Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Could You Pass the Eighth Grade?

Are you as smart as this 8th grader? Answer these eight questions and find out!


Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Conducts "Job Interview" in West Des Moines

On Friday evening July 20th, I ventured out to Hillside Elementary School in West Des Moines to have my first glimpse at New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. As is my style, I arrived early. Only a half dozen had arrived before me, so we had our selection of where to be seated. By the time the event had started at 6:45 p.m. the elementary school cafeteria was brimming over with potential caucus goers, chairs added in every place imaginable! There were easily over 500 people gathered to hear from Governor Richardson and pose their questions to the candidate.

I was struck by the crowd that gathered...very few under the age of 50. I asked a campaign staff member if they "targeted" a certain demographic in extending the invitation for the event. The staffer said, "We targeted likely caucus attenders".

When I've attended other candidate events, I've been surprised by the varying ages of those in attendance--in comparison to this event, but the campaign is right--LIKELY ATTENDERS is the key! Those in attendance have all participated in caucuses in the past, they are now seriously "shopping" for a candidate to support!

Today, Sunday, July 22nd, I just finished watching Governor Richardson's interview on Iowa Public Television's, Iowa Press. He had a commendable interview! The following is the segment where the question centered on education:





For the complete interview, go to: http://www.iptv.org/iowapress/transcript_detail.cfm?ipShowNum=3448

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Wages of Teaching

No school administrator should ever receive a percentage raise greater than the raise teachers get. Neither should state legislators.

By Anna Quindlen

Nov. 28, 2005 issue - A couple of years ago I spent the day at an elementary school in New Jersey. It was a nice average school, a square and solid building with that patented classroom aroma of disinfectant and chalk, chock-full of reasonably well-behaved kids from middle-class families. I handled three classes, and by the time I staggered out the door I wanted to lie down for the rest of the day.

Teaching's the toughest job there is. In his new memoir, "Teacher Man," Frank McCourt recalls telling his students, "Teaching is harder than working on docks and warehouses." Not to mention writing a column. I can stare off into the middle distance with my chin in my hand any time. But you go mentally south for five minutes in front of a class of fifth graders, and you are sunk.

The average new teacher today makes just under $30,000 a year, which may not look too bad for a twentysomething with no mortgage and no kids. But soon enough the newbies realize that they can make more money and not work anywhere near as hard elsewhere. After a lifetime of hearing the old legends about cushy hours and summer vacations, they figure out that early mornings are for students who need extra help, evenings are for test corrections and lesson plans, and weekends and summers are for second and even third jobs to try to pay the bills.

According to the Department of Education, one in every five teachers leaves after the first year, and almost twice as many leave within three. If any business had that rate of turnover, someone would do something smart and strategic to fix it. This isn't any business. It's the most important business around, the gardeners of the landscape of the human race.

Unfortunately, the current fashionable fixes for education take a page directly from the business playbook, and it's a terrible fit. Instead of simply acknowledging that starting salaries are woefully low and committing to increasing them and finding the money for reasonable recurring raises, pols have wasted decades obsessing about something called merit pay. It's a concept that works fine if you're making widgets, but kids aren't widgets, and good teaching isn't an assembly line.

McCourt's book is instructive. Early in his 30-year career, he's teaching at a vocational high school and realizes that his English students are never more inspired than when forging excuse notes from their parents. So McCourt assigns the class to write excuse notes, the results ranging "from a family epidemic of diarrhea to a sixteen-wheeler truck crashing into the house." Pens fly with extravagant lies. You can almost feel the imaginations kick in.

The point about tying teaching salaries to widget standards is that it's hard to figure out a useful way to measure the merit of what a really good teacher does. You can imagine the principal who would see McCourt's gambit as the work of a gifted teacher, and just as easily imagine the one who would find it unseemly. Tying raises to pass rates is a flagrant invitation to inflate student achievement. Tying them to standardized tests makes rote regurgitation the centerpiece of schools. Both are blind to the merit of teachers who shoulder the challenging work of educating those less able, more troubled, from homes where there are no pencils, no books, even no parents. A teacher whose Advanced Placement class sends everyone on to top-tier colleges; a teacher whose remedial-reading class finally gets through to some, but not all, of a student group that is failing. There is merit in both.

