Monday, December 26, 2011

Iowa Education Chief, Reform Takes Time

DES MOINES (AP) - The director of the Iowa Department of Education says he's willing to be patient with his plan to overhaul the state's public school system, acknowledging that many people aren't ready for changes he thinks are essential.

Gov. Terry Branstad chose 40-year-old Jason Glass largely because of his background in education reform, and since coming to Iowa he has been leading the push for dramatic changes to the state's public schools.

Because he began his job only a couple weeks before the last legislative session began, this was supposed to be the session where Glass would see his ambitious plans enacted. He proposed a 15-page package of proposals that would shake up the state's schools, changing the way they do business on everything from paying teachers to opening the profession to non-traditional educators.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

LCEA Talking Points on the Governor's Education Reform Plan

Since July 2011, the ISEA has eagerly awaited details of the Governor’s plan for education
reform in Iowa. With Monday’s release of One Unshakable Vision, we still have more questions
than answers.

Throughout the past three months, the ISEA and our members have participated in the
Governor’s roundtable work groups, town hall meetings, and online discussions about his
plan for reform. We have utilized every possible opportunity for input. We strongly believe any
education reform begins by placing students at the center and keeps education professionals
in the discussion.

One Unshakable Vision, while chock full of great thoughts and expectations about how to
help Iowa’s students succeed, is still short on details. Many of the proposals are agreeable,
but parents, students, and educators will find it hard to imagine how the entire plan will be
implemented and funded.

Talking Points 

  • Most good legislation is passed by compromise. However, the Governor has repeatedly stated “this blueprint is not a list of options to be cherry-picked.” While we appreciate the spirit in which this “all or nothing” approach is intended, there may be things the ISEA simply cannot support.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Controversial Public Union Bargaining Bill.

A day after Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate used procedural maneuvers to pass a bill stripping public unions of most collective bargaining rights, the state Assembly passed the bill, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker. While media reports, including the lead story on NBC, portray the vote as a win for Walker, many outlets note the controversy has energized unions and the Democratic allies.

The AP (3/10) reports the White House "is denouncing a vote by the Wisconsin Senate to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from government workers, calling it an assault on public employees." White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama "believes it is wrong for Wisconsin to use its budget troubles 'to denigrate or vilify public sector employees.'" In a second story, the AP (3/11, Bauer) reports union leaders "plan to use the setback to fire up their members nationwide and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dennis Van Roekel posted the following topic--With your help, we can win this fight!

In 30 minutes on March 9, Wisconsin Republicans shredded 50 years of labor peace, bipartisanship, and Wisconsin's democratic process by ramming through an unpopular bill to silence the voice of state workers. Their actions sparked outrage in Madison Wednesday night and sent shockwaves across the country. Republicans in Idaho and Ohio have already voted for similar anti-worker bills like the one in Wisconsin -- and attacks are being waged in other states. In Iowa - Florida - Indiana - Michigan - Tennessee - from Alabama to Arizona, our members are fighting to retain their voice in the workplace...fighting for students...fighting for public schools.
We do not run away from a fight! Brad Lutes, a WEAC member from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, says it best: "We can't be defeated. There's not really an alternative. You can take away my collective bargaining rights. You can take away my pension and some of my health care, but the one thing you can't take away from me is my vote. I think that's how a large majority of Wisconsinites and Americans feel right now."

Now is the time for every NEA member to stand up and stand fight for what we know is right, what is fair, and for what we all deserve. Go to Education Votes to get involved and stay informed.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Funnel Week: A List of Education and Public Employee Bills that Survived or Died During Friday's Funnel

Here’s a list of bills that survived or died in Friday’s funnel, a legislation-winnowing deadline. Not every bill is listed. How can you tell which party is behind a bill? House files that survived are backed by Republicans; Senate bills by Democrats.


SPORTS ELIGIBILITY: High school athletes who transfer to a different school would have to sit out 180 days instead of the current 90 days before they could play. SF 74 alive

LENGTH OF SCHOOL YEAR: Replaces the 180-day school calendar with 990 hours of instructional school time, or 5.5 hours per day, for elementary schools and 1,080 hours for secondary schools. HF 144 alive

Saturday, March 5, 2011


All around our country, our profession is under attack.  The happy surprise is that we are not silent.  Now is the time for us to start the fight in our state that our brave colleagues in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennesse, Indiana and so many more have started.

