Education

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

More than a year after receiving orders from an administrative judge, the Iowa Department of Education agreed to make some changes to special education requirements that could open up special education programs to more students.

Cliff Jette/The Gazette

This week, the Trump administration reversed seven Obama-era policies on affirmative action that called on universities to consider race as a factor in diversifying their campuses. The Trump administration will now encourage school superintendents and college presidents to adopt race-blind admissions standards.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen about how this may impact admissions at Iowa State, the rise in faculty resignations, and college affordability.

reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds released a new "playbook" Tuesday to guide high schools in setting up registered apprenticeship programs with local businesses.

Speaking at the Career Academy of Pella, Reynolds said it will help the state meet its workforce education goals and help businesses fill their need for skilled workers.

"So because of this step-by-step playbook, I'm confident that we'll get more employers and high schools and community colleges across Iowa to work together to start registered apprenticeship programs," Reynolds said.

Iowa State University
Wikimedia Commons

As Iowa’s Board of Regents voted to increase college tuition Thursday, one board member called recent budget cuts to higher education the “worst state government attack” he’s seen on Iowa’s public universities.

“I view it that way when we are taking three great universities downhill,” said Regent Larry McKibben, a former Republican state lawmaker. “And for me as a board member, to see that happen is extremely difficult.” 

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe visits the Herbert Hooover Presidential Museum and gets a tour of a new exhibit,"Tallgrass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming," on display through October 2018. Melanie Weir, assistant curator at the museum, is her guide. 

Nick Brincks

How do you get kids to pay attention to lessons about important but not necessarily attention-grabbing topics like water quality and soil erosion?

Heavy metal rock anthems about cover crops and raps about watersheds are not often linked to science education, but for Jacqueline Comito, program director for Iowa Learning Farms, it's a perfect fit.

"Sense of humor is, I think, one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal," says Comito, who is also a musician.

Amy Mayer / IPR

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture first piloted a program to offer free summer meals to children. The program became a permanent fixture in 1975, and last year, schools, libraries, recreation centers and other groups in Iowa served more than 1.3 million meals and snacks to children under 18 through the Summer Food Service Program.

Waterville weebly / https://waterville.weebly.com/history-of-waterville-school.html

This week the one and only school in the Northeastern Iowa town of Waterville will close its doors permanently. But while school district consolidation can certainly change a community, it doesn’t have to be the end of it. 

Thomas Favre-Bulle

Thousands of Iowa high schoolers wrapped up rigorous Advanced Placement exams this month, in the hopes of earning college credit. But some students don’t have access to the in-class instruction that can help them pass their APs and test out of university requirements.

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.

Pages