ISEA endorses Culver over Branstad

Republican Terry Branstad got the Iowa State Education Association’s endorsement in 1990 when he was running for a third term as governor.  He’s not getting the ISEA’s endorsement for his bid for a fifth term.  Chet Culver, the Democrat who is seeking a second term as governor, has won the ISEA’s endorsement for the 2010 cycle.  (Culver, in case you haven’t heard, is a former teacher and coach.)

(Des Moines) The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) is recommending that its members support Governor Culver’s 2010 re-election campaign.

This decision was made following separate interviews with both Governor Culver and his opponent, former Governor Terry Branstad. Each responded to identical questions that covered a broad range of education issues.

“Governor Culver continues to be a good friend of public education,” said ISEA President Chris Bern, who led the interview session with members of the ISEA-PAC Central Committee and the ISEA Executive Board. “As a former classroom teacher and a coach, Governor Culver understands the challenges facing educators in these difficult economic times. He is willing to listen to our concerns and we feel he is the natural choice for our members.” 

During Culver’s interview, he pledged to continue to keep his commitment to making teacher salaries a priority (Iowa recently moved to 26th in the nation up from 42nd in fiscal year 2005); utilizing our education professionals’ vast experience and expertise by placing us at the table when discussions and decisions are being made on education reform issues; and ensuring his commitment to a world-class education for Iowa’s public school children.

The recommendation decision was made by a vote of the ISEA-PAC Central Committee, which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans from each of the ISEA’s 19 regions. The ISEA Executive Board concurred with the decision.

With the ISEA recommendation comes financial support from voluntary contributions made by ISEA members. More important, however, is the grassroots volunteer support Governor Culver will receive from educators in every corner of the state. In an ISEA exit poll conducted several weeks after the 2006 election, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that Governor Culver won among ISEA members by 82 percent.  Sixty-seven percent of ISEA members reported education as the most important issue in how they voted.

UPDATE:  Branstad camp responds.

(URBANDALE) – Branstad 2010 campaign manager Jeff Boeyink issued the following statement in response to the Iowa State Education Association’s (ISEA) endorsement of Gov. Chet Culver this afternoon:

“Since Terry Branstad left office, Iowa student’s rankings on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests for math and reading have fallen dramatically and, today, Iowa students are mired in the middle of the pack.” 

“Governor Branstad was the governor who made the commitment to bring average teaching salaries up to at least 25th among the 50 states and it was his initiatives that provided needed resources to rural schools to attract beginning teachers and to reward those teachers performing at a high level.

“More than ever our schools need stable and predictable sources of revenue and a governor who keeps his promises. Governor Culver’s reckless 10% across the board budget cut hit our public schools the hardest and he has no plan for restoring the fiscal health of our state so we can keep our commitments to our schools and the students they teach.  With his promise to create a five-year financial plan for state government and a two-year budget, Terry Branstad will provide our schools with the stability and predictability they need to succeed.

“Our commitment to education must change by again putting Iowa’s students first. Of Terry Branstad’s four signature goals as governor again, one stands out: To again have the nation’s best schools.

“As a governor who’s made – and exceeded upon – his educational commitments before, Iowa’s educators, parents and students will be well-served by again supporting Iowa’s educational leader, Terry Branstad.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.