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Iowa Press #2803 - John Forsyth and Marvin Pomerantz
September 17, 2000

Yepsen: THE ISSUE OF TEACHER COMPENSATION IN IOWA IS AN ISSUE THAT JUST WON'T GO AWAY. WE'LL DISCUSS THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTIONS WITH JOHN FORSYTH, CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION COMPENSATION COMMITTEE, AND WITH MARVIN POMERANTZ, CHAIRMAN OF THE BUSINESS FORUM FOR EDUCATION, ON THIS EDITION OF IOWA PRESS.

FUNDING FOR IOWA PRESS HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY: FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY... THE VOICE OF IOWA BUSINESS, REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF OVER 1,500 IOWA BUSINESSES EMPLOYING 300,000 IOWANS.

THIS IS THE SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17th EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: THIRTY YEARS AGO AND MORE, IOWA BECAME AWARE THAT ITS TEACHER PAY SCALE IS BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. THE STING OF THAT REALITY IN AN EDUCATION-PROUD STATE HAS BEEN SOOTHED BY THE FACT THAT IOWA HAS BEEN AT THE TOP OR NEAR THE TOP IN NATIONAL TEST SCORES. BUT THE GAME HAS CHANGED. TODAY TEST SCORES ARE DROPPING, OLDER TEACHERS ARE RETIRING, AND CANDIDATES OF ALL STRIPES CLAIM EDUCATION SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF OUR PUBLIC AGENDA. BUT THE REALITY IS THAT ALLOCATING MORE MONEY IS QUITE A BIT MORE COMPLICATED AND POLITICALLY-CHARGED. TODAY OBSERVERS BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE EDUCATION ESTABLISHMENT WONDER WHERE NEW TEACHERS WILL COME FROM IF THEY'RE NOT PAID MORE, AND WHERE DO WE FIND THAT MONEY TO DO THAT. TWO PROMINENT IOWA BUSINESSMEN JOIN US TO HELP ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS. JOHN FORSYTH IS CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION COMPENSATION COMMITTEE, AND MARVIN POMERANTZ IS CHAIRMAN OF THE BUSINESS FORUM FOR EDUCATION. ALSO WITH US AT THE IOWA PRESS TABLE ARE KATHIE OBRADOVICH OF THE LEE NEWSPAPERS AND JENEANE BECK OF KUNI PUBLIC RADIO.

Beck: GENTLEMEN, LET'S START WITH WHY YOU'RE HERE TO BEGIN WITH. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE CURRENT COMPENSATION -- SALARIES FOR TEACHERS, AND IS IT TOO LOW? AND MR. POMERANTZ, I'LL START WITH YOU.

Pomerantz: WELL, THE PROBLEM IS SIMPLY THAT THE SYSTEM IS NOW ABOUT 80 YEARS OLD. DES MOINES, IF YOU LOOK BACK AT THE HISTORY BOOK, WAS THE FIRST CITY IN THE COUNTRY TO PUT THE EXISTING SYSTEM INTO PLAY, AND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY FOLLOWED. AND IT SIMPLY HAS BECOME ANTIQUATED. IT DOES MOTIVATE THE -- IT DOESN'T ATTRACT THE BEST PEOPLE TO THE PROFESSION, AND IT DOESN'T KEEP THE BEST PEOPLE IN THE PROFESSION ONCE THEY'RE THERE. SO WE HAVE A REALLY SIGNIFICANT ISSUE HERE. IT'S IMPORTANT OVER AND ABOVE JUST THE EDUCATIONAL FACTORS BECAUSE AS EDUCATION GOES, AT LEAST IT'S MY VIEW, THAT THAT'S THE WAY THE STATE GOES. THIS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO THE STATE.

Beck: MR. FORSYTH, THERE'S A REASON WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT THIS NOW. THEY KEEP TALKING ABOUT TEACHER SHORTAGES. IS THAT THE PROBLEM?

Forsyth: I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE PROBLEMS. ABOUT 40 PERCENT OF THE TEACHERS ARE GOING TO RETIRE IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS. BUT I THINK THE FUNDAMENTAL -- AS MARVIN POINTED OUT, THE FUNDAMENTAL SYSTEM IS FLAWED AND REALLY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED DRAMATICALLY.

Obradovich: BOTH OF YOU GENTLEMEN HAVE BEEN WORKING INDEPENDENTLY WITH GROUPS OF PEOPLE TO TRY AND COME UP WITH A SOLUTION. MR. FORSYTH, WHY DON'T WE START WITH YOU? WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS THAT YOUR GROUP HAS COME UP WITH?

Forsyth: WELL, WE'VE LOOKED AT A NUMBER OF THINGS. THE FIRST THING WE THINK WE NEED TO DO IS HAVE THE SOLUTION BE LABOR MARKET DIRECTED, SO WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE NATIONAL TEACHER LABOR MARKET AND HAVE IOWA BE COMPETITIVE NATIONALLY. WE ALSO THINK THAT THE WAY WE REWARD AND RECOGNIZE TEACHERS HAS TO CHANGE. AND SO WE HAVE TO LOOK AT CONTINUING EDUCATION AND CHANGE THE CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAMS TO MAKE IT MORE IN TUNE WITH STUDENT OUTCOMES AND LEARNINGS. THE NEXT THING WE THINK IS THAT WE HAVE TO HAVE COMPENSATION THAT'S TIED TO OUTCOME, STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, OR PERFORMANCE. SO THOSE ARE VARIABLES THAT WE'VE WEAVED INTO OUR PROPOSAL.

