Saturday, April 28, 2007

ISEA-PAC Central Committee Meets To Take Next Steps

On Saturday, April 28th the ISEA-PAC Central Committee met at the ISEA Headquarters Building for a day long meeting. It was one of the first days that Iowans have seen the sun after nearly a week of chilly weather and torrential rains. We are grateful for the dedicated members of ISEA PAC Central Committee that gave yet one more day for the association! With the work of the 2007 state Legislature (nearly) complete, PAC members begin planning for their involvement in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

Attendance was as follows:
[Each UniServ Unit has appointed (2) Republican and (2) Democratic association members to represent them.]
Geode 2
Mid-Iowa 2
Siouxland 2
Unit 9 2
Unit 10 2
Hawkeye 1
Lincolnway 1
Northern Pride 0
Unit 2 0

After reviewing PAC Guidelines, Team ISEA Lobbyist gave a review of the 2007 legislative session (the Legislature is expected to adjourn late tonight). Jon Studer (pictured at left) started things off by walking us through SF 277 the new and improved Student Achievement and Teacher Quality Program. PAC Central Committee members received a "draft" of the presentation, knowing a powerpoint presentation will be posted on the ISEA website soon.

At lunch PAC Central Committee members sat together by Congressional Districts to discuss strategies on getting members to both lobby members of Congress and attend forums with presidential candidates to convey our message of making needed changes to the No Child Left Behind Law as its reauthorization comes before Congress later this year.

The afternoon session began with ISEA lobbyist Brad Hudson (at right) sharing results of donations to ISEA PAC. Lists were provided listing UniServ Units with all their local associations in order of those with the highest percentage of PAC participation to lowest percentage of members contributing. Leading UniServ Units with the highest numbers of members participating was CedarWood UniServ Unit with 95% participation! Other UniServ Units that have at least 70% of members participating are: Great River UU 85%; DMEA 84%; Siouxland UU 83%; Hawkeye UU 80%; and MississippiBend UU 72%. The goal was set to work toward at least a 70% participation.
Brad next shared from NEA "An Educator's Guide to Greater Involvement in the Republican Party of Iowa". Included was the platform of the Iowa Republican party as well as a 'how to' guide of the Iowa Caucus process.

Before heading out to enjoy the beautiful Saturday afternoon, Brad and I shared "NEA's Top Legislative Priorities for ESEA". PAC members were given a list of seven points that Team NEA is urging Congress to make needed changes to ESEA. In addition four suggested questions were shared that Team ISEA members could pose to both their member of Congress and to presidential candidates when they attend their candidate forums/events.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Governor Culver and State Legislators Keep Their Promise To Iowa's Teachers

Thursday, April 26th was a historic day for Iowa's teachers. Governor Chet Culver, a former high school government teacher signed into law a landmark bill that will dramatically increase K-12 salaries and give teachers a voice in determing their own professional development needs.

Lt. Governor Patty Judge led off the bill signing ceremony with special recognition to the Iowa State Education Association for making the case with the public over the years for the need to raise teacher salaries.

Governor Culver said “To provide a world-class education requires world-class teachers, and we here in Iowa have been blessed with some of the best teachers in the nation. It is only fair that we pay them as the dedicated professional that they are. Many teachers and parents alike have waited patiently for a day when our state gives educators the pay raise they deserve. I am proud to say that today they have to wait no longer! Our state will finally give our teachers a much deserved raise, and make Iowa once again a place that values our teachers and their service to our children. “

Driving in from Iowa City to be a part of this historic event for all of Iowa's teachers is Sue Dvorsky (on the left) an Iowa City middle school teacher and Iowa City EA Grievance Chair. Sue is married to state Senator Bob Dvorsky, a long-time friend of education. Pictured with us is Representative Mary Mascher (on the right), state Representative from the Iowa City area and an elementary teacher.

Before leaving the celebration at the state Capitol, I caught up with Governor Culver to personally thank him for his leadership on behalf of all Team ISEA.

I wish you all could have been there with us--we know you were there in spirit, as you were back home in your classrooms doing the magic you do every day for Iowa's students !

South Central UniServ Unit Spring Rep Council Treated To Special Keynote Speaker

On Thursday evening, South Central UniServ Unit leaders met at the Sports Page Grill in Indianola for their annual Spring Representative Council meeting. South Central Team ISEA leaders were treated not only to a delicious meal, but to a wonderful message from Team NEA Executive Committee member Becky Pringle.

The evening began with recognition of local associations in South Central that had met the unit goal (or exceeded) of 5% growth. The greater the membership gain, the more the monetary value of the Target gift card was for their local association. Some locals received $50 cards, while the gretest value was for $250 (to the Earlham EA). Pictured here (below) are the locals (that were present) that met or exceeded their goal for membership growth.

