SF213 – Prepared remarks by Sen. Tod Bowman of Maquoketa

Since this bill was introduced, I have received and answered hundreds of emails from my constituents; talked with hundreds of constituents on the street and on the phone; even met last week with a group of six school superintendents. I have also read the bill and talked with my Senate colleagues about the details of the legislation. The bottom line is this: I can’t find a single reason why this bill would be good for the people of Iowa.

Iowa Senate News Release
For immediate release: February 14, 2017 

Thank you, Mr. President.

I rise today because I have real concerns about the purpose, intent and impact of this legislation on the people in my Senate district.

Since this bill was introduced, I have:

  1. Received and answered hundreds of emails from my constituents
  2. Talked with hundreds of constituents on the street and on the phone.
  3. Even met last week with a group of six school superintendents.

I have also read the bill and talked with my Senate colleagues about the details of the legislation.

The bottom line is this: I can’t find a single reason why this bill would be good for the people of Iowa.

As a teacher and former member of the negotiations team for the Maquoketa School District, I know first-hand the importance of being able to sit down at the negotiation table with our superintendent and school board members to talk about the next contract and about how to make our schools the best they can be.

And that’s why teachers who teach our children, law enforcement officers who keep our neighborhoods and communities safe, firefighters who protect our health and safety, nurses who care for our loved ones every day, and other Iowa workers oppose this attempt to GUT the state’s collective bargaining law.

If this bill is signed into law, it would create an unfair system that would take away the voices of workers in their own workplace.

But don’t take my word for it.

In my meeting last weekend, School Superintendents – the very Iowans who supporters of Senate 213 SAY should love, love, love this legislation – offered little or no support for most of the elements of the bill.

George Pickup, who was Sen. Schultz’s High School government teacher and now is the current Principal of the Central DeWitt High School, told me that because of the expected impact of this legislation, morale in his school is already dipping because teachers are feeling not valued as professionals.

George also said it will likely have a negative effect on retaining and hiring the best teachers.  And that he thinks it will have an effect on potential teachers entering our great profession.

George said: “This is a slap in the face for teachers. We say we want to support a quality education system and then go back to pre Industrial Age mentality.  I really hope the lawmakers think how this will effect things 10-20 years and beyond.  Teachers like all professions need to feel valued. This legislation is not going to help.”

Senator Schultz: you should listen to your former government teacher.
I also talked with Gary Bruns, a Vocational AG instructor, an FFA advisor at Maquoketa high school and a strong Republican.

Here’s what Gary told me:  “I have 6+ years of college education, 30+ years of teaching experience, I teach other teachers across the country in the summer, and if this bill passes and all of my rights are stripped away, I will end up with less rights and respect than  a high school McDonald’s employee.”

Gary went on to say

“Iowa already has a number of different teaching categories on the “shortage list”, meaning we don’t have enough new teachers graduating to fill the open positions. I don’t know who would be willing to put in 4 years of college to end up with a job that has low pay and NO rights.  On the other hand, a 4 year degree in with a job in the private sector will give you annual raises (maybe more than one a year), a possible bonus, and most importantly, a job where you will be treated as a professional.

Dr. Kim Huckstadt, a 15-year superintendent with lots of collective bargaining experience, told me this:

“Most superintendents who have participated in the collective bargaining process would likely identify some changes that would improve the process but the legislation currently proposed is an over-reach that will jeopardize our ability to attract and retain highly qualified educators to Iowa… In the final analysis, educational opportunities for students will be diminished. ”

Dr. Fred Maharry, former superintendent of Delwood said “My concern about the proposed legislation is that if this is approved, smaller districts in Iowa will lose a lot of staff to larger districts because they won’t be able to compete in terms of salary and in terms of benefits so this is going to pit larger districts against smaller ones and the smaller ones are going to come out on the short end and it’s going to damage education for the kids in Iowa. Bad idea.”

In the end, the superintendents were in agreement that:

  • While they had suggestions for reforming Chapter 20, none of those changes were in this bill. Specifically, they believe there are ways to address the problem of underperforming teachers, but my superintendents said the Legislature  could do better than what is being proposed.
    • I would have welcomed the opportunity to get more specific ideas from my superintendents, my teachers, parents and school board members about how to better address these concerns — but I have yet to be approached by any Republican Senators interested in working on a bipartisan solution in this bill. That’s a shame.
  • No one in the group spoke to support the many anti-union provisions – such as check-offs or decertification etc.
  • In fact, they all shared with me that insurance and supplemental pay should be continue to be part of the contract negotiations, that grievances should be permissive, and, they believed local control would be weakened if this bill passes and the new law would make Superintendents less effective leaders in their schools and communities.

And don’t just take the word of a handful of superintendents.

Actions speak louder than words. Maquoketa signed a 3 year contract, NE, Delwood and Western Dubuque have also signed contracts early. So, I have a question for supporters of this bill: Why are school boards, superintendents and teachers in my senate district and other parts of the state rushing to pass new contracts prior to this bill passing?

I can tell you why. All involved think this is bad policy.

I talked with Maquoketa’s Superintendent Chris Hoover today about their decision to negotiate early and he said ”The school board and I felt that it was the right the thing to do in a time when our employees needed to come together. We made a good faith effort to show teachers we respect them.” 99.99% of the language of the current Maquoketa contract he did not have a problem with. The process worked as usual.

Teachers, administrators and other educators don’t understand why you do not respect them. I do not understand why you don’t respect the profession.

If you think there is a teacher shortage now – just wait.  School districts will flounder in finding and retaining quality teachers.

There is already an “exit strategy” going on.

First-year teachers are talking about leaving the profession – looking to get a masters degree in other areas to exit the teaching profession or leave the state – Illinois is right next to Maquoketa. Our new teachers and students studying and investing in their career are the one who will be most hurt by this proposal.


This is bad for the people of Iowa.

So, if it is the intent of the Senate Republicans to hinder our rural schools, then vote yes.

Supplemental pay – coaches


If I am a teacher who is part of a collective bargaining unit and a coach am I able to negotiate my supplemental pay with my superintendent?

If I am not a teacher and I am a coach am I able to negotiate my supplemental pay with my Superintendent?

My superintendents want this to be permissive

It discriminates what a coach and teacher can and can’t do

Obviously you have not thought this through or understand cause/effect