21, 2016
regan76 / Flickr

When we think about homework, tutoring and test preparation, we don’t usually think food.  However, a few Iowans are combining great food and education in an innovative approach for children to get better at school, communication skills, and making well balanced meals.

Elliot Test Kitchen in Fort Madison is a place where young people can go to learn about food, but they can also learn a whole lot more. Elliot Test Kitchen gives students access to tutoring in many different subjects and also ACT prep. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Officials with Governor Branstad’s administration say they hope to double the number of registered apprenticeships with Iowa employers over the next five years, part of their goal to get more Iowans into post high-school training and education.   

Under the program, trainees are paid to learn a trade or other job skills.    

Eighteen-year-old Josh Smith is working for Mid-American Energy while learning welding at Central Campus High School in Des Moines. 

pfkings / Wikimedia Commons

With rising student debt nationwide, career placement is often considered the most important marker of a successful stint at university. But Dave Gould, member of the honors faculty and administrator at the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, says pragmatic, salary-focused concerns can't be the only questions posed to students during their time in school.

University of Iowa Press

Between the 1930s and the 1960s, northern universities became a destination for black students from the south looking for the kinds of opportunities they didn't have access to back home.  The process of integrating Iowa's public universities was long and slow.  Black athletes and artists were among the first students to cross the academic color line in Iowa City.   This hour, we'll hear about a new book that tells the stories of many of the black students who were among the first to study at the University of Iowa.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Can you imagine moving to a new town and going to a new school where you can’t understand what anyone is saying? Thousands of students in Iowa have that experience every year. In fact, the number of English language learners in the state has increased by 452 percent in the last 20 years. 

Lia Plakans, who is an associate professor of education at the University of Iowa, says that many of those ELL students are coming to districts that are in more rural parts of the state. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

O.B Laing Middle School is just the latest abandoned school building to be repurposed. Conversions started long ago with antique one-room country schools. Lately it's full-sized structures getting a makeover. This two-story brick edifice was built 86 years ago. The old homerooms will re-open later this year as living rooms, with 29 apartments for rent.  Standing in the old office is former principal Greg Stewart, who now helps the developer manage the property.

WIKICOMMONS / Journal of the Iowa Geological Suvey, 1893-1918

The Iowa History Advisory Council has released a new set recommendations for K-12 social studies education, aimed at improving Iowa history education across the state.

Tom Morain of the Iowa History Advisory Council told a group of fourth and fifth grade students at Des Moines’ Jackson Elementary School these new recommendations will make history “come to life.”

"You're going to get to go to places where history happened," says Morain. "That's going to be a whole new way of experience what history is."

wiserbailey

We all want our children to do well in life, and most parents want to do what they can to help. How much is too much help? 

Laura Hamilton, author of the new book "Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women's Success," set out to answer this question. She followed a handful of women through their college years and into their 30s to find out how parental involvement helped or hurt them. 

She sorts parents into four categories--including helicopter parents, bystanders, and paramedics--depending on how often parents stepped in to help their children. 

K.a.zenz

Some state lawmakers are saying they’d like to see Iowa’s three state universities consider expanding alcohol sales at sporting events. One of them is State Senator Brian Schoejahn, who chairs the senate’s higher education committee. He says the matter should at least be studied.  But, Iowa State University President Steven Leath says he has zero interest in expanding sales beyond the few private areas where drinking is currently allowed. 

Emily Houston

If you have a high school reunion coming up this summer, are you looking forward to it or dreading it? We know you've thought about it; these questions are the stuff movies are made about, after all! During this hour of Talk of Iowa, we asked for your stories.  

According to Alan Mast, who now lives in Waterloo, it’s worth going. To start this hour, he recounts what he calls “his fairytale.” He reconnected with the woman who is now his wife at a high school reunion.

Carl Wycoff

As outdoor playtime has dwindled for many kids in the United States our understanding of the importance of that time has grown.

