Education

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.

Joyce Russell, IPR

The Iowa Board of Regents is approving the fiscal 2018 budgets for the three state universities. But before doing so, board members heard from the schools’ presidents about how cutbacks in state support are hampering their efforts to stay competitive. At Iowa State, faculty and staff salaries are frozen. At UNI, some adjunct faculty have been let go. Regent President Michael Richards says each school has its own challenges.

“I think we’re open to looking at what each university needs to move forward and keep progressing,” he says.

girl in helmet
Jim Araos / U.S. Air Force

Iowa is rolling out new guidelines for supporting students as they recover from concussions.

Maggie Ferguson is the brain injury and disability program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health. She says past concussion policies were focused on high school student-athletes and how long they should rest before playing sports again.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College are joining together to create what they call the Iowa Cyber Hub. Its aim is to increase the number of professionals working in the field of cyber-security.

ISU computer engineering professor Doug Jacobson will lead the effort known as the Iowa Cyber Hub.

“In this globally interconnected world, Iowans are not immune to these cyber-attacks," he says. "Cyber-security can only be solved with people and education. We need to grow local talent and we need to increase the cyber workforce.”

University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook is relatively new to the job, and he joins River to River host Ben Kieffer to talk about higher education and priorities at UNI.  He says his school will continue to have a high percentage of Iowa residents attending.  Nook says about 85%-90% of UNI’s students are from Iowa, though he's open to admitting more out-of-state students.  

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Schools in rural school districts often don’t have the budget or the teachers to offer students all of the courses they would like to take. One rural district in a Missouri county decided to offer credit for online classes in an effort to give its students the educational opportunities it can’t otherwise afford.

Grand View University

Grand View University in Des Moines is setting aside some grant money to establish an emergency fund for students. Administrators say the cash could be the difference between staying in school and leaving.

The school on the city’s east side is receiving $210,000 from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation to establish the fund. Grand View provost Carl Moses says the money is meant for students who are faced with unexpected expenses when they are already struggling to make ends meet.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Drake University is officially opening a renovated building to house its occupational therapy doctorate program. It will be a place where students learn and patients are helped to recover.

A former bookstore has been converted into the home of Drake’s year-old doctorate program in occupational therapy. In addition to classrooms, it features a four-room apartment and a streetscape, complete with an automobile. A member of the first class of students in the program, Maddy Nave, says the caregivers of people with ALS recently came to the building for training.

Flickr / jess2284

Iowa ranks fifth nationally in overall child wellbeing in this year’s Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book. But there's still room for improvement.

As a senior associate and fiscal director for the Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center, Mike Crawford works with the Casey Foundation on its annual report. He says that while Iowa compares very well to other states, when Iowa is compared to itself the picture is less optimistic.

Flickr / John Mitchell

Over the long summer break, students can lose weeks of learning from the previous school year. But there are ways to keep kids engaged with reading and writing. 

Iowa State University's Emily Hayden, an assistant professor of literacy education, says the key is to make these activities not feel like school. Instead, parents should think outside the box and capitalize on a child’s interests. 

For example, if your kid likes being outside, get them a "science" notebook.

Angel Jepsen

Due to declining enrollment, Wednesday is the final day of classes in the 56-year history of the Charter Oak-Ute High School. In September, most COU 9th through 12th graders will be attending classes in the neighboring district of Maple Valley-Anthon Oto. 

The change is not a consolidation, but rather a sharing agreement between the two far western Iowa districts.

Kirkwood Community College

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and former Governor Terry Branstad have marked 2017 as the "Year of Manufacturing." But what is the state of manufacturing in Iowa?

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer explores the future of advanced manufacturing and skilled labor in Iowa.  

Nathan Thornton, a second year welding student at Kirkwood Community College, says he has an optimistic outlook for his career path.

VictoryVR

Students at Davenport Assumption High School are discovering a new tool for exploring careers in the STEM fields. They can now take a virtual reality tour of sites where people in STEM-related professions work.

The phone-based virtual reality mobile app allows students to view interviews of people from around the country who are working at science, technology, engineering or math jobs. Assumption science teacher Wendy Martin says it’s not like watching television. She says when the students put on the special goggles, they join the action.

Flickr / wabisabi2015

Every school day at 7:30 am, fifth-grader Ava Perrett catches the first of two bright yellow buses that drive her to the Greene County Intermediate School in Grand Junction.

Due to a 2014 consolidation, the Greene County Community School District is the state’s eighth largest in geographic size. It spans 388 square miles. So it’s a good thing Ava says she usually doesn’t mind riding the bus.

