Thursday, November 30, 2006

Southwest UniServ Hosts Legislative Dinner

On Wednesday night, November 29th, Southwest UniServ Unit hosted a dinner for association members to dine and have conversations with area state legislators. SWUU President and Lewis Central High School teacher, Tom McLaughlin, welcomed the over 50 SWUU members Wednesday evening at the Red Coach Inn. President Tom (on the right) reads from a letter received from Governor-elect Chet Culver addressed to the Southwest UniServ Unit.

Four southwest Iowa state legislators participated in the dinner and discussion with area educators. The first to address the group was Rep. Mike Reasoner (D) from Creston. Representative Reasoner (pictured at left) was elected by his caucus as an Assistant Majority Leader.

The next legislator who addressed the assembled group of educators was Rep. Cecil Dolecheck (R) of Mount Ayr. Rep. Dolecheck (pictured at right) had served in the majority party as chair of the Education Appropriations Budget Sub. Committee.

Re-elected to his second term in the Iowa House is Representative Richard Anderson (R) of Clarinda. Rep. Anderson (pictured at left) shared with SWUU educators that in his own family his mother was more like House Democrats in that she wanted to be nice to everyone and take care of all their needs, while his father was more like House Republicans and be more fiscally responsible. His remarks drew many questions.

The last state legislator to address us was Iowa Senate Majority Leader-elect Mike Gronstal (D) of Council Bluffs. Senator Gronstal has served in the General Assembly 24 years and has always been a leading advocate for children and public education. Sen. Gronstal addressed raising teacher's salaries to 25th in the nation and raising the minimum wage.

Team ISEA's Lobbyist, Brad Hudson, shared with legislators ISEA's Legislative priorities. Brad (pictured at left) also addressed questions from our members regarding Teacher Quality money, Open Enrollment, the so called No Child Left Behind (federal law), additional paperwork issues and Staff Development. Brad shared with SWUU members now that we know who has been elected to the General Assembly, our real work begins. He encouraged members to participate in area Legislative Coffees, email legislators and invite legislators into their schools to better understand the impact the policies they've put in place have upon students and schools.

Thanks southwest area legislators for the work you'll be doing on behalf of all Iowans! We look forward to working with you in the coming legislative session.

Thanks too to Southwest UniServ Unit for turning out a great crowd and continuing to engage members in issues that impact them in the work they do for Iowa's public school children.

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