Teachers union strengthens schools
More than 20 years ago, I left the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in elementary education in my hand and optimism in my heart. I was going to make the world a better place, one student at a time.
One of the first moves I made was to become a member of the Iowa State Education Association.
For me, it wasn’t because of a discount on liability insurance. That’s what Drew Klein from Americans for Prosperity suggests in his Aug. 16 column in the Register.
For me, it was because the ISEA pushed for higher standards in teaching — they led the fight to require teachers have a two-year degree, and later, a four-year degree — which means higher quality instruction for our students.
I liked that, and I thought that an organization that worked to attract the best graduates to the profession and keep them deserved my support. It’s a philosophy that drove me to obtain national board certification in 1999 and, just this last year, a doctorate in teacher leadership.
For me, being a member was, and is, the right thing to do.
But there are a lot of different reasons educators choose to join the ISEA.
I know this, because we ask them. As president of the ISEA, I want to make sure we’re doing the best we possibly can to for our members, the students they teach and care for as well as the citizens they serve as public education professionals.
Our members continue to fill our professional development courses, they support our mentoring programs and they like that the ISEA has a seat at the table when important decisions are being made about the Every Students Succeeds Act, Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation program and other important policies that affect our profession. And of course, they welcome the expertise we have when it comes to negotiating the master contract every Iowa school district has with its employees.
ISEA members know there are 34,000 educators across the state they can lean on for support and guidance. They know they have a choice to be a part of their association and choose to do so.
Most of all, our members tell us they are grateful students are at the center of every decision we make, whether it’s fighting to keep public resources for school programs, advocating to keep class sizes small so students have more time for one-on-one instruction or just working to make sure every child, regardless of their ZIP code, has a competent and qualified instructor in the classroom.
One more point: The ISEA operates a political action committee to help us research and evaluate candidates for public office based on their level of concern for our students and our schools. Our members understand nearly every decision made about their profession is a political one made by someone in public office.
PAC contributions are voluntary and entirely separate from union dues.
To say otherwise, as the AFP representative does, is a result of his shoddy work and simply untrue.
I encourage everyone to find out more about the ISEA PAC by visiting the ISEA website at www.isea.org.
To our students, parents, educators and our urban, suburban and rural Iowa communities, thank you for supporting your schools. You are all making this world a better place, one community, one school and one student at a time.
Let’s make this the best school year yet.