Tom Vilsack on Education

Democratic IA Governor


We need educational revolution, NOT “No Child Left Behind”

We should make sure that we produce a relevant education for all of our children. As I said earlier, it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We must have an education system that makes sure that every single youngster reaches their potential and is the most creative and innovative person they can possibly be. We have to have a revolution in education; not No Child Left Behind.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference , Jun 14, 2006

Support a funded No Child Left Behind program

The administration supports full funding of the No Child Left Behind Act, as promised by Congress and the White House. The authorized funding level is $20.5 billion, but President Bush’s proposal is $7 billion short, leaving 5 million children behind nationally by punishing schools that cannot afford to carry out the new mandates. For federal fiscal year 2004, Congress approved funding that is only 19 percent of the cost.
Source: Press Release , Jan 23, 2004

Demand funding for disabled learning

The administration wants the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School and the Iowa School for the Deaf made eligible for Harkin Grant school infrastructure funding.
Source: Press Release , Jan 23, 2004

More pay for teachers, with merit pay

If we are to transition to a new economy and to lead it, we must start by transforming our schools and continue the commitment to excellence and high student achievement. I propose in the budget an initial first-year investment of $40 million in new state dollars.
    [My proposed] plan is driven by a simple principle: For our children to achieve their very best, they must be taught by the very best. We can no longer take quality teachers for granted. In a world of opportunity, quality comes at a price.
  1. It requires a rigorous course of study to become a teacher and participation in a multi-year induction or mentoring program in the first two years of teaching.
  2. It establishes a research-based program of continuing education designed to improve student learning.
  3. It proposes to strategically increase teacher pay.
  4. It creates a variable pay program that rewards teachers, administrators, and certified staff for annual improvements in student achievement.
Source: Condition of the State speech to the Legislature , Jan 9, 2001

Offer every parent Charter Schools and public school choice.

Vilsack signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Create World-Class Public Schools
Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.

To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.

As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.

We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC2 on Aug 1, 2000

Improve and invest in public schools.

Vilsack is a member of the Democratic Governors Association:

Principles of the Democratic Governors Association:


Democratic Governors are leading the way with highly-trained teachers, strong standards and accountability, increased funding to repair and modernize public school facilities, access to technology and computers, and more discipline and safety in the classrooms. Democratic Governors believe the most important aspect to insure a child’s education is to have the best possible teachers in the classroom. They believe that we must value teachers as professionals, encourage their development to be the best teachers they can be for our children and compensate them accordingly. Democratic Governors favor greater parental choice, but oppose measures that weaken public schools diverting taxpayer dollars to private schools with no accountability for results. Democratic Governors around the country are also forming innovative public-private partnerships to create programs to provide early childhood education, nutrition and health care services to ensure that our children have the best possible start in life.

Source: DGA website, www.DemocraticGovernors.org/ 01-DGA2 on Aug 15, 2001

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Page last updated: Sep 01, 2021