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Helping Iowa’s students succeed

Teacher Leadership and Compensation system is having an impact

Most of us can recall from our school days a teacher whose excellence set them apart from their colleagues. We may well have wished that all educators were as good as they were at motivating their classroom charges to learn and achieve. These teacher standouts wanted their students to accomplish much more than just meet the minimal requirements to move on through the system.

Mobilizing superb teachers to help improve the educational experience for our state’s students is the fundamental goal of Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation system, often referred to simply at TLC. According to Gov. Kim Reynolds, this program is the most extensive program of its type in the nation. It reflects our state’s commitment to offering young folks educational opportunities second to none.

This initiative, which grew out of an education reform package approved by the Legislature in 2013, is now in place in all of our state’s 327 public school districts. It provides a mechanism for outstanding teachers to become the leaders in their local schools in helping upgrade the learning environment for students. This is accomplished through a variety of activities including mentoring of other teachers. The goal is to stimulate a collaborative culture where every teacher is challenged to do their best work and offered whatever help they may need to improve their performance. TLC also is designed to help schools attract and keep talented teachers. Improved salaries help in that regard. However, the chance to be part of a genuine team effort to help enhance student learning ends up making educators want to come to Iowa to teach and stay here.

Iowa invests about $163 million each year in this important undertaking. An annual report on its progress has just been released by the Iowa Department of Education. It concludes that the majority of Iowa’s school districts are meeting the goals they have set for this program. It also finds that the desired improvement in student achievement is taking place. That’s very good news.

“Teachers are one of the most important influences on our students’ ability to learn, develop and ultimately succeed. The Teacher Leadership and Compensation program supports educators’ increasingly complex work to prepare children for success,” Reynolds said, in a statement announcing the release of the most recent annual report. “This program underscores our all-out effort to recruit and retain the very best teachers while also investing in their future career path.”

Iowa’s TLC project puts our state’s best teachers at the heart of an exciting effort to make sure they and their colleagues continue to improve. It is make choosing to be a teacher in Iowa a challenging and rewarding career decision.

The Messenger strongly supports this outstanding project. Iowa already has excellent schools. The TLC initiative is helping guarantee that they will continue to improve in the years ahead. That’s vitally important to the future of our state. We applaud lawmakers for providing financing for this program and commend the governor for giving its success priority attention.