Twice in December, Iowa STEM leaders were invited to the White House to discuss hot-button education issues, and in both instances, gave as much as they got. On December 8, U.S. Department of Education Director Arne Duncan hosted education leaders from 43 states, mostly state education directors and education chairs of state legislatures, to situate the imminent signing of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA).
Discussion topics ranged from re-thinking high school and advancing computer science to creative teacher preparation models. Iowa’s innovations in these spaces, the STEM BEST model, Code Iowa and the STEM Council’s Computer Science Working Group recommendations and the state’s STEM teaching endorsements were shared over the course of the day by Dr. Weld who engaged Duncan in an idea exchange regarding STEM teacher preparation. Duncan pointed out a component of the ESSA that allows states to use Title II funds to set up teacher-preparation "academies" both inside and outside of higher education, a concept not without controversy.
Then on December 10, STEM Council Executive Committee member and Howard-Winneshiek Community School District Superintendent John Carver joined a select group of school leaders at the White House to help with the debut of the “National Technology Education Plan.” Among the plan’s multiple reforms is a toolbox for superintendents who wish to lead and innovate in technology, featuring 50 exemplar videos – six of which are from Iowa’s Howard-Winneshiek’s school district (watch here).
For more on “The National Technology Education Plan,” visit http://1.usa.gov/1m1jt2d. The ESSA can be accessed in its entirety at http://1.usa.gov/1TFr29X. Iowa is well-represented in the national education conversation and well positioned as a leader.