Under the Golden Dome, Too

Education initiatives a priority for Legislature in 2014

 

     ment time is always a good reminder that the next school year is right around the corner. Families will soon be making the transition from one routine to another: As summer sports, pool time and camps wrap up, fall sports, academics and extracurricular activities are soon to follow.

     This past General Assembly, the Legislature was able to accomplish some bold and innovative initiatives in Iowa’s education system.

     We worked hard to make it more affordable for Iowans to gain access to higher education. For the first time since 1980, the Legislature passed policies to ensure two straight years of a tuition freeze at our public universities. We also continued to invest in Iowa’s community colleges who, through programs like the Skilled Worker Initiative, are working year-round to educate and train Iowans to meet the needs of today’s workforce.

     We also increased opportunities for students interested in attending one of our fine private colleges around the state by providing additional resources to programs like the Iowa Tuition Grant, which awards Iowa residents a maximum of $5,000 to attend one of Iowa’s eligible private institutions.

     Over the past two legislative sessions, we have had a strong focus on reforming our K-12 education system. With greater student outcomes and achievement in mind, in 2013, the Legislature implemented a new teacher-leadership model for our school districts. The model is focused on rewarding excellence in the classroom through an innovative career pathway system for educators.  This teacher-leadership plan empowers great teachers to share their methods with their fellow colleagues. We have made a three-year, $150 million commitment to this new system, with the first investment of $50 million made this past session. 

     In addition, schools will be receiving a 4 percent supplemental state aid amount for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. This will be an additional $170 million into our state’s public K-12 schools. The new funding caps off a $500 million investment in our schools over the past four years.

     These significant policy changes and additional resources demonstrate our commitment to ensuring our students have the resources needed to excel at every academic level. With a continued statewide focus, I believe we can once again produce the nation’s most qualified, prepared and workforce-ready high school and college graduates.

     Best wishes to all of the students and school faculty returning to the classroom this month. I look forward to following all of the academic and athletic accomplishments throughout this school year!

 

     As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any feedback, questions, or concerns. I can be reached anytime at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.