South Central leaders were next recognized for meeting (or exceeding) their bargaining goals. South Central UniServ Unit had the most locals statewide from all Team ISEA that met bargaining goals last year. Pictured here (below) are the locals present that met or exceeded their bargaining goal. And finally, South Central UniServ Unit leaders were treated to an inspiring message from Team NEA Executive Committee member Becky Pringle. Becky is an 8th grade physical science teacher from Harrisburg, PA. She was re-elected to a 2nd three year term to the NEA Executive Committee in July 2004. Becky Pringle serves as chair of NEA's ESEA Advisory Committee. She received a warm welcome from Team ISEA members of South Central UniServ Unit!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Southwest UniServ Unit Hosts A "Welcome Home Friends" Reception

On Wednesday evening Southwest UniServ Unit held their annual Legislative Council where nearly 50 association leaders representing their local association gathered in Red Oak. SWUU president Tom McLaughlin (pictured at left), Lewis Central High School Speech and Drama teacher, welcomed home three former SWUU leaders as the keynote speakers.

Former SWUU past presidents-- Chris Bern, former teacher in Woodbine and now ISEA Vice President teaching in Knoxville (on the left); me a 4th grade teacher at Carter Lake Elementary in Council Bluffs; and Randy Richardson, former teacher in Fremont-Mills and later an Instructional Strategist at AEA 13 and current ISEA Associate Executive Director for Field Services-all traveled together for our for our "homecoming" to SWUU.

Special recognition was given to local associations that met (or exceeded) their bargaining goals. Congratulations to all you great local bargainers!

Congratulations to all SWUU locals that received recognition for membership gains. Thanks to your efforts--last year Team ISEA saw a statewide increase of 300+ members and this year an increase of 600+ members!

It was extra special to return to SWUU for our "Homecoming"! It was exciting to see so many new faces that have been "given a place at the table"--now taking on the role of association leaders in SWUU. Congratulations SWUU Crew for continuing the great tradition of having leaders step aside to allow new folks the chance to take on leadership roles!

A Visit to Nevada Middle and High Schools

On Tuesday following my visit to the Elementary building in Nevada, I was next off to the Nevada Middle School. I was greeted at the office by Nevada EA president Dee Johnson. Dee led me to her classroom to meet her homeroom of Multi-Age 5th and 6th graders. The students were immersed in a discussion around the novel Charlie Skaddle and the many strategies they had used throughout their study. It was most impressive!

I had school lunch with Middle School teachers, then had the chance to meet a second "wave" of staff during the second lunch before I moved on to the High School. Staff was eager to discuss the Teacher Quality legislation that Governor Culver will sign into law on Thursday. What a difference an election makes!

My first classroom visit in the High School was in the Biology class of Mr. Mike Lawler. Mr. Lawler had students involved in a review for an upcoming test. Students were divided into two teams and pairs of students went to the board and awaited his question. The first to write the answer correctly scored a point. He was a master at matching up abilities to make the competition meaningful. Neat game, Mr. Lawler!

I was next off to Foods Class. Here I met up with Family and Consumer Science teacher Mary Redder. Mary was busy scrubbing a stove top as students work browsing through magazines for articles to write a review. Mary's class had spent the majority of their class period baking pies. My, oh my, did it smell great in there! I visited with several groups of students as they shared with me the kinds of pies they baked--pumpkin, meat, strawberry, French Silk, and more! Yum!

My next classroom visit took me into the classroom of Cary Thompson. Mr. Thompson's next class for the day was Marketing. Again I saw strategies that teachers use throughout the district at all levels of instruction. Students in Mr. Thompson's class had developed "3 column notes" the previous day and in today's lesson took that information and evaluated three different documents for who the targeted audience would be. Just an awesome discussion took place. Gee, they get it!

Now here is a another great teacher---Heather Ludwig! I observed Heather's World Lit class as they were involved in a discussion of Greek Mythology. I was so impressed when student went to the board and drew a diagram and led the discussion on Allegory of the Cave by Plato. Wow, awfully bright students and what a great instructional leader in Ms. Ludwig!

Next I was off to observe in 1st year teacher Lindsey Youngman's English 9 class. Lindsey led the discussion of "parenthetical citations" with her class of 27 students. Lindsey had shared with me how her husband is a teacher in Ames and that she intends to stay in Iowa. How lucky we are to have the best and brightest entering the profession!

My final classroom visit at Nevada High School was in Kevin Ericson's room. Kevin is Mid-Iowa UniServ Unit President (and newly elected to repesent Mid-Iowa on the ISEA Executive Board--starting in August 2007). Kevin is Special Education teacher and was working with a small group of students on Reading Comprehension skills.

It was an awesome day in Nevada and I want to thank all the educators for your warm hospitality! You are an incredibly dedicated group of folks who are doing magic every day with the students you work with. Thanks for all you do every day for Iowa's students!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An "Open Letter" to Governor Culver From a First Year Iowa Teacher

April 24, 2007

Dear Governor Culver,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for caring about educators in Iowa and for the hard work that we daily put into our classroom and the countless hours we spend before, after, and at home preparing for our students and their future.

