Key Republicans are angrily rebuking the governor for vetoing key sections of an education bill that called for tying teacher pay to performance. Senator Paul McKinley, a Republican from Chariton who is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, is outraged. “We had absolutely no warning whatsoever. My initial reaction was shock,” McKinley says.
Republicans had insisted on launching a merit-based approach to teacher pay in return for agreeing to a package that will funnel over two-hundred million more state tax dollars to teacher salaries in the next three years. McKinley says the Democrat governor has broken the promise he made to Republican lawmakers. “I was brought up (with the notion ) that when you give a man your word, you keep your word. Your word is your bond. You do what you say you will do,” McKinley says. “This is the really the first episode I’ve had of somebody really reneging on what was a done deal.”
Vilsack signed into law a package of education bills this (Thursday) morning that included the teacher pay raise. Senator McKinley was invited to stand just behind Vilsack during the ceremony, but the governor made no mention of his decision to veto the pay-for-performance initiative.
Instead, Vilsack is issuing an executive order asking an already-existing task force to study the issue. Vilsack only hinted at that action during his remarks this morning. “As we look at new ways of compensating teachers that recognizes the performance of teachers, I want the Institute for Tomorrow’s Workforce to engaged and involved in that process,” Vilsack said. “…To see what works and what doesn’t work.”
McKinley says putting the pay-for-performance system off for yet another year isn’t the right answer.
“If you look at where Iowa is and where Iowa needs to be we absolutely must begin focusing on student achievement, not teacher credentials — which are important, but it’s the student and student learning and student achievement that must be focused on,” McKinley says. “That is what this bill did.”