A National Education Association report released today shows the salaries for Iowa’s teachers rank at an all-time low when compared to the average salaries in other states. Linda Nelson is president of the Iowa State Education Association — the teachers’ union. “Iowa is heading in the wrong direction,” Nelson says.
When Nelson started her teaching career, salaries were right in the middle of the pack, and she says that’s where Iowa teacher pay should return. Iowa teachers’ salaries rank 41st among the 50 states. The N-E-A rankings show average teacher pay in Iowa rose two-point-four percent from the 2003/04 school year to last year. While that raise was greater than Iowa teachers have received in recent years, it didn’t help Iowa teacher salaries keep pace, according to Nelson.
Iowa teacher pay is 16-thousand dollars less than the average teacher salary in Illinois, and eight-thousand dollars behind what Minnesota teachers earn, on average. Nelson says teaching may be a calling, but it shouldn’t be such a financial sacrifice. Nelson is asking state legislators to commit more state tax dollars to teacher pay. She also proposes a permanent fund be established to bankroll teacher pay increases.
In the 2004/2005 school year, the average teacher salary in Iowa was just over 39-thousand dollars. That’s more than 85-hundred dollars below the national average.
“This has gone from being a state embarrassment to a disgrace,” Nelson said in a prepared statement. “How can we ever hope to recruit and retain the best teachers when they can cross the Mississippi River and earn, on average, $16,000 more a year in Illinois?” About 32-thousand Iowa school teachers are members of the Iowa State Education Association.