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Iowa Governor to Wait on Teacher Pay Plan, Build Support

The recent tendency of state governors on education policy has been to push for major changes—and to get them done right now. Iowa's Terry Branstad appears to be taking a different approach.

The Republican governor has told reporters that he will wait a year before attempting to pass his sweeping proposal to overhaul teacher pay in order to build support for the plan.

Branstad earlier this year unveiled a far-reaching proposal to overhaul of teacher pay and evaluation. It would create a series of new teacher designations—master, mentor, apprentice, and career— which would serve as the basis for compensation. Teachers would advance within those designations based on experience, performance, evaluation, and competitive selection.

"We found that there's a lot of questions and a lot of information that needs to be provided," Branstad said, according to the Associated Press. "We intend to move forward, but we've moved it back a year."

The Iowa Department of Education is assembling a task force on teacher pay and teacher leadership, agency spokeswoman Staci Hupp said in an e-mail. The teacher-pay plan was part of a broad package of proposals put forward by Branstad this year, which included ideas for everything from setting tougher standards for students advancing from 3rd grade to 4th grade to establishing a clearer process for approving charter schools and giving more flexibility to local school districts. Many of those ideas are "still on the table" for the upcoming legislative session, said Hupp, even though the teacher-pay model won't be.

The Iowa governor's build-consensus-slowly approach on teacher pay stands in contrast to the approach taken by Republicans in many states on education policy, such as Wisconsin and Ohio, where major changes have drawn varying degrees of backlash.

Many other states have approved changes in teacher pay and evaluation, as well as laws affecting tenure; last-in, first-out layoff practices, and other policies.

Of course, Branstad is working in a different political environment than governors in Wisconsin and Ohio (Democrats control one of his state's legislative chambers), and he may believe his proposal is more likely to have more staying power if it has more buy-in, up front.

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