Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack says Senate Republicans’ decision to back a five-year, 150-million dollar plan to raise Iowa teacher salaries is a positive step. “I see this as a positive, hopeful sign,” Vilsack says. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Vilsack’s been meeting privately with legislators from both parties, and both the House and Senate, to try to find some agreement on a teacher pay plan. “What was put forward by Senate Republicans today is (an) outgrowth of those meetings and represents a series of discussion points,” Vilsack says. Vilsack says the Senate G-O-P’s teacher compensation model, though, must be tweaked a bit. For example, Vilsack says merit-based teacher pay boosts have to be based on more than how well that teacher’s students do on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
But Vilsack says performance measures will be part of any teacher pay package that he signed into law. “Understanding that we have to send the message, the strong message to teachers and educators across the state that understand that we have to be competitive with our salaries,” Vilsack says. “So my hope is that we will continue these discussions.”
Fellow Democrat Michael Gronstal, the leader of Democrats in the Senate, isn’t on board with the Senate Republicans’ plan. Gronstal says the Republican plan doesn’t respond quickly enough to the need to raise teacher pay.”Senate Democrats believe we need a three-year plan to get to the national average on teacher salaries,” Gronstal says. Gronstal also says Democrats don’t mind paying good teachers more, but they have to make sure “the deck isn’t stacked” against teachers who would be denied pay increases because they work with groups of students, like minorities, who don’t perform as well on tests.