Education Reform

Education reform took one step closer to the Governor’s desk this week. Through a quick transition, the House pushed the Senate version through subcommittee and committee on Monday, and followed that with a short debate on the floor. The bill passed, as amended by the House, 54-45.

The new language put forth by the House and sent back to the Senate was a real effort at finding a compromise.

The resulting language the House passed makes some positive steps towards creating a stronger educational system in Iowa and includes:

  • A path forward for competency-based learning
  • Increased opportunities for online learning
  • Annual teacher and administrator evaluations
  • Value-added measures, which help measure student growth
  • A system of accountability for schools
  • Improved and relevant assessments
  • Development of an optional statewide professional development plan
  • An early literacy framework designed to get kids reading at grade level by the end of third grade, including retention to prevent sending children on without the tools for success
  • Great flexibility for school districts with home rule authority
  • Multiple task forces to continue the conversation on education reform.
  • The latest effort by the House is a good faith move to show the Senate we are willing to come together to the table to find a path towards compromise, while still maintaining elements the House feels are transformational for Iowa’s education system.

    On Monday, April 16, 2012, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reminded eligible farm owners that the deadline to apply for the 2012 Century and Heritage Farm Program is June 1, 2012. The ceremony to recognize the 2012 Century and Heritage Farms will be held at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday, August 14th. The program recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Farm Bureau sponsor the award.

    Applications are available on the Department’s website at Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, via phone at 515-281-3645, email at or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319. Farm families seeking to be recognized this year must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2012.

    The Century Farm program began in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration and over 17,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition. The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 500 farms have been recognized. Last year 341 Century Farms and 56 Heritage Farms were recognized.