Education

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."

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 .”

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.

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.”

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. 

Photo by John Pemble

There is no shortage of veterinarians for house pets, but in some rural areas of the United States there aren’t enough veterinarians to go around for livestock.  A program called Vet Camp at the Iowa State Fair recognizes this problem and it is doing something to encourage youth to explore veterinary medicine on the farm as a career. 

The controversy flaring over state funding for Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools is focusing on Governor Terry Branstad’s veto of legislation that would have given schools an extra, one-time, $55-million appropriation during this fiscal year.

Forest City school superintendent, Darwin Lehmann, is feeling the fiscal squeeze.  He says his district is spending more than the state is increasing the district’s state aid.

TruckPR / Flickr

The Iowa Board of Regents is calling for a three percent tuition increase in the spring for Iowa’s public universities. Such an increase would break the tuition freeze on resident tuition from the past 2.5 years.

On this River to River segment, Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa State University President Steven Leath to talk about college affordability and other concerns in higher education.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Education and landing a job are inextricably linked in the minds of most Americans, but after the Great Recession it wasn't as clear whether getting a college diploma meant getting, and keeping, a job.

Saba Ali, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Iowa, says that while statistics bear out the correlation between college degrees and higher paying employment, the question of whether college prepares students to do their jobs well is more nuanced.

West Midlands Police / Flickr

The Burlington Community School district is among the first in the nation to outfit administrators at each of the district's eight school buildings with body cameras. The district is already outfitted with fixed cameras, which Superintendent Pat Coen says have proven useful.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad Thursday vetoed millions of dollars in state spending the legislature approved last month, saying some of the appropriations are unsustainable. 

He trimmed back the more than seven billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that started this week. 

The vetoes cut education spending for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the Regents Universities.  

Education advocates call the K-12 cuts shameful.   Regents President Bruce Rastetter says they’ll begin considering what tuition levels should be next spring. 

woodleywonderworks / Flickr

According to the National Institute for Early Education, Iowa ranks 32nd in the nation for state spending on preschool.

Mark Shriver, President of the Save the Children Action Network, is working to try to change that. “Ninety percent of brain growth happens before the age of 5, but public investment is flat until that age. We spend billions of dollars trying to remediate. These kids are not entering kindergarten ready to learn,” he says.

John Pemble/IPR

Teachers, administrators, and students at Southeast Polk Schools Monday sang the praises of Iowa’s new Teacher Leadership and Compensation program, known as TLC.  

Teachers get paid more when they take on leadership roles to help other teachers.  

Madison  Fontana teaches second grade.   She’s in her second year of teaching and she says she’s getting more help this year :

“ It’s been a huge support system for new teachers,” Fontana says.   “We have someone to go to whether it be the instructional coaches or the model teachers.”

Debt-Free College

Apr 22, 2015

University of Northern Iowa students, faculty and community members came together Wednesday to call on 2016 presidential candidates to support a national goal of debt-free education at institutions of higher learning. Americans for Democratic Action's Iowa organizer, Chris Schwartz says "we're here today to send a message to the presidential candidates whether it's Hilary Clinton or Ted Cruz that you need to come out and support the concept of debt-free college education if you want the support of students and the ADA in this caucus cycle." 

FLICKR / TOBIAS LEEGER

The state legislature yesterday sent a bill to Gov. Terry Branstad setting August 23 as the earliest date students can go back to class. The bill attempts to balance the interests of Iowa K-12 education and the state's tourism industry. Not everyone is pleased.

Lisa Riggs is president of the Travel Federation of Iowa and general manager of the Danish Windmill in Elk Horn. The windmill was shipped from Denmark to the west-central Iowa town in 1975.

Flickr / Tobias Leeger

The Iowa House passed a bill on the contentious issue of school start dates for Iowa K-12 students today. The legislation allows middle and elementary schools that follow year-round calendars to set an early school start date; however, all other schools could start only as early as August 23.

State Rep. Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, voted against the bill. She says the one-size-fits-all start date for high schools is a bad approach.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate is unlikely to take up the issue of collective bargaining, so why did the House debate it until 10 PM last Tuesday?

State Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, felt that the bill was a distraction from the bigger issue of school funding.

"They are waiting to know what their funds will be for this upcoming school year and we felt like this entire bill was a distraction and that's why we totally opposed it," Steckman says.

But State Rep. Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, says that these processes sometimes take years. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

 

Approval for supplemental funding for Iowa's schools has been stalemated in the Iowa Legislature so far this session. Democrats are proposing a 4 percent increase and Republicans are holding strong at a 1.25 percent increase. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

School choice advocates flooded the Iowa statehouse Tuesday.

Photo by John Pemble

At Findley Elementary School in Des Moines, art teacher Lisa Hesse begins her morning class by standing with her students in a circle as relaxing music plays.

Judy Baxter / Flickr

For years the common wisdom was that kids need to sit still and listen in order to concentrate. New research suggests that's not the case.

Photo by John Pemble

Junior high and high school students from across the state rallied at the capitol today.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Academic counselors from the University of Iowa will be on the campus of the American Institute of Business in Des Moines this week.

John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow Iowa’s two fully online schools to continue operation cleared a hurdle in the House yesterday.    

Amy Mayer/IPR

Children today are immersed in technology. Often, they are passive consumers. But in some schools, even kindergarteners are learning computer programming.

Barnaby Wasson/flickr

More Iowa four-year-olds could enroll in preschool under a bill in the Iowa Senate. 

Cornell College Photo

The new emphasis on funding Iowa’s three state universities according to the number of students who are state residents is dramatically increasing competition.  The 26 private and 15 community colleges in the state are preparing.

Mercedes Potter

Iowa’s tourism industry does not support a bill in the Iowa House that would allow school districts and private accredited schools to begin the academic year earlier than Sept. 1.  The industry worries an earlier start to the school year would deplete the high-school-age workforce during late summer.

Gaela Wilson of the Iowa Group Travel Association says tourism greatly affects small town economies since summertime dollars flow into the rest of the community.

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

A yearly battle over how much of a raise to give K-12 schools is getting underway early at the statehouse this year.   

Marie/flickr

Schools around the state are keeping a close eye on first graders’ reading skills.

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