Gov. Reynolds announced school choice researcher will be the next head of Iowa Department of Education

After Ann Lebo, the former director of the state’s department of education, resigned in February Gov. Kim Reynolds has tapped Lebo’s successor.


Jerod Ringwald

Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers a speech during the 2023 Condition of the State at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. At the end of Reynolds’ speech, she thanked supporters. “Thank you for the honor to serve as your governor,” Reynolds said. “God bless you, and God bless the great state of Iowa.”

Liam Halawith, Politics Editor

Gov. Kim Reynolds tapped Chad Aldis, a school choice and education reform researcher, to be the next head of Iowa’s Department of Education on Wednesday afternoon.

Aldis was the vice president of Ohio policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education policy research non-profit based in Washington D.C. He led the institute’s success in implementing school choice, public charter schools, and toughening academic requirements for high school graduation in Ohio, according to the Thomas B. Fordham institute.

“Chad is the type of leader we need at this pivotal time for Iowa’s education system,” Reynolds said in a news release. “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.”

Reynolds said she wants Iowa to bring Iowa back to its former educational glory and to lead the nation in testing scores. Iowa hasn’t ranked No. 1 in the nation in math and reading scores since the 1990s.

“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,” Reynolds said in a news release.

Aldis is originally from eastern Iowa, having graduated from Clinton High School in 1990, according to the governor’s office. Aldis said he is happy to move back to his home state and help the governor improve the academic standing of Iowa’s schools.

“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.”

Aldis said he wants to give Iowa students the foundation they need to succeed.

“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 said. “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.”