Monday, March 31, 2008

Presentation to Congressman Boswell's Campaign

Iowa's 3rd District Congressman Leonard Boswell has earned the support of the 32,000 members of the Iowa State Education Association as well as the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association in his re-election bid in campaign 2008. Congressman Boswell was represented today by Boswell Campaign staffer Lindsay Brown as I had the opportunity to present a campaign contribution from the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education.
Thanks, Congressman Boswell for your continued great work on behalf of all Iowa children and their families!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

ISEA-PAC Central Committee Meets to Plan Candidate Interviews

On Friday evening and Saturday until early afternoon, members of the ISEA-PAC Central Committee met at the ISEA headquarters building to ready themselves for Campaign 2008.

The Des Moines Education Association (DMEA) and Northeast Iowa Education Unit (NEIEU) led in attendance with a full contingent of all four members (two Republican/two Democratic members). Thanks to all members of Team ISEA-PAC that were able to participate, they are:

CedarWood 2/4
DMEA 4/4
East Central 2/4
Geode 1/4
Great River 1/4
Hawkeye 3/4
JDC 2/4
Lincolnway 3/4
Mid-Iowa 1/4
Mississippi Bend 2/4
State Unit 9 2/4
Northern Pride 0/4
Polk Suburban 2/4
South Central 2/4
Siouxland 3/4
Southwest 2/4
Unit 10 1/4
Unit 2 1/4

ISEA President-Linda Nelson
ISEA Vice President-Chris Bern
NEA Director-Jim Young
NEA Director-Kathy Williams

Brad Hudson (on the right) and Jon Studer (on the left), Team ISEA Lobbyist, started our meeting Friday evening with a legislative report on progress being made in Iowa's General Assembly.

Brad distributed legislative maps, reviewed candidate questionaires as well as candidate interview procedures. Team ISEA PAC members worked within their UniServ Units to take charge of who would be responsible for setting up individual candidate interviews.

I updated the group on where NEA is with presidential candidate endorsements and our U.S. Senate and U.S.House candidates. NEA Directors Jim Young and Kathy Williams updated us on fundraising for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education and activities to be held at Delegate Assembly next week to bring attention to our efforts.

Brad walked us through all 25 state Senate races as well as all 100 Iowa House races. Candidate interviews should be completed by June 2nd with all paper work to us by then. Our next ISEA-PAC Central Committee meeting will be Monday, June 9th in Des Moines.

Thanks to all Team ISEA-PAC for the work you've done in the past and the work you do for Campaign 2008!

A Return Visit to Unit Two With a Day in Charles City

On Thursday, March 27th I had a full day of meeting members and seeing the magic they do every day in Charles City. Charles City EA President Lisa Nelson (at left in center) scheduled some great opportunities throughout the day to visit members in all buildings throughout Charles City.

Unit 2 UniServ Director Sandra G. and I met with members for conversaton at the Charles City Middle School cafeteria for homemade cinnamon rolls, juice and coffee.

As the school day began, President Lisa Nelson arranged for us to sit down over coffee with school district administration. We were able to visit with school Superintendent, Middle School principal and assistant principal as well as the Elementary principal. With issues before the Iowa General Assembly that we all didn't agree on as a group, there were many more issues that we do agree on.

My first classroom visit today was in Middle School Language Arts teacher Brenda Bailey's 6th grade room. I did a read aloud of Chris VanAllsburg's Probuditi!

Next we were off to Washington Elementary. As you can see, just a "typical" Iowa spring day! Charles City ended up getting around 3" of snow on Thursday.

We would visit two 5th grade classrooms. The first stop was in 5th grade teacher Erik Hoefer's homeroom. Erik (at left with his homeroom) is past president of the Charles City EA and had also served on the Negotiations team.

The second 5th grade classroom was of birthday girl Cherie Schafer. Cherie (is pictured at right) with her homeroom and birthday balloons.

