The head of the Republican Governors Association says he’s traveling the country raising money for candidates like Jim Nussle and Bob Vander Plaats. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was in Iowa over the weekend speaking at several Republican county conventions. He says the funds raised will be devoted to the races they believe Republicans have the best chance of winning.

Romney says Iowa’s “Number-one on our hit parade,” because a democratic governor’s giving up his seat. Out of 36 races it’s apparently the only one with no incumbent, so Romney says it’s one his group will spend a lot of time pursuing. Romney’s one of eight Republican governors who aren’t running for reelection. Romney says the number one priority for Republican governors is education. As an example he points to a scholarship in his home state of Massachusetts that’s based on achievement and merit.

If you graduate in the top quarter of your class in any high school in that state, he says you’re entitled to go to any state college or university for four years tuition free. Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican who ran for governor till deciding to end his campaign and join Nussle’s gubernatorial bid, said says Iowa’s public schools will never be fixed by merely throwing more money at them. He says a system redesign is needed.

Vander Plaats says that could mean “the highest of expectations” in math, science, communication and technology. He says simplified funding for local districts would allow them local control in how they meet the expectations, and uniform accountability would hold the local districts to high expectations. He says that “research and design within the local school systems” would let districts learn from one another and make Iowa a leader again in education.

Vander Plaats says we currently spend three-billion dollars a year on k-12 public schools in the state, but says he says just over half of that amount makes it inside the classroom. If a standard’s set to direct 65-percent of the money to classrooms, he says it would send 300-million dollars more into school classrooms. “You could pay your best teachers better,” he says, and adds, “You could make your ‘other’ teachers available for other employment elsewhere,” to laughter as the audience gets that suggestion.

Vander Plaats says schools could have more technology and teachers if the resources are used better. Vander Plaats recently gave up his own campaign for governor and joined Nussle’s ticket as the Lieutenant Governor running mate.