Obradovich: MR. POMERANTZ, YOUR GROUP ALSO CAME OUT WITH A REPORT. WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS THAT YOUR GROUP THOUGHT SHOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED?

Pomerantz: WELL, FUNDAMENTALLY OUR REPORT WAS ISSUED IN JUNE, AND WE WERE MORE THAN WILLING TO HAVE EVERYONE THAT WAS INTERESTED HAVE A LOOK AT IT. AND I MIGHT JUST SAY NOW, AS A QUALIFIER, JOHN AND I ARE NOT BITTER ENEMIES. WE WORK TOGETHER ON THE COMMISSION. HE'S THE CHAIRMAN OF WELLMARK. I'M ON HIS BOARD. WE'RE GOOD FRIENDS. SO THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL ISSUE. THE OTHER EDUCATIONAL FACTORS THAT REALLY DRIVE THIS IS THE FACT THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, WOMEN WHO HISTORICALLY HAVE BEEN A MAIN SOURCE OF TEACHER -- OF TEACHERS, NOW HAVE MANY MORE OPTIONS, WHETHER IT BE LAW OR MEDICINE OR DENTISTRY OR BUSINESS OR WHATEVER IT HAPPENS TO BE. THERE'S JUST A TREMENDOUS NUMBER OF OPTIONS FOR WOMEN, AND ALL OF THEM PAY A GREAT DEAL MORE THAN TEACHING. TEACHING IS A CALLING, IN A SENSE, AND THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO TEACH BECAUSE THEY HAVE AN INTEREST IN TEACHING CHILDREN. BUT THEY HAVE FAMILIES. THEY HAVE YOUNGSTERS TO EDUCATE THEMSELVES. THE FACT IS, WE JUST CAN'T ATTRACT ENOUGH QUALITY PEOPLE TO THE TEACHING PROFESSION AT THE EXISTING COMPENSATION RATES.

Obradovich: WHAT DID YOUR GROUP CONCLUDE AS FAR AS HOW MUCH TEACHERS SHOULD BE PAID IN ORDER TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

Pomerantz: LET ME SAY THERE'S A PRACTICAL ISSUE THAT WE HAVE, BEFORE WE EVEN GET TO ANSWERING THAT QUESTION. THAT IS, I DON'T THINK THAT UNDER THE PRESENT SYSTEM, THE LEGISLATURE, THE POLITICOS OF THIS STATE REALLY ARE ANXIOUS TO ENHANCE TEACHER SALARIES VERY MUCH. SO UNLESS WE CHANGE THE WHOLE PHILOSOPHY OF HOW WE PAY TEACHERS, AND WE STRUCTURE A PERFORMANCE-BASED SYSTEM WHERE TEACHERS ARE PAID ACCORDING TO THEIR ABILITY AND THEIR ACHIEVEMENT IN THE CLASSROOM, THEN I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT TO INCREASE TEACHER SALARY. AND THAT'S THE KEY. SO WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM. WHEN WE GET TO CHANGING THE SYSTEM, WE TALK ABOUT PERFORMANCE-BASED, WE TALK ABOUT STATEWIDE STANDARDS THAT ARE VERY WELL KNOWN WITHIN THE PROFESSION. THERE'S A LOT OF CONVERSATION, THERE'S A LOT OF RESEARCH THAT'S BEEN DONE THAT STRUCTURES THE STANDARDS. THERE ARE PEOPLE -- THERE ARE AUTHORITIES WITHIN THE INDUSTRY THAT REALLY SERVE AS THE PHILOSOPHICAL BASE FOR WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO HERE IN IOWA.

Yepsen: MR. POMERANTZ, YOU SAY YOU DON'T THINK THAT THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE ARE SERIOUS ABOUT RAISING TEACHER PAY?

Pomerantz: NO, I THINK AT THIS POINT IN TIME, THEY ARE VERY SERIOUS.

Beck: BUT YOU DON'T THINK THEY'LL DO IT WITHOUT SOME SORT OF ACCOUNTABILITY COMPONENT?

Pomerantz: I DON'T THINK THEY'LL DO IT UNDER THE OLD BASIS. I DON'T THINK, UNLESS YOU CHANGE THE SYSTEM, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE MUCH OF A CHANGE.

Yepsen: DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT, MR. FORSYTH?

Forsyth: I TOTALLY AGREE. OUR GROUP LOOKED AT THAT AND SAID THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND NEEDS TO BE FIXED. AND WE WOULDN'T INVEST MORE DOLLARS IN THE CURRENT SYSTEM, BUT WE WOULD INVEST TREMENDOUSLY INCREMENTAL DOLLARS IN A NEW SYSTEM. I AGREE WITH MARVIN THAT A GOOD PORTION OF THOSE DOLLARS HAVE TO BE BASED ON ACHIEVEMENTS, STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

Obradovich: WELL, LET'S GET TO SOME SPECIFICS ABOUT WHAT YOUR PLANS ARE PROPOSING, BECAUSE YOUR GROUP SUGGESTED IT SHOULD BE MARKET DRIVEN. IN OTHER WORDS, PEGGING IT TO THE NATIONAL AVERAGE SALARY AROUND THE COUNTRY AND CHANGING IT WHEN THAT NATIONAL AVERAGE CHANGES. TAKE US THROUGH HOW THAT WOULD WORK A LITTLE BIT.