The National Education Association has been pushing for a minimum starting salary of $40,000 for all teachers. Why not? If these people can teach 6-year-olds to add and get adolescents to attend to algebra, surely we can do the math to get them a decent wage. Since the corporate world is the greatest, and richest, beneficiary of well-educated workers, maybe a national brain trust might be set up that would turn a tax on corporate profits into an endowment to raise teacher salaries. Maybe states and communities could also pass regulations with this simple proviso: no school administrator should ever receive a percentage raise greater than the raise teachers get. Neither should state legislators.

In recent years teacher salaries have grown, if they've grown at all, at a far slower rate than those of other professionals, often lagging behind inflation. Yet teachers should have the most powerful group of advocates in the nation: not their union, but we the people, their former students. I am a writer because of the encouragement of teachers. Surely most Americans must feel the same, that there were women and men who helped them levitate just a little above the commonplace expectations they had for themselves.

At the end of his book McCourt, who is preparing to leave teaching with the idea of living off his pension and maybe writing—and whose maiden effort, "Angela's Ashes," will win the Pulitzer—is giving advice to a young substitute. "You'll never know what you've done to, or for, the hundreds coming and going," he says. Yeah, but the hundreds know, the hundreds who are millions who are us. They made us. We owe them.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc

Thursday, July 19, 2007

NEA's Read Across America--July 2007

Focus on Summer Reading
The long, hot days of summer provide kids with lots of time to relax, visit friends, enjoy the great outdoors, and read. It's also a time to make sure kids don't fall behind in their reading skills and achievement. Research shows children lose one to three months of learning every summer. Prevent this summer learning loss by getting your children "revved up" for reading.

Reading Rockets' Tips for Summer Reading
Reading Rockets, the national multimedia literacy resource that offers information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help, provides tips for parents, educators, librarians, and others about summer reading and summer learning loss. Plus, you'll discover great activities to encourage kids to learn, read, and have fun in the summer sun. Go to www.readingrockets.org.

Reading is Fundamental Gets Kids "Revved Up" for Reading
You can help get kids "revved up" for reading. Start by encouraging them to participate in the Reading Planet Grand Prix, in conjunction with the Scholastic Summer Reading Buzz contest, sponsored by Target. Kids can enter to win amazing prizes, as well as be reading for a good cause, because, for every 4 books they read, Scholastic will donate 1 book to RIF, up to 50,000 books! Go to http://www.rif.org/readingplanet/content/summer_reading_07.mspx for more information.

ALA's Summer Reading and Learning Tips
Summer reading programs began in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children to read, to use the library, and to develop the habit of reading during their summer vacations. Summer reading programs are geared for reading for the fun of it. Library summer reading programs take advantage of children's natural curiosity to introduce new subjects and different genres—things kids might not study in school but are interested in. The American Library Association has tips and resources for parents on summer reading, go to http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/alscresources/summerreading/tipsresources/tipsresources.htm.

NEA's Books Across America Library Books Awards
The NEA Foundation, in collaboration with NEA, will make $1,000 awards to public schools serving economically disadvantaged students to purchase books for school libraries. The 2008 NEA's Books Across America Library Books Awards are made possible with support from individuals who donated to NEA's Books Across America fund to bring the gift of reading to students. Deadline for applications is Monday, November 12, 2007. For more information and eligibility criteria, go to http://news.nea.org/UM/T.asp?A2923.37871.17.30.1470programs/BAA_2007.htm.

F.I.L.M.'s Nancy Drew Program Inspires Young Readers
The Finding Inspiration in Literature and Movies program, F.I.L.M., encourages young readers to see a featured film, in this case Nancy Drew, a recent release from Warner Bros. Pictures; read one of the accompanying Nancy Drew mysteries; participate in activities from the free, downloadable activity guide; and complete a service project that relates to the central themes of the books and movie. Visit http://www.youthfilmproject.org/film/nancy.htm for more information.

Online Reading Resources from ALA's Association for Library Service to Children
The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA, provides many practical and excellent resources available in print, nonprint, and emerging formats. Go to http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/ alscresources/resources.htm for ALSC recommended booklists, links to online children's libraries and literature and reading Web sites, contact information for national youth organizations, and much more.

Kids Create their own Book Lists with Book Adventure
With Book Adventure Foundation's free reading motivation program for grades K–8, kids can create their own book lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, take multiple choice quizzes on the books they've read, and earn points and prizes for their literary successes. Go to http://www.bookadventure.org/.

