Governor Branstad’s “Education Summit” kicks off Monday, with more than 1600 people signed up to attend.
In addition to speeches from a variety of national leaders, like the U.S. Secretary of Education, there will be a series of panel discussions. Topics range from improving teacher “effectiveness” to how states can put “meaningful reform” in place. Linda Fandel, the governor’s “special assistant” for education policy, has been the key organizer.
“Outstanding school systems have emerged in places like Canada, Singapore and Massachusetts that recognize the importance of cultivating the connection between high-performing school systems and a thriving economy,” Fandel says.
According to Fandel, future job creation in Iowa depends on raising the caliber of Iowa’s schools to “world class”.
“Other states that have put in place more ambitious school reforms have passed us by,” Fandel says.
Branstad suggests setting general goals is no longer enough.
“So we say we want 100 percent graduation and how do we ensure that they’re ready…to go on for higher education or ready go into the workforce?” Branstad asked during a recent roundtable discussion with a handful of Iowa business leaders. “…Do we need to have some kind of an assessment or examination or something like that to determine that everybody is ready?”
Representatives from the state teachers union as well as the state universities which award teaching degrees will participate in the panel discussions at next week’s summit, along with administrators and experts who’ve examined the education systems in other countries, like Finland. The Worldwide Director of Innovation and Strategy Development for Microsoft is also scheduled to speak on one of the panels.