Forsyth: WELL, WE LOOKED AT VARIOUS CATEGORIES OF TEACHERS, SO WE LOOKED AT PROVISIONAL TEACHERS, NEW TEACHERS COMING INTO THE PROFESSION, AND SAID THAT THEY NEEDED TO BE MENTORED AND GO THROUGH AN INDUCTION PROGRAM. AND THIS WOULD BE A TWO- TO THREE-YEAR PROGRAM, BUT WE SAID LET'S LOOK AT THE NATIONAL SALARIED SECOND-YEAR TEACHERS AND LOOK AT THE FORTIETH PERCENTILE. AND THAT'S WHERE WE WOULD TARGET THAT MINIMUM IS A STATEWIDE MINIMUM, AND THAT'S IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 27,000 PLUS. WE THEN SAID LET'S LOOK AT CAREER TEACHERS, PEOPLE THAT ARE THREE YEARS AND BEYOND, AND PEG THAT IN THE LABOR MARKET OF FIVE-YEAR-AND-ABOVE TEACHERS. AND AGAIN, THAT WOULD BE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 33,500. AND THEN WE WENT AND LOOKED AT WHAT WE WOULD CALL ADVANCED TEACHERS. NOT EVERYONE COULD GO THROUGH THAT CONTINUUM. AGAIN, YOU HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE ACHIEVEMENT TO BE ABLE TO MOVE THROUGH THIS PROGRESSION. THAT WOULD BE ABOUT 43,000. THEN, THERE IS ADVANCED - WITHIN THE ADVANCED CATEGORY, THERE IS NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION, WE'D PAY A 15-PERCENT DIFFERENTIAL. SO THOSE ARE THE BASE SALARIES, BUT IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE WOULD HAVE VARIABLE PAY NOT BUILT INTO THE BASE, AND THAT WOULD BE PREDICATED ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AT THE BUILDING LEVEL. AND SO THERE WOULD BE PLANS THROUGHOUT IOWA AND THEY WOULD BE MEASURED. IT MIGHT BE ZERO IN ONE YEAR OR IT MIGHT BE SIGNIFICANT IN ANOTHER YEAR. IT VARIES BY EACH OF THESE CATEGORIES. SO AT THE ONE END, THE LOWEST WOULD BE ZERO; THEN IT MIGHT BE ONE PERCENT. BUT AT THE HIGH END, WE HAVE 25 PERCENT OF VARIABLE PAY PREDICATED ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

Beck: YOU MENTIONED, THOUGH, TO MOVE UP TO THE NEXT LEVELS WHERE THERE WOULD BE INTERMEDIATE OR SOME SORT OF PROFESSIONAL TEACHER THAT THERE HAS TO BE A SHOW OF ACHIEVEMENT. WHAT IS THAT? IS THAT TAKING MORE COLLEGE COURSES? BECAUSE OFTENTIMES SOME PEOPLE FEEL TEACHERS JUST GO OUT IN THE SUMMER AND THEY TAKE ANY COURSES NECESSARY TO BOOST THEIR PAY. WHAT IS ACHIEVEMENT?

Forsyth: TO GET THROUGH THE PROVISIONAL, ONE HAS TO GO THROUGH THIS INDUCTION PROGRAM. AND THEIR MENTOR WOULD HAVE TO SAY THEY'VE GONE THROUGH AND ARE AN EFFECTIVE TEACHER, AND THEIR SUPERVISOR, THEIR PRINCIPAL, WOULD HAVE TO AGREE WITH THAT. WHEN ONE GOES FROM CAREER TO ADVANCED, ONE WOULD HAVE TO COME TOWARD, IN KIND OF A TEST ENVIRONMENT, COME FORWARD WITH A PORTFOLIO AND DEMONSTRATE YOUR TEACHING. AND IN ADDITION, YOU WOULD HAVE AT LEAST TWO PEERS THAT WOULD DO AN EVALUATION OF YOU. AND THESE WOULD BE PEOPLE THAT ARE ALREADY ADVANCED. THEY MAY BE IN THAT SCHOOL DISTRICT. THEY MIGHT COME FROM ANOTHER SCHOOL DISTRICT. PLUS, AGAIN, YOUR SUPERVISOR WOULD HAVE TO SIGNIFY THAT.

Obradovich: MR. POMERANTZ, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS APPROACH? YOUR GROUP TOOK A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT APPROACH.YOU WOULD HAVE RAISED THE BEGINNING TEACHER SALARY TO $25,000 AND HAVE SOME RAISES BEYOND THAT. EXPLAIN HOW YOUR GROUP WOULD STRUCTURE THE SALARIES.

