Thursday, February 28, 2013

ISEA HOTLINE--February 28, 2013

Attend your local legislative forums this weekend! Last week the House passed HF 215, which includes their amendments to the Governor's Education Proposal.

A summary of the bill is located in the Legislative Action Center on under the Updates tab. The House version only provides 2 percent allowable growth; lowers the minimum teacher salary to $32,000; takes peer review out of the bargaining process; requires principals to do annual summative evaluations; and allows schools to opt out of the Teacher and Career Leadership Pathway.

 Here are the questions you need to ask your legislators at the forums in your area this weekend:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Better Start Listening to Teachers

from EDUCATION WEEK by John Wilson on February 25, 2013 6:15 AM

This past week I noticed a storm brewing, and I am not talking about the snowstorm that swept through the Midwest. I'm talking about the indications of unrest found in the latest MetLife American Teacher Survey. The results were dismaying but not surprising to me. I've talked to teachers who, like most in their profession, care deeply for their students and weep with anger over the bureaucratic intrusions into their classrooms that prevent them from doing their best for those students. I've talked to teachers who say they can't afford to teach, and I've talked to teachers who are exhausted from the struggle to provide resources and attention to classes too large for students so needy.
I have also heard that the average salary of teachers has declined---declined for the first time in my lifetime. Their profession is not getting better for teachers. Politicians, education leaders, business CEOs, and parents must listen to teachers before serious damage is done to the public schools of America.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Education Votes--February 23, 2013

"They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care. They gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us." - President Obama

WI Gov. Walker delivers a blow to public education, takes aim at schools and working families...again

"Parents, teachers, education support professionals, school board members and administrators see past the lip-service and recognize that flat-lining public school funding while at the same time expanding taxpayer funding for private schools will harm neighborhood public schools." - Mary Bell, junior high library media specialist and WEAC president

Lawmakers prepare for hearing on school safety

More debate and discussion on gun violence and school safety is expected on Capitol Hill next week. Click through to find out more and let us know what you want to say to lawmakers.

Wisconsin teacher fights for his students and immigration reform

72 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens living in the United States. Increasingly, there is bipartisan support for DREAMer students and comprehensive immigration reform from congressional Democrats as well as prominent Republicans.


Walking off the “fiscal cliff” would be an absolute disgrace. The innocent, most vulnerable, and neediest among us would be devastated. I understand that coming to a consensus is difficult. But our representatives in Congress are adults who know how to fend for themselves, not innocent children who need all the support they can get. Put ideologies and party stances aside. Do the right thing. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. — NEA member from Illinois

 Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, economists, and educators agree: across-the-board cuts — “sequestration” in Washington-speak — is a terrible idea. Yet some in Congress seem willing to let them happen.

Next week, Congress returns from recess and unless it acts, automatic across-the-board cuts will begin March 1. We expect votes in the Senate as early as Wednesday, including a plan from Democratic leaders to raise new revenue from the very wealthy and profitable corporations instead of making indiscriminate cuts.

Now is the time to pull out all the stops — Contact Congress immediately! Personalize the impact of the cuts with real-life stories like those submitted by your fellow educators.


Millions across the nation continue to demand stronger, sensible measures to prevent gun violence and keep our children and communities safe. But it will be very difficult to pass even common-sense measures that most Americans support — for example, criminal background checks for all gun purchases. We must keep up the drumbeat to succeed!
NEA supports a multi-pronged approach to curbing the gun violence plaguing our nation. In addition to stronger laws to limit access to weapons of war, we advocate:
  • Enhancing school safety while giving local districts the flexibility to decide what they need — counselors, nurses, or other personnel.
  • Providing professional development for all school staff in cultural competence, conflict management, and anti-bullying initiatives.
  • Expanding and improving mental health services.


NEA’s priorities for comprehensive immigration reform include providing a path to legal citizenship, promoting family unity, and passing the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for talented young people who were brought to this country as children. Read NEA’s letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on this issue.



Cheers to:
thumbsupHouse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for holding the hearing at which NEA member Megan Allen testified to the havoc across-the-board cuts would wreak on her students.

thumbsupRepresentatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and John Sarbanes (D-MD) for their support for stopping the looming cuts.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Every Child Counts

The past two weeks of session were quite busy. Here is a recap of some of the most notable happenings related to kids and their families.

Last week, the HHS Budget SubCommittee heard presentations on Medicaid expansion which is a pretty hot topic at the Capitol right now. And, this week, the SubCommittee heard from 1st Five.