Many of the members of SWUU and LC will join in the protest on the attack on our rights, I have found myself singing lyrics from this song.  Those who forget history are damned to relive it. Let's hope that as educated folks, we learned our history well.

We are hopeful that you will join us Monday night--a school night--in making sure that history doesn't repeat itself.  CAN YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?  Join us in doing "the other part of our job" and help us protect our hard-fought rights?  Want one of the empty seats in our car?  Contact us at


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

LCEA's Read Across America Celebration

You're never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You're never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you've got.

In schools and communities,
Let's gather around,
Let's pick up a book,
Let's pass it around.

HIT Read More for the rest of the poem and some other great resources for your LC Read Across America planned or impromtu event.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Can You Help our Wisconsin Colleagues and Prepare for Attacks in Iowa? The 51 Fund--50 States, ONE VOICE

Many of you have been wondering what else you can do to support our members and our friends and allies working so hard for collective bargaining and for keeping our voice heard. Today, the NEA is announcing The 51 Fund to help in those efforts.

What’s happening now in Wisconsin is historic. As you have probably seen on the nightly news or on the front pages of your local newspaper, tens of thousands of citizens are gathering in Wisconsin and across the country to protest proposed legislation that would strip public sector employees—which includes public school educators—of their collective bargaining rights.

Legislators: Hanusa, Gronstal, Forristall and Brandenberg on Public Unions and House Bill 117

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Senate Majority Leader Gronstal and House Education Committee Chair on House Bill 117, Public Unions part II

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Gronstal & Forristall on Quality Pre-School

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Senator Mike Gronstal on Allowable Growth

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

House Education Committee Chair Greg Forristall on Charter Schools and Pre-School

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Senator Gronstal & Representative Forristall on Pre-School, Part II

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

House Education Committee Chair Greg Forristall on Cuts to Iowa's AEAs

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Senator Gronstal and Representative Forristall on Earned Income Tax Credit and Living Wages for our ESP Members

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Thousands converge on Wisconsin for more protests

by James Kelleher and David Bailey Reuters

MADISON, Wisconsin — Tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on Wisconsin's state Capitol on Saturday in frigid weather to protest a Republican plan to curb the power of public sector unions.

The rotunda of the Capitol was choked with protesters hours before a planned union-backed rally scheduled to start at 3 p.m. local time, and a lengthy line snaked around outside a single open building entrance.

Saturday's rally had a festival or concert feel with a stage set up and some popular musicians expected to perform later in the day. Madison police said they expected a "sizable crowd" but did not give an estimate.

Senate Majority Leader Gronstal and House Education Committee Iowa's Pre-School Program, part II

Dems push labor-bill debate all night long on HB 117

24 Feb 2011 07:27 PM PST

House Democrats hectored their Republican counterparts all night Thursday and until nearly dawn this morning over proposed limits on public-employee unions’ bargaining power.

The Democrats spent a total of 15 hours objecting to House Study Bill 117, which would block public unions’ ability to negotiate over health insurance issues and layoff procedures.

Democrats offered 48 amendments during the meeting of the House Labor Committee, which started work on the bill Thursday afternoon. None of the amendments had a shot at passing, but the discussions lasted nearly until dawn.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Thousands of activists support allowable growth at 2 percent

Activists are speaking out by the thousands - educators, parents, AEAs, and school administrators--in support of setting allowable growth at 2 percent. Supporters signed an open letter urging legislators to support SF166 and SF167 ahead of the February 26 deadline. The bills set allowable growth at 2 percent so schools and Area Education Agencies (AEAs) have the resources needed to deliver the 21st century education our children need to thrive and prosper in our global economy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


"As a science teacher with a degree in physics, I could go into the private sector and easily earn double what I do now, but I know how important it is to have good teachers in our Iowa classrooms. That's why I'm fighting to maintain our collective bargaining rights - so we can continue to recruit and retain great teachers and in turn ensure a great public education for every Iowa child," said Melissa Spencer, president of the Des Moines Education Association who spoke at the rally at the Capitol yesterday with over 800 people present in support of public employees. The ISEA participated in this event.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ISEA & LCEA HOTLINE Special Edition--Who's Next? US! 2/22/2011

THANKS TO ALL WHO ARE WEARING RED TODAY. Thanks to all who have signed the online petitions. We come to you with some breaking news. There will be a committee meeting today for House Bill 117 that was introduced Friday. The bill may be moving quickly and warrants all of our attention so that we can work with "pro-public education" allies.

from SWUU, ISEA and the Des Moines Register’s website--

On Friday, House Study Bill 117 (don't let the word "study" fool you; this means that it can move more quickly) was introduced. It HAS NOT passed. Public hearings are likely to occur next week. OUR voices--including YOURS--will be needed.