Pomerantz: JOHN HAS DESCRIBED A STRUCTURE THAT IS BASICALLY PEER DRIVEN AND MORE LOCAL IN TERMS OF ITS QUALIFICATIONS. I WANT TO DISTINGUISH SOMETHING SO THAT WE CAN TALK ABOUT EACH OF THESE VARIOUS POINTS. WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AT THIS POINT. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT TEACHER QUALIFICATION. WE BELIEVE THAT THE STATE SHOULD ADOPT A SET OF STANDARDS THAT ARE COMPREHENSIVE AND STRUCTURED. SO IT ISN'T JUST A MATTER OF PEER GROUP INVOLVEMENT, BUT IT'S A MATTER OF MEETING CERTAIN TESTS. THE TEACHER MUST MEET THE TEST. THE STATE SHOULD ADOPT THE STANDARDS. THE TEACHER SHOULD ALSO BE REQUIRED TO PASS CONTENT EXAMINATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL EXAMINATIONS. WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO ACHIEVE IN THE OVERVIEW IS A PROFESSIONALIZATION OF THE TEACHING ACTIVITIES. WE WANT TEACHERS TO BE PROFESSIONALS AND ACHIEVE ON A MUCH MORE PROFESSIONAL BASIS THAN HISTORICALLY HAS BEEN THE CASE. SO WHEN WE SAY THAT, THE THING THAT WE NEED TO DO IS NOT NECESSARILY TIE THEM TO A NATIONAL STANDARD OF PAY, BUT TO THEIR OWN CAPABILITY IN TERMS OF ACHIEVEMENT. YOU CAN LIKEN IT TO THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM, TO PROFESSORS. AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE ARGUMENTATIVE PIECE OF THAT. BUT BEING STUDENT-DRIVEN, BEING ACHIEVEMENT-DRIVEN, WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED IN THE CLASSROOM IS THE ISSUE, NOT WHETHER A TEACHER CAN TAKE A COURSE AND PASS A COURSE AND BE IN GRADE AND ACHIEVE ADVANCES IN PAY. SO WE WANT THE TEACHER TO BE PROFESSIONALIZED, WE WANT TO PAY THEM AS THOUGH THEY'RE PROFESSIONALS, AND WE WANT THEM TO KEEP LEARNING AND KEEP TEACHING IN A WAY THAT'S NOT BEEN TRUE HISTORICALLY.

Forsyth: I THINK THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE HERE IS THAT MARVIN WOULD LOOK AT IT MORE AS A STATE, AND TOP-DOWN DRIVEN SYSTEM. WE'D LOOK AT IT USING THE STRENGTH OF THE DECENTRALIZED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION RIGHT NOW, WITH SOME STATE STANDARDS AS OVERRIDES. AND EVERYTHING WE DID WOULD SAY THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WOULD SIGN OFF SO THAT THERE WOULD BE SOME CONSISTENCY, BUT IT WOULD BE DRIVEN BY THE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AS OPPOSED TO BEING DRIVEN BY THE STATE.

Yepsen: WE'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS AND NOT ENOUGH TIME, SO I WANT TO MOVE YOU ON TO SOMETHING ELSE. MR. FORSYTH, WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE TO THE TAXPAYER HERE? HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST? HOW MUCH WILL YOUR PLAN COST?

Forsyth: WE ESTIMATED THAT THE COST WOULD BE ABOUT $250- TO $300 MILLION. ABOUT $100 MILLION OF THAT WOULD BE IN THE VARIABLE DRIVEN OFF OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT'S ALL INCREMENTAL COSTS, BECAUSE WE DO BELIEVE THERE ARE INEFFICIENCIES IN THE EXISTING SYSTEM, AND ONE SHOULD LOOK FOR THOSE INEFFICIENCIES.

Yepsen: MR. POMERANTZ, WHAT'S THE PRICE TAG –

Pomerantz: WELL, I DON'T THINK THE PRICES ARE GOING TO BE ALL THAT DIFFERENT. WE'RE SAYING AROUND $250 MILLION, AND THAT'S OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, SAY, TWO TO FOUR YEARS. BUT THE BASIC POINT NEEDS TO BE MADE IS THERE'S A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF THAT FUNDING THAT CAN COME FROM WITHIN THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS. REALLOCATION OF EXISTING FUNDS CAN BE A SUBSTANTIAL DOWN PAYMENT ON THE COST OF THIS PROGRAM.

Yepsen: SO AFTER YOU DO THAT, HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT THE LEGISLATURE TO COME UP WITH NEXT YEAR?

Pomerantz: WHATEVER IT TAKES TO IMPLEMENT THIS PROGRAM OVER A FOUR-YEAR TIME FRAME.

Yepsen: AT THE END OF FOUR YEARS --

Pomerantz: RIGHT.

Yepsen: -- WHERE ARE WE? IF I'M A TEACHER OUT THERE AND I'M THINKING ABOUT GETTING OUT OF THIS BUSINESS BECAUSE IT DOESN'T PAY TOO WELL, MR. POMERANTZ, WHERE WILL YOU BE IN FOUR YEARS?

Pomerantz: WE'LL PROBABLY BE $250 MILLION HIGHER, AT A MINIMUM. BUT LET ME –

Yepsen: I'M TALKING ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL TEACHER.

Pomerantz: OH, THE INDIVIDUAL –

Yepsen: ARE WE GOING TO BE AT THE NATIONAL AVERAGE IN FOUR YEARS?

Pomerantz: I WOULD SAY THAT EVEN IF WE ARE -- WE SHOULD BE, YES. AND EVEN IF WE ARE, THAT'S ONLY MEDIOCRE, THAT'S ONLY AVERAGE.

Yepsen: MR. FORSYTH, SAME QUESTION.

