The new chairman of the Iowa Business Council says the state education system must change to ensure kids get a high school education that helps them compete in the world. Todd Raba, president of MidAmerican Energy, became chairman of the Iowa Business Council last Monday. “We have to hold our teachers accountable for what they teach. We have to hold our students accountable for their accomplishments,” Raba says. He also says Iowa Legislators must be held accountable, too, for providing enough resources for schools and students to succeed. The Business Council calls for “statewide standards for excellence” and a demand for results, but the group stops short of calling for new, tough statewide high school graduation standards. “These are the results we advocate…but we leave it for the governor and the legisalture to work through the details…and come up with a resolution,” Raba says. Innovation is the “single most important factor” in determining success in the future, according to Raba, and schools have a role in encouraging students to think in new ways. “Certainly, we can develop programs throughout the education process that encourage people to work hard at being innovative and being creative and stepping outside of the standard ways to approach things,” Raba says. Raba says the world economy is now “information-based” and Iowa’s education system must improve because students’ math, science and reading scores are lagging. The 23 largest businesses in Iowa and the state universities are part of the Iowa Business Council.
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