Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ISEA Recommendes Governor Culver for Re-Election

 LCEA Members Join Educators from around the State t0 Recommend Political Candidates(originally posted 6/17/2010)

Democracy in action best represents the extensive process that the ISEA uses to recommend candidates--including Chet Culver for Re-Election as Governor.

All of ISEA's recommendations are based on answers the candidates give to interview questions that deal with a wide range of questions focusing on our students, our schools and our members in pre-K through higher education.

When it came to the Culver recommendation, the process was extremely deliberative and extensive: twelve members of the ISEA sat on ISEA's interview team for the 2010 Gubenatorial Candidates. The team--including LCEA member Kim McLaughlin--listened to both candidates answer the same nine questions in separate interviews on topics ranging from school funding to IPERS, leadership of the Department of Education to expanded scope for bargaining. (Questions are posted at the bottom of this post) The answers to these questions were considered in the committee's decision.

After the interviews, the twelve member committee (comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from across the state) caucused with Chris Bern, ISEA President and PAC Chair, to make a recommendation to our members. The committee forwarded its recommendation to the ISEA PAC Central Committee (made up of an equal number of Democrat and Republican ISEA members from ISEA's 19 Uniserv Units) Each of the committees of teachers, ESPs, higher education representatives, multi-cultural and retired members discussed the interviews, voting records and more and then voted on the recommendation.

Finally, the ISEA PAC Central Committee's recommendation was sent to the ISEA Executive Board recommended Culver. LCEA member Tom McLaughlin, ISEA board member-elect, sat in on the Executive Board's discussion and vote.

"The process is incredibly deliberative and inclusive," McLaughlin said.

“Governor Culver continues to be a good friend of public education,” said ISEA President Chris Bern, who led the interview session with members of the ISEA-PAC Central Committee and the ISEA Executive Board. “As a former classroom teacher and a coach, Governor Culver understands the challenges facing educators in these difficult economic times. He is willing to listen to our concerns and we feel he is the natural choice for our members.”

During Culver’s interview, he pledged to continue to keep his commitment to making teacher salaries a priority (Iowa recently moved to 26th in the nation up from 42nd in fiscal year 2005); utilizing our education professionals’ vast experience and expertise by placing us at the table when discussions and decisions are being made on education reform issues; and ensuring his commitment to a world-class education for Iowa’s public school children.

With the ISEA recommendation comes financial support from voluntary contributions made by ISEA members. More important, however, is the grassroots volunteer support Governor Culver will receive from educators in every corner of the state. In an ISEA exit poll conducted several weeks after the 2006 election, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that Governor Culver won among ISEA members by 82 percent. Sixty-seven percent of ISEA members reported education as the most important issue in how they voted.

JUNE 2010

1. Recently the Director of the Iowa Department of Education (DE) retired leaving this position to be appointed by the Governor. Which qualities and attributes should a DE director possess? When interviewing candidates for the DE director’s position, what education agenda do you envision this candidate helping you oversee and implement for the state of Iowa? Please address K-12, pre-school, community colleges, and area education agencies in your response.

2. There have been many discussions this election cycle and over the last four years about labor issues. In particular, collective bargaining for public sector employees; choice of doctor for worker compensation injuries; fair share (reasonable reimbursement) for services provided individuals not belonging to a union; and prevailing wages for construction projects. As Governor would you support these issues and, if yes, what would you do to make sure these labor issues are passed by the General Assembly? In addition, please provide your positions on Iowa Code Chapter 20 by commenting on the collective bargaining legislation that was passed by both chambers in the form of House File 2645 in 2008. Would you have supported this legislation in its entirety, in an amended form, or not at all? Explain what you object to in House File 2645 and what you will support to improve collective bargaining for government employees in Iowa.

3. In House File 2645 passed in 2008, there was specific language included that dealt with teacher termination procedures in Iowa. Do you believe the current system that requires a teacher’s first hearing to be in front of a school board (many times biased by months of budget discussions or has a conflict in that the administration presenting the termination is serving as an agent of the school board) is fair? Would you, as Governor, support retaining the current system or would you promote changes to the Iowa teacher termination process? If you do support changes, please explain how you see this new system functioning in Iowa.

4. During the primary campaign there was much discussion around the voluntary preschool program that has been initiated in Iowa over the last three years. What is your position on preschool education and what would you do regarding voluntary, publicly provided preschool in Iowa?

5. Iowa has had many programs over the last 20 years addressing teacher salaries and raising them to 25th in the nation or the national average. Currently Iowa is ranked 26th in the nation. As Governor, what will you do to make sure this commitment is maintained and that salaries don’t fall in national rankings in future years? In addition to the K-12 salary rankings, community college faculties have endured inadequate salaries. Some strides have been made to improve faculty salaries, but what will you do to ensure that community college faculty salary standings are equivalent to their professional peers in the K-12 system?

6. Iowa is coming out of one of the greatest economic recessions since the great depression. While this downturn was a national phenomenon, it has eroded the basic funding of Iowa’s public education structure. As Governor, what will your commitment to Iowa’s public education be in regards to: 1) setting an allowable growth rate for 2011-12 and 2012-13 in the first 30 days of the session and, 2) for community college general fund budgets? In the past, many commitments to education were not to benefit education programs but instead to be used for property tax relief, so please be specific. Is your commitment to the students and our profession so we can provide a world-class education? If not, please be clear on why other priorities exist that are more important than education programs for Iowa’s students.

7. Iowa’s public employees, including teachers and other education support professionals, are covered by a defined benefit pension plan, the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS). Several attempts have been made to substitute an individual contribution plan for the defined benefit plan. Please share your thinking about the value of a defined benefit plan for public employees and your views on providing a secure retirement for Iowa’s education employees. Additionally, we would like to hear your thoughts about creating an independent board of governance that would have the fiduciary responsibility for the members and employer organizations that participate in the IPERS trust fund.

8. There has been much discussion over the years about “No Child Left Behind,” Race to the Top, merit pay, pay for performance, Iowa core curriculum, and School Improvement Grants. It has been inherent in public policy that has been enacted the last six years in Iowa that educators are a part of the solution and not a part of the problem, which is sometimes not the case at the national level. As the Governor of Iowa, how do you see your relationship with educators and how do you see ISEA playing a role in your education agenda? Please be specific as to issues such as pay for performance, merit pay, and federal programs like Race to the Top and other national programs that require a competitive application process.

9. Every candidate says they support education. Why should Iowans elect you Governor? What will make you stand out as the person to recommend to our 34,000 colleagues? What will make us want to use our personal time and financial resources to support you? Explain to us how, if you are elected, Iowa schools will be more secure financially and stronger educationally; and that education professionals will continue to be respected
four years from now.