Forsyth: AGAIN, IT DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF THE TEACHER AND WHAT WE'RE DOING RELATIVE TO STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, BUT WHAT WE'VE SAID IS WE'LL BE ABOVE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE IF OUR STUDENTS ARE ACHIEVING WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. IF WE'RE NOT, WE WON'T BE ABOVE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE AND SHOULDN'T.

Obradovich: YOU MENTIONED –

Pomerantz: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK DISTINGUISHES OUR PLANS FROM JOHN'S AND THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN IS THE AMOUNT OF VARIABLE PAY. WE'RE CONCERNED THAT WE SHOULD HAVE VARIABLE PAY. WE AGREE ON THAT BUT WE DISAGREE ON THE MAGNITUDE OF IT. WE THINK IT OUGHT TO BE IN A LESSER RANGE, SAY, 5 TO 10 PERCENT OF THE BASE PAY, AND THE BASE PAY SHOULD BE HIGHER, BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT GAMES TO BE PLAYED WITH THE INCENTIVE PROGRAMS. HISTORICALLY, THERE'S BEEN A QUESTION OF RELIABILITY IN TERMS OF ASSESSING WHETHER GOALS HAVE BEEN MET, AND THERE'S A LOT OF CONTROVERSY OVER KEEPING THE GOALS ON AN OBJECTIVE LEVEL. THAT'S ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF THESE VARIABLE PAY PROGRAMS. SO WE ARE ADVOCATING A LOWER LEVEL BUT STILL A SUBSTANTIAL ENOUGH LEVEL TO CAUSE TEACHER - NOT ONLY TEACHERS BUT AN ENTIRE BUILDING TO BENEFIT BY ACHIEVING A PREDETERMINED GOAL.

Obradovich: YOU MENTIONED A PRETTY HEFTY PRICE TAG, $250- TO $300 MILLION. HOW IS THE STATE GOING TO AFFORD THIS? IS IT IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO RAISE TAXES, FOR EXAMPLE, IN ORDER TO PAY FOR THIS PLAN, MR. POMERANTZ?

Pomerantz: I DON'T THINK A TAX INCREASE IS AT ALL NECESSARY. I THINK WE CAN DO IT: GROWTH OF STATE FUNDS; REALLOCATION OF THE EXISTING ALLOCATED FUNDS; WE CAN PAY FOR THIS, AND WE CAN DO BETTER IN TERMS OF ACHIEVING BENEFIT FROM OUR DOLLARS.

Obradovich: MR. FORSYTH, WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS A TAX INCREASE IN ORDER OR IS THERE ENOUGH MONEY IN THE SYSTEM, AS MR. POMERANTZ SUGGESTED, TO PAY FOR ALL THIS?

Forsyth: I AGREE WITH MARVIN. I THINK IT'S A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES AND IT'S A QUESTION OF EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY.

Beck: CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS ACCOUNTABILITY COMPONENT? IF WE'RE GOING TO PAY TEACHERS MORE, THE PUBLIC IS GOING TO EXPECT MORE FROM THEM. IT'S A LITTLE BIT LIKE MERIT PAY, BUT YOU'RE SAYING THAT IT'S DIFFERENT IN THAT A TEAM APPROACH IS NEEDED SO THAT TEACHERS AREN'T PITTED AGAINST EACH OTHER. IS THAT -- ARE STUDENTS GOING TO BE TESTED AND WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO SEE THOSE SCORES AND KNOW THAT THEIR SCORES ARE GOING UP?

Forsyth: WHAT OUR PLAN WOULD CALL FOR IS ON A BUILDING-BY-BUILDING BASIS, ONE WOULD HAVE A PLAN TO IMPROVE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND IT WOULD BE MEASURABLE. ONE MEASURE WOULD BE A NATIONAL TEST, AND THERE WOULD BE TWO OTHER MEASURES THAT WOULD BE PREDETERMINED. AND THEN THE DISTRICT WOULD HAVE TO SAY THESE HAVE BEEN MET, AND THE STATE, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, WOULD HAVE TO SAY THESE HAVE BEEN MET.

Beck: IS THEIR INCENTIVE, THEN, TO SET THEIR GOALS NOT VERY HIGH SO THAT THEY CAN MEET THEM?

Forsyth: THAT MIGHT BE THE CASE BUT I DON'T THINK SO. ALREADY, SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE PUTTING IN PLANS IN TERMS OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND SUBMITTING THEM AT THE STATE LEVEL BUT, AGAIN, THAT'S WHY WE THINK IT'S IMPORTANT. I AGREE WITH MARVIN, THERE HAS TO BE A STATE ROLE HERE, AND IT'S IMPORTANT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HAVE AN OVERSIGHT AND BE INVOLVED IN LOOKING AT EACH IF THESE PLANS TO CALIBRATE THEM TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE CONSISTENT AND RELIABLE.

