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Education proposal from a local perspective

Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 10:51 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 10:56 a.m. CDT

Gov. Terry Branstad has proposed education reform across the state of Iowa. The proposal includes stipulations such as increasing teacher base pay from $28,000 to $35,000, creating a teacher career ladder and forgiving loans of up to $20,000 of new education graduates teaching in Iowa.

Allowable growth

Over five years, $187 million will be doled out to school districts across the state. As of Tuesday, schools will not receive any money for “allowable growth,” a percentage increase per student that helps schools pay for rising prices of paper, electricity and heat.

“Our highest priorority is student achievement. What can we do to increase student achievement? You invest in teachers. Good plan. I’m very supportive of what I’m reading,” said Scott. “In the same breath, there are other needs that need to be addressed, which is sustain what we have.”

Branstad asked the Iowa House of Representatives to focus their attention on education reform before turning to making an “allowable growth” decision.

However, according to the article “Iowa Gov. Branstad wants education reform by February,” by the Sioux City Journal, school districts across Iowa have pointed out they face deadlines to certify their 2014 fiscal budget, and if the Legislature and governor do not reach a level of state aid for schools by March, districts will have to issue layoff notices.

Teachers

“The single most important factor in student achievement is quality teaching,” said Creston High School Principal Bill Messerole.

However, there are many questions being asked locally about the idea of taking teachers out of the classroom.

“Is it advantageous to take our best teachers out of the classroom? I don’t have the answer for that,” said Messerole. “In theory one of the things I liked, maybe reduced loads for new teachers so they spend more time observing really quality, veteran teachers.”

Messerole also said it would be tough to tell how many new teachers might be needed if teachers are being removed from the classroom, because those students still need to be taught.

“Mainly, what we’re buying is time: time for that first-year teacher to really get a good experience, time for teachers to collaborate with each other,” said Stephens. “And it’s not wise to leave elementary classrooms with no one in there, so you have to hire good substitutes to come in and cover and make sure that those lessons that the subs are teaching are good.”

One suggestion Scott made was to bring recently-retired master teachers back to mentor new educators instead of taking master teachers out of the classroom.

Into practice

Branstad called for the education reform, a 67-page bill, to be worked out and passed by the end of February.

“I believe that the Legislature has time in the months of January and February to pass significant education reform that still gives them plenty of time then also to indicate additional supplemental funding for education over and above that,” the governor told his weekly news conference, according to the Sioux City Journal article.

The reform is meant to make education more competitive with industry and business, especially considering the raise in salary and loan forgiveness.

“I think educators truly need to be compensated more,” said Scott. “I’m a firm believer that principals need to spend more time in the classrooms mentoring teachers, coaching teachers, lifting them up, helping them get better at what they do. By principals being in the classroom, it will make a significant difference.”

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Pull Quote:

“The single most important factor in student achievement is quality teaching.” Bill Messerole

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