Governor Vilsack warns a crisis looms in Iowa schools, particularly rural schools. Vilsack says the crisis is caused by a combination of lower-than-average pay coupled with the retirement of one-third of Iowa teachers in the next decade. Iowa Department of Education director Ted Stilwell says there aren’t enough math and science teachers in the pipeline.Stilwell says with pay 12-thousand dollars better in urban schools, the teaching shortage will be heightened in rural Iowa as educators retire.Stilwell says state standards require schools to teach certain high school math and science courses — and rural schools which can’t get a licensed teacher for those courses will be closed.Backers of the state-owned Iowa Communications Network argued it’s two-way audio/video connection could be used by a teacher in one school teaching kids in another district. Stilwell says that won’t work for basic science and math courses.Governor Vilsack is urging legislators to take steps to boost teacher pay, and create state tax credits for science and math teachers to try to compete with other states which offer higher pay.The leader of Republicans in the legislature says the state has to find a way to combat the looming teacher shortage. But House Speaker Brent Siegrist says there’s no quick fix to the problem the Governor outlined. He says the demographic problems are scary for rural Iowa, but he says they shouldn’t lead to school closings. Siegrist says it may be time to pay math and science teachers more. He says the way teachers are paid has to be changed in some way.Siegrist says dumping a bunch of money into raising all teacher salaries is not the answer, since there are enough teachers in some subject areas.
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