Looking for Grants To Promote Youth Service and Service-Learning?
Youth Service America, a Read Across America partner, has grants and awards to help support and motivate youth, teachers, service-learning coordinators, and youth-serving organizations as they plan and implement projects for National Youth Service Day and on-going service throughout the year. To receive grant and awards updates and announcements, go tohttp://ysa.org/AwardsGrants/tabid/58/Default.aspx.While you are on YSA's home page, be sure to sign up for their news feed (some features require you to log in to servenet.org). http://servenet.org/Toolkit/ServiceWire/ServiceWireHome/tabid/73/Default.aspx

Books From The Heart® for Hurricane Katrina and Rita's Youngest Victims
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, The Heart of America Foundation® gathered and delivered more than 40 tons of backpacks, school supplies, toiletries, and books to displaced children in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In response to urgent requests and obvious need, The Heart of America Foundation® has extended this effort by providing Books From The Heart® for the hurricanes' youngest victims.Working with NEA's Books Across America initiative, the Books From The Heart® Adopt A School program offers help to students and schools affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and provides opportunities for educators, students, parents, and others to give aid where it's needed most. More than 250,000 children have helped their fellow students in need. Your help is still crucial to the continued success of this program. To support this ongoing effort, go to http://www.heartofamerica.org/hurricane_submenu.htm.

Actors Read Kids' Favorite Stories
Storyline Online, an innovative Web site proudly sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, features well-known actors reading quality children's picture books aloud. Each book features supplemental activities geared to strengthen the comprehension, verbal, and written skills of English-language learners worldwide. Go to http://www.storylineonline.net/ to learn more.

Prepping for September?
Just when you thought it was safe to head into summer, it's time to start thinking about another school year. Read Across America partners are great resources to make your job easier and your summer vacation stress-free.

YALSA Gets Teens Reading for the Fun of It.
Gear up for Teen Read Week, October 14–20, 2007, a national literacy initiative sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association. This year's theme is "LOL@ your library®," and it promotes humorous books and graphic novels as a tool for getting young adults to read. Look for Teen Read Week at hundreds of public and school libraries, classrooms, and bookstores across the country. Go to http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/teenreading/teenreading.htm for more information.

First Book® Asks Readers: What Book Got You Hooked?
Read Across America partner First Book has launched What Book Got You Hooked?, a national campaign to discover which books got Americans hooked on reading. The online campaign also asks readers to help select the state that will receive a special 50,000-book donation for children in need. Go to http://www.firstbook.org/site/c.lwKYJ8NVJvF/b.674095/k.CC09/Home.htm.

Dollar General's Literacy Grants Provide Much-Needed Funds
Dollar General has literacy grant programs that help provide funding for back-to-school needs and library relief, as well as family and youth literacy programs.

Back-To-School Grants
The Dollar General Back-to-School Grants provide funding to assist schools in meeting some of the financial challenges they face in implementing new programs or purchasing new equipment, materials, or software for their school libraries or literacy programs. Schools within Dollar General's 35-state market area, as well as public school libraries recovering from major disasters, are eligible. Award amounts vary. Grant applications will be accepted starting May 1, 2007. The deadline for submission is August 10, 2007. Grants will be announced on September 28, 2007. Go to http://dollargeneral.com/community/communityinvestments.aspx for more information.

Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Program
"Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Program" benefits public school libraries in communities recovering from major disasters. NEA participates on the grant review committee and provides support materials to libraries. The fund provides grants for books, media, and/or equipment that support learning in a school library environment. For eligibility requirements and application details, visit http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/presscentera/piopresskits/bwneworleans/beyondwords.htm.

Family Literacy Grants
The Dollar General Family Literacy Grants will award grants to family literacy service providers. [Note: the Dollar General Literacy Foundation uses the federal government's definition of family literacy when reviewing grant applications.] For more information and eligibility requirements, go to http://dollargeneral.com/community/communityinvestments.aspx.

Youth Literacy Grants
The Dollar General Youth Literacy Grants provide funding to schools, public libraries and nonprofit organizations to help with the implementation or expansion of literacy programs for students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. Submission deadline: October 5; Announcement date: October 30. Go to http://dollargeneral.com/community/communityinvestments.aspx for more information.