You can download the presentations below:

DHS - Medicaid Expansion Presentation
DHS - Iowa Care Presentation
1st Five

CLICK READ MORE below and read about specific EDUCATION and STUDENT/CHILDREN legislation.

Duncan Blasts Congress Over Sequestration Cuts.

USA Today (2/21, Toppo) reports, "Education Secretary Arne Duncan came out swinging Thursday, directing his harshest words at congressional lawmakers before what he calls 'increasingly likely' mandatory spending cuts for 'real kids, real teachers and real classrooms' from sequestration this March." Duncan told reporters that districts are already laying off teachers in anticipation of sequestration cuts, and "blamed what he called 'the height of dysfunction' in Congress." USA Today quotes him saying, "There's no one in their right mind who would say this is good for kids and good for the country, yet somehow it becomes tenable in Washington. I just think people don't spend enough time in the real world. And if we spent more time in the real world, we wouldn't have this kind of intransigence here." The article notes that the Administration has estimated that some $725 million in Title I funding and $598 million in special education funding would be eliminated if sequestration takes place.

The Washington Post (2/22, Brown) reports that Duncan "criticized Congress for failing to reach a deal to stop the across-the-board cuts...which could force thousands of teachers out of their jobs." Noting that most of the roughly $1.3 billion in education funding in jeopardy "goes toward programs for poor children and students with disabilities," the Post adds that "schools that receive more federal aid - including Department of Defense-run schools and those on Indian reservations - are likely to feel the squeeze immediately, which could mean shorter school weeks in spring or a shorter school year." The Post quotes Duncan saying, "These are two populations that we owe more to, not less, and those cuts are going to kick in quicker."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time for a Music Break

Do you have the mid-winter blues? Us, too! So we thought it was time to shake it off and have a little dance party. We asked our Facebook friends to share their favorite educational songs in the hopes that it would give us the energy we need to make it to spring break. Here’s what they said:

Works for Me: Tips for Teachers by Teachers February 20, 2013

Featured Post:

Dance Like No One is Watching
From May Ryan:
Would you do this? Ms. Ryan knows a teacher who rewards her class with a solo dance routine. Of course the kids love it! Click below to read more no-cost rewards to motivate your students.
Question of the Week:
Class Competitions
From The Worker Bees:
Do you challenge your class to compete, battle or race? Against their classmates, their teacher or themselves? What educational competitions do your students enjoy? Send us your “winning” ideas!
Adding Machine Scrolls
From Janet Keohane:
A fifth- and sixth-grade teacher in Beach, North Dakota:
Ms. Keohane's students compete to see who can identify the most instances of words from a weekly list: nouns, adjectives, multi-syllabic words - the list varies. Most interesting is the adding machine tape. Find out how she uses it (hint: displaying the results is a great decorative idea).

Teaching Idea--Vocabulary Paint Chips

Friday, February 15, 2013

ISEA HOTLINE--February 15, 2013

Iowa House Education Committee amends Governor's education proposal
Late Wednesday night the Iowa House Education Committee passed House File 215, a 38-page strike and replace amendment to the Governor's education proposal. Major changes include setting the minimum teacher salary at $32,000, which is $3000 lower than the Governor's originally proposed $35,000 minimum starting salary and allowing schools to opt out of the Career and Compensation Matters provisions. Those provisions pay for stipends for teachers who would become Model, Mentor, or Lead teachers. As written, HF 215 would also not provide additional resources to those districts who opt out of the Career and Compensation Matters provision in order for them to raise the minimum salary. No play, no pay.

Additionally, HF 215 replaces the peer review structure created by SF 2284, last year's education reform proposal, with an annual evaluation conducted by an administrator, thus completely eliminating the opportunity for peer feedback and reflection. Please note that this is only a proposed change presented by the House Republicans. It does not affect existing statute which calls for peer review for the upcoming school year.
It is very important to remember that this is only the first offering by the House Republicans. This bill does not reflect the goals and objectives of the entire legislature including the Senate, which is controlled by a pro-public education majority. This bill will be eligible for debate in the House as early as Tuesday of next week and we will continue to update you on its movement.

Allowable GrowthThe pro-public education majority in the Iowa Senate, voted today to set the Allowable Growth rate for the 2014/2015 school year at 4 percent, which would provide an additional $114 million to Iowa schools for FY 2015. The vote in the Senate fell along party lines with all Democrats voting yes, and all Republicans present voting no. We would like to say thank you to the Senate Democrats for following the law and setting Allowable Growth for FY 15 in a reasonable and timely fashion. The bills, along with Allowable Growth for FY 2014, have all now been sent to the House, where they await action.
Take Action Now!
There are two things you need to do right now.