I had the 5th grade students join me in reading aloud Take Me Out to the Ballgame!, then we sang it together shouting out our favorite team's name when we got to the part, "Root, root, root for the 'hometeam'". I then read aloud the poem Casey at the Bat. Opening day for major league baseball is just around the corner!

We then headed back to the Middle School where we were guests in the room of Marcia DeVore's 7th grade Second Chance Reading class. I was given the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a student and do a book talk with her, then observed the whole class review of graphic organizers before I was given the chance to read aloud from the class read aloud book, Hoot.

Next we were off to Charles City High School to have lunch in the Family Consumer Science classroom of the "Comet Cafe". Once every two weeks the foods class plans, shops and prepares a meal open to the community for just $6.00 each.

What a pleasant surprise to have a long-time friend and association activist Pat Bode walk into the Comet Cafe for lunch today! Pat (pictured with me) is an associate in the High School Media Center. Following a delicious lunch and great conversation, we were able to visit Pat in the Media Center before leaving for our next appointment.

Our next school visit took us to Lincoln Elementary. Here at Lincoln we were able to visit with Charles City EA building rep Ann Lasher and staff as they enjoyed lunch in the staff lounge.

Our final building visit on Thursday in Charles City took us back to Washington Elementary. Here I had the chance to read to both Jill Janssen's and Tami Hummel's 3rd grade. I read aloud the book 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to do Anymore!

Next I read to all three classes of Kindergarten. The Kindergarten classes are led by teachers Kelly Lechtenberg, Judy Scholbrock, and Carrie Eiklenborg.

Our last classroom visit was to observe "Buddy Reading" with 4th and 1st graders. The students get together every other week to share their favorite read alouds with their buddy. I then was able to share the book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs with the combined group. Cara Ludeman and her 4th graders are pictured below on the left.

Thanks Charles City EA for your warm hospitality and thanks to CCEA President Lisa Nelson for her leadership on Team ISEA!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The “imagine nation” in America

The “imagine nation” in America
Identifying An Emerging Voting Constituency
An Overwhelming Majority of Voters Signal Public Schools Are Important
A recent national poll conducted by Lake Research Partners has identified a new and growing constituency of voters in America who advocate building capacities of the imagination in public education.[1] This population of self-identified voters will readily and strongly support public education that answers the call for innovation and goes beyond its current focus on the “so-called” basics to meet the changing demands of the 21st century. The finding is consistent with aggregated findings from polling across a two-year period including the recent Partnership for 21st Century Skills poll and focus groups conducted by Marmillion + Company, Washington, DC, which confirmed the strength of America's desire for imagination in learning. Moreover, within the growing constituency is a more intensely committed group of very likely voters ripe for mobilization – an “imagine nation.”

94% of American voters say that public schools are important.

89% voters agree that the imagination is a key ingredient to innovation and student success.

The imagine nation comprises 30% of likely voters who feel intensely about the issue.

Voters believe that, in order to meet the demand for innovation in the marketplace, we must teach skills of the imagination in the classroom. They are concerned that America, an historic leader in innovation, is falling behind as it devotes less attention to developing what voters perceive to be essential skills of the imagination and innovation than do other nations.

79% of voters strongly believe that imagination is key to innovation.

56% of American voters believe that, when compared to other nations, America devotes less attention to developing the imagination and to innovation. Only 19% of respondents believe the United States is ahead.

Voters reject the notion that the basics and technology alone prepare students for success and pushes back against the notion of leaving imagination for outside the classroom. While voters recognize that building capacities of the imagination rests primarily with an education in and through the arts, they also believe that the arts are essential to invigorating the teaching of other fundamental school subjects and that incorporating imagination across the curriculum produces the strongest results. For instance, voters believe that the arts should be integrated with science, technology, engineering, and math to provide students the skills and values necessary to be imaginative and innovative.

91% of voters indicate that arts are essential to building capacities of the imagination.

