Governor Tom Vilsack today signed into law a package of education initiatives that boosts the pay for Iowa teachers by over $210 million over the next thre years and — for the first time — establishes state high school graduation standards.
“This is a red letter day for the children of our state and for all the people of the state of Iowa,” Vilsack says. The governor calls it a “momentous” package of bills that also starts the state on the path to linking teacher pay with classroom performance and allows schools to give “signing bonuses” to math and science teachers. “All of the people of Iowa are going to benefit from today’s legislation,” Vilsack says.
One of the bills provide a four percent increase in general state aid to schools for the school year that starts in the fall of 2007. Another requires schools to have a teacher librarian on staff. “I’ve been privileged to be the governor of this state for almost eight years and I have signed a lot of bills in my lifetime and I’ve been involved as a legislator in crafting a lot of pieces of legislation,” Vilsack says. “I believe this is the proudest day I’ve had as governor of the state.”
Vilsack later today will sign a bill that commits more state money to preschool programs.
Vilsack’s staff organized a bill signing ceremony for 8:45 this (Thursday) morning on the steps of East High School in Des Moines. About three dozen students stood on the front steps as a backdrop for the governor and had to wait 25 minutes for him to arrive. One of the students collapsed during the ceremony because her legs locked up.
Vilsack apologized for being late and told reporters afterwards why he was tardy. “I was walking the dog,” Vilsack said. The governor revealed that his wife usually wakes him up in the morning, but she’s gone and he woke up late and had to walk the dog before he went to work.