Gov. Reynolds and her administration have made it a priority to make Iowa the best place to raise a family and grow a business. A strong education system is a key asset in attracting new families and businesses in our state which is why Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are proud to have been a successful part of Iowa’s K-12 educational system for the past 50 years.
Since 1974, AEAs have served a vital role in ensuring that every student in every school district in the state had equal access to a high-quality education. In fact, Iowa’s AEAs serve all 99 counties, 328 school districts, 183 nonpublic schools and, most importantly, 500,000+ students in Iowa.
What is an AEA? There are nine AEAs in the state, each assigned to a region of school districts. Funded by state and local tax dollars, AEAs employ specialists who are assigned to local communities to provide a host of services. AEA staff members serve children in your community from birth (through direct services in the home to children who may be experiencing developmental delays) to adult children with special needs up to the age of 21.
In fact, well over 70% of AEA services involve directly supporting students who have been identified as having a special need. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, audiology specialists, and other specialty staff are assigned to support students with special needs as directed by their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Without these services, many children would experience barriers to their learning that would greatly affect their ability to thrive.
In addition to special education services, AEAs provide professional learning opportunities and consultant services for general educators. Consultants in math, science, reading, and other important curriculum areas go into schools daily to provide support for teachers through training and technical assistance. Technology support is also provided including networking hardware and software support, computer equipment repair, and advice on how to weave technology into the classroom. Finally, AEAs provide a variety of books, technology, printing and other classroom resources at little to no cost.
Iowa has long been a state that prides itself on its strong sense of community, a commitment to education, and a determination to provide every child with a chance to succeed. Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) have stood as a shining example of this commitment for the past 50 years. A strong AEA system will ensure that Iowa continues to be the best state to raise a family and grow a business.
Joel Pedersen is the chief administrator with Central Rivers Area Education Agency (CRAEA), based in Cedar Falls. He can be reached at email@example.com. Learn more about Central Rivers Area Education Agency at www.centralriversaea.org.