If you've been watching NBC at all this week, it's been hard to miss - Education Nation!  This nationally broadcast, in-depth conversation about improving education in America is exploring our educational "ecosystem", where 68% of eighth-graders can't read at grade level, one-third drop out of high school, and another third aren't college-ready when they graduate.  Education Nation's mission is to gather parents, teachers, and students with leaders in politics, business, and technology for enlightened discussion of potential solutions in education.  As you take in the thought-provoking coverage of Education Nation this week, consider exploring the educational options available in your community!

Rivermont Collegiate is the Quad Cities' only private, independent, nonsectarian college preparatory school, serving preschool through twelfth grade.  As an independent school, Rivermont offers faculty the freedom to create education experiences that meet individual student needs, with vast options in choosing curriculum.  100% of Rivermont graduates are accepted to four-year colleges and universities, with over 90% earning four-year renewable merit scholarships ($1.4 million in 2009).  Our close-knit school community creates a supportive learning environment that nurtures individuality and curiosity, while encouraging students to express ideas, share perspectives, and think critically.

Join us for Open Tours the first Tuesday of every month to explore the Rivermont approach to learning!  The next Open Tour will be held Tuesday, October 5th from 8:30-10:00 a.m.  No appointment necessary!  Drop in to explore our philosophy and curriculum, take a tour of campus, see our teachers in action, and get answers to all your questions about Rivermont.

For additional information on Education Nation coverage, including NBC programming and numerous interactive resources, visit www.educationnation.com

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate or Tuesday's Open Tours, contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org

 

-END-

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today, Monday, September 27th, announced that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $46,041 grant to the Iowa Department of Education.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Education will use the money to fund an in-service training program for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services staff

Each year, thousands of local Iowa organizations, colleges and universities, individuals and state agencies apply for competitive grants and loans from the federal government.  The funding is then awarded based on each local organization or individual's ability to meet criteria set by the federal entity administering the funds.

-30-

Thursday, September 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today joined fellow foster youth advocates to release new data showing the educational playing field is not level for children in foster care, whose academic careers are often affected by multiple school relocations.  Grassley is founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over foster care programs.

"One of the primary goals of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth is to get these kids involved in shaping the policy that affects them," Grassley said.  "We've heard firsthand from foster youth how hard it is to stay in the same school. A foster youth might get a new placement that's a few miles from his current school, yet have to switch schools because of school district rules. New schools don't always accept paperwork from the old school. Congress needs to look at whatever can be done to ease the burden on these kids and help them make healthy, lasting connections. And we'll continue to hear from the kids themselves as we move forward on policy."

Grassley joined a news conference held by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and Fostering Media Connections to release preliminary findings from a pilot program showing that foster youth in four counties in California are less likely than their closely matched peers and the general student population to achieve proficiency in English and math at all grade levels.

As one of the principal drafters of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 - the most significant foster youth legislation to become law in recent years -- Grassley supported provisions to promote stability in educational placements for youth in foster care.

Earlier this year, Grassley spearheaded a request from the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee encouraging the committee to hear from foster youth in hearings on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The committee agreed and heard testimony from a former foster youth.

To watch video of Grassley's remarks at today's press conference, please click here.

Sept 23, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have been awarded a total of $838,018 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support two research projects.  The NSF funds research and education in science and engineering, through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements.  Harkin is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"Iowa and Iowa State have reputations for conducting cutting edge research, and these grants will help them move forward with two exciting projects," Harkin said. "Funding research is often the first step towards scientific breakthroughs that can improve the lives of millions - and both of these projects have the added benefit of training Iowa students while they move the science forward.  Congratulations to both schools on this funding."  

Details on the projects follow.

-    $520,009 to Iowa State University for a project entitled "Origin of the Electric Field-induced Strain in Lead-free Piezoelectric Ceramics." This project aims to uncover the fundamental mechanism of the piezoelectric deformation in lead-free ceramics. The research findings will ultimately lead to the production of ceramics that will replace lead-containing piezoelectric materials. Therefore, a significant impact on health and the environment is anticipated. In addition to getting graduate and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups involved, this project will also directly benefit the K-12 education in local schools in Ames, Iowa through the lectures on piezoelectric devices to the Science Olympiad (http://soinc.org/) team students.

