Monday, September 24, 2007

Second Regional ISEA Retired Conference Held in Carroll

On Thursday, September 20th over 30 people gathered for the second of our two regional ISEA Retired Conferences.

(L) Retired teachers Bill Maas (left to right) and Bruce Jensen enjoy conversation before the start of the conference. Bill is a retired teacher from Unit 10 and represents them on the ISEA Retired Standing Committee. Bruce is a retired teacher from State Unit 9.

(R) Kathie Ferris (on left) of South Central UniServ Unit and ISEA-Retired Standing Committee drove both herself and Ruth Foster (on the right) of Des Moines Education Association and ISEA-Retired Standing Committee, to Carroll.

(L) First-year retired members from the Walnut EA enjoy conversation and (R) Joyce Moklestad of Unit 10 UniServ Unit await the conference to begin.

ISEA Retired Standing Committee Chair, Barb Cunningham of Shenandoah, greets ISEA-R members as they register for the Carroll conference.

It was fun to reconnect with friends I first met many years ago! Here I'm pictured with long-time friend Carma Hutchins. Carma and I served together back in the early 1980's on ISEA-PAC. Carma is a retired teacher from Audubon.

ISEA Retired Standing Committee member from Geode UniServ Unit, Fred Stark stands next to his personal display of ISEA artifacts. Fred continues to collect news articles and ISEA campaign items in which he adds to his vast collection.

Retired teachers from the Council Bluffs EA are (left to right) Wanda Synhorst and Patti Lu Ford. Patti Lu serves on the ISEA Retired Standing Committee representing Southwest UniServ Unit.

Presenting both in Cedar Rapids and Carroll were Josh Hinrichs of NEA Member Benefit A+ Auto and Home along with ISEA Bargaining Specialist Joann Mackin.

ISEA Retired members look over the conference agenda as the meeting is about to get underway!

Holly Twedt of Delta Dental made a presentation and answered questions for our ISEA-R members.

ISEA Director for Member Services Sheryl Ballard (on the right with me) made all arrangements for both sites for our ISEA-Retired Conferences. Thanks, Sheryl for all you do for Team ISEA!

Barb Cunningham, ISEA Retired Standing Committee Chair, leads the conference with introductions. Barb is also one of six NEA Retired members on the NEA Resolutions Committee. Way to go, Barb!

Our keynote speaker following lunch was NEA Retired Committee member from Nebraska, John Jensen. We learned many connections that John has to Iowa, one being that he was born in Carroll, Iowa! We are lucky to have John representing us all on the national level!

Thanks, ISEA-R members for making the decision to stay connected through your continued work in the field of education! On behalf of your colleagues that are actively employed, we are grateful for your work on Team ISEA!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Education Insider


Tell Congress: SLOW DOWN and Take the Time to Get ESEA Reauthorization Right!

The House of Representatives is moving forward with very troubling legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind. The draft under discussion:

*Continues to measure school success overwhelmingly on just two (reading and math) low-quality statewide standardized tests;

*Fails to take into account adequately the unique needs of English Language Learners and students with disabilities for educationally appropriate assessments;

*Ignores the critical issues of class size reduction, access to quality early childhood education, and adequate resources for school facilities and materials;

*Contains pay for performance plans that link standardized test scores to teacher pay without the agreement of impacted teachers;

*Eliminates the High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) through which teachers can demonstrate that they are "highly qualified;" and

*Imposes many additional mandates and requirements on schools without any guarantee of additional funding.

Instead of rushing to pass legislation that will offer more bureaucracy, more mandates, and less help for students and educators, Congress should take the time to craft a bill that will truly help ensure great public schools for every child!

Send a Message to Congress Today!

Tell your Representative in Congress that you do not support the ESEA reauthorization draft currently under discussion. Urge Congress to take the time necessary to get ESEA reauthorization right! A copy of your message also will be sent automatically to House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First ISEA Retired Conference Held in Cedar Rapids

The first ever ISEA Retired Conference was held today in Cedar Rapids. Nearly 60 people gathered from eastern Iowa to hear from leaders and staff and to continue to work for Team ISEA's goals on behalf the profession they dedicated their entire careers--education. Pictured at left are the great dedicated staff that work side-by-side our ISEA Retired Standing Committee and worked behind the scenes to make the conference a success....(seated) Sheryl Ballard, Director of Field Services and (standing) Joann Mackin, ISEA Advocacy Specialist.