Reading Rockets Has lots of Resources on Early Literacy
Getting ready to read begins long before the first day of kindergarten. A child's experiences with language, letters, and books build the foundation for becoming a reader. Check out Reading Rockets early literacy section for ways to make learning to read as easy as A-B-C! http://www.readingrockets.org/article/c62/

Grants to Spread Literacy & Love of Learning
Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program for Public Schools and Public Libraries supports educators, parents, and children in their efforts to spread literacy and love of learning. Visit http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/programs/minigrant.html for more information.

Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party
"Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party," a new serial story for grades K–6, is now available from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation. Produced by Hot Topics Hot Serials, "Robyn Reports" is intended for use beginning Sept. 1, 2007. "Robyn Reports" is a 10-chapter serial by Stacy Tornio with illustrations by Roel Wielinga as well as a teacher's guide. The story revolves around a girl named Robyn, the force behind a weekly neighborhood newspaper. She and her intrepid reporters set out to cover the neighborhood block party so they can write about it for that week's edition. For more information, go to http://www.naafoundation.org/newspaperineducation/Robyn-Reports.aspx.

Looking for Quality Resources in Reading and Language Arts Instruction?
For access to the highest quality practices and resources in reading and language arts instruction, go to www.readwritethink.org, the new Web site from the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English.

Want To Learn about Your State's Book Culture and Literary Heritage?
Since 1984, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have established statewide book centers that are affiliated with the Library of Congress' Center for the Book. Using themes established by the LOC, each state's center develops activities that promote its own state's book culture and literary heritage, sponsoring projects and hosting events that call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy, and libraries. Go to http://www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/stacen.html to check out your state's Center for the Book.

Youth Service America Launches Semester of Service in 2008
Young people are volunteering at record rates in America, more than any generation in history. The Semester of Service, a new broad-based initiative from Read Across America partner Youth Service America, will tap into that amazing energy, idealism, creativity, and commitment over an extended period of time to address some of the most intractable problems facing our world. Go to http://ysa.org/Programs/SemesterofService/tabid/170/Default.aspx for more information.

Mark Your Calendars: Read Across America Day is March 3, 2008
It's never too early to plan for next year's Read Across America Day celebration. Here are some tips to remember:

*Put Read Across America Day on your 2007–2008 school calendar.
*Send out Save the Date letters to your favorite guest readers.
*Send a reminder to your local newspapers or family magazines.
*Organize a planning committee.And remember, regularly check out what is new on www.nea.org/readacross.

"Reading should be a daily occurrence, just like brushing your teeth. If you work with your children to make the activity fun, the rest will fall into place."

Looking Ahead
Sep 29: National Book Festival
Nov 11-17: American Education Week 2007
Mar 3 2008: Read Across America Day

Saturday, July 14, 2007

June, July, August....Vacation for Educators? We All Know Better, Don't We?!

The old adage, "Three reasons to be a teacher...June, July, August" just have never been true! We all know that educators are still in their classrooms and education work place until (at least) the 2nd week of June and then return to the school sites as early as the first of August! Educators are busy in those few weeks in between taking classes; taking on 2nd jobs of painting houses, doing yard work, working at the Mall, teaching swimming lessons....the list goes on and on!

As I look ahead to next June when I finish my two terms as ISEA president and return to the classroom, I've had to give thought to renewing my teaching license (I don't renew until July 2009, but don't want to put myself in a box). This past week I took four days of "vacation" to participate in a class on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Each morning on my way to Rod Library where classes were held, I walked by the Campanile. It was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the university and as a memorial to the faculty, graduates, students, and friends of the college. It has 51 bells connected to a keyboard, and an extremely accurate, award-winning clock mechanism.

My first day on the way to class, I hear this voice, "Ms. Nelson?" It was Brianne D., a former 4th grader of mine! Brianne will be a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs and is on the UNI campus this summer.....for of all things, to take classes! Gosh, it was fun to see Brianne!

The graduate class I took last week was Children's Literature Update. I earned my Masters in Elementary Reading and Language Arts in May 2000, so thought this class was a great fit for me! I got such terrific ideas for read alouds for this coming year...I'm anxious for the school year and school visits to start!

Our two professors were Dr. Jeanne Harms, Professor Emeritus (on left) and Dr. Lucille Lettow (on right). I had taken all my course work for my Masters degree from the two professors, so it was great to reconnect with them! They shared hundreds and hundreds of quality children's literature published over the last three years. We did have class time to work on projects, but of course I have some finishing touches to polish my pieces before turning them within the next few weeks to receive my credits!