- $318,009 to the University of Iowa for a project entitled "ATD Collaborative Research: A computational analysis of multi-strain structure in genetically diverse bacterial populations in a natural host environment."  The proposed work will provide general tools for quantifying an epidemiological similarity between newly detected pathogen variant and known bacterial species, which contribute to the general problem on the assessment of bio-threat associated with newly detected variants. The proposed estimation methods can be generally applicable for estimating PDE models used in epidemiological studies, as well as in other fields, e.g. finance. A computer package implementing the proposed methods will be freely available to the public. The research team will continue to maintain the strong record of training PhD students in cross-disciplinary research.  

Third Reduction in Three Years

DES MOINES, IA (09/22/2010)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced today that the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan has reduced expenses for plan participants by one third. The annual asset-based fee on the plan's entire lineup of investment options has been reduced from 0.50% to 0.34%. The reduction will become effective on October 15, 2010.

College Savings Iowa makes it simple by offering all of its thirteen investment options at the same affordable price. With no additional account fees, the plan's all-in 0.34% expense puts it among the most competitive 529 plans available to college savers nationwide.

"College Savings Iowa has grown to over $2.2 billion in assets due to its nationwide appeal," Fitzgerald stated. "That growth has given us the ability to continue to lower the expenses, which allows investors to keep more money working toward their college savings goals."

The plan has a history of lowering expenses; since 2007, a series of expense reductions have lowered the all-in costs of each of the plan's investment options from 0.62% to 0.34% today.

"We're pleased to help deliver savings to College Savings Iowa investors," said Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb.

College Savings Iowa has continually received high marks from organizations rating 529 plans across the nation, including Savingforcollege.com and Morningstar, which each rate 529 plans across the nation. Additionally, HLN money expert Clark Howard recently named the 529 plan as one of the top three in the country.

College Savings Iowa is designed to provide families a tax-advantaged way to save money for their children's higher education. The plan lets anyone - parents, grandparents, friends and relatives - invest for college. Iowa taxpayers can deduct up to $2,811 in contributions per beneficiary account from their adjusted gross income in 2010.* Investors do not need to be a state resident and can withdraw their investment tax-free to pay for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, books, supplies and room and board at any eligible college, university, community college or accredited technical training school in the United States or abroad.** Participants in College Savings Iowa can also take advantage of Upromise®, which enables families to earn cash rewards from their everyday spending.*** For more information about College Savings Iowa, visit www.collegesavingsiowa.com or call 1-888-672-9116.

Treasurer Fitzgerald reminds Iowans the deadline is September 30

DES MOINES, IA (09/20/2010)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald reminds Iowans that there is free money for college on the table. "We are giving away a $529 account in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of saving now for future college expenses," stated Fitzgerald. "Don't miss out on this great opportunity to jumpstart your child's college savings." To register and to see complete details, go to www.iowa529contest.com.

Studies show that children who have money saved for them are almost four times more likely to attend a four-year college than those with no account.* This makes saving ahead of time one of the most significant things families can do to help make college a reality for their children. By starting early and saving regularly, families can watch their savings and their children grow side by side. September is College Savings Month, a time when families are encouraged to explore the benefits of saving through a 529 plan like College Savings Iowa.

College Savings Iowa is an affordable, tax-advantaged option for families who are saving for their children's college education. It takes just $25 to open a College Savings Iowa account, and investors can contribute as little as $25 when adding to the account. Participants who are Iowa taxpayers can deduct contributions up to $2,811 per beneficiary account from their adjusted gross income in 2010. **

Anyone can invest in College Savings Iowa on behalf of a child. Investors do not need to be a state resident and can withdraw their investment federally 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 technical training school in the United States or abroad. *** To learn more about College Savings Iowa, go to www.my529iowaplan.com or call 1-800-523-0644.

*From the Center for Social Development study: The Role of Savings and Wealth in Reducing "Wilt" between Expectations and College Attendance. William Elliott III and Sondra Beverly, 2010.

