Collective Bargaining Law Leaves Iowa Teacher Feeling Uneasy About the Future

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AMES, Iowa  --  A career in education is one Chris Douglas didn’t choose for the money, but now he says he’s considering ending his teaching career following the recently-passed collective bargaining bill.

“I would be lying if I said that thought hasn’t crossed my mind to leave education,” says Douglas. "It's not something I want to do, though.”

The state’s new collective bargaining law immediately went into effect on Friday after Governor Branstad signed it into law.  The new rules limit the role public employee unions can play in contract negotiations, impacting issues like pay and health insurance.

According to the Des Moines Register, 189 school districts state-wide rushed to pass teacher union contracts before the law was signed into effect, temporarily protecting its teachers. Douglas’ school district was one of those.

“We have a contract for the next two years, so they did everything they could to kind of protect us and show that they do appreciate us, but two years from now you never know,” he says.

The five-year teaching veteran already works three part time jobs and says a limited pay increase would make it challenging to continue his career as teacher. Another possible deterrent for teachers is a proposed merit system on how much to pay educators. Douglas says it is unfair and subjective.

“If you’re doing it on test scores, for example, it’s not fair to pay teachers based on test scores because every teacher has a different demographic in their classroom.”

Douglas adds that will force good teachers out of lower income or rural schools, leaving the students to suffer the most.

“Ultimately the kids are going to suffer because at the end of the day, teachers, as great as a lot of them are, have to put food on the table for their families, and if they can’t do that they will look for other options.”