One new title we learned and a quick favorite of mine was that of author/illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg's, Probuditi!

Here is an abbreviated summary of the book from the School Library Journal:

Van Allsburg's latest story opens with a spider and a scream coming from Trudy, caused by an older brother's prank. Although Calvin's mother is none too pleased with her son, she honors his birthday with tickets for a magician/hypnotist. When the boy and his friend witness the strutting and clucking of a pearl-clad matron who believes she's a chicken, they can't wait to build their own rotating spiral disk. Under hypnosis, Trudy becomes a dog. The suspense builds as the boys struggle to remember the word that will break the spell. Probuditi! displays a clear sympathy for the thankless role of a younger sibling; however, while Calvin is howling at the memory of his sister barking and drooling, it is she who has the very satisfying last laugh. By Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Monday, July 09, 2007

Team ISEA Members Are Early Risers, Caucusing Each Morning of the NEA RA

The 2007 NEA Representative Assembly began on Monday, July 2nd and continued through Thursday, July 5th. Iowa delegates began meeting to prepare for our work on the floor of the assembly on Sunday, July 1st with our early morning caucuses starting at 7:00 a.m.

Delegates paid a "registration fee" prior to coming to the RA to help cover the cost of the morning continental breakfast.

Many of our delegates volunteered to serve on committees to report back to the Iowa delegation as to issues that would come before the assembly. Each morning various committees reported and often the delegation took a position to support or oppose some of the items.

ISEA delegates were also involved in many of the NEA recognized "caucuses". Here (at right) are two of our delegates from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City. They had the chance to participate in the Higher Ed Caucus (NCHE).

Dan (at left) from the Davenport EA was successful in amending the NEA Legislative Program as well as having the assembly agree to his New Business item!

Members of the New Business Committee from Iowa (at right) rose early each morning (at 6:00 a.m.) to review New Business items submitted and reported to the delegation as to recommended caucus positions.

Tom McLaughlin (at left) president of Southwest UniServ Unit listens to debate before rising to a microphone to add to the discussion.

Chris and LaTrenda (at right) from the Iowa City EA were always at caucus early and stayed on the floor of the RA in our delegation each night until the last gavel.

On the final day of the 2007 NEA Representative Assembly, many of the Iowa delegates that had contributed to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education at the recommended $150 level, posed in their Iowa t-shirt denoting their contribution level.
Ninety-five of the one hundred ten ISEA delegates contributed at the $150 level or greater this year! Our per delegate contribution average was $222.00. Team ISEA delegates, you out did yourselves! Way to go!

Report Touting NCLB Success Cannot Support Overstated Claims

Methodology is too weak to support finding that student achievement has increased since passage of NCLB

EAST LANSING, Mich.— A report released last month by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) is being used to argue that student achievement has increased since the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind law. A review of this report finds that it suffers from important weaknesses and that the wording of numerous findings and key conclusions imply a much stronger connection between NCLB and increased achievement than can be substantiated by the data.

The report, Answering the Question That Matters Most: Has Student Achievement Increased Since No Child Left Behind was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by John T.Yun, a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The CEP’s report has already received widespread attention from the news media, including front-page coverage in the Washington Post. The U.S. Secretary of Education immediately pointed to the report as confirming NCLB’s success. As reviewer Yun notes, the report “is likely to be cited often in the upcoming debate on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).”

While Yun credits the report with attempting “to carefully analyze the complex issue of test score improvement before and after the implementation of NCLB in 2002,” he describes how shortcomings in the data and analyses may have “resulted in a much more optimistic picture of the impact of the legislation than the data warrant.” Additionally, Yun says, while the report’s title may convey the impression that it seeks to examine the direct impact of NCLB on student achievement, the report itself acknowledges that an analysis accomplishing this goal may be impossible. The possible effects of NCLB cannot be disentangled from the possible effects of the large number of other state and local policies aimed at raising achievement during the same period of time.

The review from Professor Yun contends that the most useful and important finding in the new report is its explanation of current weaknesses in state data availability. The authors had great difficulty in obtaining and analyzing state-level achievement data that should be readily available; until this situation is improved, researchers such as those at CEP will be faced with many of the same obstacles encountered here. But Yun stresses that this finding was given far too little attention and should not have been overshadowed by the problematic analyses of student achievement.