As a former banker for 13 years, this has been my first year in the classroom teaching 7th grade with special needs. I have such a passion for students with Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders that I chose a career change to follow my dream of helping these students, my future.

With the year coming to an end, and many tears later, I am thankful that I chose this path. There are days that I think "What did I do?!?" but, then there are those days that I am so incredibly amazed at what these students (my students) are learning and how good they feel about themselves and the dedication they are putting into their studies to improve and with some of them achieving the honor roll for the first time ever is incredible to watch the excitement in their eyes that they achieved it all on their own.

So, I just wanted to say thank you for feeling that we, as teachers, are worth it because although I definitely did not go into teaching for the money it is nice to know that our government feels we are important enough to be compensated for our hard work and dedication that we put in every single day (yes, even in the summer, we never stop thinking about how we can improve our skills or ideas to incorporate into the classroom).

Thank You, Governor Culver and thank you to our incredible men and women who support our teachers.

Educating our future,

Lisa L Hintzman
7th Grade Multi-Categorical Special Needs Teacher
Hoover Middle School
Waterloo, IA

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Rainy Iowa Day Didn't Dappen Spirits in Nevada

Not leaving quite early enough had me doing what I dislike the most--being late! I arrived about 10 minutes late to the Nevada Elementary School where I was greeted by Doxie Weber. Doxie (seated on the left) led me to the area that is currently being used as the Media Center. A dozen or so staff members gathered for bagels, juice and conversation before their day with students began.

The Elementary teachers shared with me for the last year and a half, their building was being under construction and is being added on to. Moving dayinto the finished part of the building was the week before Christmas. The building is still under construction and if everything works out as planned, the last area will be open for the coming fall semester.

Teachers shared concerns over the so-called No Child Left Behind law and in particular--moving to a growth model of actually tracking student progress from year to year!

It was fun to share the news of passage of SF 277, the revision of the Teacher Quality Law, by both chambers of the General Assembly. I invited them all to join us at the state Captiol this Thursday at 4:30 p.m. when Governor Culver will sign the bill into law. They had obviously been keeping track of the legislative action as they knew those in the majority party insisted that there would be "no new hoops" to jump through in order to access the salary increases.

After a quick tour of the building by two third grade students, I visited the classroom of Collene Wrage (seated at right). Collene and her associate Chris Burling (on the left in grey) are quite a magical team! They have been working together with the Pre-School Special Needs students for 7 years. The students were having their first opportunity to discover how magnets work.

I had the chance to read to two classes today at the elementary building. Pictured (at left) is Amber Olson, a first year teacher, with her homeroom of Multi-Age 1st and 2nd graders.

The second group of students I read to was in Doxie Weber's 2nd grade. Doxie and her homeroom are pictured here at right. At the end of my day today, I had a special treat--I got to meet Doxie's daughter who is a teacher at Nevada High School!

In both classrooms I read Take Me Out to the Ball Game (and then we stretched and sang the song) and the poem, Casey at the Bat. The students informed me that they liked stories with 'happy endings'.

Thanks Nevada Elementary staff for your warm hospitality! And thanks for the great work you do every day for Iowa's students!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Victory at last on teacher salaries!

Iowa Legislature approves changes in the ‘Teacher Quality’ law.

SF 277, as approved by the Iowa Legislature, puts into law the ISEA’s major K-12 legislative priorities over the last several years. It fulfills the salary promises made in the Teacher Quality law of 2001, creates a new collaborative professional development system, and makes much-needed improvements in the educator accountability system. Here is a brief overview of the changes:

• Increases the minimum salaries by $1,000: beginning teacher salary to $26,500; career teachers (third year) to $27,500; and all other career teachers to $28,500.

• Provides an average salary increase of $3,600 per teacher in 2007-08 and another $1,800 per teacher in 2008-09 for a TOTAL average increase of $5,400 per teacher over the next two years. This, along with competitive salary increases negotiated at the local level, should bring Iowa teaching salaries up to 25th in the nation in two years. Local association bargaining teams and school districts have until Sept. 15 to determine how the state salary appropriation will be distributed locally.

• Makes area education agency professionals and school nurses who hold a teaching license or statement of professional recognition eligible to receive the salary increases.

• Reinstates the requirement that school districts employ at least one teacher librarian, guidance counselor, and school nurse. School districts can request a two-year waiver but they will be required to fill these positions after this period. School districts also must work toward a goal of having one guidance counselor for every 350 students and one school nurse for every 750 students.

• Calls for the creation of local teacher quality committees, made up of an equal number of teachers and administrators, to determine the use and distribution of professional development funds, monitor the evaluation process, and recommend the use of the market factor incentives.

• Provides funding for quality professional development opportunities determined at the local level instead of mandating additional days. These funds can be used for additional time, substitute teachers, materials, speakers, content, and costs associated with implementing individual professional development plans. The funds must be balanced between district, attendance center, and individual professional development plans. This is a vast improvement.

• Improves the current accountability system by ensuring that teacher evaluations are conducted in a fair and consistent manner that is focused on improvement and eliminating unnecessary paperwork.

