Branstad touts education plan, but are educators being heard? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Gov. Branstad touting education plan, but are educators being heard?

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TAMA COUNTY (KWWL) -

A plan from Governor Terry Branstad calls for sweeping changes to Iowa's schools, with a goal of making the state top in the nation and top 10 in the world for education.  The governor says getting input from educators is important before finalizing the plan, but not all schools are sure their voices will be heard.

Governor Branstad is holding town hall meetings across the state, including one in Cedar Falls Tuesday afternoon, to get some feedback on his blueprint for education reform.  Many educators are taking the chance to hear more about the plan, ask questions, and make comments.

"20 years ago we were the best America, highest achieving.  Now we're middle of the pack.  That's not acceptable.  We want our students to have the best education so they can get the best jobs," Gov. Branstad said.

Governor Branstad says it's important to get public input to help shape his reform plan.  But several of his town hall meetings, like one in Toledo Tuesday, have been held during the day—when school is in session.  That's made it tough for many teachers and administrators to attend and have their voices heard, which some say is a reflection of the plan's shortfalls when it comes to pulling teachers from class for more training.

"If our teachers are gone quite a bit of the time at the area agency or going to other meetings, they're not in front of our students.  And they need time to practice some of these initiatives.  Then it's time they're needing, planning time, for the teachers and right now there's not enough of that," North Tama Superintendent Robert Cue said.

Still, Governor Branstad insists that because there have been some evening and town hall weekend meetings, plenty of input is being collected.  Educators are also encouraged to submit their thoughts online, through the governor and department of education's websites.

"We need to have the involvement of students, parents, and the community to be successful," Gov. Branstad said.

Many teachers and administrators do support the ideas behind the governor's proposals and just hope that the administration does give careful consideration to their concerns--including how any changes to education will be paid for. 

Governor Branstad's administration will have another education town hall meeting later this week in Sioux City.  They hope to take all the input collected and have a final revision of the education blueprint, and a price tag for the plan, ready before the legislature reconvenes in January.

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