Frustrations Mounting for Iowa Educators Following National Walkouts

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms in protest in the southern part of the United States on Monday, and similar tensions in Iowa could cause educators here to do the same, according some education organizations.

"We're already seeing the frustration district by district," says Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the Iowa State Education Association.

Cobb says the concerns she's heard from teachers continues to grow every school year.

"The frustration really has escalated since the changes in collective bargaining last year. What teachers heard in the changes to the bargaining law last year is that they are not respected and that their voices are not important."

Cobb says the state's overhaul on collective bargaining along with the Governor's approval for a 1% school funding increase for next school year is the source of frustration that could soon boil over, similar to the events taking place in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Protestors there are fighting for better pay, which Cobb says Iowans are also fighting for, in addition to more classroom resources. Teachers in Iowa rank 22nd in the nation when it comes to salaries, making on average $55,703.

However, Roark Horn, the executive director of the School Administrators of Iowa, says teacher protests should be a last resort. Horn applauds Iowa educators who are using their voices to speak up at school board meetings and legislative forums instead.

"These people have a such a critical impact on the society and the future of our society," he says.

Under Iowa Code, educators are prohibited to strike. If they do, they can be punished with heavy fines or jail time.