Former University of Northern Iowa President Robert Koob says Governor Culver’s recommendation to boost teacher pay by 70-million dollars is a good first step. But Koob says Iowa schools must also change how they move teachers up the salary scale.
"If you’re going to raise salaries, the new money ought to be put in the spots to reward the performance you’re after," Kobb says. Koob is co-chair of the Institute for Tomorrow’s Workforce, a bipartisan group examining teacher pay issues and he testified before state lawmakers on Monday.
Koob’s group recommends a new salary scale for teachers to reward their professional expertise instead of the years they’ve worked or the degrees they’ve earned. Koob says the legislature should "send the signal" that it’s a good-faith effort to raise teacher salaries, but it should mean more than "business as usual."
In addition, Koob says the pay hike should be coupled with a new system for career advancement. He says with a competitive, entry level salary, there should also be an opportunity for teachers to advance in their profession as their expertise grows. "That’s why we think that the career ladder is a necessary element in addition to the salary increase," Koob says.
Koob is a former teacher himself, with 16 years in classrooms from high-school science to PHD-level courses in physics. State lawmakers approved a new, so-called "career ladder" for Iowa teachers several years ago, but it has never been fully-funded. Some lawmakers have promised to take a new look this year at rewarding teachers’ professional expertise.