The Iowa Senate has approved a bill which will give Iowa teachers an average raise of about $2,000 in each of the next two years.
The bill promises $174 million in new state tax money for Iowa teacher pay over the next two years. That includes a hike in the minimum salary required for beginning teachers.
During tonight’s senate debate, Senator Frank Wood, a Democrat from Eldridge, told his colleagues it’s about keeping the "best and brightest" teachers in the classroom. "Other states understand the importance of good schools and other states know we have great teachers. They also know we don’t pay them very well. That’s why they come here to recruit our student teachers and lure away our experiences teachers," Wood said. "Tonight, we fight back."
But some Republicans like Senator Paul McKinley of Chariton argue it’s time to do more and tie teacher pay increases to performance in the classroom. "Iowa has made a tremendous investment in education and in students," McKinley says. "Unfortunately, in this legislation, student achievement is forgotten."
The bill would also require that schools have guidance counselors and librarians on staff. The bill now goes to the Iowa House for consideration. Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, has called for funneling more state money to finance teacher pay hikes and is expected to endorse the spending plan that advanced through the senate tonight.