APPOINTMENT CONTROVERSY: The Iowa State Education Association is crying foul over the appointment of Patty Link to the newly formed Council on Educator Development.

Link is the Iowa director of Students First, a national school reform organization founded by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. The group was the largest single donor to state legislative races in 2012 and lobbied members of the General Assembly and Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration on reform policy in the run-up to passage of the 2013 education reform bill.

The 19-member council will make recommendations on a new statewide evaluation system for teachers and school administrators.

“The ISEA is terribly disappointed in the Branstad Administration's announcement today. Instead of selecting a parent without a political agenda, the Administration has chosen to select someone who is a paid employee of a California-based political organization, Students First, that is bent on bringing their own agenda into what otherwise could have been a constructive discussion on educator development," ISEA President Tammy Wawro said in a prepared statement. Wawro also was appointed as a member on the council.

Link responded in a statement issued by Students First: "I look forward to working with fellow committee members to ensure that Iowa crafts an evaluation system that creates positive change by prioritizing the interests of its students and providing support for teachers.”

A local educator also was appointed to the panel. Jimmy Casas, principal of Bettendorf High School, is among the members. State Rep. Cindy Winckler, D-Davenport, was named a non-voting member of the group.

Other members appointed Friday: Jon Sheldahl, chief administrator, Great Prairie Area Education Agency, Ottumwa; Dana Schon, professional learning director, School Administrators of Iowa, Clive; Stephen Miller, employment consultant, Iowa Association of School Boards, Des Moines; Bev Smith, human relations director, Urban Education Network of Iowa, Waterloo; J.D. Cryer, field experience coordinator, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls; Dave Versteeg, superintendent, Montezuma Community School District, Montezuma; Michelle Lettington, executive director of curriculum and professional learning, Waukee Community School District, Waukee; Carol Farver, principal, Newton Community School District, Newton; Elaine Baughman, special education teacher, Harlan Community School District, Harlan; Joel Illian, special education teacher, Pekin Community School District, Packwood; Derek Schulte, business education teacher, Southeast Polk Community School District, Pleasant Hill; Billy Strickler, elementary teacher, Fairfield Community School District, Fairfield; Byron Darnall, bureau chief, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines; Joanne Tubbs, licensure consultant, Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Des Moines; Robin Trimble-White, director of teacher education and professor, Grand View University, Des Moines; and Tom Buckmiller, professor, Drake University, Des Moines.

Other non-voting members state Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, state Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak and state Rep. Ron Jorgensen, R-Sioux City.

FITZGERALD OUT: Longtime Iowa State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald said Friday that he will not run for the Democratic nomination for governor. The Des Moines Register reported Fitzgerald’s announcement.

“Treasurer Fitzgerald has been a dedicated public servant for the last thirty years. He has served Iowa taxpayers well by safeguarding and investing our general funds. I look forward to continuing to work with him as Treasurer as we begin to lay the groundwork for the next 30 years,” Democrat Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids said in a prepared statement.

Olson is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, said he will officially get into the race on Sept. 17. Former state Rep. Bob Krause of Des Moines also is considering a run.

I'm the city editor at the Quad-City Times. You can reach me at or 563-383-2450.

(2) comments


Really? Do some research on Students First? You mean the Students First organization who is run by Michelle Rhee, the same Michelle Rhee who's organization gave a "reformer of the year" award to an co-author of a "don't say gay" bill in Tennessee (later pressured to rescind this award by an 11 year old).

Or perhaps the same StudentsFirst organization who was the largest outside spender in the Iowa elections of 2012.

Or the same Michelle Rhee who's tenure in the Washington D.C. Schools is still under scrutiny after alligations of cheating.

Or the same StudentsFirst organization that has 5 registered lobbyists, working to pass legislation that would have tied teacher paid to student scores, a calling card of this organization.

Sorry, I have researched this organization, and it smells of the reformers who are tearing down public education, replacing it with something that run through private corporations who will be more worried about the bottom line and shareholders then those who truly need education.

Is education in need of reform? Absolutely! But will Students First and Ms. Link be part of a reform we can be proud of? Based on what I see, I really don't think so.


Judging from the statement released by The Iowa State Education Association, it appears that they are the partisan and politically minded organization that intends on imposing their single minded agenda, and not Patty Link. This is simply more liberal propaganda delivered by the QC Times, as usual. Hey, Times Bureau, maybe do some research on Students First and Ms. Link before joining in a smear campaign.

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