Education

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:

Iowa Lt. Gov.'s office

The alliance of business leaders and educators assigned the job of developing strategies to prepare tomorrow’s workforce in Iowa is hearing from its co-chair, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. She says the group is on track to meet its stated goals.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Educators in Iowa are saying an early warning system for struggling young readers is showing progress. Nearly 61 percent of the school districts using it are recording improvements in reading among students from kindergarten-through-third grade.

Aaron Hawkins / Flickr

The average student graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2016 graduated with more than $37,000 in student loan debt, and according to the personal finance website, Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million borrowers with $1.3 trillion in student loan debt in the United States.

Grand View University

Grand View University in Des Moines will be launching a new academic discipline in the fall. Students at the school will be able to major in game design.

Grand View administrators say students who pursue a bachelor’s degree in game design will be trained in such things as animation, video production and 3-D illustration. English professor Joshua Call describes himself as a lifetime gamer. He says he finds the intersection of story-telling with decision-making in gaming an important academic pursuit.

Jemar Lee

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, we kick off a series of conversations about issues affecting Iowans, in collaboration with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, called Iowa Ideas. First up: K-12 education.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Office space at the former AIB campus south of downtown Des Moines is being put to use as a hub for health-related nonprofits. It’s the first project to come since the University of Iowa took ownership of the 20-acre property last summer.

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."

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