**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.

Everyone wants to make paying for a college education as painless as possible, particularly in these economic times.  With proper research and planning, paying college bills doesn't have to be difficult or devastating.  While most are aware of the value of scholarships and financial aid, many may not recognize the financial value of the College Board's Advanced Placement Program (AP), which provides the opportunity to take college-level courses while still in high school and earn college credit.

Most students take five or six years, and sometimes even longer, to earn their bachelor's degrees at public colleges and universities.  Students who take longer to graduate from a public college or university can expect to pay between $8,000 and $19,000 for each additional year - and that figure can easily be over $26,000 at a private institution.  Studies have shown that AP students have significantly better four-year graduation rates than those who do not take AP - a 2008 study found graduation rates for AP English Literature students were 62% higher than for those who took other English courses in high school.*  In addition, many colleges report considering a student's AP experience when making scholarship decisions.  When these facts are taken into consideration, AP just makes cents!

Students at Rivermont Collegiate have virtually limitless options in selecting AP courses.  For the 2010-11 academic year alone, Rivermont students are enrolled in AP Calculus AB and BC, AP English Language and Composition, AP Biology, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Environmental Science, and AP U.S. Government and Politics.  Rivermont is especially excited to announce that Roshan Babu, Class of 2010, has qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Exams with scores of 3 or higher.  Only about 18% of 1.8 million students worldwide performed at a sufficiently high level to earn an AP Scholar Award.  Roshan, son of Dr. Hari and Mrs. Shobha Babu of Rock Island, IL, is now attending the UMKC University of Missouri at Kansas City Baccalaureate-MD program.

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate, contact Cindy Murray, Director of Admissions, at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org.

-END-

* Costs include tuition, fees, and books only, and do not include room, board, and other living expenses. Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets, 2008-09 (Enrollment-Weighted). The College Board,"Trends in College Pricing," 2008.

Free program provides teachers with pencils to use during Basic Skills testing

DES MOINES, IA (09/14/2010)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is again offering free pencils for Iowa teachers to use during annual skills testing of 2nd and 3rd grade students through the Prepare for the Basics program. Last year the program distributed over 16,000 pencils to schools statewide. "Testing helps teachers monitor the growth of students' basic skills," Fitzgerald said. "This program is a small gesture of appreciation to our teachers for their hard work."

The Prepare for the Basics program also provides students and their families with information about College Savings Iowa, the state-sponsored 529 plan designed to provide an affordable, tax-advantaged way to save for future college expenses. "Families who can start saving early will be in a better position to help pay for college when the time comes," Fitzgerald stated. "Saving ahead of time may reduce the need to borrow for college, which can help families-and their children-get to graduation with less debt." To learn more about College Savings Iowa, go to www.collegesavingsiowa.com or call 1-888-672-9116

Teachers can register to participate in the Prepare for the Basics program online at www.treasurer.state.ia.us. Click first on Education, then on Prepare for the Basics. Program materials will be sent directly to the participating schools. To ensure timely arrival, materials should be requested at least two weeks prior to testing. Supplies are limited, so early registration is advised.

BEING AN AMERICAN ESSAY CONTEST
FOCUSES ON AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP

Students and Their Teachers Compete for Cash Prizes Up to $5,000;

Nearly $115,000 and 54 All-Expenses Paid Trips toNation's Capital to be Awarded

Arlington, VA - U.S. high school students and their teachers are invited to compete for nearly $115,000 in prize money by participating in the Bill of Rights Institute's fifth annual Being an American Essay Contest. Top prize winners and their teachers will also receive all-expenses paid trips to the nation's capital.

The largest high school essay contest in the country, awarding 180 students and teachers with cash prizes and attracting more than 50,000 essays last year, explores the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. The contest is administered by the Bill of Rights Institute,a non-profit educational organizationin the Washington, D.C. area devoted to educating children about the Constitution and Founding principles. The sponsors include the History Channel and the Stuart Family Foundation.

"This contest is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to think about the important civic values communicated in our Founding documents, and embodied by American civic heroes," said Dr. Jason Ross, Bill of Rights Institute Vice President of Education Programs. "This context is vital to helping students see their own acts of good citizenship as a meaningful part of the American experiment of self-government."

