Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has chosen a new leader for the Iowa Department of Education – a native Iowan who’s spent his career advocating for ‘school choice’ in other states. Chad Aldis, a Camanche native, was named as the next director of the Iowa Department of Education on Wednesday.
For the last nine years Aldis has worked for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute – a conservative think tank – advocating for educational policy in Ohio, including private school choice. He also worked for an educational group started by the Walton family (founders of Wal-Mart) and another Ohio non-profit focused on school choice.
Aldis will replace Dr. Ann Lebo who announced her resignation last month. That transition follows the signing of the ‘school choice’ program into law by Governor Reynolds. That program will provide $7,600 in yearly scholarships – funded by taxpayer dollars -to be spent at private schools in Iowa. There are income limits on the funding in the first years of the program, but eventually the scholarships will be available to parents of all income levels.
Here is the full release announcing Aldis’ hiring:
“DES MOINES – Governor Reynolds has appointed Chad Aldis, a native Iowan and former student of Camanche, East Central (now Easton Valley), and Clinton Community School Districts, to lead the Iowa Department of Education as director beginning March 15, 2023.
For the last 20 years, Aldis’s career has been focused on education reform. His experience encompasses education policy, advocacy, and research, and spans multiple states. Most recently vice president for Ohio policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Aldis led the organization’s efforts to successfully reform Ohio’s high school graduation requirements, state report cards and charter school laws. He partnered regularly with the governor’s office, legislators, and the department of education to strengthen state policy on literacy, school funding, and private school choice.
“Chad is the type of leader we need at this pivotal time for Iowa’s education system,” Governor Reynolds stated. “His unique perspective will help lead reform within the department and across our schools so that every Iowa student—regardless of what school they attend—receives a quality education that prepares them to be successful in life.
“It’s been 30 years since Iowa led the nation in math scores, ranking first among eighth graders and second for fourth graders in 1992. In 2022, we ranked above the national average, but Iowa students and families deserve better. By innovating our education system and renewing our focus on academic instruction and performance, I’m confident that Iowa schools and students will again lead the way.”
A fourth-generation Iowan, Aldis was born and raised in eastern Iowa, graduated from Clinton High School in 1990, and was named to the Des Moines Register’s First Team Academic All State. He began his college career at the University of Northern Iowa before transferring to the University of Mississippi where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He also holds a law degree from Florida State University.
“I’m honored to accept this opportunity to serve the students of Iowa,” Aldis said. “The governor’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all children are provided with a quality education that fits their needs is a vision I share and one that will drive the department’s work.”
“Like many Iowans, I owe much to the great public education I received. We need to make sure that today’s students have the same opportunities to pursue their dreams,” Aldis added. “That starts with all students leaving high school with the reading, math, and civics knowledge and skills to prepare them for either college or a career.”
Chad and his wife look forward to moving to Des Moines. They have three adult children.