Regarding the student achievement analyses, Yun does credit the report with offering thoughtful approaches and concludes that the report does represent progress toward more comprehensive examination of the outcomes of the law. He also commends the report for cautionary notes that help readers understand some of its limitations—yet not the three that he identifies as most serious:
The report’s look at whether achievement scores have increased since 2002 (its ‘trend analysis’) used an approach that had a likely unintended effect of analyzing a sub-sample of states that was biased toward those that were most likely to have inflated test scores.

The report’s finding of narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students suffered from the same weaknesses as its trend analysis, and also suffered from the problem of small sample sizes among some of the studied racial and ethnic groups, meaning that each of the percent-proficient estimates were effectively unreliable.

Selection bias is also likely to have “seriously damaged” the value of the report’s analysis of pre- and post-NCLB outcomes, which found yearly gains in test scores greater after NCLB took effect rather than before. In fact, Yun points out that the authors selected for “exactly the wrong group” of states to consider if the goal of the analysis was to examine the impact of NCLB, because the approach used had the effect of screening out those states that changed their approaches following NCLB’s passage.

These limitations seem particularly salient given the report’s prompt interjection into the public debate. U.S. Secretary of Education of Education Margaret Spellings, for instance, used the report to argue for NCLB reauthorization. Her official statement said, “This study confirms that [NCLB] has struck a chord of success with our nation’s schools and students. … We know the law is working, so now is the time to reauthorize [it].”

Commenting on this new review in light of such reaction the report, Professor Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado at Boulder, co-director of the Think Twice project, focused on the issue of publicity. “The methodological problems pointed out by Professor Yun are important and should be carefully considered by any policy maker or researcher who makes use of the study. But the bigger problem here seems to be in the packaging and subsequent publicity. Neither the data nor the analyses in the report are anywhere near strong enough to meaningfully support the report’s title, ‘Answering the question that matters most,’ nor can the report support the sort of puffery we see from Secretary Spellings.”

Find the complete review by John Yun as well as a link to the Center on Education Policy report at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Candidates and Surrogates Visit Iowa Delegation Caucus Before the RA Floor

On Monday, July 2nd the 115 delegates from Iowa attending the NEA Representative Assembly were treated to their first set of surrogates speaking on behalf of candidates running for President of the United States.

First to address us on Monday was former Congressman David Bonior of Michigan, National Campaign Chair for Senator John Edwards.

Dr. Jill Biden, a community college instructor and former high school English teacher (and NEA member) spoke on behalf of her husband, U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.

On Tuesday, July 3rd Iowans heard from Dr. Veronica Garcia, Director of the New Mexico Department of Education. Dr. Garcia spoke on behalf of Governor Bill Richardson.

On Thursday, July 5th the last day of the NEA Representative Assembly, Iowans greeted our last special guest when U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois spoke to our early morning caucus. We were told that Senator Obama could only be with us briefly...saying a few remarks and answering a couple of questions. When he finished speaking, he asked if it was okay to greet our delegation by shaking hands of every individual. Oh yes, we had the time! It was an extra special treat for all of us!

Candidates running for president from both Republican and Democratic parites were invited to address the 2007 NEA Representative Assembly. Democratic candidates to address the assembled 9,000+ delegates were: U.S.Senator Hillary Clinton, New York; former U.S. Senator John Edwards, North Carolina; U.S.Senator Chris Dodd, Connecticut; Governor Bill Richardson, New Mexico; Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Ohio; U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Illinois; and U.S. Senator Joe Biden, Delaware. Only one Republican running for president agreed to address the NEA and that was former Arkansas Governor Huckabee.

Several presidential campaigns reached out to Team ISEA to have photos with some of our members. Presidents of early states had their photos with Senator Clinton on Monday. I had all of our NEA PAC fundraising team and New Business Committee members greet Senator Edwards following his remarks to the RA. They all had the chance for photos and many received autographs. Vice President Chris Bern and NEA Director Jim Young had photos with Governor Richardson on Tuesday. On Thursday we held a drawing of Team ISEA members that contributed at the suggested $150 level and four of our members had photos with Senator Biden as the result of that drawing.

Wrapping Up in Philly (from the NEA website)

On the last day of the 86th Representative Assembly, NEA delegates debated education priorities and welcomed three presidential candidates: U.S. Senators Barack Obama, (D-IL), Joe Biden, (D-DE), and the sole Republican to address the assembly, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

They had already heard from Sen. Hillary Clinton, (D-NY), former Sen. John Edwards, (D-NC), Sen. Chris Dodd, (D-CT), Rep. Dennis Kucinich, (D-OH) and Gov. Bill Richardson, (D-NM).