• Calls for the creation of pilot projects that will study pay-for-performance and career ladders.

• Expands the use of “market factor pay” to include a wide variety of incentives to recruit teachers in shortage areas.

• Ensures that teachers who register for National Board Certification by December 31, 2007, will be eligible for the registration reimbursement and a $2,500 stipend each year for ten years if they successfully earn this prestigious distinction.

• Calls for the development of an administrator improvement and accountability system similar to the one already put in place for teachers.

Consider Making a Donation to the Virginia Tech Foundation through the NEA Health Information Network

In the wake of the horrific events that occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech, you can make a donation to The Virginia Tech teacher education scholarship. The Janet M. and James F. Johnson Teacher Education Endowment Scholarship supports students who are studying to be teachers.

Making a donation is easy and can be done in 3 simple steps:

1. Write a check payable to: Virginia Tech Foundation
2. In the memo line (bottom right hand corner of the check) write: Fund #885814 (NEA)
3. Mail checks to: Virginia Tech University Development (0336) Blacksburg, VA 24061

Please be sure to write #885814 (NEA) in the memo section so that NEA members get credit for the donation.

The Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. (Foundation) was established in 1948 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-stock corporation. If you’d like to send a note to the Virginia Education Association, please email:

Once again, NEA and its members are rallying to support the education family in this time of tragedy.

Thank you for your support.

Jerald L. Newberry
Executive Director, NEA Health Information Network
1201 16th Street, NW
Suite 216
Washington, DC 20036
“Great Public Schools for Every Child”

Mother of Scholarship Winner is Honored to Accept Check on Daughter's Behalf

Officers and Building Representatives of the Cedar Falls Education Association gathered for their monthly meeting at Peet Junior High at the end of the school day Monday afternoon.
First on the agenda was the presentation of the ISEA Scholarship winner. Kathy Waack, a Cedar Falls teacher (standing at right) shared with the group that her daughter, Brittany, is studying in Paris, France this semester as she is immersed in learning and living the French language. Brittany Waach is a Junior at Central College in Pella.

Kathy Waack accepts the ISEA Scholarship check on behalf of her daughter Brittany. Brittany is the 3rd student from Cedar Falls and the 7th winner from NEIEU since ISEA began honoring the children of ISEA members that are juniors or seniors in the college of education--the first in 1993.

Picking up with the CFEA Building Rep agenda, is Jaci Pins, (pictured at right) CFEA President and Kindergarten teacher at Hansen Elementary.
It was extra special to hand-deliver the check to a member of Team ISEA who has modeled the profession so well that her own daughter is soon to join our profession. Thanks for your leadership Kathy Waack and thanks CFEA for the great work you continue to do for all members of Team ISEA!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring ISEA Student Workshop

Friday night and Saturday found ISEA Student Program leaders from around the state gathering in Des Moines for their annual Spring Workshop. Nearly 30 leaders from a dozen campuses met at the Holiday Inn Northwest to learn from each other the best practices for building membership. Jean Hessburg (pictured at left) Team ISEA staff liaison for our ISEA Student Program greeted our student leaders as the workshop began.

The workshop was kicked off with dinner on Friday night, then I followed with welcoming remarks to our student members gathered. Team ISEA Student Program members next heard from Kimberly Anderson, Team NEA's Organizational Specialist for NEA Student Program. Kimberly shared a comprehensive overview of the NEA/ISEA Student Program and what is available to members when they join. Kimberly (pictured at right) wore orange and maroon to honor the fallen students and faculty at Virginia Tech University.

Friday evening was to be capped off with yummy finger foods and sodas while the students and their sponsors played board games and had a chance to win door prizes.

On Saturday following a breakfast buffet, ISEA Associate Executive Director Randy Richardson, addressed the group on "Technology, Friend or Foe?" The session would focus on the pitfals and benefits of using the internet to communicate.

Team ISEA Lobbyist, Brad Hudson, addressed the Spring Workshop of ISEA Student Program leaders on "Why Lobby? What Difference Does it Make?" Brad reviewed the major victories at the Iowa Capitol as well as how to effectively lobby state and federal policy makers on issues that impact our profession.

The last breakout session was lead by our Waldorf College Student Club. The students presented "Best Practices--What Works and What Doesn't!" The students shared some of their best ideas and their worst ideas in order to help others in organizing on campus.

Before heading home, students were to elect their officers for the coming school year. Thanks, Jean Hessburg for your leadership and thanks ISEA Student Program leaders and sponsors--you are the future of our profession and the future of our association!

Staying In Touch With A Former Student

As I entered my office on Friday morning, I noticed the red light on the phone denoting I had a voicemail message. What a pleasant surprise to learn that a former student was going to be in the Des Moines area and wanted to reconnect.

Tammy (Fiala) Stephens, one of my very favorite students from Peterson Elementary (where I taught 6th grade for 8 years) was participating in a two-day workshop in the Des Moines area and wanted to get together for a meal. I called her right away and made arrangements to pick her up during her lunch time.

