Branstad's education proposal incentivizes pursuing teaching jobs


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Gov. Terry Branstad’s education proposal aims to make the teaching profession more attractive to veteran teachers as well as students of education. Several University of Iowa education officials and students approve of the bill’s incentives for educators.

The Teach Iowa Initiative, one of the components of the education package, is an incentive that aims to motivate top students to consider teaching as a profession. The initiative would build on an existing relief program for students who commit to teaching in the state.  Students who are selected to become Teach Iowa Scholars would receive $4,000 in stipends or loan forgiveness each year they work in the state for up to five years, or $20,000.

While Tara Madden, a senior in the UI College of Education, said she got into the education field regardless of the cost and starting salaries for teachers, she did admit that after taking out loans as an out-of-state student for the last four years, this type of tuition reimbursement would have been helpful.

“The money would be beneficial for education students because it’s a hard field to go into,” Madden said. “Getting a stipend for college would have been great.”

The cost of a teaching degree varies from student to student depending upon residential status and financial-aid resources, but Nicholas Colangelo, the interim dean of the College of Education, believes that offering students any kind of tuition reimbursement or incentives will make strides in the right direction.

“There is no doubt that finances are important when considering a degree in education,” he said. “Cost is clearly a factor when entering the profession now, and anything that helps students who care, who want to be educators and can make it more reasonable for them to achieve their goal is a good move.”

The opportunity to become a Teach Iowa Scholar would be open to all education students, but those who were interested in teaching difficult-to-staff subjects, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and special education, would be given special consideration.

The Teach Iowa initiative also includes a teaching pilot project that would extend the student-teaching requirement from one semester to a full year.

“During this year, student teachers get experience, support, and training that is almost like a residency,” Staci Hupp, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, told The Daily Iowan. “The goal is to strengthen the clinical experience of student teachers.”

Another component of the proposal, the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Plan, would raise the starting salary for teachers from $28,000 to $35,000 a year.

If passed, the plan would be implemented over a four-year period with an additional year for planning beginning this summer and cost the state $187 million by the time it is fully implemented in 2018.

“I like the fact that the government is making education a main and important topic,” Colangelo said. “The difficulties are always in how they are going to be put into process, but I like the fact that Branstad is saying education is important. We’re really going to make strides, and I think that is what’s needed right now.”

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