East Iowans Hear Branstad’s Take on Education Reform

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By Belinda Yeung

TIPTON, Iowa — Reform was the buzzword Thursday night in Tipton when Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds held a town-hall meeting on education reform.

Branstad’s goal, he said, is to “give every Iowa student a world-class education wherever they live.”

About 90 audience members gathered in the Tipton Middle School gymnasium for the hour long forum, which included a question-and-answer period.

Participants’ queries spanned the education spectrum, touching on issues including school choice, standardized testing and how to best prepare students to join the state’s work force. The latter topic garnered a lot of attention during the event, with attendees commenting about workplace learning, the state’s “brain drain” and providing work exploration opportunities to students as early as seventh grade.

Branstad and Reynolds also discussed their initiative to have teacher leadership models in place, both to improve student learning and to reward teachers who pursue additional education and more demanding roles.

Tammy Place of Durant, a teacher for 30 years, asked whether those leadership roles would come with increased income.

“Frankly, I’ve got huge student loan debt,” Place said. “Give me a little hope with the compensation.”

Branstad agreed that “there needs to be additional compensation” for educators who take on those expanded responsibilities.

“I appreciated the event being held at the end of the work day so I didn’t have to leave school (early),” Place said after the forum. “Unfortunately (Branstad) did not give me a direct answer … It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t more time for questions and answers.”

Branstad and Reynolds are scheduled to hold three more town halls in Eastern Iowa on Friday, with stops in Anamosa, Maquoketa and Manchester.

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