State education board establishes reform priorities
The state Board of Education today voted to focus reform efforts on issues ranging from teacher preparation to tougher student standards, but offered few details on how it would do so.
The goals, developed following last months’ state education summit, were broadly written to allow negotiating room when policy details are hammered out, said board member Charlie Edwards.
“We wanted to establish a common agreement on policy, and get on the same page with the governor’s office, Department of Education, legislature, districts and teachers,” he said.
However, it’s still unclear who will hold the state accountable for enacting the reform ideas that came out of the summit.
The board stated support for access to free high-quality preschool to every child in the state. It said last year’s voluntary preschool program, which enrolled more than 21,000 children, will help ensure universal access.
Iowa must “raise the bar” to recruit the best students to rigorous teacher preparation programs, the board said. Teachers in the classroom must receive targeted professional development opportunities, and provide extra help to struggling students.
The board said increased accountability must continue. It lauded the state for establishing in 2008 of the minimum standards in the Iowa Core, and implementing in 2010 language arts and mathematics standards.
The state should review new national standards in science and social studies, the board said.
This last point caused board member Eric Goranson to cast the lone vote against the board’s position statement.
“I’m not a fan of, nor do I support the common core standard, especially in social studies and science,” he said.
The board also called on the teaching profession to be elevated, respected and compensated fairly.
The board said it will continue to work with the Iowa Department of Education to study innovative instruction and online learning models to encourage a statewide focus on innovation.
Parents must also dedicate time at home to learning, in partnership with teachers and schools, the board said.