One of the state’s largest unions has endorsed democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s re-election bid. Iowa State Education Association president Jolene Franken of Denison announced the endorsement from the state teachers’ union.Franken says Vilsack has a four-year record of supporting education in good times and in bad. Franken says the I-S-E-A was impressed with republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross’ grasp of the issues that’re important to teachers, but says he didn’t offer a lot of details. Franken says Vilsack got good grades from the teachers union for plowing more money into teacher salaries, especially his push to hire more teachers for early elementary grades to reduce class sizes. She says Vilsack has backed up his talk with action.Vilsack received the endorsement despite the I-S-E-A’s staunch opposition to a teacher pay plan Vilsack pushed for — a plan that for the first time links teacher pay to performance in the classroom. Franken says teachers weren’t happy with the law, but it was the only vehicle available to get money into teacher salaries, and helped raise Iowa teacher salaries from 35th to 33rd in the nation. Vilsack received the I-S-E-A’s endorsement in 1998, when he first ran for Governor.Vilsack says the I-S-E-A’s 2002 endorsement is more important because it shows teachers like his track record on education. He says it’s a validation of the things he’s done and says it will help him in assisting education in the future.Vilsack won the endorsement of the Iowa State Education’s board, as well as the I-S-E-A’s political action committee. Over 32-thousand teachers are members of the I-S-E-A. In a prepared statement, Vilsack opponent Doug Gross says there’s no way Vilsack can claim to have made education top priority, as Gross says education’s been “short-changed” with lack of funding.
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