Finding and keeping good teachers is a problem Iowa schools have long faced as fewer students are interested in entering the profession. Dennis Van Roekel, vice-president of the National Education Association, blames teachers’ salaries on the lack-luster amount of interest from Iowans. Van Roekel says “I don’t think today’s students get the kind of support I did from my community that teaching is a great profession.” He says states and schools need to find ways to make teaching more attractive, including raising salaries. Van Roekel says money isn’t the only motivation to go into teaching, but it’s certainly a consideration. He says “We’re lucky if we can get 30-thousand (dollars a year) for a beginning teacher and I think that’s a real dilemma. We are in competition with every occupation and profession that requires a college education. We need to be able to compete. I don’t want people to stay away education for that reason.” The beginning salary for a teacher in Iowa averages between 27-and-28-thousand. Van Roekel says that needs to change. The N-E-A is calling for a 40-thousand dollar minimum salary. “I want people going into education who believe in education and who are good at their jobs, so we’ve gotta’ be competitive.” About 40-percent of Iowa’s teachers are at retirement age now or will be within ten years. Without change, he says, the state may be facing a serious teacher shortage.
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