Tammy was in my 2nd group of 6th graders at Peterson Elementary on the south side of Council Bluffs. Her mother, Carolyn, was a terrific room mother and volunteer during that school year too! Five years later I had Tammy's younger sister, Cindy, as a student in my 6th grade homeroom. The Fiala girls have been special friends ever since! When they both graduated from High School, then later college, I was invited to their graduation celebrations. When they both married, then later had children, I was invited to the weddings and baby showers. We mostly stay connected through Christmas cards and an ocassional meal out. It was extra special connecting with Tammy this day as later on in the evening I am to give the "welcome" at our spring ISEA Student Program Conference. I'll share with those students how "you'll get a tear in your eye the day a former student walks back into your classroom/life and tell you how you made the difference for them." I say, students like Tammy (Fiala) Stephens and her sister Cindy (Fiala) Biederman made the difference in my teaching career!

Tammy is an Occupational Therapist with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha and serves students in the Omaha Public Schools. Tammy and her husband Todd have two daughters, a 4th grader and a Kindergartener. Thanks Tammy for staying connected---students like you and your sister Cindy are what kept me motivated to continue my teaching career!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Current Events Quiz

How much do you know about current events? A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 24-hour cable news and Internet news haven't improved America's knowledge of world affairs. Find out if you're up to par with this current events quiz.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virtual Town Hall Meeting With Iowa's Newest Members of Congress

On Tuesday evening Team ISEA members in the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts of Iowa received a "robo" call inviting them to participate in the virtual town hall meeting to have a discussion with their member of Congress around the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind law. Team ISEA teamed up with the Urban Education Network (UEN), the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), American Federation of State and Municipal Employees (AFSME) and Communities for Quality Education (CQE) to have their membership participate in the virtual town hall meeting.

The first virtual town hall meeting call was with Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Mount Vernon) of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. In Congressman Loebsack 's opening remarks he shared how during the Easter Congressional recess he toured the 7 counties of the district and heard at every meeting about needed changes to NCLB. Congressman Loebsack is a member of the sub-committee of the Education and Labor Committee that will first look at making needed changes to NCLB.

Throughout the call the moderator asked 3 different questions of the participants to respond to by touching the keypad on their telephones. The first question was 1) Do you believe NCLB has helped? (31%); Hurt? (61%); or Made no difference? (14%). Within a few moments the moderator read back to us the results (in partenthesis).

The second question was 2) Has NCLB reduced the achievement gaps? (25%); Increased the achievement gaps? (34%); or Had no effect on achievement gaps?(41%).

The final question 3) Did we think the virtual town hall meeting was worthwhile? or Not? (she did not remember to share the results).

Folks that asked questions were from Mount Vernon, Iowa City, Ottumwa, and Cedar Rapids.

Our second virtual town hall meeting was with Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) of Iowa's 1st Congressional District. Congressman Braley shared in his opening remarks the many bills he is sponsoring or has signed on as co-sponsor that relate directly to education.

When I had the opportunity to ask my question on how he would work with his Congressional colleagues to make the needed changes to NCLB, Congressman Braley shared he takes every opportunity to "educate" his colleagues. Cong. Braley said whether it is in the gym in the morning, riding on the elevator with the member of Congress or in the one minute speeches on the floor of the U. S. House in the morning or those allowed in the evening, he uses those opportunities to educate the other members and the public---to inform and educate them. He gave much credit to the four generations of women in his family that have all been teachers!

The same questions were posed to participants in the 2nd call as those in the first. The first question results are as follows: 1) Has NCLB helped? (15%); Hurt? (64%); or No effect?(20%).

The second question: 2) Have the achievement gaps been reduced? (20%); Increased the achievement gaps? (40%); Made no Difference? (41%).

The final question 3) Was this worth your time? (99%); or Not? (1%).

Participants that asked questions came from Waterloo, Davenport, Dubuque, and Bettendorf.

Congressman Braley asked that we ask those with their stories on how NCLB impacts them, to please share them with him. He said we need to give human stories a human face.

Within the next week, all dialogue will be compiled and will be available at:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In Wake of Virginia Tech Shootings, NEA Calls for Decisive Action to Protect Students and School Employees

Washington—A shooting rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech University on Monday left 33 students and faculty dead and dozens injured, making this the deadliest school shooting incident in U.S. history.

The following statement can be attributed to Reg Weaver, president of NEA:

"We join our student members at Virginia Tech in mourning the deaths of their friends and instructors. We are shocked at this tragedy and we are deeply concerned for everyone in the Virginia Tech community. We will keep the families of the slain students and faculty members and the entire Virginia Tech student body, faculty, and staff in our thoughts and prayers. The hours and days ahead will be tough as they face the aftermath of this horrific tragedy and begin to try to cope with their tremendous losses.

