Legislators and the governor have still not agreed on a teacher pay plan, and it’s one of the biggest obstacles that stands in the way of wrapping up the work of the 2005 Iowa Legislature. Republicans in the Senate have agreed with Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack that 30-million dollars should be set aside for teacher pay hikes, but the G-O-P senators are insisting that pay increases be based on merit.
Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Clarion, says Republicans in the Senate are drawing a line in the sand. “The key to success is tying the two together,” Iverson says. “Our teachers will do better and our students will do better.”
Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says tying pay to performance is key. “We are firm in our belief that we have to start to move to a performance-based pay structure,” Lamberti says. “We understand we can’t do it overnight and this calls for a five-year phase-in so we do it right.” Lamberti says reforming education takes more than just money, it takes reform of the system.
But Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, isn’t sold. “That isn’t even in the ballpark of what’s possible,” Gronstal says. “That plan is so far off the map that it isn’t even going to be considered by Senate Democrats,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal contends paying teachers for performance in the classroom is an “untested concept” that didn’t work when it was tried in 2001. Gronstal says factory workers can be paid based on their work because there’s some control over the “inputs” — while teachers have no control over the kids who walk into their classrooms in the fall.