Bernie Scolaro

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Iowa House bill would allow vigilante justice in schools

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

On January 4, a 17-year-old Perry High School student killed one 6th grader and injured five others (one of whom later died) before taking his own life. In response to school shootings, Siouxland Christian School in Sioux City has decided to train and arm school staff members.

However, no evidence indicates that having more guns reduces violence. In fact, it stands to reason that more guns will create more potential for school shootings, even if only accidentally.

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Are trans Iowans losing their civil rights? Will I be next?

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

An Iowa House subcommittee will consider House File 2082 on January 31. Republican State Representative Jeff Shipley introduced this bill, which would remove gender identity as a protected class under the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

I wanted to start with some anecdotal story about a time when I had rights and lost them, but I could not come up with anything. Then I realized, of course I haven’t experienced this. Rights are not usually given and then taken away randomly. One might lose a driver’s license after drunk driving or speeding, but not because the government arbitrarily decided one should no longer be eligible to drive. That’s part of the problem with HF 2082.

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Was childhood obesity a real concern or pretext for Iowa's governor?  

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

My mother used to make our lunches and send us off to school. Our packed lunch consisted of something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and for dessert, something like a Hostess Ho Ho or Ding Dong. I would come home and have a snack, usually a couple of chocolate chip cookies. At dinner, my parents always wanted to make sure my siblings and I ate everything on our plate—after all, people were “starving to death in Biafra.”  

I was never heavy, but I do remember my mother calling me “pleasantly plump” a few times. I guess that phrase made it more “pleasant” to carry a little more weight. My mother never looked to Governor Nelson D. Rockefeller to tell me when or how much to eat. That was personal and a family matter, certainly not political.

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Iowa nice—till hell freezes over. Thoughts on the Trump vote

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Indianola on January 14; screenshot from C-SPAN video

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

As the Iowa caucuses approached, the state faced another day of subzero weather with wind chills reaching 30 below. The weather seemed fitting, since the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, is as cold-hearted as ice. He was the clear favorite to win in Iowa, and took 51 percent of the votes to prevail by a record margin.

I’m not sure how long we can excuse Iowans for voting for Trump, after he mocked a disabled reporter, separated children from families at the border, said immigrant blood was poisoning our country, and enabled millions of Americans to die due to his ineffective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not to mention his habit of inciting violence and bringing out the racist beliefs in others, masterminding a coup to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, and so on. 

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Teachers, need a resolution for 2024? Join the ISEA

Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) legislative conference in 2020, as ISEA President Mike Beranek watches. Photo by Bernie Scolaro, published with permission.

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

Resolutions for the New Year are easy to give up on. It often seemed the year had barely begun when I would forget whatever it was I said I would (or wouldn’t) do. So when I went to Planet Fitness yesterday, I looked around wondering how many of these people just joined because they made that resolution to feel better—to get fit, be in better shape, lose weight.

Why are resolutions so hard to keep? I think one of the obstacles to attaining a goal is that so much in life is out of our control.

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Woodbury County's Jeremy Taylor—our own Nixon, Santos, or Carter?

Photo by Bernie Scolaro from the December 5 meeting of the Woodbury County supervisors

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

One of my first memories of political “participation” was proudly wearing a Nixon button in 4th grade. My father even took me to see President Richard Nixon pass through Tuckahoe, New York. The motorcade stopped, Nixon waved, and they left. A moment so brief I could have missed it if I blinked too long. 

Nonetheless, I was in awe to see a president in person—a president who would later be the center of the Watergate scandal and would eventually choose to resign. (Years later as the lecture chairperson for my college, I would be introducing Nixon’s former counsel, John Dean, to talk about his role in the Watergate scandal.)  

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What's in a name? For some teenagers, a lot

Photo of Academy of Mount St. Ursula in The Bronx, New York is by Bernie Scolaro and published with permission.

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

In the fall of 1972, I was a shy 9th grader entering Mt St. Ursula high school in The Bronx. My legal name was Mary Bernadette, but I always went by my middle name, Bernadette. The first day of classes, teachers had us standing in the front of their rooms until our names were called to be seated according to their seating charts. Each time I heard “Mary” called out, I corrected the teacher and said that I go by my middle name “Bernadette.” First day, every class. I was so embarrassed.

Friends I met in high school soon started calling me Bernie, which has stuck to this day. I never asked to shorten my name to Bernie, since my parents always felt it sounded too “boyish.” However, I did feel that Bernie much more suited my personality, and Bernadette was a bit too formal for this tomboy who liked sports.

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The slow assassination of public education in Iowa

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and current Sioux City school board member.

The Iowa State Fair may be a good place for conspirators to say the quiet part out loud in public and hardly get noticed. People are far too busy eating food on sticks and taking pictures of the Butter Cow. 

If you happened to watch Governor Kim Reynolds’ “fair-side chats,” you may have seen the governor clap gleefully as GOP presidential candidate Perry Johnson spoke of wanting to do away with the U.S. Department of Education.

Rule 1: Put it out there, normalize the concept to avoid real thought about what that would mean for our future students.

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