"As Americans, we must have zero tolerance for violence in our institutions of higher learning, and we must—as a society—take the steps necessary to make school campuses and other education environments safe from violence and guns. Everyone has a role to play—elected officials, community and student leaders, and educators. Monday's shootings really underscore the importance of decisive action to address the issue of guns and violence in our society. It is clear that none of us are safe from these random acts. Developing realistic strategies to address this increasing threat is imperative and one of the ways that we can honor the memory of those who have lost their lives on America's school campuses across the nation."

As part of its membership, the National Education Association has 70 student members of the Virginia Tech chapter of the Student Virginia Education Association-NEA.

Expert tips to help schools, teachers, parents and students cope with the aftereffects of this crisis are available online at

The 4th Annual Iowa Mentoring and Induction Institute

The Iowa Mentoring and Induction Institute held their 4th annual conference in Cedar Falls at the Park Place Event Centre on April 15-17th. Over 100 educators gathered for the three day conference from all across our state for this year's theme "A Key To Iowa's Future". Breakout sessions, keynote speakers and an awards banquet were all on slate for participants.

Monday evening I served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the Awards portion of the Banquet. The conference was sponsored by Mildred Middleton, University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa Department of Education in partnership with ISEA, Heartland AEA Agency 11, and the West Des Moines Community School District.

Mildred Middleton

The awards given out at the banquet are named for Mildred Middleton, Emeritus, College of Education, University of Northern Iowa. Mildred Middleton began making first-string players even before receiving her teaching degree in 1943. While a first-year student at Iowa State Teachers College, she was recognized for her gifts of teaching and leading when the President of ISTC helped plan her promising future as an educator, tapping her as a junior supervisor at the Laboratory School.

She has distinguished herself as a teacher, a curriculum coordinator, an author, a speaker, and a pioneer in program development. With all of her professional accomplishments, Middleton is recognized most, by colleagues and those she mentors as a friend.

The secret of her success lies in putting teachers first, knowing that outstanding teachers make outstanding students. When asked what today's teachers need most, she exclaims without hesitation, "Time to share their profession--time to talk!"

2007 Mentor of the Year---Peggy Ostrander

Peggy Ostrander has taught special education at Clive Elementary in West Des Moines since 1977. She has served as a Direct Instruction Reading Coach for special education teachers in the West Des Moines Community School District since 2004. In addition, she has facilitated a SDMCSD study group entitled, "Preparing the Iowa Teaching Standards Portfolio." A cooperating teacher and mentor since the late 1990's, she is currently mentoring first-year teacher, Abby Boruff.

Peggy has completed both the West Des Moines Community School District's Mentor of the First-Year Teachers' and Second-Year Teachers' trainings. She returned to the Mentors of First-Year Teachers' training this school year.

Pictured (from left to right) myself; Mildred Middleton; Peggy Ostrander; and Abby Boruff.

2007 Mentor Program Leadership of the Year---Jan Olson

A key force in designing and implementing the Enhancing Educator Excellence Induction Program for the Sioux City Community School District, Jan Olson has served as the full-time coordinator for seven years. The program has trained more than 150 mentors, is a valuable resource to beginning teachers, and now includes a "Teachers in Transition" component for career teachers new to the district.

As a former classroom teacher, school counselor, and district/state administrator of career development, Jan is a strong advocate for quality classroom teaching as well as comprehensive standards-based school counseling programs. She hs chaired the School Counselor Standards Writing Committee and currently serves on the district's Performance Review Committee.

Pictured (from left to right) Mildred Middleton; Donna Walsh, Sioux City EA president; Jan Olson and me.

Congratulations to both Peggy Ostrander and Jan Olson!

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball Recipe

from Leslie Dake of Sioux City ESPA

Combine 1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese-softened

1/2 cup butter-softened

1/4 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup powered sugar

2 TBLS brown sugar

Sm splash milk

Beat until creamy then stir in:
1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup vanilla chips

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. After 2 hours (or more) put mixture on plastic wrap and shape into ball. Refrigerate for 2 more hours. Roll in chopped pecans or walnuts right before serving.

Serve with chocoalte and/or plain graham crackers.

ENJOY!Your friend, Leslie

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Food Network Taste Test

Are you a top chef? Test your knowledge about the Food Network.

Delegate Assembly Sets the Agenda for Team ISEA To Move Forward

On Thursday and Friday, April 12th and 13th some 350 delegates (representing 73% of our membership) gathered at Hilton Coliseum in Ames for the 2007 ISEA Delegate Assembly.

We honored colleagues. Mireya Mendoza a parent and night custodian at Hills Elementary in Iowa City was named ISEA's 2007 Paul Mann Memorial Human Rights Award winner. Judy Jeffrey, Director of the Iowa Department of Education was named the 2007 ISEA Friend of Education. We honored two with the Charles F. Martin award (ISEA's top honor to an association leader): Mary Jane Sullivan of the North Mahaska EA and posthumously honored Paul Mann of the Des Moines EA who passed away in September 2006. Toni Graham of the Shenandoah ESP local was named ISEA 2007 ESP of the Year.

