Branstad Pulls Back Teacher Proposal in Iowa
By Ben Wieder, Staff Writer
The proposal would create four different tiers of teachers, from apprentice to master, with pay raises and increased responsibilities at each step. But it will not be part of the governor's recommendations for next year's legislative session, the Des Moines Register reported last week .
The plan would bump starting salaries for teachers from $28,000 to $40,000, and tie advancement between different tiers to student performance. The state's most accomplished teachers, those classified as masters, would spend as much as half of their time out of the classroom, mentoring other teachers, among a range of responsibilities, while apprentice teachers would be considered "at-will," with their contracts up for review each year.
Jason Glass, director of Iowa's Department of Education, said that the model aimed to use resources strategically and encourage teachers to take on leadership roles in their schools, while remaining in the classroom at least part of the time. That would be a change from systems currently in place almost everywhere in the United States, said Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality.
The plan was met with skepticism, though, at many of the town halls Branstad visited across the state to explain it. Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, says it was such a departure from current policy that teachers and community members had trouble wrapping their heads around it. "This was more than just a policy change," she says. "This was a cultural change."
Glass wasn't surprised by the concerns raised across the state. "We're talking about revising a compensation system that's nearly 100 years old," he said. The administration is now hoping to convene a task force, which would include teachers unions, school boards and the business community, to develop a new system. But that doesn't mean the tiered system is dead, Glass insists.
"There's nothing in Iowa's education reform that I'm more committed to," he says. "This is not an issue that's going to go away."