Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says he got a chance to talk with a couple key federal officials during events for the National Governors meeting in Washington, D.C. Vilsack says one of them was Education Secretary Rod Paige, who had visited Iowa last week. Vilsack had a disagreement with Paige over the “No Child Left Behind Act” requirements and funding. Vilsack says they made some headway. He says they now know the administration is going to loosen the requirements for English language learners and special ed students. He says they’re also working on what qualifies as a “highly qualified teacher” in a classroom. Vilsack says they’re still talking about the funding issues. Vilsack also talked with the general who’s in charge of the National Guard nationwide. Vilsack says the guard will soon undergo a change in operational structure. He says the general’s goal is to have a guard that’s “ready, resourced and relevant.” Vilsack says that means the general wants to shift resources away from units that aren’t as relevant anymore. Vilsack says the general also pledges to change the way guardmembers are deployed, so they have a better idea about what to expect. Vilsack says he raised the issue after hearing from the families of Iowa guardmembers about the inability to know about when and where and how long they would be deployed. Vilsack says the general has a plan to reallocate how the guard troops are used. He says 50-percent of the guard would be used for state emergencies, 25-percent for training, and 25-percent for deployment overseas. Vilsack says that would be good news, as the Iowa Guard has been overdeployed. Vilsack says Iowa has had at times, 50-percent of its guard deployed on federal duty. He says the reason is that Iowa’s guard performs so well, that they’ve been called on over and over. He says the realignment plan would ensure that every state “is pulling its own weight.” Vilsack says Iowa Guardmembers don’t mind pulling such a big load, but he says they shouldn’t have to if other states all chip in.
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