Education & Schools
Treasurer Fitzgerald Encourages Iowans to Invest Their Tax Refunds in College Savings Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Karen Austin   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:06

DES MOINES, IA (04/11/2013)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is encouraging Iowans to make the most of their tax refunds this year by investing in College Savings Iowa. "Much like the April 15 deadline for taxes, the time to save for college is over before you know it," said Fitzgerald. "Put your refund to good use and start saving for a loved one's future educational needs today. By starting early, saving a little at a time and making smart investment choices, families can make their savings work for them."

College Savings Iowa is designed to provide families a tax-advantaged way to save money for their children's higher education. It only takes $25 to open an account, and anyone – parents, grandparents, friends and relatives – can invest in College Savings Iowa on behalf of a child. Participants who are Iowa taxpayers can deduct contributions up to $3,045 per beneficiary from their 2013 adjusted gross income, and there are no income or residency restrictions.* Earnings grow tax free and investors can withdraw their investment federally and Iowa state tax-free to pay for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, books, supplies and certain room and board costs at any eligible college, university, community college or accredited technical training school in the United States or abroad.**

Saving for a child's education is always a smart investment, and College Savings Iowa is there to help. To learn more about College Savings Iowa or to open an account, please visit or call 1-888-672-9116.

*Adjusted annually for inflation. If withdrawals are not qualified, the deductions must be added back to Iowa taxable income.

**Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.


Investment returns are not guaranteed and you could lose money by investing in the plan. Participants assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences. If you are not an Iowa taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or the designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program.

For more information about the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan, call 888-672-9116 or visit to obtain a Program Description. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in the Program Description; read and consider it carefully before investing.

College Savings Iowa is an Iowa trust sponsored by the Iowa State Treasurer's Office. The Treasurer of the State of Iowa sponsors and is responsible for overseeing the administration of the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan. The Vanguard Group, Inc., serves as Investment Manager and Vanguard Marketing Corporation, an affiliate of The Vanguard Group, Inc., assists the Treasurer with marketing and distributing the Plan. Upromise Investment Advisors, LLC, provides records administration services. The Plan's portfolios, although they invest in Vanguard mutual funds, are not mutual funds.

Let’s Arm Educators — With Information PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:00
Systematic Identification of At-Risk Students is Key
By: Dr. Mariam Azin

Can guns in the classroom prevent the next school shooting tragedy? The National Rifle Association has proposed arming teachers as a deterrent to the next Adam Lanza or T.J. Lane. While school districts will need to find the security solutions that they and their communities are comfortable with, I’d like to see our teachers, principals and staff armed with something potentially more powerful — the tools and information to identify students who are headed for a mental health crisis.

Every time a troubled young person commits a horrific act of violence, we try to understand what went wrong. The media is still looking into Adam Lanza’s upbringing, mental health status, and school records for clues to the Newtown, Conn., tragedy. We’ve done the same for James Holmes, Jared Lee Laughner, TJ Lane. In every case, we find that there were warning signs, usually years in advance. One thing we know: a mentally healthy, socially secure and well-balanced teen doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to kill a dozen people. Teachers, neighbors, peers and relatives always are able to look backwards and identify things that just “weren’t quite right.”

Mental health experts estimate that one in 10 teens has a mental health issue, and as many as 80 percent of them may be undiagnosed. Mental health problems like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder often manifest between the ages of 14 and 24. It is no accident that many of the most publicized mass shootings have been carried out by young people (often men) in their teens or twenties.

What role can schools play in ensuring that teens who need mental health services are identified, referred and receive services? We may want to exempt schools from this responsibility and insist that they focus only on academics. But the reality is, they cannot focus on academics unless they have first established a safe environment for learning. Students who are in a mental health crisis are a disruption to the learning process in the best case, and a danger to themselves, their peers and school staff in the worst case.

We can—and should—talk about appropriate security precautions. But this addresses only one piece of the problem. If we could make our schools perfectly secure, a troubled student intent on homicide would then take his weapon to the theater, the mall or the public park. We need to figure out how to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening at all, without turning ourselves into a police state.