73% of voters believe that building capacities of the imagination is just as important as the “so called” basics for all students in public schools. 82% of voters want to build imagination and creative skills in schools.

As education becomes an increasingly spotlighted issue, poll data suggests that a large group of Americans is planning to vote according to a candidate’s position on developing skills of the imagination in public schools. Independent voters prove especially reactive to a candidate’s decisions to fund imagination in education.

57% of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who came out in support of more funding for developing skills of the imagination in schools.

57% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who votes to cut funding for building capacities of the imagination in public education, and 36% percent of voters say they would be much less likely to do so.

For policy makers, the “imagine nation” constituency supports three specific points of action in order to prompt innovation with an education that develops the cognitive capacities of the imagination:

1. Build capacities of the imagination by supporting time and resources for an education in and through the arts.
2. Support integrated and interdisciplinary processes and approaches, which also save money and time in the school day.
3. Move beyond testing that stifles students and educators alike to broader assessments that encourage imaginative and innovative teaching and learning.

For more information, please visit .

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meet NEA State Presidents Who Are Fellow Bloggers

In the summer of 2006 the ISEA Leadership Team participated in NEA's Summer Leader's Conference in Baltimore, Maryland following the NEA Representative Assembly. There were leader tracks for state Presidents, Vice Presidents and state Treasurers. There were also sessions where all leaders came together and that is where I was given the opportunity to share my blogging efforts. I would like to introduce you to two of my great friends who have blogged as long as me.

Donna New Haschke, state President of the Texas State Teachers Association (at right), is a fellow blogger. Reading Donna's blog is like sitting down over a cup of coffee and having a great conversation with a good friend! This spunky state President has amazing energy and her quick wit makes all who come in contact with her a new best friend. Donna completes her service as state president for the Texas State Teachers Association later this summer.

Give a look to TSTA President Donna's blog:

Roy Bishop, President of the Oklahoma Education Association, is another long-time fellow state president blogger. Roy has a passion for writing and at any meeting can be seen journaling. Roy uses writing in so many ways including writing personal letters to many family members and friends on a regular basis (a seemingly lost trait for many in our society). Roy is a well respected leader by all state presidents and is genuinely just one of the nicest persons I've met in all my contact with NEA leaders. Roy also leaves office as President of the Oklahoma Education Association following the NEA Representative Assembly this summer.

Please take the time to check out OEA President Roy's blog:

Investing in One Who Invests in Iowa's Students and Families

Today representing Team ISEA I had the privilege of delivering a check to the Citizens for Harkin campaign for U. S. Senator Tom Harkin's re-election effort. Molly, an enthusiastic campaign staffer (pictured with me) accepted the campaign contribution from the voluntary contributions of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association. This fall we will ask all Team ISEA to volunteer time in a campaign to make phone calls or go door-to-door in electing/re-electing "friends of education" in campaign 2008. We feel fortunate to have such a friend in U.S. Senator Tom Harkin!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

JDC Tour Winds Down With a Visit to Western Dubuque Community Schools

On Thursday afternoon, March 13th, JDC UniServ Director Bob Brown and I headed to the Western Dubuque Community School District in Farley. We had the chance to visit both Drexler Middle School and Drexler Elementary.

Western Dubuque EA President Sandy Ross (pictured with Bob Brown) gave us a tour of both the Middle and Elementary Schools. Sandy teaches 7th grade Science here at the building in Farley.

I had the chance to read to Mrs. Robbin Harris’s Kindergarten class. Mrs. Harris had the book Joshua Disobeys for me to read aloud. The book was written and illustrated by a young boy from Oklahoma, so the students were extra excited to hear from someone their own age!

It was great to meet so many talented and dedicated educators today! Thanks Western Dubuque EA for all you do as leaders on Team ISEA!

