T.J. FOLEY is a senior at Valley High School in West Des Moines. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
See Original Article From The Des Moines Register
One of politicians' favorite campaign lines claim that they will defend the opportunities of the next generation. Every candidate and elected official has vowed at one point or another to make Iowa the best place to raise a family. These oft repeated phrases are promises from elected officials to the people, but it’s high time that those politicians who vowed to legislate for the next generation hear from members of that group.
I’m 17 years old, a senior in high school, the son of a teacher and I’m mad. For years, elected officials vowed to protect my future and the prospects of thousands of kids like me. However, recent efforts to dismantle Chapter 20 and limit the right’s of Iowa’s workers indicate that they’ve abandoned their promise to invest in Iowa’s youth.
I’ve been fortunate to work with elected officials of both parties for several years on many youth issues, including education, health and human rights. I fundamentally believe that every legislator and public officeholder takes the best interest of our state to heart, and I will not speculate to their motivation to gut the collective bargaining rights of state employees, including teachers, and their consistent desire to underfund education.
While I will not impugn the integrity of Iowa’s legislators, I won’t hesitate to explain what their latest actions means for the next generation of Iowans. The future of my classmates and I rely on strong teachers capable of enriching the minds of the next generation. However, recent legislation prohibits teachers from bargaining for health insurance, overtime and other benefits.
This is a full-scale assault on our teacher’s rights. Not only does it strip teachers of bargaining power, but it also makes it easier for them to be terminated under disciplinary standards that they had no part in negotiating. Teachers will be forced to play by rules written by people outside the classroom and out of touch with the needs of students. The bill also weakens the due process rights of teachers in disciplinary proceedings.
This attack on teachers goes so far as to say that school boards are no longer required to publish findings of fact and law in disciplinary ruling. In order for a teacher to appeal a ruling, he or she must go to district court, which could lead to unreasonable legal costs and delays and strand teachers and their families without a job or benefits. It will scare current and future educators into other professions.
Proponents of this legislation claim it will improve educational outcomes. Although that's politically expedient rhetoric, studies from the Department of Education show that student’s perform better on standardized tests in states with high levels of unionization compared to states without a large union presence.
Others claim that this is best for Iowa’s bottom line, saying that teachers make too much money or receive more benefits than private sector workers. The facts tell a different story. The average elementary school teacher in Iowa made 7 percent less than the median household income in Iowa, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite the law subjecting them to additional education standards.
Everybody disagrees on who is responsible for Iowa’s financial situation, but if one thing is clear it is that the blame does not rest with our teachers.
Everyone who has ever stepped foot in a school knows the importance of strong teachers. In fact, the reason you could read this article likely is because a teacher taught you to comprehend letters on a page. The economic future of our state relies on maintaining Iowa’s strong tradition of exceptional public education. Investing in teachers means investing in students. Every politician vowed to preserve the opportunities of the next generation — it’s about time they start practicing what they preach.
See original article on the Des Moines Register