Students raise concerns over collective bargaining

Education majors weigh in on collective bargaining bill

by Haley Brase

Education cuts may impact students and future teachers in Iowa.

A collective bargaining bill was approved by the Iowa Legislature in February, potentially creating havoc for non-public safety employees.

For non-public safety employees, such as teachers, the bill means they cannot negotiate things such as vacation time, insurance, holidays, hours, leave of absence and more. The public safety employees who can still discuss with their employer about the job benefits now qualify as being: a firefighter; a sheriff, marshal or police officer; and park ranger.

Iowa State education majors are learning and reflecting what it means to be an educator in Iowa.

In Rachel Zimmerman’s practicum, she was placed in a fourth grade classroom at Abby Sawyer Elementary in Ames. where she learned from a “cooperating teacher” who taught her the responsibilities and management of a classroom.

The senior in elementary education learned what her strengths were in the classroom, but she is now left to wonder what measures a “good teacher”? Zimmerman believes this bill will affect students because teachers will have additional stress about competitive pay. Teachers will be more concerned with how they are teaching compared to what they should be focusing on: the students, Zimmerman says.

“Teachers should be able to support each other and advocate for their profession because what’s most important are the students,” Zimmerman said. “If teachers start worrying about their individual teaching and merit pay, I fear that there won’t be collaboration or camaraderie among them, but instead, the idea of ‘doing better’ than someone else is the mentality and focus.”

Passed by the bill, wages cannot exceed the amount that is lower: either three percent or the percent equal to the cost of living increased quoted in the consumer price index.

Zimmerman says one of the first things she hears from someone after she tells them she is going into the education field is, “Oh, you won’t make a lot of money doing that,” but for Zimmerman, it’s not about the money.

“Life isn’t about making money, and anyone who makes that a focal point of their career choice will not be happy with what they do,” Zimmerman said. “I would much rather love what I do than worry about a few dollar signs.”

Besides the bill’s passing, Zimmerman still has her heart set on teaching in Iowa because she loves the opportunities it has to offer and her family is here.

Hayley Yong, senior in elementary education, says she will not teach in Iowa. As an international student, Yong says she would not be able to find a job in Iowa because it is difficult to find a school that will sponsor her visa.

Referring to Betsy DeVos changing public schools to private, Yong says private schools are expensive and some families might not be able to send their kids to private schools.

Yong says budget cuts for public schools are a horrible idea stating it will decrease the amount of resources in schools and minority students will also be affected.

“Not everyone has the means to attend a private school based on its tuition costs, and no one should ever be turned away because of a learning disability or something of the like,” Zimmerman said, agreeing with Yong.”

Yong hopes to teach English as a second language to students. She will be doing her practicum in Aldine, Texas this summer.

“Texas caught my eyes because the placement is at a low SES [socioeconomic status] and minority student population,” Yong said.

Hannah Eybers, senior in elementary education, has had her practicum in Nevada and Waukee school districts. Eybers would like to teach in a public school in Iowa post graduation.

“One thing that worries me about privatization of public schools is that if private schools do not accept federal funding, then they are not required to make accommodations for students (meaning students with disabilities),” Eybers said. “Public schools are required by law to make accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Act and Section 504.”

Even though these three Iowa State women are worried about the educational system, they want to teach youth in hopes of making a positive impact.

“Education is truly a rewarding profession, and I hope that anyone who has the passion and dedication to teach students goes for it with all their heart and determination,” Zimmerman said. “It is a challenging job, but remember that you are making a direct difference in the world.”