Attend legislative forums in your area and write to your legislators on Allowable Growth and House File 215.

When you talk with your Legislators, explain what this means for your students and your community. If this proposed Legislation would affect the bargaining of your contracts and your school's ability to budget, tell your Legislators about those consequences. Take positive action and let your Representatives know how this affects you!  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Face of Teacher Unionism, Eyes Fixed on Testing Mania

In 1946 more than 1,100 St. Paul teachers staged a five-week walkout for better pay and working conditions. It was the nation's first teacher strike. Over the next six decades, the sight of striking teachers walking a picket line became the indelible image symbolizing teacher might. Now a new face of teacher militancy is emerging.
In Seattle, a small but passionate group of educators is using the art of disruption 2.0 to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Over a month ago, teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School took a courageous step to stand up for their students by refusing to administer the flawed and irrelevant Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. While the Garfield staff doesn't object to the mandated state test, they oppose the district-wide MAP for solid reasons. Aside from being poorly designed, MAP doesn't line up with state standards or district curriculum; it doesn't measure what students are actually learning in their classes; it's not an appropriate tool for assessing students or their teachers; and it wastes valuable class time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

ISEA Hotline--February 7, 2013

Find out if there is a Legislative Forum near you this weekend! Here's what to talk about:
Allowable Growth = small class sizes

Four percent Allowable Growth (which helps keep class sizes small, provides funds for Professional Development and Teacher Salary Supplement) was passed by the Senate last week and is now in the House but hasn't been assigned to a committee yet. The Governor doesn't want Allowable Growth passed until after his Education Proposal has passed. The House does not have a pro-public education majority so urge members in your district to debate and pass Allowable Growth NOW so schools in your district will have the ability to budget for 2013-2014 and 2014-15. Everyone needs to be held accountable for student success - including teachers, students, parents, AND elected officials. For a more detailed explanation of Allowable Growth, read the ISEA Talking Points on Allowable 
The Governor's Education Proposal-- Are elected officials listening to educators?
Thanks to the VIVA Report, Reimagining School Leadership for the 21st Century, Legislators have an opportunity to hear the 17 solutions proposed by hundreds of Iowa educators who are in classrooms every day. Iowa's educators have proposed practical solutions that truly do place students at the center of education reform.
Read this report written by Iowa educators to better explain the issues to your legislators.
The Governor's education proposal passed through the House Subcommittee and has been referred to the Full Committee. The House Education Committee may debate the bill as early as next week. Be prepared to contact the Chair and members of the House Education Committee and let us know how they responded by using the Contact Us form on

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Walkthroughs & Your Right to Respond

LCEA's Teacher Quality Committee has discussed walk-throughs and the role they play in the overall evaluation process several times.  Through these disucssions, administrators and educators on the committee have concluded and agreed that walk-throughs are indeed "formative snapshots" that directly and indirectly impact the summative evaluation of an educator.

As a result, these walk-throughs, the information gleened from them, the written feedback forms are subject to response from our members. If you would like to formally amend the material collected in a walkthrough, respond to the data, challenge observations, you may do so.  Guidance for this can be found in the Master Contract.  Grievance and Contract Maintenance Co-Chairs, Tom McLaughlin and Dave Bergman, are also willing to assist our members by answering questions.

The timelines are process are outlined in Article I of the Master Contract:

LCEA Mandatory Reporter Training Free to Members

CLICK HERE to see if we have your RSVP.

Monday, February 11, 2013
Lewis Central Media Center
4:30-7:30ish PM

COST: Free for members, $30.00 for non-members
Coffee, soft-drinks and light snacks will be provided.
Please feel free to bring a packed dinner with you if you need to eat more than snacks.

Even if your certificate is not going to expire, feel free to join us and RSVP so that we will have enough certificates on hand. }

It is important to note that individuals MUST stay for the entire 3 hours in order to receive a signed certificate.
The training features a 3 hour video and no test. When I did the re-certification this summer it was better than I expected.

Certificates will be delivered to Julie Williams at the Lewis Central ERC on February 12, 2013. This open to educators from other districts as well.

Thanks and remember to RSVP. Deadline for RSVPs is Friday at noon. We hope to see you at the training.

February 7--KIDS NOT CUTS--NEA National Call In Day

LCEA Colleagues,

Thanks to some of your hard work, we've made progress in the fight against the "fiscal cliff" cuts to education, but we're not in the clear yet. That's why this Thursday NEA members from across the country, as well as supporters from hundreds of other organizations, will be taking part in a National Call-In Day against education funding cuts.

