On Monday evening, December 11th after a full day of instruction, educators gathered in Hampton at Godfather's Pizza for an evening of "Pizza 'n Politics". UniServ Unit Two Director Cindy Carroll (on left) and Unit Two Administrative Assistant Michele Alden (on right) greeted members as the evening began.
Approximately three dozen EA members from throughout Unit 2 participated in the evening of Pizza n' Politics. Members enjoyed the buffet of salad, pizza and dessert before legislators addressed the group.
Making a pitch to raise money for expenses for EA members that will serve as delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly in Philadelphia in July 2007 is ISEA Bargaining Specialist Joann Mackin.
Three newly elected members of the Iowa House from legislative districts that touch Unit Two participated. The first to address the group of EA members was Representative-elect Dave Deyoue (R) House District 10 of Nevada (seated at right).
We next heard from Representative-elect McKinley Bailey (D) House District 9 of Webster City (standing at left).
The final legislator to address the group was Representative-elect Doris Kelley (D) House District 20 of Cedar Falls (standing at right).
Representative-elect Kelley challenged the EA members to share with these newly elected legislators concerns they have regarding the state of Iowa's public schools. The following are just a few concerns that were mentioned:
* The state needs to better meet the needs of students in science and math at the lower level. A teacher had taught in China over the summer and the students are more driven and dedicated – the culture is “hungry” for education.
*Today’s technology was a distraction and teachers have to compete with cell phones, computer games, computers, etc.
*An art teacher shared their opinion that curriculum is off balance – students today are so driven to meet the testing requirements – time to be creative is lost. There is no time to explore creativity, think outside the box, allow their imaginations to grow.
* A Special Education teacher said teachers are blamed for whining – the legislature who makes the laws for education have not had any experience with what is happening in the classrooms. There’s a disconnect that leaves them less supportive of educators and public education in general. She invites legislators to visit schools, spend time in the classroom and talk to teachers.
*Another Special Ed teacher - asked about Performance Based Pay – and the difficulty in comparing students in her class who suffer behavioral disorders with other students. Any comparison or testing is inequitable.
*Again, a Special Education 10th grade teacher– reiterated that her 10th grade class with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders, learn the basic skills of life and do not even understand, let alone comprehend the testing.
* Suggestion was made that they would like the legislature to somehow get local school boards to set priorities back to the students and less with testing and reporting. The Media Specialist in their school has to complete report cards for 730 students – one media specialist! Let alone teach them all how to use computers? How do we get administration to see the need?
*Class size is an issue – she now has 30 students in her kindergarten class and is losing the attention of kids because she can’t give personal attention to so many. Parents are not supportive and many children are missing the basic needs. The schools are not addressing the child.
* A 2nd grade teacher shared their class is so overcrowded that even after trying several ways to arrange desks, there’s no way to beat the crush. No room to move.
* A Special Education teacher commented on the extensive work with IEP’s that special education teachers have to complete. The reports are so cumbersome that all they do is finish reports and spend little time actually teaching – she’d like to see the reporting made more simple.
Ø More staff
Ø More time – less paperwork
Ø Class size
Ø More arts to allow for more creative thinking
Ø Change in curriculum to allow for teaching to the “whole child”
Ø Functional IEP
Ø Diversity training