Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Iowa invests in teacher leaders

By Kevin Kinney

Iowa has become the first state to create a teacher leadership system designed to boost student achievement, increase teaching expertise and raise the status of the teaching profession.
Teachers taking on leadership roles to improve classroom instruction and raise student achievement was a key piece of the Legislature’s 2013 Education Reform. This new effort allows teachers to work in collaboration with colleagues and learn from each other instead of operating in isolation in their classrooms.
The overriding philosophy of the system is that to improve student learning, you must improve the instruction students receive each day. There is no better way to do this than to empower our best teachers to lead the effort. The system rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities and higher pay, attracts promising new teachers with competitive starting salaries, and fosters greater collaboration for all teachers to learn from each other.
Teacher leadership systems are being phased in over three years, with the goal of all Iowa school districts participating on a voluntary basis by 2016-17. The Iowa Legislature approved $50 million for the first year of implementation. The second year will see a $100 million investment and $150 million for the third year,  enabling all districts to participate if they choose. The funding will become part of the school aid formula that determines how much state money schools receive each year.
During a recent update on the teacher leader system, legislators learned that schools don’t want to trade increased investments in teacher leadership for basic school aid. The teacher leadership program will help make the classroom experience the best it can be, but it must have a strong school foundation to build upon.
One Iowa district would have to make about $300,000 in cuts under the House bill to increase school funding by only 1.25 percent. That would significantly diminish the impact of the $340,000 they’ll receive in teacher leader grants.
Teacher and principal leadership teams are the key to supporting more complex efforts to prepare students to compete in a global, knowledge-based economy. Our local school districts selected for the teacher leader program include:

School District    School Year
College    2015-16
Fairfield    2015-16
Iowa City    2015-16
Solon    2015-16
Tri-County    2015-16
Williamsburg    2015-16
Highland    2016-17
Keota    2016-17
Lone Tree    2016-17
Mid-Prairie    2016-17
Pekin    2016-17
Washington    2016-17
West Liberty    2016-17

Additional information
This is a legislative update from State Senator Kevin Kinney, representing Keokuk, Washington and Johnson counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/kinney.

To contact Senator Kinney when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise, he can be reached at 319-631-4667. E-mail him at kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Kinney is vicechair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget Subcommittee. He also serves on the Agriculture, Education, Government Oversight, Judiciary, and Natural Resources & Environment committees.