Public Employees vs. Private Sector Employees: Some Facts

Public employees in Iowa in general are paid less than their private-sector peers in comparable jobs, according to a new study by the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project.

Even if benefit packages are accounted for, Iowa’s public workers still are compensated less than those who work for private businesses, said Andrew Cannon, author of a new report.

For state government workers, male employees earned wages or salaries that were 9 percent less than comparable workers in private industry when taking into account education, experience and hours worked.

The Lost Generation: A Matter of Thinking.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

From NEA President VanRoekel on the Ground in Wisconsin

The NEA family has come out in force to support our members and colleagues in Wisconsin, as well as those in Idaho, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee. Other states are facing unprecedented threats as well. Although we have made inroads in making the media aware of these battles across the country, all eyes and cameras continue to be on Wisconsin. Please remember as you are asked to talk about our battles across the country and the fight in Wisconsin that we are fighting for members to be heard and for their rights. Message discipline around Wisconsin's fight will help us in all our battles.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Workers are Under Attack: Stand with Educators Fighting for Their Rights!

Workers across the nation are under attack as governors and state legislatures seek to decimate collective bargaining rights and slash pensions and health care benefits. Wisconsin Governor Walker wants to silence educator voices. He has refused to negotiate with educators, who have repeatedly, publicly stated their willingness to sacrifice for the good of the state and the future of their students. For educators, this fight is not about pay and benefits – it is about the right to be heard.

At the statehouse and online, public school supporters are sending a message that cannot be ignored. As tens of thousands march in solidarity in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Idaho, countless others prepare to fight in other states.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dennis VanRoekel on the Frontlines


 As I stand at the Capitol in Madison and watch this powerful display of solidarity, please allow me to say that all eyes are now on Wisconsin, but I know all too well that there are battles raging across the country. And I know that we will stay united through all of them. I remain entirely confident that with the decisive leadership in all of our affiliates and NEA'S continued commitment to all of you that we will organize and mobilize and face down these legislative crises wherever they occur.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unions fighting back against Walker proposal -

Unions fighting back against Walker proposal -

Wisconsin Teachers Send a Message to Governor Scott Walker

Madison schools will be closed Wednesday as teachers planned a district-wide absence to attend protests against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit union bargaining.

District Superintendent Dan Nerad made the announcement at 11 p.m. Tuesday after 40 percent of the 2,600 members of the teachers union had called in sick and more were expected to do so through Wednesday morning.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Message for Policymakers: Listen to the Experts – Educators – on ESEA Reauthorization

Congress is expected to take up reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year. Tell Congress to end the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests and insist upon rich, 21st Century skills and better assessments. Tell them that the federal government should be a partner to states, not a micro-manager. And, tell them that students need reliable support from educators, parents, communities, and their policy makers. Struggling students and schools that need help shouldn’t be forced to compete for it—help should be a guarantee.

Take Action Today: Tell Congress that every child deserves a great public school, and that legislators need listen to educators if they want to learn how to make that happen.

Keep up the Drumbeat: Education Cuts Hurt Students and the Country!

Cyberlobbyists – you have been doing an amazing job reminding Congress about the importance of investing in education. You have sent thousands of e-mails to Members of Congress in the past few weeks, but we still need your help.

The week of February 14 will be critical. President Obama will release his budget proposal for the next fiscal year (FY 2012). At the same time, the House of Representatives will consider funding levels for the current fiscal year (FY 2011). This is necessary as the last Congress never completed action on a funding bill for this fiscal year and the current “continuing resolution” – which temporarily continued program funding – is set to expire on March 4.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ravitch: Turnaround is a national failure | Philadelphia Public School Notebook

A former member of George W. Bush's Department of Education, Diane Ravitch continues to share wisdom and insight as a leader who knows the direction we must move to make our schools successful. Those who use education as a political bargaining chip would do well to listen to listen to her thoughtful analysis.

