Ten legislators are trying to resolve an array of differences in the education reform plans Republicans and Democrats developed, including the question of whether to confine one proposed perk to people who live within the state’s borders.
Both the Iowa House and the Senate have voted to award “Teach Iowa” scholarships to top college students who enter the teaching profession. Representative Ron Jorgensen, a Republican from Sioux City, notes both plans target top students.
“If you’re in the top 25 percent of your class, we want to reward you and encourage you to stay in the state of Iowa,” Jorgensen says. A college student who promises to teach for five years could be eligible for up to $20,000 and Jorgensen says House Republicans want to offer that incentive to any college student.
“In our plan we provide that reward to both Iowa students and non-Iowa students with the feeling that if we have a top student in another state, let’s try to encourage them to move to Iowa and teach in Iowa,” Jorgensen says. “Instead of just limiting our scope to just Iowa kids, if we can attract top talent from other states, we should look at doing that.”
Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames says he and other Democrats want to limit that $20,000 offer to Iowans.
“We expect that at, basically $20,000 a pop, we may not be able to afford a whole lot of people and we wanted to make sure that Iowa residents got the first crack at that,” Quirmbach says. “The thinking being that they are more likely to stay in the state for the term and that is the ultimate goal: not just to get them here but keep them here.”
This is one of dozens of differences a 10-member conference committee needs to resolve before a final education reform plan can be presented to all 150 legislators for a vote. The conference committee met Tuesday to publicly review the details of the plan that cleared the Republican-controlled House and the plan approved by Senate Democrats. The group is scheduled to meet again today at noon.