"Kids are 71 percent less involved in outdoor activities now than they were ten years ago," says Dr. Stuart Brown, founding director of the National Institute for Play. "To me it's a public health issue. The benefits of play need to be understood both for personal health, brain development, and social competency. We don't somehow see play as being connected to that and yet it is."

FLICKR / TOBIAS LEEGER

A new statewide council wants to find ways to prevent Iowa kids from missing too much school.

The Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council is made up of 30 members from the Branstad Administration, the legislature, Iowa schools, and non-profits.

Jean Kresse of United Ways of Iowa will sit on the council. She says this is an issue for many children, especially from low-income families.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A class of fifth graders at Saint Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines are reaching a milestone. The students are coming to the end of six years of taking all of their coursework in Spanish. 

The 10- and 11-year olds are native English speakers. They have been completely immersed in a second language since kindergarten. Eleven-year-old Tyler Faris wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he began learning in Spanish at the age of five.

“I felt kind of nervous because it was a whole different language and I barely knew English,” he says.

Jason Staker/HCC

In less than a year, Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo has enrolled more than 550 students in English Language Learning classes.

Family Literacy Coordinator Laura Hidlebaugh says while that number is impressive, what’s more remarkable is that the students come from 38 countries.

“They’re responsible students and parents and community citizens working on becoming U.S. citizens, but from so many different countries," she said. “But within those countries there’s so much diversity in those first languages.” 

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

  It’s been more than 50 years since Mary Beth Tinker was suspeneded for wearing a black arm band to school in protest of the Vietnam War, leading to the 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District.

“It was mighty times,” she says about the case and the controversy surrounding it and the Vietnam war. “And as I tell kids, now we’re living in mighty times again.”

Jared and Corin/flickr

It appears that advocates for rural Iowa schools will again be wrapping up this year’s legislative session without addressing a critical concern.

With more and more school consolidations, students are traveling longer distances to school, resulting in higher transportation costs compared to other districts around the state.    

Sen. Tom Shipley (R-Nodaway) represents students in the Southwest Valley District, what used to be Villisca and Corning schools.

Louis/flickr

Budget writers at the capitol have found a way to squeeze a few million dollars out of the education budget, in order to boost appropriations for the Regents universities. 

Even so, education advocates are calling funding for the schools woefully inadequate. 

Under the budget that now goes to the full House for debate, funding for the three universities will go up by a total of about $6 million, less than a third of their request. 

That amounts to a raise of less than one percent for the University of Iowa and one-point-two percent for Iowa State.

John Pemble

The penny sales tax that funds school infrastructure projects is set to expire in 2029.

On this edition of River to River, Iowa Public Radio Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell hosts a discussion on the history and the future of the penny sales tax. She's joined by the Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, Thomas Ahart, as well as Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D) and Rep. Matt Windschitl (R). 

Jason Parrott/Tri States Public Radio

Oversight committees in the Iowa House and Senate are working on bills to ensure that alleged abuse at a private boarding school in southeast Iowa never happens again.   

Midwest Academy was shut down after a raid by local, state and federal officials.     

At a statehouse hearing, lawmakers grilled representatives of two state agencies about how they might have prevented the alleged abuse.  

Wikimedia Commons

Between typing and texting we are a lot less likely to put pen to paper. What's lost when we don't? 

University of Iowa student Emily Roberts met a 19 year old who lives in Afghanistan online, through a language learning exchange. The two became fast friends. 

"Sultana and I were talking and I was asking her questions so she could practice her English. I asked her what her perfect day was," Roberts says. "She said, 'well, I would wake up in the morning and study physics all day.' I thought that sounded like a terrible day, but that's when I knew I had to try to get her here." 

jubilo haku/flickr

Iowa school districts will not be required to offer at least one high school computer science class under a bill that was scaled back in the Iowa House this week. 

The bill instead creates an advisory committee to make recommendations in time for the 2018-2019 school year. 

The committee will address whether schools should include a unit on coding for seventh and eighth graders.  

They’ll also consider whether students should be able to take a computer class to meet a school’s math requirement, and how many new teachers would be required.    

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