Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds unveiled plans Monday to revamp Iowa’s education system, placing emphasis on providing Iowa students with great teachers with the goal of dramatically improving achievement.
“We have many good schools with committed educators, but they are stuck in a system designed for the 20th century, not the 21st century,” said Branstad. “I am ready to invest significant resources into these educational reforms, which truly have the power to dramatically raise achievement.”
The five-year plan would cost $17 million the first year, $72 million the second year, and increase over the next few years to an annual cost of $187 million in the fifth year.
Branstad said the proposed education reform plan will attract and retain talented teachers by raising the minimum starting salary for Iowa teachers from $28,000 to $35,000. The plan would also pay teachers who take on more instructional leadership responsibilities more. Another element of the plan would allow brand-new teachers a lighter teaching load in the first year so they could learn from talented veteran teachers.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said, “Teachers are the single most important influence on a child’s success inside school, and educators are being asked to do much more to prepare students for our knowledge-driven economy. We must make sure new teachers are ready to rise to that challenge, while also providing more support for teachers already in the classroom.”
The plan also includes a tuition reimbursement and incentive program for students who commit to teaching in Iowa for five years. Teachers in the program could receive up to $4,000 extra per year, for a total of $20,000.
Branstad also proposed recognizing college-ready and career-ready high school graduates with special seals.
An update to the evaluation system for teachers is part of the plan as well.
Expanding the Iowa Learning Online program is also a goal of the new plan. It would allow more high school students the chance to take online courses.