Education

The Republican-sponsored tax reform bill that passed on the last day of the legislative session included some tax advantages for private schools that didn’t get much attention during the debate.  That was a victory for private K-12 education advocates, who lost a bigger battle this year.  A bill to give state dollars directly to families for private and parochial school tuition, what advocates call education savings accounts and critics call school vouchers, failed to advance.  

Kate Payne

A superintendent in eastern Iowa is keeping his job, despite letting a convicted sex offender volunteer in his district. The administrator had previously offered to resign over the issue that some say has divided the school community.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

The drive to draw more young women into science, technology, engineering and math has been gaining momentum in recent years. There's a program in Des Moines that makes sure low-income girls are given a chance at the so-called STEM fields.

Many of the girls Nancy Mwirotsi works with are beginning at ground zero when it comes to computers.

“Most of them are pretty new in the country," she says. "We had to start with basic what is an e-mail address.”

Seth Sawyers via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sidewalk_flying/

The Davenport Community School District is considering closing one of its schools, in order to balance the budget. One local official says the problems are partly caused by the state’s school funding formula

Mid-Prairie Community School District / https://www.mphawks.org/midprairie-high-school

A southeast Iowa superintendent is standing by his decision to let a convicted sex offender volunteer in his district. Amid pushback from parents and former students, the issue could cost the official his job.

Emily Woodbury

When Leigh Ann Erickson taught in Chicago and New York, she witnessed the effects of social injustice every day.

But the view from small town Iowa can be very different. That’s why Erickson founded a social justice course, an African American literature course, and the CARE Conference at Mount Vernon High School. Through this curriculum, Erickson hopes to broaden her students' perspectives about income inequality, race, and the criminal justice system. 

Ryan Riley, College of Human Sciences / Iowa State University

Ashley Nashleanas has been blind since birth, but that hasn’t stopped her from accomplishing remarkable things. This spring, she’ll receive her PhD in Educational Psychology from Iowa State University.

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe chats with Nashleanas about how her blindness informed her studies of math and science, and how she hopes to help other students who are visually impaired learn these subjects. For her part, Nashleanas had the confidence to request help when visual representations were omitted from her textbooks.

Drake University

An art professor at Drake University is a winner of the prestigious Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the arts. He’s only the second Drake faculty member to receive the honor, and one of a few Iowans.     

Chicago-born printmaker Phillip Chen has been teaching at Drake since 1996. He is the only person currently living in Iowa on this year’s list of 173 Guggenheim Fellows. The recognition comes with an undisclosed financial reward, which Chen says he can use.

rogers speaks to school choice people
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Supporters of programs to expand state funding for various forms of non-public education rallied at the Iowa Capitol Wednesday along with hundreds of students.

They have been advocating for new laws that would give state money to students enrolling in private schools, among other initiatives. So far, their legislative priorities have not made it to the full House or Senate. 

Trish Wilger, executive director of Iowa Advocates for Choice in Education, says there is still time left in this legislative session to address those issues.

VALERIE MACON/GETTY IMAGES + ANONYMOUS/AP IMAGES

Just over sixty years ago in September of 1957, Terrence Roberts and eight other young people became the first African American students at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. These nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, faced mobs of angry protesters as they tried to enter the school.

After several weeks of resistance from both the state and the community, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to accompany the students to school for protection. However, the Little Rock Nine continued to face violence and discrimination once inside Central High.

Iowa General Assembly Website

Advocates for public schools tried to stop a bill in the Iowa House today that may expand for-profit online education in the state.  

The bill lifts the cap on the number of school districts that can open-enroll students from all over the state, and then turn over the state per-pupil funding to for-profit companies for full-time online instruction.  

Currently, two Iowa school districts, CAM in southwest Iowa and Clayton Ridge in northeast Iowa, contract with for-profit companies for full-time online classes.      

chelgren
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Senate Republicans have reignited the “school choice” debate with a new proposal to use some public money for private school education.

The bill would give about $4,000 of state money for each student enrolling in a private school, which is 60 percent of the per-pupil funding for public school students. Current private and homeschool students would not be eligible for the “education savings grants."

Republicans on a Senate panel advanced the bill Thursday to the full Appropriations Committee.

ivanka
O. Kay Henderson / Radio Iowa

Ivanka Trump—an advisor to President Trump—visited a high-tech job training center in Waukee Monday.

Trump and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds toured the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center to hear from high school students about work they’re doing with local businesses.

The visit was part of a White House effort to promote its infrastructure plan, which includes workforce development initiatives.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Religious groups on Iowa’s university campuses would have more freedom to choose their leaders, under a GOP-sponsored bill that advanced in the Iowa House today.

Backers say the bill will address a conflict at the University of Iowa, where a student group lost its certification after denying a leadership post to a gay student.    

Rep. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville) calls the university’s action outrageous. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Democrats  in  the Iowa House today  tried  to stop a bill they say will lower standards for Iowa teachers.  

Under the GOP-backed bill, graduates of Iowa teacher preparation programs would no longer be required to pass a standardized subject matter test to get a teaching license.   

Backers say the change is needed to address a teacher shortage.   

Iowa Business Council

The Iowa Business Council is out with its 6th annual Competitive Dashboard, which looks at how the state stacks up against other states on economic development. It raises concerns about the preparedness of Iowa’s workforce.

The IBC is calling the need for a trained workforce a major concern and challenge for Iowa employers. The Council’s executive director, Georgia Van Gundy, says the state is rightfully praised for its high school graduation rate.

Darwin Day to Focus on Youth Action toward Climate Change

Feb 20, 2018
Iowa City Darwin Day

February 12 was the 209th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the father of the theory of evolution. To celebrate his contributions to science and humanity, Darwin Day will be recognized in Iowa City February 23-24 with a series of conversations about topics in science, education, and climate change.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode
Cory Doctorow

The Iowa Senate will take up a bill requiring all school districts to work with local law enforcement and emergency personnel to develop safety plans for an active shooter situation. The bill advanced out of committee the day after a deadly school shooting in Florida last week.

Manson Northwest Webster Community School District Superintendent Justin Daggett says his district has a protocol ready.

"It is something that we are trained and prepared for and we pray to God that we never have to do it," Daggett says.

tedd gassman
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A House panel has sent the education committee a bill that would help school districts with high transportation costs. Some rural districts spend twice as much as the state average on getting students to school.

Ninja Cherepashka/flickr

As large consolidated rural school districts struggle with soaring transportation costs, a bill advanced in the Iowa Senate that could reduce costs for some districts.  

Under current Iowa law, one-way bus rides are limited to 60 minutes for elementary students and 75 minutes for secondary students.    

The bill would allow 75 minute one-way bus rides for elementary students, or even longer rides for students of any age if public hearings are held and parents are notified 30 days before a route is changed.  

Iowa Department of Education

The governor and the acting lieutenant governor appeared before the state Board of Education Thursday. One point they made applied to rural schools.

During her Condition of the State address, Kim Reynolds announced she was appointing Adam Gregg to lead an initiative aimed at growing rural Iowa. Gregg was by her side as they spoke with state education board members. He says connecting schools in rural areas to the Internet will be part of his efforts. Gregg says Iowa isn’t doing too badly, with 99 percent of schools providing the recommended band width.

Mercy College of Health Sciences

The push to prepare more nurses to fill a growing shortage within the profession is resulting in another educational collaboration. This joint venture involves two private colleges in Des Moines.

University of Iowa Health Care

Programs offered by the University of Iowa to draw more young people into the so-called STEM fields appear to be working. The number of students attending STEM-related workshops sponsored by the U of I during the past year increased substantially.

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.

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