Ravitch: Turnaround is a national failure Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Works for Me: Tips by Teachers for Teachers 1/9/2011


Popcorn Reading

From Sally Hundley, a teacher at Waynesville Middle School in Waynesville, NC, and Sandra M. Sroka, a teacher at Apex House/Christopher Columbus Middle School in Clifton, NJ:

“I use a game called Popcorn Reading to help teach oral reading. When I have students read a passage, they only read as much as they can handle, and then say 'popcorn' and the name of another student, who reads next. Most end up reading longer passages than I would normally assign, and they all have to stay on their toes. If students are not on track, they must read until I tell them to stop. As you would expect, students stop in the middle of sentences, paragraphs, etc. I culminate this activity with a popcorn treat if all students have been on track.”


Friday, February 4, 2011

Tell Congress: Education Cuts are Bad for Students, Communities, and our Nation

This week, the House Appropriations Committee announced the funding allocations for its subcommittees. Subcommittees will use these allocations to draft funding bills for the rest of this fiscal year (FY 2011). The Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee – which has jurisdiction over education programs, health programs, and many programs serving vulnerable children and families – will receive $6.5 billion less than last year. As bad as that cut would be, the actual loss could as much as double, since the allocation level does not address a deep shortfall in Pell Grant funding.


Legislators continue the process of setting allowable growth for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013

The Iowa House Education Committee has set allowable growth at 0 percent; the Iowa Senate Education Committee is on track to set allowable growth at 2 percent. The ISEA believes allowable growth should be set at 4 percent for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The President's Speech - Bridging Differences

by Diana Ravich, EDUCATION WEEK, February 1, 2011
Dear Deborah,

I watched President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech and liked his appeal to the nation to encourage innovation, creativity, and imagination. But I was disappointed by his misleading description of Race to the Top. He said it is not a "top-down" program and is not prescriptive. He thinks that it somehow emerged as a result of the good ideas of teachers, principals, local school boards, and communities. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was designed and written within the confines of the U.S. Department of Education by Secretary Arne Duncan and a flock of advisers from the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

Who's a Good Teacher?

Walt Gardner's EDUCATION WEEK'S Reality Check

With pressure mounting to assure that all students have a highly qualified teacher, attention is increasingly focusing on the use of the value added model. Its supporters maintain that since it measures the progress that students make on standardized tests, rather than the proficiency they reach, there is no incentive to teach in affluent suburban schools. In fact, the likelihood of receiving the designation of effective is greater in poor inner-city schools because it is easier for teachers to demonstrate gains for those at the very bottom than for those already at the very top.

Teacher Tenure Targeted by G.O.P.

Published in the NEW YORK TIMES: January 31, 2011

GovernorsSeizing on a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.

The momentum began over a year ago with President Obama’s call to measure and reward effective teaching, a challenge he repeated in last week’s State of the Union address.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What Branstad's Budget Means

A lot has happened the last couple of weeks. I will start with the most recent event and that is the release of the Governor's budget. We are still checking facts but these are some basic items pulled from his two year budget that have our attention:

1. The Governor is proposing elimination of the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program as it currently exists and establishing a new funding stream to provide means-tested preschool funding to benefit economically disadvantaged four-year-olds. The proposal is funded in FY 2012 and FY
2013 by:

ISEA HOTLINE 1/28/2011

Governor Branstad cuts education in his Condition of the Budget

Governor Branstad is balancing the budget on the backs of our kids. In his Condition of the Budget report released January 27, Governor Branstad recommends $9.2 million in cuts to Iowa's community colleges, 0 percent allowable growth for K-12, an additional $27 million reduction to AEAs, and the elimination of the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ISEA HOTLINE 1/27/2010

"Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it,
I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in."                                                                                                                            --Abraham Lincoln

Allowable Growth = Cost of Living Adjustment

The Governor and House Republicans have proposed 0 percent Allowable Growth for Iowa’s public schools. In practical terms this means public schools will not see any cost of living adjustments to their budgets for the first time in 30 years. While schools will receive money for the current per-pupil spending, the money will not be adjusted for 2011 inflationary increases. Every Legislature for 30 years has recognized the folly of this type of budgeting. Everyone knows you can’t purchase a gallon of milk with the same dollar you used to purchase it with last year, so why would our Governor and Republican legislators expect schools to meet their rising fuel, utility, textbook, computer, and other costs with non-inflationary adjusted budgets? It doesn’t make sense.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ISEA HOTLINE 1/20/2011