ISEA-R members received a letter seven weeks ago inviting them to join us at one of two locations (Cedar Rapids on the 18th or Carroll on the 20th) for our first ever retired conference. All this was possible because of a modest grant we secured from NEA. Conference attendees had to only pay a minimal fee to help cover the cost of lunch.

I had the honor of opening the conference with the "Welcome". I thanked our ISEA-R members for making the choice to remain active in the education profession that they dedicated their entire careers to. I challenged them to continue to work with us on our team goals, Team ISEA, in: 1) building membership, 2) working to implement education legislation from the 2007 General Assembly, and 3) work to make needed changes to the so called No Child Left Behind Law.

ISEA-R members had the opportunity to reconnect with longtime association friends as well as build new acquaintances.

ISEA Retired Standing Committee Chair Barb Cunningham (on the right) from Shenandoah followed my welcome with introductions. Pictured with Barb is ISEA Executive Director Jan Reinicke (on the left).

NEA Member Benefits partners were key to the conference. Josh Hinrichs of A+ Auto and Home Insurance Programs made a brief presentation followed by a great question and answer session. I know I have heard numerous presentations from our partner/vendors, but until you personally are impacted...we don't pay close attention. It was a great "refresher"!

(L) ISEA-R members Pam Schmidt of NEIEU (on left) and Melva Lewis of Mississippi Bend UniServ Unit were happy to reconnect!
(R) Retired ISEA Associate Executive Director Lowell Dauenbaugh who wrote the grant application to NEA for the Retired Conference funding visits with NEA Political Action Specialist Mary Jane Cobb.
Other partners that presented were Clark Byers (left) from Delta Dental and Mary Grace Lee (right) NEA Member Benefits. Mary Grace's message was "What you would like your loved ones to know".
Following lunch on Tuesday Gene Craig, NEA-Retired Board of Directors, Secretary from Illinois shared the structure of NEA-R with our members.

ISEA Lobbyist (at right) Brad Hudson first shared the importance our ISEA-R members can have on the upcoming Iowa Caucuses by having their voices heard. Brad shared with us the education platforms of both the Iowa Republican Party and the Iowa Democratic Party. Members saw that party platforms don't truly reflect their professional goals...providing great public schools for all children. Brad also led a discussion about IPERS.
Mary Jane Cobb of Team NEA led a discussion on the impact we all can have in the presidential candidate forums on the reauthorization of the so called No Child Left Behind Law.

Monday, September 17, 2007

30th Annual Harkin Steak Fry

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, September 16th, twelve thousand gathered on the Indianola Balloon Field to hear from six of the Democratic candidates running for President of the United States.

Prior to the event in Indianola, my friends and I attended the "Host/Sponsor's" event in Cumming. Here we met up with Rep. Bob Kressig and his wife, Liz, from Cedar Falls. Rep. Kressig has been a real champion for students and public education in the Iowa House of Representatives! Liz, a rock star association leader, is the president of the Support Staff local in Cedar Falls.

Traffic had people entering the Balloon Field tied up for hours. Once we were into the event, it was literally a sea of humanity! It was great fun to run into association members from across the state as well as to connect with state and federal elected officials.

Special guests of Senator Harkin included: Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator John Edwards, Senator Barack Obama, and Governor Bill Richardson.

Lunch in Gunder, then off to Dubuque!

As I travel throughout the state I have the chance to see the beautiful Iowa countryside and meet our members in their educational workplace. Rarely do I have enough time built into a schedule (nor should I) to stop and partake of the local cuisine. Thursday I had just that chance when leaving Postville and before I needed to be in Dubuque.

NEIEU UniServ Director Bev Crumb Gesme and I made a point to stop in the town of Gunder, Iowa to have a "Gunderburger" for lunch. The "Gunderburger" is a 20 oz. hamburger! Okay, I take pictures of everything else on my visits, but I just knew you would be so envious that you couldn't take a big bite from this delicious burger. It really was quite scrumptious! Next time when I'm in the area, I understand I need to have the tenderloin from "The Tap" in St. Olaf.

Following our lunch, I was off to Dubuque! I needed to be to an "Educator Roundtable" with Senator Barack Obama by 4:00 p.m. and I was a good two hours away!

As with so many candidates who have a very hectic schedule, things ran a little behind. I had the chance then to share my concerns with Jackie Norris of Senator Obama's campaign with comments Senator Obama has made regarding "performance based pay".

