In the waning hours of Iowa’s collective bargaining debate, neighboring states are warning (or perhaps trolling) the inevitable outcome for Iowa workers. A Minnesota superintendent whose district is near the Iowa border sent around a letter to media to inform people of his plan to start luring Iowa teachers north.
Joseph Brown, Sr., who served as an Iowa state senator in the 1980s, explained how Minnesota saw an influx of teachers from Wisconsin after Scott Walker’s efforts to gut that state’s collective bargaining rights. He anticipated the same would happen to Iowa.
Here is Brown’s letter in full:
As the Fairmont Area School district superintendent, located in south central Minnesota, I want to personally thank the Iowa legislature for dismantling Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code. You see, this country is facing a serious shortage of qualified and certified teachers.
Ten years ago, Fairmont would receive over 100 applications for an elementary opening. Two years ago we had three openings due to retirements and we only received 5 applications and hired three of them. Last year we had a 5th grade opening due to a retirement and we did not receive any applicants. I had to personally recruit a teacher from a neighboring district that was a resident of ours to teach at Fairmont.
By the way, our starting salary is $40,000. Teachers at the top of our salary schedule may earn $70,000.
When Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature reduced collective bargaining rights, Minnesota became the net gainer as we actively recruited Wisconsin teachers to relocate to Minnesota. I anticipate that if and when Iowa destroys Chapter 20, once again, Minnesota will be the net gainer by making it easier to recruit Iowa teachers to relocate to Minnesota. In my opinion this will result in a shortage of Iowa teachers.
As a born and raised Iowan, I gladly tell people that I have the best of both worlds: an Iowa education and a Minnesota paycheck. Please note that I served two terms in the Iowa Senate from 1979-1986. During my first four years I served as the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee. During my last four years I served as the chairperson of the Senate Education Committee and Vice-Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. It doesn’t surprise me that the Republican legislators are pushing H.F. 291 and S.F. 213. It does disappoint me. It will result in Iowa becoming a loser and neighboring states becoming winners. Please feel free to share this letter with others.
Joseph E. Brown, Sr.
Superintendent, Fairmont School District
by Pat Rynard