State Journal

By Robert C. Johnston — October 01, 2004 1 min read

—Robert C. Johnston

Instead of handing out tax breaks to adults, Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa has been handing out quarters to schoolchildren.

But this is no ordinary coin.

On Sept. 3, the governor joined U.S. Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore in Des Moines at a celebration marking the official release of the nation’s newest state quarter: a 25-cent piece that features Iowa and declares the state’s commitment to education.

Some 500 children at the event were among the first to have one of the shiny new quarters—900 pounds of which were shipped to Des Moines for the event.

The quarter, the 29th to be released in what will be a 50-state series, features a one-room schoolhouse with a teacher and students planting a tree.

At the top of the quarter is the inscription “Foundation in Education.”

The scene is based on “Arbor Day,” a painting by the Iowa-born artist Grant Wood, whose name also appears on the quarter.

“This is a proud day for Iowa,” said Gov. Vilsack, a Democrat. “Education has always been a top priority in the state.”

When Iowa became the 29th state in 1846, it already had a number of country schools in each of its counties, according to a summary of information about the new quarter published by the U.S. Mint. Iowa established its first high school in the 1850s, though high schools generally did not become widespread in the United States until after 1900, the summary adds.

The Iowa quarter won a ringing endorsement from Ms. Fore.

“It will become our education quarter,” the director of the Mint said in a written statement. “As students are heading back to school, they will carry this in their pockets.”

Iowa’s winning design was one of nearly 2,000 submitted to the 16-member state commission that reviewed them. Among the finalists that “Foundation in Education” bested were the agriculture-themed entries “Feeding the World” and “Young Corn.”

“From this point on, across the country, citizens will look at the Iowa quarter and be reminded of this state’s unprecedented commitment to children and the education they receive,” Gov. Vilsack added.

Launched in 1999, the State Quarters Program has been hit for the U.S. Mint, whose classroom lesson plans based on the program are at