Pomerantz: I WANT TO COMMENT HERE BECAUSE, FIRST OF ALL, THIS IS NOT A MERIT PLAN. WE DISAVOW ANYTHING TO DO WITH MERIT. MERIT IS OFF THE TABLE. THIS IS A PERFORMANCE-BASED SYSTEM, AND THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES, NONE THE LEAST OF WHICH IS THE WAY THE TERMS ARE INTERPRETED BY THE EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY. SO THAT'S A KEY FACTOR. WE BELIEVE YOU NEED AN OBJECTIVE, OUTSIDE FORCE TO COME IN AND INSPECT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE LOCAL DISTRICTS TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE KEPT ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, THAT THE GOALS THAT ARE SET ARE REALISTIC GOALS AND THAT THE ACHIEVEMENT IS MEASURED ON AN OBJECTIVE BASIS. SO WE THINK IT TAKES AN OUTSIDE GROUP OF INSPECTORS TO COME IN AND GUARANTEE THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE PROGRAM.

Beck: WHO IS THAT?

Pomerantz: THAT'S A NEW GROUP THAT WOULD BE DEVELOPED AS PART OF OUR PLAN THAT WOULD COME AND BE FROM THE STATE LEVEL TO GO INTO THE DISTRICTS AND MAKE SURE THAT WE'VE ATTAINED THE OBJECTIVES THAT ARE BEING TALKED ABOUT.

Obradovich: THE GOVERNOR HAS CRITICIZED THE APPROACH OF HAVING THESE INSPECTORS COME IN AND OVERSEE THESE GOALS, SAYING IT'S A WHOLE NEW BUREAUCRACY AND SORT OF INDICATING THAT HE DIDN'T THINK REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS WOULD WANT TO ADD MAYBE A HUNDRED NEW PEOPLE TO THE STATE STAFF TO OVERSEE LOCAL SCHOOLS. HOW DO YOU DEFEND THAT?

Pomerantz: WELL, I'M GLAD TO SEE THE GOVERNOR HAS FINALLY RECOGNIZED THE URGENCY OF THIS ISSUE, AND THAT HE HAS STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT IT. BUT THE FACT IS THAT THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP OF THE LEGISLATURE, EVERY ONE OF THEM HAVE ENDORSED THE PLAN, SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE GOVERNOR IS REFERENCING, BECAUSE THE LEADERSHIP HAVE ALREADY SAID THEY ACCEPT THIS AS A NECESSARY PART OF THE PLAN.

Beck: ENDORSING IT AND GETTING IT PASSED ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS, HOWEVER.

Pomerantz: YOU CAN'T GET IT PASSED UNTIL YOU GET IT IN FRONT OF THE LEGISLATURE. YOU'VE GOT TO GET IT UP THERE. AND IT WILL BE UP THERE. AND I WOULD SUGGEST THAT IF WE DO NOT PASS IT, FOUR YEARS FROM NOW, WE WILL NOT HAVE ENOUGH TEACHERS IN IOWA TO COVER OUR NEEDS, AND THE STATE WILL GO BACKWARDS IN A SIGNIFICANT WAY. SO I THINK THE LEGISLATURE HAS GOT AN ISSUE. I'M VERY STRONG ON THE BELIEF THAT THE LEADERSHIP WILL BRING THIS BILL THROUGH THIS SESSION, AND THE GOVERNOR RECOGNIZES NOW -- I WAS TALKING TO HIM LAST YEAR AND I'VE TALKED FOR A LONG TIME ABOUT, EVER SINCE THE COMMISSION ON PRE-K - 12 EDUCATION UNDER GOVERNOR BRANSTAD'S ADMINISTRATION, ABOUT ADVANCING TEACHER PAY BECAUSE IT COMES DOWN TO THE FACT THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE QUALITY SCHOOLS UNLESS YOU HAVE QUALITY TEACHERS.

Yepsen: MR. FORSYTH: TALK TO THE TAXPAYER OUT THERE IN SOME SMALL IOWA TOWN WHO THINKS THAT JUST BECAUSE -- THAT TEACHERS ARE ALREADY WELL PAID. I MEAN, YOU GO INTO SOME SMALL TOWNS, AND YOU'LL FIND PEOPLE WHO WILL SAY, "THESE GUYS ARE ALREADY MAKING MORE MONEY THAN ANYBODY ELSE IN TOWN, AND THEY ONLY WORK NINE MONTHS OUT OF THE YEAR." WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT INDIVIDUAL?

Forsyth: I'D SAY THAT TEACHERS NOW HAVE MORE OPTIONS THAN THEY'VE EVER HAD BEFORE, AND PEOPLE ENTERING THE PROFESSION HAVE MORE OPTIONS THAN THEY EVER HAD BEFORE. IF WE REALLY WANT TO GET THE BRIGHTEST AND THE BEST TO ENTER THE PROFESSION, WE NEED TO PAY COMPETITIVE SALARIES. IF WE WANT PEOPLE TO STAY IN THE PROFESSION, WE HAVE TO HAVE A SYSTEM WHERE PEOPLE CAN MOVE UP AND CONTINUE TO HAVE COMPETITIVE SALARIES. SO RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A SITUATION WHERE 50 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE ENTERING THE PROFESSION AREN'T THERE AFTER ABOUT YEAR SIX, SO WE'RE HAVING TROUBLE RECRUITING PEOPLE INTO THE PROFESSION, WE'RE HAVING TROUBLE MAINTAINING PEOPLE IN THE PROFESSION, AND WE KNOW THAT 40 PERCENT OF OUR TEACHERS ARE GOING TO BE RETIRING WITHIN THE NEXT FIVE TO EIGHT YEARS.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU SAY, MR. POMERANTZ, TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO SAY TEACHERS ARE ALREADY PRETTY WELL PAID?