A Visit to Dubuque Schools Leads to Elementary Buildings

JDC UniServ Director Bob Brown and I began our day on Thursday, March 13th at Audubon Elementary in Dubuque. Families were dropping off children and the rush was on to enter the building to get to their classrooms on time!

Our tour guide this morning was Ed Glaser, elementary Physical Education teacher here at Audubon. Ed (on the right) is pictured with UniServ Director Bob Brown. Ed stopped us along the tour to meet many of the great staff here at Aubudon and share the amazing things that are taking place in providing a great education for all students.

One of the enthusiastic staff members that we met this morning was Connie Hoffman (pictured with me on left). I thank you, Connie, for stopping to introduce yourself to put a face on the dedicated professionals who make a difference each day for students.

Thank you Ed and all the great staff on Team Audubon for your leadership in the classroom and in the association!

Our second school visit for the morning in Dubuque was at Lincoln Elementary. The sun was out and the piles of snow were finally beginning to melt. It was a great day!

We were greeted at the front doors by Dubuque EA/Lincoln Elementary Building Rep, Jen Martel (a 4th grade teacher). We had a chance to visit all three floors of the building, stop into many classrooms and meet staff and see the great things happening here at Lincoln Elementary!

Now talk about a "small world"--today I met a teacher that I will be teaching with in the fall! April St. Claire (pictured on right with me) is a Special Education teacher whose husband is finished with his training in the Dubuque area and they will be moving to Council Bluffs with new jobs. April and I will be teaching at Carter Lake Elementary in the fall!

One classroom we stopped to visit along the way was in Linda Niemann's Music class. It was fun to reconnect with Linda as I had met her a few years ago at the NEA Representative Assembly when she taught in Illinois.

Lincoln Elementary Principal Donna Loewen (on the left) stepped out of a meeting to make sure she connected with us. It was great to have the opportunity to thank this building leader for her leadership!

Thanks to all for your hospitality this morning and thanks for all you do every day for Iowa students!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Team ISEA Leaders of JDC UniServ Unit Meet

On Wednesday evening March 12th, the JDC UniServ Unit Executive Board met at the unit office in Dubuque for one of their four meetings for the 2007-2008 school year.

JDC UniServ Unit Administrative Assistant Lora Henkel (front row on left) helped set out materials needed for the meeting as well as a dinner of pizza and sub sandwiches. Lora stayed to enjoy dinner and conversation with unit leaders before ending her long work day.

The leadership team for JDC UniServ Unit consists of Roberta Rosheim (far left) of Maquoketa, Unit Secretary; Deb Richmann (center) of Central DeWitt, Unit President; and Dianne Callahan of Western Dubuque, Unit Vice-President.

Peg Thein (front row, left) of Clayton-Ridge, serves as the JDC representative on the ISEA Executive Board.

Leaders from all 14 locals of JDC are represented on the unit Executive Board. JDC leaders heard from committee chairs, UniServ Director Bob Brown and from two candidates running for ISEA President.

Thank you JDC UniServ Unit leaders for all you do as leaders on Team ISEA!

A Visit to Midland Community School District

On Wednesday afternoon March 12th JDC UniServ Director Bob Brown and I head to Oxford Junction to the elementary building of Midland Community School District.

We had the opportunity to meet some of the sweetest little children in Bonnie Holst-Cummings' homeroom of Kindergarteners. That one little sweetie pie (in the pink-2nd row) kept throwing me kisses! I read aloud to the group before leaving them with our ISEA mood pencils.

We next were off to Lost Nation to visit intermediate center for the elementary of Midland Community School District.

Association leader Anita Mohr (pictured at left) met us in the office to welcome us. She gave us a tour of the building that had been converted over the summer from a middle school to an intermediate level elementary building.

Mrs. Mohr had students demonstrate several of the learning strategies they use in her pull-out program in Special Education. We saw a computer program they use for word processing as well as many other print materials in place.

We met many enthusiastic educators as well as hard-working students today. Thanks Midlands for all you do for Iowa's students!