The state’s lieutenant governor and the president of the University of Northern Iowa are heading up a new task force which aims to improve teaching in science, technology, engineering and math from preschool through college.
UNI president Ben Allen says Iowa students are every bit as capable to excel in these areas as students in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Singapore and Finland.
“We have a profound responsibility in Iowa to prepare, provide and support the most dynamic, high-quality and effective teachers for our schools who will provide world class educational experiences that will inspire a lifetime of interest in the (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines,” Allen says. “The students and their parents should expect it. The economic future of the state of Iowa requires it.”
The task force is an outgrowth of the governor’s education summit in July, but the group’s work won’t be complete until this time next year, when the task force will make recommendations that may require legislative action. Governor Branstad had originally planned to hold a “special” legislative session this fall to try to pass ideas from the education summit.
“We’ve become more realistic about what is the art of possible and also this is a pretty big endeavor,” Branstad says. “…It became obvious to do a quality job and to really build a bipartisan consensus it’s going to take more time and we need to take the time to do it right and to do it well.”
The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Task Force has 40 members and will have its first meeting October 31, although an executive committee will meet on September 14. In addition to the lieutenant governor and UNI’s president, who will serve as co-chairs, the presidents of Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, Grinnell College and the Des Moines Area Community College will be part of the task force along with Branstad’s economic development director, education director and the director of the Iowa Workforce Development agency.