By Mason City Globe-Gazette
Grab your chalk and write “uncertainty” on the board. Because there’s a fair amount of it in a task force recommendation on education that will wind up going to Gov. Terry Branstad.
Still, there has to be a starting place, and that’s what this body of 13 recommendations contains. A rough draft has been approved with the final recommendations expected to be released Oct. 15, forming the basis for Branstad’s 2013 education reform package.
Keys to any education legislation in Iowa are teacher pay and how teachers are graded and promoted.
The task force recommendation suggests starting pay be increased by about $10,000 over the next three years, to an average of $40,000 to $45,000 statewide. Current minimum starting pay for teachers is $28,000.
Teachers would be put in one of six roles — initial, career, model, mentor, lead and emeritus — with pay increasing as teachers move up the ladder. Teachers who progress would be expected to take on more responsibility, including helping less-experienced and/or poorer-performing teachers improve their skills.
Those roles would still need some “fleshing out,” according to Ryan Wise, a facilitator who led the task force that consisted of staff from the state Department of Education, teachers, higher education officials and others.
Department of Education Director Jason Glass said this approach is different from the 2012 education reform package that met with little legislative success.
We hope by different he means better with more broad backing. Lawmakers hacked such things as annual performance evaluation for teachers and retention of third-graders who cannot read at that level in the 2012 version.
How legislators will react to this one is anybody’s guess. You can be sure teachers will have lawmakers’ ears as they do their homework on the final version.
We do like the increase in teacher pay. Iowans concerned about education and the state’s ranking know that quality teachers are a must, that they must have a quality, rewarding environment to work in and that we must at least stay abreast with other states.
We don’t know if $10,000 over three years is enough. But we’ll find out about that and other aspects of the report when the polished version is issued and the reaction pours in.
It should be an educational experience for all of us.