Pomerantz: I SAY THAT I'M INTERESTED IN THE STUDENTS AND THE KIDS OF THIS STATE, AND THE TEST SCORES ARE GOING DOWN. AND THE TECHNOLOGY THAT WE'RE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING IN OUR SOCIETY IN GENERAL, AND IN EDUCATION IN PARTICULAR, IS SUCH THAT WE CAN'T RELY ON HISTORY. WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT SCORES ARE GOING DOWN, THAT OUR SYSTEM IS IN ILL REPAIR. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIX IT. THE STARTING POINT IN FIXING IT IS TO HAVE QUALITY TEACHERS. QUALITY TEACHERS NEED TO BE PAID A FAIR WAGE, A FAIR SALARY, BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO PROFESSIONALIZE IT AND WE'RE GOING TO CHANGE THE WHOLE STRUCTURE OF HOW WE BRING TEACHERS INTO THE PROGRAM.

Yepsen: UNDER YOUR PLAN, WILL THEY WORK MORE THAN 180 DAYS A YEAR?

Pomerantz: UNDER MY PLAN, I WOULD ADVOCATE THAT WE EXTEND THE SCHOOL YEAR, AS WE DID IN THE COMMISSION LEVEL. THAT'S NOT AN EASY TOPIC.

Yepsen: WE NEED TO MOVE ON. JENEANE?

Beck: WELL, I JUST WANTED TO ASK, SOME OF THE LARGER SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN IOWA ARE ALREADY PAYING HIGHER SALARIES THAN THE RURAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS JUST TO STAY COMPETITIVE; THEY HAVE TO. SO DOES THIS PLAN BENEFIT RURAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS MORE, AND IS IT, THEN, PROPPING UP RURAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT MAYBE NEED TO COMBINE IN SOME AREAS, MR. FORSYTH?

Forsyth: I DON'T KNOW THAT IT'S PROPPING UP ANYONE BECAUSE, AGAIN, YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THIS WOULD BE FUNDED, AND I THINK THAT WILL BE A KEY ELEMENT. BUT IT SUGGESTS THAT WE DO NEED TO PAY MORE IN URBAN AREAS, AND OVER TIME, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY MORE IN RURAL AREAS OR WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE QUALITY EDUCATORS.

Beck: DO YOU THINK THAT RURAL LAWMAKERS WILL SUPPORT THIS?

Pomerantz: FOR MANY, MANY YEARS, I'VE BEEN AN ADVOCATE FOR EDUCATION. IN 1979 I WAS CHAIR OF GOVERNOR RAY'S ECONOMY COMMITTEE, AND THE FIRST RECOMMENDATION WAS CONSOLIDATION TO SCHOOLS. HERE IT IS 21 YEARS LATER, AND NOT VERY MUCH HAS HAPPENED. I DON'T WANT THIS TO BOG DOWN ON THE ARGUMENTS AROUND CONSOLIDATION. I WANT QUALITY EDUCATION FOR EVERY KID IN IOWA, AND WE NEED TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE SURE THAT HAPPENS. AND AS AN ADMONITION I WOULD SAY THAT IF WE DON'T DO THAT, AT LEAST IN OTHER STATES, THE FEDERAL COURTS WILL COME IN AND CHANGED THINGS AROUND DRAMATICALLY.

Obradovich: THE GOVERNOR HAS ASKED YOU TWO GENTLEMEN TO GET TOGETHER WITH SOME OF YOUR GROUP AND TRY TO HASH OUT SOME SORT OF CONSENSUS ON SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT YOU DIFFER ON BEFORE THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. IS THAT POSSIBLE FOR YOU GUYS TO REACH A CONSENSUS BETWEEN THE TWO PLANS, AND IS IT EVEN NECESSARY BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE COMES IN?

Forsyth: I THINK IT'S POSSIBLE AND AS MARVIN EARLIER SAID, I THINK THAT IT'S DESIRABLE TO HAVE A SINGLE PLAN SO THAT THERE ISN'T A DEBATE ABOUT THIS PART ABOUT THIS PLAN OR THIS PART ABOUT THIS PLAN. BECAUSE THE ISSUE IS A CRITICAL ISSUE AND WE BOTH HAVE PASSION OVER THE ISSUE AND WHY WE DIFFER ON SOME ASPECTS OF IT, IF YOU LOOK AT THE UNDERLYING - UNDERPINNINGS OF BOTH PLANS, THERE'S A LOT OF SIMILARITY.

Obradovich: MR. POMERANTZ, WHY NOT GIVE THE LEGISLATURE TWO ALTERNATIVES AND LET THEM DECIDE?

Pomerantz: THAT MAY STILL HAPPEN. THAT'S ONE OF THE OPTIONS; IF WE DON'T COME TOGETHER WITH ONE PLAN, THEY'LL HAVE TWO. FORSYTH IS A VERY DIFFICULT GUY TO GET ALONG WITH... [ LAUGHTER ] ...SO EVEN IN SPITE OF THAT, I THINK WE CAN MAKE PROGRESS. AND I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, BY THE WAY, BY THE ELECTION DATE. I THINK IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AFTER THE ELECTION.

