• Gov. Tom Vilsack
Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa used his annual Condition of the State Address on Jan. 10 to shove aside any notion that he will be a lame-duck leader in the final year of his two-term tenure.
Preschool: Drawing attention to his record on education, the Democrat told the joint session of the legislature gathered for the speech that he wants to expand preschool opportunities to all Iowa 4-year-olds, raise teacher pay, and encourage local experimentation with longer school days, schools-within-schools, and expanded course offerings.
Mr. Vilsack said he wants to expand the state’s Strong Start program, which began last year as an effort to promote school readiness, with $15 million in new fiscal 2007 aid to begin a five-year effort to make preschool available to all 4-year-olds.
A video of the governor’s speech is also posted. (Requires a media player.)
Teacher Quality:The governor added that he wants to turn attention back to a set of teacher-improvement policies that were passed in 2001, but that slowed down when the state’s economy took a turn for the worse. With fiscal projections looking up, Mr. Vilsack called again for raising the state’s average teacher salary to the national average in five years.
Iowa’s average in the 2003-04 school year was $38,381, compared with the national average of $46,597.
“Our teachers deserve it, and more importantly, our children’s future depends on it,” Gov. Vilsack said.