The way to do this is to focus on early identification of students who are showing signs of risk, and establishing a strong referral and monitoring program to make sure that students in need of mental health services actually receive and benefit from them. It’s not enough to simply log an incident report and walk away. We need to ask what kind of services does the student need? The family? And make sure they have access to appropriate resources. And then we need to follow up, to make sure that the connection was made and interventions are working. If they’re not, we need to try something else.

Why should schools be involved in the identification and referral process? Because that’s where the students are. Our high schools and colleges are the front lines, and the last place where we will have young people all gathered together. We cannot count on every family being able to recognize potential problems and self-refer. But we can train our teachers, school counselors and administrators to do a better job of recognizing emerging issues, and give them the tools and resources they need for appropriate identification, referral and management of school- and community-based resources.

Keeping our children and communities safe requires more than security precautions. We have a responsibility to potential future victims to do everything we can to prevent future tragedies like Sandy Hook. We also have a responsibility to potential future perpetrators to find them before their demons carry them too far away from us to save.

We may not be able to rescue every future Adam Lanza from the demons within. But recognizing and treating signs of dangerous mental illness at the onset will do more to keep our communities safe than all the guns, locks and metal detectors our money can buy.

About Dr. Mariam Azin: Dr. Mariam Azin holds a doctorate in applied social psychology and has more than 20 years of experience in educational research and evaluation. She has been the principal investigator on numerous large-scale evaluation efforts related to at-risk learners; curriculum and instruction; educational technology; and community programs spanning mental health, substance use and criminal justice. She served as joint principal investigator on three federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students evaluations. In 2012 she founded Mazin Education (, an educational company focused on software solutions that help schools to better assess, identify and serve at-risk students.

Scholarship fundraiser for the Jerry Wilkerson Scholarship Fund at Scott Community College PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Sharisha Wilkerson   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 13:50

A scholarship fundraiser for the Jerry Wilkerson Scholarship Fund at Scott Community College will be held on May 18, 2013 at RME RedStone Room from 5pm-11pm.

Featuring musicians like Ellis Kell and members of Funktastic 5 and other local musicians from the area.  Along with other entertainment there will be a silent auction and 50/50 drawings.

Quirmbach: The price of education reform is 4% allowable growth over next two years PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 13:43

(DES MOINES) – Last month, state Sen. Herman Quirmbach put a price tag on the governor’s education reform plan, which was 4% increase in state aid in each of the next two years. The quote:

“The price now for education reform is 4 and 4, I want the governor to know this.” - Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Mason City Globe Gazette, March 6, 2013

“The Branstad administration acknowledged this, and understands this is the price for the governor’s education reform,” said Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht. “We expect Senator Quirmbach to remain true to his word and support the plan put forward by House Republicans today, which included four percent growth each of the next two years, and contains the governor’s education reform plan. This is a good faith compromise with the Senate Democrats’ funding priorities and Republican reform priorities, and is legislation both parties in both chambers can support. The governor supports this legislation and hopes Senate Democrats will join him and Iowa House Republicans in this truly historic effort to make Iowa’s schools the best in the nation once again.”


Lt. Gov. Simon to be featured speaker at University of Chicago PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kara Beach   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 09:19

CHICAGO – Lt. Governor Simon will be the featured speaker at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics’ “Poultry and Politics” on Wednesday. Simon will talk to students about her commitment to public service, which has led to her serving as the state’s second highest-ranking official.

“Our students are the next generation of leaders,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “I look forward to sharing my background with them, and hearing their perspectives on today’s pressing issues.”

As Lt. Governor, Simon serves as the state’s point person on education reform and as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and military families. Simon will also discuss her work with the General Assembly on high-profile issues such as marriage equality and concealed carry – all over Harold’s Fried Chicken, an institution on Chicago’s South Side.

DATE: Wednesday, April 10

TIME: 6 p.m.

PLACE: University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, 5707 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago


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