Democrats on a House Education Committee gave the governor’s top education official a hard time Wednesday over the proposal to implement higher standards for accepting teachers. It would require a 3.0 grade point average to get into teaching, and 25th percentile or better on a test to get a license. Education Department director, Jason Glass, says it’s a proven way to improve schools.

“It is a universal theme among high-performing school systems that they are incredibly selective about who they allow to become educators,” Glass said. But some lawmakers call that teacher-bashing.

Representative Cindy Winkler, a Democrat from Davenport, said countries in Europe and Asia with tough tests to get into teaching started out by pouring resources into helping teachers. “Twenty years ago when they started, they built capacity,” Winkler said.

Winkler said those other schools systems may be performing better because of the money spent on professional development for teachers. “Instead of artificially setting a bar what if that is what made the difference?,” Winkler asked. Critics urged Glass to make exceptions for otherwise qualified applicants, including minorities.

But the director recommends enacting a tough standard for all. “This body has a number of waivers, matrices, phase-in a number of ways to put his in place to make it less strong than it is now. My recommendation as the state director is that we benchmark against the best,” Glass said.

The bill would also create a new statewide clearinghouse for applicants for teaching jobs, and some lawmakers argue that would hamstring local schools. The education panel has more working sessions scheduled for the education reform bill and right now are less than half-way through the legislation.