John Pemble / IPR

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon for a weekly preview of Iowa legislative politics.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell for a look at the week ahead at the Iowa Legislature.

Clay Masters / IPR

As President Obama’s gun control proposals make their slow way through Congress, Iowa, and every state in the nation, is asking the same question. How do we protect our children from gun violence? Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters talked to some of the voices in this debate and visited a school in Des Moines.

At Studebaker elementary school in southeast Des Moines, students practice a fire drill.  They exit the building in single file.

John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad has laid out his plan for paying and promoting the state’s teachers. Last week we heard the Branstad administration’s pitch for the plan. This week, we’ll talk with school administrators and teacher representatives for their view. Our conversation legislative show is live from the state Capitol Law Library.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Morning Edition  Host Sarah McCammon for a look at the upcoming week in Iowa legislative politics.

Whether student performance should be considered  when teachers are evaluated has once again become a divisive issue at the statehouse.    The Department of Education proposes scrapping Iowa’s current teacher evaluation standards, and writing new ones to satisfy the federal government.   Otherwise, they say, Iowa will remain under the demanding requirements of federal education law.

John Pemble

Education reform is front and center at the statehouse. Iowa Public Radio's statehouse correspondent, Joyce Russell, talks with Governor Terry Branstad's Special Assistant on Education, Linda Fandel, in the first half of this session of River to River about the governor's plans for Iowa's schools this year.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Sarah McCammon and Joyce Russell catch up on the week's news from the Iowa General Assembly.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa lawmakers have completed the first week of the 2013 legislative session. They’ll return for the second week beginning Tuesday. IPR Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon spoke with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about how the session is shaping up so far.

John Pemble


Governor Branstad highlighted tax cuts, education, and health care in his condition of the state speech.    Earlier he  unveiled the outlines of a six point five  billion dollar budget for next year.  Now begins the hard work of getting his agenda through the divided legislature.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa General Assembly reconvenes Monday, Jan 14. It’s a new year, with some new faces after the 2012 election. Iowa Public Radio Statehouse Correspondent Joyce  Russell sat down with Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon for a look ahead at the 2013 session.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa General Assembly reconvenes Monday, Jan 14. It’s a new year, with some new faces after the 2012 election. Iowa Public Radio Statehouse Correspondent Joyce  Russell sat down with Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon for a look ahead at the 2013 session.


Two young Mexican immigrants living in a small northeast Iowa town are defying the odds by  pursuing degrees  from the University of Northern Iowa. Because they are undocumented they are working their way through college without the help of student loans or other benefits of citizenship.      A new Obama administration order granting them temporary work permits is helping to ease the  way.

The Iowa Department of Education is seeking state funding to expand on-line education for high school students. The Department is now operating what’s called “Iowa Learning Online” with federal funding that’s expiring.

State Education Director Jason Glass says the program is serving students who aren’t doing well in traditional classrooms.

“We have students that are bullied. We have students that are medically fragile. We have students that need to be home for any number of reasons, “ Glass says. “Those are the kind of students we want to make this an option for.”

Clay Masters / IPR

Same sex marriage is legal in Iowa and it appears to be gaining acceptance. A Supreme Court justice who was part of the ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriage was retained in a heated campaign this year. But advocates for gay teens say bullying is still a problem in schools. 

Starting next year, graduates  of Iowa’s teacher preparation programs will be required to pass exams with a minimum score in order to get a license to teach.   Iowa is one of the last  holdouts in the country in not requiring  testing of new teachers.  But at a statehouse committee meeting  today  there were complaints that this year’s graduating seniors  didn’t get enough advance warning.   

Research Development and Engineering Command / Flickr

Earlier this year, the director of the Iowa Department of Education unveiled 13 recommendations from the state’s Task Force on Teacher Leadership and Compensation. The goal - to improve education in part through getting better teachers. This hour we talk with several people about how to improve education in the state, including Linda Fandel, a special assistant for education to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. We’ll also hear from two faculty members at Iowa State’s School of Education about their national recognition for preparing science teachers.

Iowa Department of Education

Iowa teachers would see their base pay bump if new recommendations from an education task force are put into place. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

Iowa Young Birders

Aug 25, 2012

Iowa Young Birders is a new program to get kids outside and develop their interest in birds.  Executive director Carl Bendorf says the nonprofit is a first of its kind in the state.

A Burlington Middle School is now named after a key scientist in NASA’s Voyager program.  Today the Edward Stone Middle School opens for classes and Ed Stone returned to the hometown where his journey as a space scientist began. 

State education officials are laying the groundwork for an  exam prospective teachers will have to take before they are licensed in Iowa.   Those graduating from teacher preparation programs  this summer may be the last to squeak through without facing the new requirement.  Joyce Russell reports.

Reinventing Education

Jul 23, 2012

At no time in history have schools been asked to do so much. Author, businessman, and attorney, Jamie Vollmer, experiences the challenges first hand in his book Schools Can't Do It Alone. Charity talks with Vollmer about the struggles education leaders face and how they can redevelop the system to increase student success.

        In the Quad Cities, Davenport’s St. Ambrose University will soon be opening a new program for training physician assistants.
      The job market is good for the female-dominated profession, but class sizes are limited.

With all the gloomy news about job prospects these days, seniors can feel like their diploma is a one-way ticket to mom’s basement. But there are young adults who’ve landed on their feet – and learned how to make it in this tough economy.

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Sarah McCammon for a look at what's happening in the Iowa Legislature, as lawmakers begin their third week of overtime.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Joyce Russell and Sarah McCammon discuss the week ahead in the Iowa Legislature.

Iowa Department of Education

Education Director Jason Glass talks with IPR's Sarah McCammon about why he took the ACT again, and why he wants all Iowa high school students to do the same.

One of the key issues that have yet to be resolved in the Iowa legislature this session is education reform.  The House and Senate have passed dueling plans and the Governor says the Senate’s version is “watered down.”  Join host Ben Kieffer as he’s joined by Governor Terry Branstad.  We’ll ask him about education reform and about the debate over finely textured lean beef – or what critics are calling “pink slime.”  Later, Ben talks with Elizabeth Wentzel, who after raising five children decided to chase her life-long dream to travel to a far away land to work and support others less fortun

School Start Debate

Apr 10, 2012
John Pemble

After a long debate, the Iowa House today voted to put a limit on how early Iowa schools can start classes in the fall.   The tourism industry is behind the bill, including advocates for the Iowa State Fair, who say it’s hard to participate in the annual August event when kids are back in school.  But some education advocates resent talking about the school start date when weightier education issues remain unresolved.    

Iowa Public Radio concludes its week-long series “Being Home Schooled in Iowa” today with a look at the transition from home schooling to college. More students on Iowa’s campuses are entering a traditional classroom for the first time after being taught primarily by their parents. How smoothly do they make that move? What do professors see in students who were home schooled? And how do admission offices evaluate applicants who have never been given a letter grade? Reporter Rob Dillard went looking for answers to these questions.