Education

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Some students at Mount Vernon High School have spent a couple of weeks this month stepping out of their comfort zones. They’ve traveled to nearby Cedar Rapids to meet people they would otherwise not encounter in the hallways of their almost entirely white school.

Photo by John Pemble

State education officials say they’ll spend the next 18 months figuring out what a new federal education law requires.  

President Obama signed the law replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind statute.  

The new law is dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act.

It gives more power back to the states for accountability, teacher evaluations, and how to push poorly performing schools to improve. 

Speaking to the state board of Education, Department of Education Director Ryan Wise says there’s a lot in the bill to digest.

Iowa Digital Library / Flickr

From one room country schools to high tech multi-million dollar facilities, schools in Iowa have changed a lot. What goes on inside the schools has changed a lot too.

“Every decade or two we see these large transformations in what the school is asked to do."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe kicks off "Iowa Week: Then and Now" with a look at education in Iowa over the years.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The president of Iowa’s Board of Regents is predicting policy changes that will further limit the manner in which contracts are awarded by the three state universities. Bruce Rastetter's comments come after Iowa State University and the University of Iowa both awarded contracts to individuals with Republican ties without taking bids on the work. 

Rastetter says that the individuals getting the state work are capable and qualified, but without taking bids on the work, "the optics are not pretty." 

Iowa Department of Education

The Iowa Board of Education today agreed to ease up on a summer school mandate for students who don’t yet read at grade level.

It’s part of a new state law that will affect thousands of 3rd graders starting after the 2016-2017 school year. 

Some Republican lawmakers sought to hold back all 3rd graders not reading at grade level.  In a compromise with Democrats, the law mandates intensive summer instruction instead.  

Phil Wise with the Iowa Department of Education warns students will be held back if they don’t meet the summertime requirements.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The American Association of University Professors says its investigation of Iowa Board of Regents’ process in hiring University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld disserved the people of Iowa.

The AAUP, also a labor union, concludes the Board of Regents designed the presidential search process to prevent any meaningful faculty role in the process, acting in bad faith to other candidates. The report calls it an illusion of an honest search, manipulating to a pre-ordained result.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

In a small school district in Southeast Iowa, five young women are taking the future of science education into their own hands.

They’ve designed a proposed building addition that would provide room for students to experiment in science, technology, engineering and math.

Design team member Riley McElderry at Cardinal High School in Eldon says the project began by asking some simple questions.

Flickr / much0

Teachers, parents, and students embraced and some cried moments after the Iowa Board of Education voted unanimously to de-accredit and close the Farragut Community School District. This is only the third time the state education board has dissolved a school district. 

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

  

President William Ruud has been president of the University of Northern Iowa since 2013. He's overseen projects he's proud of like efforts to curb sexual assault and One Is Too Many and a project to promote mental health. He still says the best part of the job is direct interaction with students.

Russell/IPR

Educators from the Council Bluffs School District joined the governor at his weekly news conference today with an enthusiastic report on the first year of Iowa’s new Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program, known as TLC.  

Eventually schools will get 150 million dollars a year to promote teachers from the classroom into mentoring roles. 

Superintendent Martha Bruckner says the mentors are helping both new and experienced teachers.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A small group of students at the University of Dubuque is holding some difficult conversations about race. A new initiative there is designed to get young people thinking about racial differences in order to bring the campus closer together. 

At the start of a three-hour session on a Sunday afternoon, Roger Bonair-Agard reminds the dozen or so students what he expects from them as they begin a series of writing exercises.

Len Matthews / Flickr

In high school, Nick Seymour never saw himself doing stand-up, but once when he got the opportunity to take a class in comedy at Iowa State, he figured it'd be a fun way to spend a semester.

"At the beginning, I didn’t know there’d be a performance associated with it. The teacher shocked us all the first day with that information. Everyone freaked out for awhile."

Photo by John Pemble

The new University of Iowa president, Bruce Harreld, says his biggest challenge in his new job is building trust across the entire UI community. Harreld’s first day was last week. The former IBM Executive faced scrutiny before he was selected for the job for how the search was conducted. Harreld says right now his job is to listen.

Myfuture.com / Flickr

Iowa is facing a shortage of middle-skill workers, including those in the fields of nursing, welding, and manufacturing.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with people pushing for more technical and career training from the high school level onward, including Waterloo Community School District Superintendent Jane Lindaman and Dave Bunting, a longtime educator at Kirkwood Community College.

Fairfield Community School District

The 2016 Teacher of the Year in Iowa is a 35-year veteran of the profession. 

Fairfield High School English teacher Scott Slechta was introduced as the latest Teacher of the Year during a school assembly.

The 57-year-old has been teaching in the southeast Iowa town since 1984.

Slechta reflects on what the recognition means at this stage of his career.

“New opportunities, new doors opened," he says. "I always think there are points in my career when I kind of look for something new and adventuresome, and I’m sure this journey will offer both of those things.

