The non-union association for teachers is joining other groups that represent educators to warn of a teacher shortage in Iowa.

Nathan Arnold is director of legal services for Professional Educators of Iowa, a group formed in 1981 as an alternative to the state teachers union. “It’s a challenging time for staffing issues,” he said this week. “Where schools used to have a slew of applications and could choose the best from that slew, now schools just have to take whoever will apply, which certainly isn’t in the best interests of students.”

Arnold indicated it’s not just about training new teachers, but keeping teachers from leaving the profession.

“Schools used to compete between each other to get the best teachers,” Arnold said, “but now they’re competing with the private sector, which oftentimes pays much better and has much better conditions than the schools.”

Arnolds made his comments during a statehouse hearing about the GOP proposal to provide a 3% increase in next year’s state funding formula for public schools. The group is not registered for or against that level of spending on public schools, “but we would just emphasize that anything that can be granted is appreciated,” Arnold said.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans voted for the 3% spending increase and House Republicans are likely to pass the bill early next week — to provide about $106 million more to Iowa’s public schools for the next academic year.

Radio Iowa