The Iowa Senate voted to confirm Chad Aldis as director of the Iowa Department of Education on Monday, naming the former vice president of the think tank and championing “school choice” against Democrats’ objections.
On Monday, the Senate voted 37-13 to confirm Aldis, with all 34 Republicans in favor along with three Democrats: Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines. Isa Knox, D.D. Moines; and Hermann Kermbach, D-Amis. The remaining 13 Democrats opposed.
Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Aldis — an Iowan native, vice president of the think tank and advocate for “School Choice” — to lead the department last month. His first day was March 15th.
The appointment comes at a pivotal time for the Iowa education system.
Earlier this year, Reynolds signed a sweeping School Choice Act that will allow every family in Iowa access to up to $7,600 per student to pay for private school costs such as tuition and fees.
It’s also pursuing a host of other changes to Iowa’s education system, including changing school bylaws, restricting the bathrooms transgender students can use at school, and banning schools from teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity through the sixth grade.
Democrats said Aldis was the wrong person to lead the Iowa Department of Education during those changes.
“He wasn’t a teacher, he wasn’t a principal. He didn’t work in the public schools in any position,” said Senator Molly Donahue, D-Cedar Rapids. For the past 20 years, he has been focused on education reform. His experience includes education policy, advocacy, and research that spans multiple states in charter school laws and select private schools. This is not the autobiography of a pro-public school advocate looking to help navigate the rough seas for our schools. the public “.
Sen. Brad Zohn, R-Urbandale, praised Aldis’ unconventional background and said he was interested in “empowering parents in Iowa.”
“He is interested in increasing student performance in all schools in Iowa,” Zohn said of Aldis. “He came from a business background. I think that’s really important.”
Aldiss was previously Vice President for Ohio Politics at the Thomas P. Fordham Institute, where he began working in 2013. In that position, he testified before the state legislature In favor of choosing a private school And about school financing, charter school accountability and graduation requirements, according to the His biography.
Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of School Choice Ohio and worked for the Florida Department of Education and for the Walton Family Foundation.
Governors’ appointees need confirmation of a two-thirds majority, or 34 votes, in the 50-member Senate. Republicans won an overwhelming 34 seats in last fall’s election, allowing them to confirm Reynolds’ appointment without Democratic endorsement.
The Senate confirms four seats in the Iowa House of Governors
The Iowa Senate voted 34-16, along party lines, to confirm Robert Cramer’s appointment to the Iowa Board of Governors after previously declining it a decade earlier.
“His public service is remarkable in terms of the many boards he has served on and he has contributed to the community in many ways,” said Senator Ken Rosenbaum, R. Bella.
Former Governor Terry Branstad nominated Kramer for a seat on the board in 2013, but Kramer was rejected by the Senate, which was led by Democrats at the time.
Cramer is a former board chairman of Family Leader, a conservative Christian organization, and Democrats have objected to his views on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. Cramer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014.
“Mr. Kramer was nominated to the Board of Regents a decade ago and was rejected at the time because he had publicly expressed his opposition to equal rights for LGBT students,” Kermbach said. I asked him in a recent conversation to describe how his views had changed. His response was, “Not much.” “
Kramer is Vice President Kramer & Company, a Grimes-based bridge construction and repair company. He previously served on the Johnston School Board.
The Senate voted 48-2 to reaffirm Sherri Bates to the Iowa Board of Governors and 49-1 to reaffirm Nancy Dunkel to the board. Bates was hired in 2014 and Dunkel in 2017.
The Senators voted 48-2 to confirm James Riswick to the Board of Governors. Appointed in 2022 to fill a vacancy that expires in 2025.
Senate confirms Reynolds picks for economic development and workforce departments
The Senate also voted on Monday to confirm several members of Reynolds’ team, including some who have served long in state government.
Some of those managers will take on more responsibilities after Reynolds signed a massive law earlier this month that will reorganize the Iowa state government and reduce the number of cabinet-level government agencies by more than half, from 37 to 16.
more:Gov. Kim Reynolds signs a bill that reshapes Iowa’s state government and limits agencies. what’s he doing:
The Senate voted 50-0 to reaffirm Debbie Durham as director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. She has led IEDA since 2011 and began her dual role leading both agencies in 2019.
The Economic Development Authority will accommodate many of the government’s cultural, artistic and historical programs when the new law goes into effect on July 1.
The Senate also voted 42-8 to reaffirm Beth Townsend as Director of Workforce Development for Iowa. Townsend has held the position of Director of IWD since Branstad appointed her in 2015.
Several Senate Democrats have said they cannot support Townsend based on her work implementing Iowa’s unemployment insurance program, which legislative Republicans cut last year by 10 weeks, as well as her work on a committee recommending changes to Iowa’s child labor laws. .