House File 45--Formerly Known as House Study Bill 1
House File 45 (formerly Study Bill 1) passed the House 60-40 on a party line vote. President Chris Bern, NEA Director Mike Beranek, and Executive Board member Sue Williams spoke on behalf of ISEA at the public hearing. Their comments in favor of public preschool for all four-year-olds, maintaining the Iowa Core, and funding for AEAs were well received and many members attended. Legislators are telling us that they have received many e-mails from ISEA members. The fight is far from over as the bill makes its way to the Senate.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Branstad names Linda Lantor Fandel as governor’s special assistant for education

Governor Branstad chooses the controversial DES MOINE REGISTRAR'S Education Writer as his advisor to help design and set policy.  Linda Lantor Fandel is no fan of public education as is evidenced in the slanted point of view seen in her work in the REGISTRAR for years.  This choice is telling and--we're afraid--not good for public educaiton in Iowa.
(URBANDALE) – Gov.-elect Terry Branstad today announced that Linda Lantor Fandel will serve as the governor’s special assistant for education in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.

“I am excited to bring Linda into our administration, and will draw upon her extensive knowledge of the world’s education systems as we work to make Iowa’s schools the best in the country,” said Branstad. “Jason Glass and Linda Lantor Fandel will be a formidable team, as they both care deeply about the direction of education in our state, and they will energize Iowans with a forward-looking agenda for Iowa’s students.”

Works for Me: Tips by Teachers for Teachers 1/5/2011

Ringing in the New Year

From Janine P. Riggins, a second grade teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School Complex in Atlantic City, New Jersey:

“In order to maintain effective classroom management upon returning to school after winter recess, I review and discuss school and classroom rules and behavior expectations. Students have most likely spent the holidays visiting friends and relatives and have gotten away from the normal school routine. By reviewing class rules and routines, students are gently moved back into the swing of the school day. Students work in cooperative learning groups and create collages of favorite gifts or favorite moments from the break. Students work together to list their New Year's resolutions. This is also a great time for students to set behavior and/or academic goals for the remainder of the school year. Rather than 'clamping down' or 'getting tough' on kids, I take advantage of their energy and excitement at the New Year and use it to my advantage. Students enjoy the activities, and I am sometimes surprised at the results.”

New Beginnings

From Carol Cirtin, a third grade teacher at Otterbein Elementary School in Otterbein, Indiana:

“An annual poem I have my third graders memorize is a wonderful reminder for the whole year. I have students who tell me when they are graduating from high school that they recite it to remind them of important things.

New Beginnings, by Helen Steiner Rice:

How often we wish for another chance
to have a fresh beginning
A chance to blot out our mistakes
and change failure into winning.
It does not take a new year
to make a brand new start.
It only takes the deep desire
to try with all your heart.
To live a little better
and to always be forgiving
To add a little sunshine
to the world in which we are living.
So, never give up in despair
and think that you are through,
For there's always a tomorrow
and a chance to start anew.

“My students memorize this poem every year and do it within a week. We also recite it on the morning announcements. I have students that stop by to recite it in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade and have even had it recited at graduations! What a wonderful way to start a healthy new year!”

Question of the Week: Sports x Academics = More Learning?

From Alain Jehlen, NEA Staff:

“Many students love sports more than academics. Have you found ways to integrate sports into math, reading, science, or other academic subjects so you can make use of that passion in your classroom?

Or the reverse: Have you integrated academics into sports?

Share your ideas and see what other educators are doing. We'll share some responses in the March NEA Today issue on the Works4Me page.”

Featured Post

Jack Hartmann Moves to the Music

From Diane Postman, a teacher in Yorktown, Virginia:

“If you want to make learning ‘physical,’ combine it with music. I highly recommend Jack Hartmann's CD's. His songs involve movement and are on topics such as science, geography, phonics, and more. Research shows that singing helps parts of the brain to make connections. Combining music and movement can help to reach students with varying learning styles and strengths according to Howard Gardner's 9 Intelligences.”