“But sometimes it takes a while,” she says. “When we’re switching buses it gets really cold out when we’re waiting for the buses.”

Drake University

Drake University in Des Moines is entering into an arrangement it hopes will increase diversity at the private school. Drake is signing an agreement with three historically black colleges and universities.

Graduates of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, Lincoln University outside Philadelphia, and Kentucky State University in Frankfort, will be guaranteed scholarships upon admission to Drake’s Law School and doctor of pharmacy program. Drake’s provost, Sue Mattison, says the university is intent on drawing more minority students to campus.

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Board of Regents heard from university and student leaders Monday in the first of two meetings to consider additional tuition hikes at the state’s public universities. 

The regents are proposing raising undergraduate tuition by a total of $358 for the next school year. 

At the University of Iowa, the total increase for nonresident students would be $1,764. 

Doc Searls

What we want out of students attending school has changed over hundreds of years.  Are we preparing students for jobs, for life, for citizenship, for social mobility? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the history of the debate with University of Iowa's Chris Ogren, associate professor of history of education in the department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies.

Director of the Iowa Department of Education Ryan Wise, and two retired teachers, Charles Blair-Broeker and Michael Peterson, also join the conversation. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Forty-three year old Diana Staver worked on the assembly line at a John Deere factory in Waterloo. When she got her pink slip in 2015, she wasted no time in figuring out what her next move would be.

“I got the layoff notice and when I got the layoff notice, I just dreaded going out and finding another job so I came to Hawkeye [Community College] that same afternoon I was here by 8:15 in the morning I wanna say and they weren’t quite open”, Staver explained.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The alternative high school in Des Moines is using grant money to become a safer place for students who are experiencing trauma at home. The money will help make staff more aware of how troubles outside the class are linked to behavior inside.

Scavo High School is planning to use $23,000 from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation to become what’s known as a “trauma sensitive school.” The community schools coordinator for Scavo, Lyn Marchant, says the money will help teachers and students recognize the connection between strife at home and performance in school.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

On almost every college campus, there are dining halls and cafeterias filled to the brim with food. Students have their pick of practically anything they want. And yet, a surprisingly high percentage of these young people are hungry.

Grand View University senior Shannon Kaster is not your typical undergraduate college student. To begin, the Boone-native is 33-years-old.

“I’m married, I have a four-year-old son at home and I’m pregnant with another one due in July,” she says.

But she is experiencing something that is becoming all too common on campuses nationwide.

bruce rastetter
Amy Mayer/IPR

Outgoing Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says the state's public universities need to raise tuition for the upcoming school year.

He says he asked the board office to work with the universities on an additional tuition increase to make up for cuts in state funding. The increase would come on top of a two percent hike previously approved for this fall. 

Rastetter says state budget cuts for the current and next fiscal year make tuition hikes necessary.

Rebecca Stanek / flickr

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act, families who had a child with special needs were often told to send their children to an institution, or that there was no hope. Two Iowa educators have just released a free, online book about the history of special education in Iowa.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with two former school psychologists, Jeff Grimes and Jim Stumme.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The Transportation Security Administration and Des Moines Area Community College are expanding a training program that’s been in place since 2011. DMACC will now offer homeland security courses to TSA officers across much of the nation.

Flickr / Scott McLeod

Iowa’s high school graduation rate has increased for the fifth year in the row, reaching a new high of 91.3 percent. However dropout rates also rose in the past year, up to 2.8 percent. 

The two measurements track different cohorts of students.  The graduation rate looks a single class over the course of four years, and the dropout rate counts the number of kids who quit high school in a single year.

Staci Hupp of the Iowa Department of Education says the latter metric on drop outs is a reminder that Iowa still has work to do. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A tight state budget may mean a delay in one of the Branstad administration’s top legislative priorities. The issue of school choice for Iowa parents may have to wait for a brighter budget forecast.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds says the establishment of an education savings fund to help families pay for private education may not happen this session.

Iowa State University news service

Iowa’s Board of Regents has made it official. Former UNI President Benjamin Allen will serve as interim president of Iowa State after Steven Leath leaves Ames for Auburn University in May.  

Allen is a familiar figure at Iowa State. He’s been a professor, department chair, dean, vice president of academic affairs and provost at the school. He’ll become interim president May 9th, the day after Leath leaves office. Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says Allen will begin work three weeks before then.

Governor Branstad Tuesday reminisced about the history of home-schooling in Iowa, in an address to homeschool families in town for their annual Day at the Capitol.  

Branstad told a crowd of about 300 parents and children that Iowa is known for its supportive environment for home schools.   

He recalls the 1991 legislation to legalize homeschooling in Iowa:

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