The candidates' speeches delivered a jolt of excitement. "It's an incredible forum," said Pennsylvania delegate Mike Ronan. "You don't get this on television."

Related material:
Guide to Eight Presidential Primary Candidate Positions on NCLB
Presidential Candidate Video Clips RA Slideshows
Read Across America Read-In
History Comes Alive

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Night Out On The Town for Team ISEA In Philadelphia

Saturday, June 30th following our New Delegate Orientation, Iowa Registration and Iowa Reception for the 120 delegates here in Philadelphia for the 2007 NEA Representative Assembly, almost 70 Iowa delegates dined together at the historic City Tavern.

Now, some of the most influential men in the colonies gathered in Philadelphia to decide a common response to this and other "intolerable acts." For the next decade, City Tavern would be a familiar sight to the leading figures of the American Revolution.

The Tavern was built "for the convenience and credit of the city" by a group of eminent Philadelphians who felt that their hometown deserved a fine tavern which reflected its status as the largest, most cosmopolitan city in British North America. When the Tavern was completed in 1773, it was one of the most elegant buildings in the city. Situated on Second Street, a main thoroughfare, City Tavern was constructed in the latest architectural style and stood three stories high. Inside, it "boasted" of several large club rooms, two of which thrown into one make a spacious room of nearly fifty feet in length, for public entertainment. There were "several commodious lodging rooms, for the accommodation of strangers, two large kitchens, and every other convenience for the purpose." In addition, there was a Bar and also a Coffee Room, which was supplied with British and American newspapers and magazines.

The new Tavern immediately became a social and economic center for the city. The clubrooms hosted various benevolent and social organizations, including the St. George's Society, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Jockey Club. The elegant Long Room was the setting for gala entertainment and balls. Downstairs, in the Bar and the Coffee Room, important business affairs were conducted by principal merchants of the city.

In 1774, as the breech with great Britain widened, politics were the dominant topic of conversation at City Tavern. In May, leading citizens held a meeting in the Long Room to shape Pennsylvania's response to the "intolerable acts." Three months later, as the delegates to the First Continental Congress began to arrive in Philadelphia, the Tavern was thrust center stage in the dispute with England.

Here the wait staff is dressed in colonial period clothing as they served Team ISEA a delicious meal!

From that time until the close of the century, City Tavern knew the patronage of the great and near-great of the American Revolution. It became the practice of the members of the Second Continental Congress to dine together each Saturday at the Tavern. Eight of the delegates, Randolph, Lee, Washington, Harrison of Virginia, Alsop of New York, Chase of Maryland, and Rodney and Read of Delaware chose to form a "table" and dine there daily. No doubt, matters of momentous importance were discussed and decided over a glass of Madeira and steaming roast of venison.

The war years brought change and turmoil to City Tavern. There was grand entertainment, such as the Continental Congress's first Fourth of July celebration in 1777, but there were also melancholy events, including the funeral of General Hugh Mercer of Virginia. Daniel Smith, the first manager of the Tavern, and host to the Continental Congress showed himself to be a Loyalist when the British Army captured Philadelphia in the Fall of 1777. When his protectors left in June of 1778, "little Smith" as he was known, went with them. Fortunately, a new manager, Gifford Dalley, was found in time to host a gala Independence Day celebration to mark the city's liberation. After the war, the Tavern settled into a more sedate existence that was not interrupted until the opening of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Once again, these leaders enjoyed the hospitality of the City Tavern. It was fitting that after the adjournment of the convention in September, delegates gathered for one final dinner at the City Tavern.

In the 1790's, City Tavern began to lose its place of prominence to newly constructed "hotels." For the next half century, it underwent a number of changes, serving primarily as a merchant's exchange until 1834. In 1854 it was demolished to make way for new brownstone stores. A newspaper of the time noted the passing of the Tavern, and remarked that in a generation or two, "City Tavern will not be remembered except by some curious delver into the past."

Providing a wonderful program following our dinner was the young Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson addressed our group for nearly 40 minutes before yielding to questions about his life. Team ISEA members and guests felt this was a terrific way to enjoy the company of our fellow delegates and to relive our nation's history!