EDUCATION REFORM: Governor Starts Push Early

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It’s a bit of déjà vu for Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad. Monday morning he said, “Teacher leadership will be at the heart of our 2013 legislative package."

Education reform was supposed to be one of the key pieces of major reform in the 2012 session, as well. But lawmakers eventually settled on more minimal changes. The governor released plans for the Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium at Drake University in Des Moines on August 3rd.

The one-day event brings in superintendents, principals, teachers, the teachers union, school board members, lawmakers, and parents. Jason Glass, Director of the Department of Education, said, “This is about honoring the teaching profession, creating partnerships through the teaching profession that don't all lead to exit ramps from teaching when you want to grow professionally, which is where we currently are."

But where state leaders are, as evidenced by the past legislative session, are stuck. Representative Sharon Steckman, a Mason City Democrat and retired teacher, summed up the feelings of some in her party following a legislative committee meeting in April. She said, “That's cha-ching.” She continued, “I think that will be huge."

Money is the multi-million dollar question for the governor to overcome. Democrats say the state can't bring major progress in student and teacher performance without putting money behind it. While the governor's team is also aware some fellow Republicans have no interest spending more dollars for public education

Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds cautioned, “The status quo is not serving our children well and we need to continue to set that bar higher.”

The governor acknowledges the challenge ahead. He believes bringing reform means an education lesson for Iowans and this symposium is the classroom. Branstad said, “This is going to be a full court press."

For a list of speakers and to register for the symposium, visit

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