The Iowa State Education Association is asking the state legislature to spend millions over the next three years to raise the average teacher pay in Iowa to 25th in the nation. Iowa State Education Association president Linda Nelson says it will make a big difference in Iowa’s ability to recruit and retain top teachers. Iowa’s teacher salaries rank 41st among the 50 states today, and Nelson says it’s time to raise average pay to the national average.
Nelson says it would take about 15-hundred dollars per teacher over the next three years to get Iowa teacher salaries to the national average. The total tab would be 172-million dollars. “We’ve fallen to 41st in the nation and for a state that really values education…and other states are being more competitive and leap-frogging ahead of Iowa, we think it’s dangerous to stay at the status quo,” Nelson says. Nelson, a former elementary school teacher who is taking a sabbatical to lead the state teachers union, says there is nothing more important to student learning than having a great teacher, and many great teachers are being lured out of the profession or into other states by a bigger paycheck. She says if Iowa were to continue on the “same slow path” toward increasing teacher pay, Iowa will lose ground because other states are paying more.
A few years ago the Iowa Legislature enacted reforms which called for more accountability from schools and teachers, and promised higher teacher pay. “We’re doing the work,” Nelson says. “Now let’s pay (teachers) as the legislators promised in 2001.” The teachers union is launching a full-court press to try to get their message across to the state’s policymakers.
Tonight (Friday), two-hundred Iowa teachers will gather in Des Moines and they’ll talk with legislative leaders. Tomorrow, the governor will meet with the group. Nelson is urging teachers to make a pitch directly to their local legislators and invite state senators and representatives into their classrooms to see what’s going on inside Iowa schools. The I-S-E-A represents about 32-thousand Iowa school teachers.