Univ. of Colorado

Nervous about how your son or daughter will do at the big university?  Now, what if she found this assignment on her syllabus: "Understand Batman as an historically and culturally specific character," with one lecture called "Batman: The Long Halloween."  Or how about this assignment: "Does Harry Potter have a role in shaping your decision-making?"  Or this essay assignment: "Loyalty and Wit: Friendship and the Formation of Dumbledore's Army."

Boys Town National Research Hospital / Skip Kennedy

The greater degree a child’s hearing loss, the harder it is for that child to keep up with normal-hearing peers. But a new study by the University of Iowa, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, shows hearing aids can make a big difference.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A group of students in the Des Moines Public Schools are using art and poetry to address some of the nation’s most divisive social issues, such as racial divisions and immigrant rights. It’s in a course called Urban Leadership.

Sixteen-year old Jalesha Johnson has collected her thoughts on the plight of refugees in the form of a poem.

“This is us living the American dream.". she reads. "This is every migrant who never woke up, I wonder if the ships start sinking because they can’t hold all of that hope .”

THQ Insider / Flickr

Russ Laczniak has no doubt in his mind that video games are linked to increased behavioral problems. A professor of marketing at Iowa State University, he was still left with the question of how and if parents could change those consumption habits.

"We basically wanted to see how their tendencies, in terms of dealing with raising their children, might influence their children's ultimate play of violent video games. We did a national sample of approximately 230 parents. We talked to parents and children."

Penguin Random House

Banker, lecturer and co-author of the new book "A Path Appears; Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity," Sheryl WuDunn, was invited to Des Moines to share her ideas from the front lines of social progress with participants in the "Borlaug Dialogue" of the World Food Prize.

Fewer students than usual attended classes at West High School in Iowa City today because of an alleged threat. West High principal Gregg Shoultz says they received a report Friday of a post on Snapchat that included a picture of a gun and text about the high school.  He says officials met with the student who allegedly made made the threat, but the student never confirmed it. Shoultz says although there is no threat, many students opted to stay home today.

Courtesy of the Des Moines Register

Iowa has shuttered more than 4300 school districts since 1950 as a result of demographic changes in rural Iowa. What that means for residents and students in rural Iowa is highlighted in a new documentary “Lost Schools.”

taxcredits.net

A first-of-its-kind report out released today found most community college students leave school with debts of less than ten-thousand dollars.  But it also finds those who borrow the least are the most likely to default.

The executive dean of student services at Des Moines Area Community College, Laurie Wolf, contributed to the report. She says there may be a simple reason why students default on loan debts as small as 500-dollars.

University of Iowa photo

A group representing faculty in the University of Iowa’s Liberal Arts College is censuring the UI’s incoming president, Bruce Harreld.

Language and Cultures Professor Russ Ganim chaired the Faculty Assembly, a group representing the broader Liberal Arts faculty. He says censuring President-select Harreld isn’t meant to humiliate.

“The purpose was not to embarrass anyone,” he said.  “The purpose was to reaffirm our core values. First and foremost of those values being intellectual honesty. And academic integrity.

Huffington Post

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says Congress has its best chance since 2009 to fix the No Child Left Behind education law.

The House and Senate have passed different versions of a revised law.

The Republican-backed House bill allows parents to opt out of federal testing requirements and academic standards.

The Senate version retains the annual reading and math tests required under current law but give states latitude on how to use them.

Education Secretary Duncan says he has two other areas he wants addressed in a reauthorized law.

Joyce Russell/IPR

President Barack Obama Monday spent more than an hour in conversation with students, teachers and parents at North High School in Des Moines, talking about how to make college more affordable.

The president urged students and their parents to do everything they can to win some of the 150 billion dollars in annual federal student aid each year to avoid big debt on graduation, and to use new federal tools to rank schools for quality and affordability. 

No Child Left Behind

The Iowa Department of Education issued its required annual report card on the federal No Child Left Behind law Thursday.

It shows more than 65 percent of the state’s schools are in need of assistance. 

Education Director Ryan Wise says the law’s requirement that all students meet annual yearly progress in reading and math is unrealistic.

Flickr / SD Dirk

Both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa report record-breaking enrollment for their freshmen classes. 6,231 first-year Cyclones and 5,241 Hawkeyes are registered for the 2015 fall semester.

Tuition is going up next semester at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, but remains frozen at the University of Iowa.

The state Board of Regents has voted to hike tuition by three percent on the Ames and Cedar Falls campuses. 

The vote came after Iowa State and UNI student leaders from those campuses supported the tuition increase.  But, UI student body president Liz Mills said the mid-year tuition increase would shock some student budgets.

That resonated with Regent Patricia Cownie of Des Moines.

The University of Iowa’s Faculty Senate has approved a motion expressing ‘no confidence’ in the Iowa Board of Regents.

Tuesday afternoon’s action that followed a two-hour frustration-laced debate is the latest expression from the Iowa City campus, following the Regents’ hiring of business executive Bruce Harreld as the University’s new president.

Senate President and Law Professor, Christina Bohannan, told the faculty she’s heartbroken.

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