Specifically, students are asked to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the following question: "What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?"

The top three student winners and their teachers from each of the nine geographical regions will be announced at a special Washington, D.C. Awards Gala in the spring of 2011, where they will be awarded cash prizes of $5,000 (First Place), $1,000 (Second Place), and $500 (Third Place). The winning students willalsoexplore the nation's capital, meet contemporary American heroes and national leaders, and visit national landmarks.

Additionally, the contest will award 126 honorable mention prizes of $100 to seven students and their teachers from each region.

"The contest not only honors and awards sponsoring teachers, but also equips them with free lesson plans and other supplemental materials that meet state and national academic standards so they can easily incorporate the essay contest into their classrooms," said Being an American Essay Contest Director John Croft.

Nearly 100,000 students have participated in the essay contest since it began in 2006. Now in its fifth year, the contest is the largest high school essay contest in the country.

"The Being an American Essay Contest is a wonderful way to awaken students' interest in the ideas of the American Founding. The Stuart Family Foundation is honored to be one of the Contest's supporters," said Stuart Family Foundation Executive Director Truman Anderson.

Complete contest details can be found below. Further information, including submission criteria, lesson plans and background information on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founders and other Americans who have contributed to America's shared civic values, are available at www.BeingAnAmerican.org.

MEDIA FAST FACTS:
BEING AN AMERICAN ESSAY CONTEST

2010-2011 SCHOOL YEAR PARTICIPATING REGIONS:

  • New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Mid-Atlantic: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
  • South Atlantic: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C.
  • Mid-South: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
  • South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
  • Great Plains: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota,  South Dakota
  • Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
  • Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
  • Pacific: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, U.S. Territories, American Armed Forces Schools Abroad

SPONSORING ORGANIZATION: Bill of Rights Institute, Arlington, VA.

The Bill of Rights Institute, founded in 1999, is a nonprofit educational organization. The mission of the Bill of Rights Institute is to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society.

FUNDING PROVIDED BY: History Channel (New York City, NY) and The Stuart Family Foundation (Chicago, IL).

CONTEST GOAL: To explore the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the civic values that unite us as Americans.

ESSAY QUESTION: "What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American? Trace the enduring importance of this value throughout the American story by discussing: a Founding document that reflects this value; a figure from American history who embodies this value; and examples of how you have and/or could put this value into practice."

ELIGIBILITY: Students in grades 9-12 who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and are either attending public, private, religious, or charter schools, being home-schooled, or participating in a GED or correspondence school program but are no older than 19 years of age. Military bases and U.S. territories are also invited to participate.

ESSAY LENGTH: No more 750 words.
JUDGING CRITERIA:
  • Adherence to Essay Question
  • Originality
  • Organization
  • Writing Style
  • Depth of Analysis

JUDGES: High school teachers

STUDENT CASH PRIZES: Ten cash prizes per region will be awarded to students:

  • First Prize: $5,000 each
  • Second Prize: $1,000 each
  • Third Prize: $500 each
  • Seven Honorable Mentions: $100 each

TEACHER CASH PRIZES: Ten cash prizes per region will be awarded to the teachers of the winning students:

  • First Prize: $5,000 each
  • Second Prize: $1,000 each
  • Third Prize: $500 each
  • Seven Honorable Mentions: $100 each

WASHINGTON, D.C. TRIP: The top three winners (first, second and third places) from each region, their teacher, and a guardian will be awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. in the Spring of 2011.

CONTEST START DATE: September 1, 2010

DEADLINE FOR ESSAY SUBMISSIONS: December 1, 2010. All essays must be submitted by a high school teacher at www.BeingAnAmerican.org.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Spring 2011

WEB SITE AND CONTEST GUIDELINES: www.BeingAnAmerican.org

WASHINGTON - Sept 10, 2010 - Senator Chuck Grassley today said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Grants Operations Management awarded a $396,000 grant to Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport.

Palmer College will use the money to fund a research focused initiative.

Each year, thousands of local Iowa organizations, colleges and universities, individuals and state agencies apply for competitive grants from the federal government.  The funding is then awarded based on each local organization or individual's ability to meet criteria set by the federal entity administering the funds.

-30-

Pages