We heard from: the 2007 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Jan Keese, a 3rd grade teacher from Ankeny; a joint address from myself and ISEA Executive Director Jan Reinicke; a report from our two NEA Directors Gayle Jeffers of Sioux City and Jim Young of Cedar Falls; and a legislative report from Team ISEA lobbyists Brad Hudson and Jon Studer.

Team NEA Government Relations specialist Mary Jane Cobb led the delegates in a "Table Conversation" around the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (better known as the No Child Left Behind Law). Delegates discussed with those at their table 1) What impact the current version of ESEA has had on their work, their students and children in their family?; 2) What can you do to impact the reauthorization of ESEA?; 3) What can your local EA do to positively impact the reauthorization of ESEA?; and 4) What assistance would you like from ISEA/NEA to be successful?

We raised money, lots of money for worthy causes! Delegates gave generously to the H.O.Maxey Memorial Food Bank to the tune of $1,681.40. Delegates emptied their pocketbooks for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education with an outpouring of $8,580.00!

Delegates took action on amending the ISEA Bylaws; on Resolutions and New Business items; and putting in place a budget for the 2007-2008 year.

Delegates elected a new person to serve on the NEA Board of Directors (beginning this July) replacing two-term NEA Board member Gayle Jeffers. Elected to represent Team ISEA on the NEA Board of Directors is Kathy Williams, a 6th grade teacher from Davenport. Kathy joins Jim Young, 4th grade teacher at Hansen Elementary in Cedar Falls to represent Iowa.

At the end of the first of the two day assembly, Team ISEA heard from candidates/campaigns for those running for President of the United States. Team ISEA had extended the invitation to announced candidates that had been recommended by their state association in the past. Candidates/campaigns were given 15 minutes for opening remarks then 10 minutes to address the following two questions: 1) What is the federal government's role in education? and 2) How will you work to make needed changes to No Child Left Behind?

First to address the assembly were Team ISEA members that support U.S. Senator Barack Obama. Jackie Norris, a High School Government teacher in Johnston led off, followed by Muscatine EA member Carol Kula and Delores Silva.

Representing the John Edwards campain was Senator Edwards' wife, Elizabeth Edwards. Following her remarks on behalf of Senator Edwards, Team ISEA showered Mrs. Edwards with hand-written messages of encouragement as she lives each day to the fullest in living with the return of cancer.

The third campaign to address Delegate Assembly was U.S. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Senator Dodd was first elected to the U.S. House in 1974 and elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980. Senator Dodd has been a long time advocate for children and public education.

Next to address our assembly was U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Dennis Kucinich was elected to the City Council in Cleveland at the age of 23, then at 31 Mayor of the city. Congressman Kucinich was first elected to Congress in 1996.

The final campaign to address our delegates was Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign. Speaking on behalf of Senator Clinton was Bonnie Campbell. Bonnie Campbell served as Iowa's Attorney General from 1990-1994. In 1994 Campbell was the Democratic candidate for Governor. Senator Clinton closed the presentation via a personalized video for Team ISEA addressing her commitment to continue advocating for public education.

We are grateful to all campaigns that represented at our assembly. Many of the candidates have begun campaigning throughout the state but still have not reached all counties. It was a great opportunity to hear from those that continue to advocate for Team NEA and Team ISEA's priority: Great Public Schools, a Basic Right for Every Student.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Open Letter to Iowa's Senators and Representatives

Dear Members of the Iowa General Assembly,

The 32,000 members of the Iowa State Education Association would like to thank you for the landmark piece of legislation, Senate File 277. This bill at long last fulfills the promises made in the Teacher Quality law of 2001, creates a new collaborative professional development system, and improves the accountability system so all educators are focused on increasing student achievement.

Thank you for increasing salaries to attract and retain quality Iowa educators. The minimums will be increased by $1,000. All teachers will receive an average increase of $3,600 in 2007-08 and $5,400 in 2008-09. Iowa will make an unprecedented jump in state-by-state rankings from 40th to 25th in the nation (assuming teachers continue to receive competitive settlement increases during bargaining).

Thank you for including area education agency professionals and school nurses in the teacher salary increases. These positions are crucial for Iowa to have a quality educational system and this legislation recognizes that their salaries must be competitive with teachers.

Thank you for ensuring all Iowa children will have access to a teacher librarian, guidance counselor, and a school nurse. School districts can request a two-year waiver but they will be required to have these positions after this period. School districts also must work toward a goal of having one guidance counselor for every 350 students and one school nurse for every 750 students.

Thank you for creating local teacher quality committees. With equal representation of teachers and administrators, the local committees will monitor and implement this important piece of legislation at the local level. For the first time, the legislation ensures that teachers are part of process. The committee determines the use and distribution of professional development funds, monitors the professional development, monitors the evaluation process, and recommends the use of the market factor incentives.

