Gov. Tom Vilsack urged Iowa lawmakers and local school officials to take bold steps to improve education at the preschool and at high school levels in his annual Condition of the State Address.
The second-term Democrat dedicated a significant portion of his Jan. 11 speech to backing the recommendations of the 38-member Iowa Learns Council, which for more than a year studied ways for Iowa to provide a “world-class and seamless educational learning opportunity for our children,” he said.
Among the panel’s ideas that the governor pledged to support in his forthcoming fiscal 2006 budget plan are expanding financial assistance to working parents for child care, creating a rating system for child-care facilities, and expanding access to preschool.
“Most Iowans would be surprised to learn that less than 20 percent of our children have access to accredited quality preschool,” the governor declared.
At the other end of the K-12 education spectrum, Gov. Vilsack said the state should follow the panel’s recommendations to make the high school curriculum more rigorous, toughen graduation requirements, and tighten relationships between high schools and higher education.
Locally, he said communities with declining revenue and enrollments should consider sharing administrative staffs and consolidating school districts.
He pledged to offer incentive funding in his budget for such actions. “The time to make this commitment is now,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week