Call 1-866-293-7278 on Thursday, February 7 to be connected to your members of congress and urge them to support Kids Not Cuts!

At a minimum, education could still be hit with a cut of more than $3 billion this year. That's a scary prospect for educators like Marian from California, who shared her Kids Not Cuts story with us through our Education Votes website:

"We have class sizes over 40, no libraries, no computer labs, one nurse for 5,000 students and no music or art in our district. That is not what is needed to educate our students. Restoring funding is crucial and must happen, now!"

Monday, February 4, 2013

ISEA HOTLINE February 1, 2012

It is essential that we go to our Legislative Forums 

$670,762.00 IN NEW MONEY

 Council Bluffs, IA 51501
9:00-10:30 PM

and contact our elected leaders to urge them to pass four percent allowable growth quickly this year!  

Here's what you need to know:

On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate passed a package of education funding bills, including four percent Allowable Growth for 2013-2014 (Senate File 52), four percent Categorical Growth (SF 51), and a Property Tax Fund Distribution Bill a.k.a. School Property Taxes (SF 53).

Allowable Growth and the companion Categorical Allowable Growth bill would go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year. The two Allowable Growth bills provide schools with the money they need to employ educators and keep class sizes small. These two bills passed along party lines. Republicans voted against setting Allowable Growth because, like Governor Branstad, they believe the Governor's Education Reform


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Negotiations 2012-2013

The LCEA has put together this chart summarizing the proposals made by the LCEA and the LEWIS CENTRAL BOARD OF EDUCATION.  Negotiations continue, Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:30 PM at the ERC.  Complete proposals are being sent to LCEA members on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.

LCEA Proposals
Board Proposal 1/13/2013
Due Process
Eliminate current language ensuring due process   for non-probationary teachers who receive two or more “DOES NOT MEET DISTRICT STANDARDS” and eliminate the right to grieve the evaluation.  Board claims this is in violation of statute.  ISEA attorneys at work
Recall Provision
Change current 14 month language to 12 months.
Leaves of absence.
Personal: Remove restrictions of holidays.
Pregnancy: pregnancy included in sick leave for females; males may use 10 days.
Family Illness: Increase number of days from 5 to 15 days.
Personal: Cannot take a personal day on a staff development day.  Provide no payment for unused days which is currently $100.00 per day.
Heath Insurance
Attempt to provide the current dollar amount as a fixed flat contribution and not the percentage or single policy.
Dental Insurance
Attempt to use the verbage “substantially similar” which could allow a smaller district contribution or higher premium.
$1500.00 increase on the base to increase starting pay to $30,360.  Payment changed from first working day to first of each month.
No step.  No vertical movement.  No increase on the base.
Peer Review
Review becomes a collaborative process that professionals manage.  There is a caveat that the review process remain between colleagues and no discussion, documentation or evaluation be done colleague to colleague.
The 36 hours required by legislation be accomplished during professional development and PLC time.  Additional time outside of the “contract day” will be paid by at the per diem rate.

Friday, February 1, 2013

ISEA Talking Points--Governor's Education Reform Plan

The ISEA continues to support education reforms that are designed to improve student learning, expand educational opportunities, and enhance the educational environment in our state. Because we are deeply committed to the success of every Iowa child, we will only support reform efforts that put students at the center.

In order for any new education initiative to be successful it must be fully funded and must only be implemented once the regular program funding needs of local school districts are met. As such, ISEA will advocate for setting the Allowable Growth rate before the funding of any new initiative is discussed.

The ISEA will continue to review the Governor’s proposal, ask clarifying questions, and represent the concerns of our members in this critical debate. After a first look at the Governor’s legislative proposal, these are the basic concepts and ideas that are important to consider:

Why I Hated Meredith’s First Grade Teacher: An Open Letter to America’s Teachers

Posted by: Kylene Beers | 20th Aug, 2012 on her blog
Reposted by the LCEA INSIDER | August 24, 2012

When my first born headed off to first grade, 21 years ago, she held my hand as we walked down the hallway of Will Rogers Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District. We walked into Ms. Miner’s room and Meredith’s steps grew more hesitant. This wasn’t the University of Houston Child Care Center, the place she had gone for years while I was a doctoral student at UH. This place looked different – bigger, more official. There were big-kid desks pushed together in clusters. And though there were centers, they were not the dress-up center or the cooking center or nap center or water play center of the Child Care Center.