Nearly 60 teachers from the Dubuque area and eastern Iowa had been asked to be apart of the hour-long discussion with Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Senator Obama was very clear in saying that first he believed teachers need to be paid a minimum of $40,000, then if local school districts (sitting down with the local teacher's union) met at the bargaining table and could agree.....then, and only then, should teachers be paid differently.
I have asked the Obama campaign for the video taken so I can share with you. Please check back from time to time to see if it is posted here.

A Stop at Montauk, then on to a School Visit in Postville

On Thursday morning following the NEIEU Fall Leader's Training in West Union, I was off to the community of Postville. Those of you that know me well, know that I like to be on I left plenty early and figured I had time to spare. On my journey I discovered I was in the neighborhood of Iowa's 12th governor, Governor William Larrabee near Clermont.

Montauk was built in 1874 on a hill near the town of Clermont, Iowa at the cost of approximately $20,000. It was a spectacular site to see this beautiful home on a cool, crisp fall Iowa morning!

If you'd like to learn more about this Iowa historical site, go to

Once in Postville, I met up with NEIEU UniServ Director Bev Crumb Gesme. Bev first introduced me to the K-8 Principal Chad Wohls. Chad (pictured at right) just last school year served as President of the Postville EA! Chad taught Middle School Language Arts his first year, then the last five years taught 3rd grade. Chad has the unique opportunity to work/supervise his own father who is the K-8 school Counselor here in Postville!

Next we were off to the 1st grade class of Mrs. Linda Hughes. I first read (on the left), then Bev (on the right) read a story to the children.

Here I'm pictured (on the right) with Mrs. Hughes and her 1st grade homeroom. Mrs. Hughes shared that the Kindergarten through 2nd grade classes are running 70% (or greater) children of Hispanic origin. Aren't they just the cutest little kiddos?!

The other classroom I had a chance to read in was that of Mrs. Stephanie Spain. Here Mrs. Spain (on the right) is pictured with her 2nd graders and their student teacher (on the left) Miss Kailhofer. Miss Kailhofer is a student at Luther College in Decorah. Stephanie Spain is the Vice President of the Postville EA. Thanks Stephanie for your leadership in the classroom and in the association!

Next we were off to the Postville High School where we had the chance to visit with a number of association members in the staff lounge and in their classrooms (during their planning time).

Thanks, Postville for the chance to meet you and to see the great opportunities you're providing for Iowa's students!

NEIEU Hosts NEA President Reg Weaver

On Wednesday, September 12th over 300 NEIEU members gathered at the North Fayette High School in West Union for their annual NEIEU Fall Leader's Workshop and to hear from Team NEA President Reg Weaver.

Local leaders came from throughout the 48 NEIEU locals to participate in the evening and hear from our national leader of 3.2 million members!

Leaders (at left) drove in from Cedar Falls....

.....ESP leaders from Oelwein and Nashua-Plainfield.....

.......ISEA Staff (on left--Jeremy Kunz) from East Central UU and NEIEU leader Dave Schultz (on right) from West Delaware EA......

......and from neighboring Hawkeye UniServ Unit (on the left) Shelly Staker/UniServ Director) and Waterloo EA president Jean Seeland (on right).....

...and we came together to celebrate with birthday cake, yes...Team NEA's birthday! ONE HUNDRED and FIFTY years to celebrate! Pictured (from left to right) are Jean Swenson, New Hampton EA; Deb Turnball, Nashua-Plainfield EA and ISEA Executive Board rep; and Pam Schmidt, newly retired!

NEIEU has the great tradition of having great leaders that they provide leadership trainings as local leaders and then opportunities on the UniServ level to take charge and lead! Pictured here (left to right) are Roberta Haas, past President of NEIEU and MFL-MarMac EA leader and Lori Lee, current NEIEU President from Nashua-Plainfield.

NEIEU President Lori Lee of Nashua-Plainfield is pictured with Team NEA President Reg Weaver. Thanks, Lori for your leadership! It was such a treat to have Reg Weaver back in Iowa to connect to Team ISEA members!

Roberta Haas of MFL-MarMac even convinced her Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dale Cozier, to drive a school bus of association members to the event to hear from President Reg Weaver!

NEIEU leaders pictured with NEA President Reg Weaver are (left to right) Bev CrumbGesme, NEIEU Director; Lori Lee, NEIEU President; NEA President Reg Weaver; Jim Young, NEA Director and 4th grade teacher at Hansen Elementary in Cedar Falls; and Kevin McDermott, NEIEU Director.

Great event....NEIEU! You have a great tradition of providing leadership for all Team ISEA!