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Iowa Department of Education

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The Iowa Department of Education (DE) works with the Iowa State Board of Education (State Board) to provide support, supervision, and oversight for the state education system that includes public elementary and secondary schools, nonpublic schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies (AEAs), community colleges, and teacher preparation programs.

Vision and Mission


Iowa learners experience high levels of success and develop the capacity to continually grow as successful, healthy, and productive citizens in a global community.


Creating excellence in education through leadership and service.


Organization and Structure

The DE employs approximately 235 people in four major divisions: Division of Community Colleges, Division of School Finance and Support Services, Division of Policy and Communications, and Division of Learning and Results. Although the state libraries, vocational rehabilitation, and public television remain affiliated with the Department of Education, their operations have expanded and developed into independent entities with independent boards.


Director of the Iowa Department of Education

The Iowa Department of Education director is appointed by the Governor to serve a four-year term, subject to confirmation by the Iowa Senate. The director's role is to provide leadership for the department as it carries out the policies and programs prescribed by state law and the State Board of Education; and to ensure department personnel are providing the necessary oversight and support for all schools, educators and students to meet their academic goals. The department director also serves as the executive officer of the State Board of Education, a nonvoting role.

Director Brad Buck

Dr. Brad Buck was appointed by Governor Terry Branstad in 2013 to serve as director of the Iowa Department of Education. Buck, a longtime educator and school administrator, was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. He is a first-generation college graduate in his family.

Buck is an innovative leader and collaborator with the right skills to implement the landmark education reform package passed by the 2013 Legislature. As director, he is focused on helping Iowa’s education system implement this important work in a way that respects and supports both the individuality of Iowa communities and the vision and priorities set at the state level.

Buck began his career in education in 1992 as a middle school science teacher in the Ankeny Community School District. He taught for five years before taking on a number of administrative roles in the Waukee, Hudson, and North Mahaska school districts. Most recently, Buck was superintendent of the Saydel Community School District in Des Moines.

Buck is a former president of School Administrators of Iowa and was named SAI’s Iowa Middle Level Principal of the Year in 2004. He has held positions on various state-level committees and initiatives. They include Collaborating for Iowa’s Kids, a joint effort by the Iowa Department of Education, the Area Education Agencies, and school districts to support and scale up evidence-based practices across the state.

Buck is a graduate of Iowa State University, where he received a Ph.D. and a master’s degree, and the University of Northern Iowa, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biology.

He lives in Urbandale with his wife, Traci, and their six children.



The Department was created by the 35th General Assembly in 1913 and was originally called the Department of Public Instruction. The current name was adopted in 1986.

In its early years, the Department was charged with working with the many small, isolated school buildings to build a formal system of public education that included organized districts with defined duties and boundaries, as well as specific qualifications for teachers. While the state department was established to provide oversight, local schools maintained the authority to set many of the rules and requirements for their own students. This system of "local responsibility" - based on the belief that local residents have the greatest interest in assuring their children's success - continues today. As Iowa progressed over the decades with greater diversity in business, industry, and population, the public education system evolved to reflect and encompass those changes. In the mid 1960s, a system of 15 public, two-year community colleges was established to provide more students the opportunity for continued education and training beyond high school. In the mid-1970s, the system of AEAs was developed to provide regional support for local schools and their teachers. Originally, the community colleges and the AEAs shared the same service area boundaries. In recent years, several AEAs have merged to provide greater efficiency in regions with declining populations.


Iowa Education System


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on May 24, 2015 at 4:35pm.