Education Reform: Iowa Legislators Must Make Way for New Ideas

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, April 8, 2013

When legislators struggle just to pass modest education reform proposals, transforming our public school system can seem an impossible goal. And it would be if we asked lawmakers to devise a perfect plan to remake every Iowa school into a lean, mean, 21st Century learning machine.

That plan doesn’t exist, for starters. More important, it’s the wrong approach.

Smart experts already are developing new ways of teaching that fit the needs and strengths of Iowa students. Legislators’ role is to make room for those good ideas, whenever possible, and to get out of the way when they can’t.

A recent Gazette article about algebra teachers in the College Community School District provides a perfect example. There, teachers are making more efficient use of class time byflip-flopping the traditional routine of lecture and take-home assignments. Students watch taped lectures at home and work on assignments during class. Teachers are there to offer one-on-one assistance; students can work together, rather than struggle through problems alone.

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