Yepsen: WELL, YEAH. WHY WOULDN'T IT? WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHO'S CONTROLLING THE LEGISLATURE BEFORE WE CAN DECIDE WHAT THE LEGISLATURE IS GOING TO PASS; RIGHT? IS THIS A PARTISAN ISSUE, MR. POMERANTZ? I MEAN DO YOU SEE A REPUBLICAN -- YOU'RE A REPUBLICAN. MR. FORSYTH WORKS FOR THE GOVERNOR HERE ON THIS ONE. IS THIS A PARTISAN ISSUE? ARE WE GOING TO SEE SOME TENSION IN THE CAMPAIGN ON THIS?

Pomerantz: I GET ACCUSED OF BEING A REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST, WHATEVER THAT MEANS. I CAN TELL YOU THIS ISSUE TRANSCENDS ALL OF POLITICS, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED. THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE STATE OF IOWA.

Yepsen: IS THAT YOUR FEELING, MR. POMERANTZ -- OR MR. FORSYTH -- THAT THIS TRANSCENDS POLITICS?

Forsyth: FOR SURE.

Yepsen: SO THERE'S NOTHING FOR THE VOTER TO DECIDE HERE. YOU HAVE TWO PLANS AND THERE'S JUST A LOT OF ARCANE DETAILS TO WORK OUT; IS THAT --

Forsyth: I THINK THERE'S SOME FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES IN THE PLANS. THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. IN THESE KINDS OF THINGS, THERE AREN'T NECESSARILY RIGHT OF WRONG ANSWERS. WE'RE CUTTING NEW GROUND. NATIONALLY, THERE ARE PROBABLY FOUR OR FIVE DISTRICTS THAT HAVE DONE THINGS LIKE THIS. SO WE'RE TRYING TO DO SOMETHING FOR AN ENTIRE STATE THAT ISN'T REALLY BEING DONE IN MANY DISTRICTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Obradovich: IS THIS PLAN GOING TO TAKE AWAY LOCAL CONTROL AND LOCAL DETERMINATION FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS? YOU'RE SORT OF TELLING THEM HOW MUCH THEY NEED TO PAY TEACHERS AND HOW TO STRUCTURE THEIR CAREERS. WHAT'S LEFT FOR LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO DECIDE? MR. FORSYTH?

Forsyth: THE WHOLE QUESTION OF THE ACADEMIC PROGRAMS AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. AND THIS DOESN'T REPLACE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. THIS SETS SOME MINIMUMS AND SETS SOME THRESHOLDS.

Obradovich: MR. POMERANTZ, HAVE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS DONE A GOOD ENOUGH JOB, AND WHY SHOULDN'T THE STATE TAKE OVER?

Pomerantz: WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE TEACHERS HERE; WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE KIDS. THE KIDS ARE YOUR LOCAL ISSUE. THE TEACHERS OUGHT TO BE MORE CONTROLLED BY A SET OF STANDARDS THAT ARE INITIATED BY THE STATE. THAT'S A SUBTLE DIFFERENCE BUT IT NEEDS TO BE RECOGNIZED. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT TEACHERS HERE. WE'RE LOSING TEACHERS. TEACHERS ARE GOING TO OTHER STATES BECAUSE THEY'RE GETTING SIGNING BONUSES AND ALL KINDS OF BENEFITS THAT WE'RE NOT WILLING TO PAY. WE'RE NOT PAYING THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. YOU KNOW, THIS IS MUCH MORE OF AN EMERGENCY THAN I THINK IS BEING RECOGNIZED. WE'RE OUT OF TIME. WE CAN'T WAIT ANY LONGER THAN NOW. WE'VE GOT TO GET A RESOLUTION TO THIS ISSUE.

Beck: AND YOU'RE CONVINCED THAT HIGHER PAY IS THE ISSUE. YOU DON'T THINK THAT WE'LL STILL SEE TEACHERS LEAVE, MAYBE FOR OTHER REASONS? ARE THERE OTHER REASONS TO LEAVE?

Pomerantz: THAT'S WHY I KEEP TALKING ABOUT PROFESSIONALIZING THE PROFESSION. HIGHER PAY IS THE KEY COMPONENT TO THAT, BUT THERE ARE OTHER THINGS, TOO, THAT NEED TO HAPPEN.

Forsyth: IN OUR REPORT, WE MENTION MENTORING, WHICH IS CRITICAL. STAFF DEVELOPMENT IS CRITICAL. THE SUPPORT SYSTEMS FOR TEACHERS ARE CRITICAL. IN OUR REPORT WE SUGGESTED ADMINISTRATION BE ON THE SAME VARIABLE PAY PROGRAM AS THE TEACHERS TO ALIGN INTERESTS BETWEEN THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE EDUCATORS.

Yepsen: MR. FORSYTH, MARVIN POMERANTZ SAID WE'RE OUT OF TIME. WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU, BOTH, FOR BEING WITH US TODAY. THANK YOU.

Yepsen: BEFORE WE LEAVE, OUR REMINDER IS THAT IOWA PRESS IS NOW AVAILABLE ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB. YOU CAN CLICK IN AND JOIN US AT WWW.IOWAPRESS.IPTV.ORG. AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. WE RETURN NEXT WEEK AT NOON AND 7:00. DEAN BORG RETURNS WITH US AT THAT TIME, AND I HOPE YOU WILL AS WELL. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF THE DES MOINES REGISTER. THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

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