Iowa Education Official's Paid-For Trip Faces Ethics Review

Monday, September 26, 2011

State ethics officials will review the circumstances surrounding a trip Iowa?s top education official took to Brazil that was indirectly paid for by a foundation with ties to an education firm that does business with the state.

Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education, was one of 12 state school chiefs to participate in the mid-September trip, sponsored by the Council of Chief School State Officers and funded through a grant from the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit side of one of the world?s largest developers of educational assessments.

Pearson, which has offices worldwide including in Iowa City, has $4.8 million in contracts with the Iowa education department, according to state figures. The firm could potentially collect millions if it lands a deal to create a test that aligns with new national Common Core standards.

Iowa is part of a consortium of states working to develop the assessment. Iowa would likely pilot and possibly adopt the assessment as its yearly measure of student progress, Glass said.

?I told people where I was going, why I was going and who paid for it,? Glass told The Des Moines Register last week about the trip. ?I have a responsibility to be involved in national and international conversations about improving schools. Anytime I can be involved in those conversations and it doesn?t cost the Iowa taxpayer anything, I?m going to take it. I made the call and I would do it again.?

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