Officials from the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the state’s largest teacher union, will be in Washington, D.C. this week for a conference put on by their national organization. I.S.E.A. president, Chris Bern, says education reform will be one of the key topics at the National Education Association conference.
“We need to make sure that educators have a voice in creating those reforms. That if schools and the community really expect these reforms to be effective…that teachers have to have a voice in developing the reforms. That would be the big thing that I believe you’re gonna hear,” Bern says.
He says reform requires more training for teachers. “Teachers need more time to collaborate and to work with data to improve their instruction and so forth. And so that’s another big areas,” according to Bern.
Governor Terry Branstad introduce a comprehensive education reform package in the legislature this year and the section on changing the way teachers are evaluated and paid got a lot of discussion. Bern admits that some people believe the teachers are trying to block those reforms.
“I understand that that storyline is out there, I don’t believe it is true. We have been on the state level at the table talking about how we can effect change, we are at the table talking about evaluation, trying to make sure that we do have effective evaluations. That’s our concern. We don’t want change just for change sake,” Bern says.
Bern says teachers want to be held accountable, but want to be held accountable on things that they can have some influence in. “One of the proposals out there is to tie accountability to test scores. We would be against tying my evaluation solely to a test score,” he explains. He says they don’t have a problem with test scores being part of a larger plan.
“You know, we would say you could use a test score along with a lot of other measurers. And so, we are at the table talking about how we can do that,” Bern says. “Teachers want to make sure that our schools are the best schools. And I believe the association, our union is out there trying to make sure that we do have great schools.”
The pay issue for teachers is being studied and the governor says it’s possible the pay issued could be addressed in the next legislative session. Bern says bullying and the upcoming presidential election will be other topics of discussion at the N.E.A. convention which begins today.