Thank you for funding quality professional development opportunities and not mandating additional days. The old system was a one-size-fits-all approach that directed all of the funds to pay teachers for the additional days. Thanks to your changes, we will now have a flexible, collaborative system that is focused on the needs of the individual, attendance center, and district. Now, our professional development needs will be determined through a goal setting process that is tied to student achievement. The professional development funds can be used for additional time, substitute teachers, materials, speakers, content, and costs associated with implementing individual professional development plans. The funds must be balanced between district, attendance center, and individual professional development plans. This is a vast improvement.

Thank you for improving our accountability system. Iowa now has one of the toughest teacher accountability systems in the nation with detailed teaching standards and rigorous evaluations. We are up for the challenge of keeping Iowa at the top in virtually all measures of student achievement, and this legislation makes sure that evaluations are conducted in a fair and consistent manner that is focused on improvement. Unnecessary paperwork is eliminated so we can focus on teaching. The evaluation process will be clearly defined, with teacher input, including the intensive assistance program.

Thank you for creating pilot projects that will study pay-for-performance and career ladders instead of implementing them immediately. Working together, school districts and teachers may be able to create a better compensation system that will attract and retain quality teachers. We need time to make that happen.

Thank you for broadening the "market factor pay" to include all types of incentives, and thank you for recognizing that we need to have input into making those determinations. Iowa school districts can’t hope to compete with the public sector salaries for shortage areas. But providing incentives for shortage areas -- such as retraining existing teachers for those subjects -- can be very successful.

Thank you for extending the stipends for the National Board Certification. Now, all teachers who register by December 31, 2007 will be eligible for the registration reimbursement and a $2,500 stipend each year for ten years if they successfully earn this prestigious distinction.

Thank you for developing an administrator improvement and accountability system similar to the system for teachers. And finally, thanks to all of you for truly making a difference for children and public education in Iowa.


Members of the Iowa State Education Association

Sunday, April 08, 2007


By Speaker of the House Pat Murphy

On a bipartisan vote, the Iowa House overwhelmingly approved a plan to attract and retain Iowa's best teachers by raising teacher salaries from 42nd in the nation to 25th, in relation to what teachers are paid in other states. Senate File 277 will give Iowa teachers their biggest salary increase to date. A total of $141.2 million will go specifically into teacher salaries next year and $232.5 million is allotted for the 2008-2009 school year.

The bill is really the final piece of the student achievement and teacher quality package passed the Iowa Legislature back in 2001. We raised teacher standards and asked them to sharpen their skills to boost student achievement. In exchange, we promised them a more competitive salary. Teachers held up their end of the bargain over the last five years, and Senate File 277 finally holds up our end of the deal.

The bill also expands professional development to allow new and veteran teachers the opportunity to hone their skills and learn from each other. A teacher quality committee, comprised of teachers and administrators from within the district, will help determine the best use of professional development funding, subject to the approval of the local school board.

School districts will also be required to have a school nurse for every 750 students, and a guidance counselor for every 350 students. Districts will be able to share these professionals.

The legislation will give districts flexibility in hiring staff to fill teacher shortage areas by utilizing market factor incentive dollars. Districts will be able to use $1 million to hire teachers in subject shortage areas by providing for moving and living assistance, educational opportunities, and meeting additional licensure requirements. Also, a pilot project will help identify best practices for districts to develop teacher career ladders.

The teacher quality legislation is a significant piece of the Plan for Prosperity, and I have to give particular credit to a few of the representatives who worked tirelessly to make this legislation happen: Cindy Winckler of Davenport, Roger Wendt of Sioux City, Phil Wise of Keokuk, Mary Mascher of Iowa City, and Doris Kelley of Waterloo. The legislation now returns to the Senate for consideration of several House amendments. I'm hopeful it will be approved quickly.


As we move toward the end of the 2007 legislative session, I am happy to report that much of what was included in the House Democrats' Plan for Prosperity either has been accomplished or is still under active consideration for passage yet this year. During the 2006 campaign season, we promised to work on improvements in learning from preschool through college, make Iowa a green state, and reward hard work.

So far, we've enacted an increase in the state's minimum wage and passed a law to help small businesses form health insurance pools, so they can lower their coverage costs. And we plan on expanding funding for job training programs at the community colleges. On the education side, we passed legislation to raise teacher pay to attract and keep quality teachers in the profession (see adjoining article), and we enacted a plan to ensure that 90 percent of four-year-olds have access to affordable, quality preschool education within the next four years. Moreover, I pledge that next year's budget will provide enough funding to the state universities so that the three Regents' institutions can keep yearly tuition increases to within normal inflation rates.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate are working closely with the Governor's office to develop an energy plan designed to exploit Iowa's agricultural prowess to make this state a leader in the production of the next generation of ethanol, as well as alternative energy sources such as soy-based diesel, biomass, and wind energy. The group is developing a "power fund" that will seek to leverage state university research, promote product development, and attract private sector investment.



Pat Murphy is the Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives. He is serving his ninth term representing Dubuque. Before serving as Speaker, Rep. Murphy spent three years as Democratic Leader and nine years as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.