A Cedar Rapids woman will take over as the president of the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the state’s largest teacher union, after recently being elected at the group’s annual meeting.
Tammy Wawro has been a vice president of the I.S.E.A. for four years, and says education reform is the biggest issue facing the organization. “Certainly the excitement about education is at every level and that’s a big rock that we’re working on and I think I.S.E.A. has been a great leader in education. I know what we have to continue to look at how we lead as we head into the 21st Century with whatever happens with this education reform that’s on the table,” Wawro says.
All of the pieces of education reform are still being hammered out in the legislature. One of the issues that’s gained a lot of discussion is how to evaluate teachers. “I personally feel that teachers should be paid for teacher performance, I’ve always felt that way. I’m national board certified and I’m working on my doctorate,” Wawro says.
“But to move teacher pay into student performance I think it’s a really risky business. Now that being said, there are a lot of committees that need to and a lot of things that need to be talked about, because bottom line, there should be a lot of local decision on a lot of this.”
Wawro’s current position is Resolution Team Facilitator in the Cedar Rapids School District. That means she works on plans for helping teachers when there is a concern about their performance. She says educators have a process for dealing with poor performing teachers if it is used correctly.
“With that being said, I do think that if you have someone who people know that might be considered not a stellar teacher or not doing things that the administrator would like it to be done, I do put an onerous on the administrator at that point. We have a process that works if it’s used, I just think we need to look at how that’s done,” Wawro explains.
Wawro began her career in elementary education, and says all the talk about possible changes is a worry to teachers. “Change is scary, and you know as a teacher in a classroom, people (who) are making these decisions are so far away from them that it makes it even scarier,” Wawro says.
“I think a general classroom teacher who is just in there putting her heart and soul into her kids, really never ever thought that political decisions would be at the heart of what they’re doing. So that is scary for staff.”
Wawro will replace outgoing I.S.E.A. president Chris Bern on July 15th. The I.S.E.A. says it has nearly 34,000 members.