Bruce Lear

It's a symbol

Bruce Lear reflects on the federal government shutdown, drawing on 30-plus years of experience negotiating educator contracts. -promoted by Laura Belin

For some, symbols are more important than solutions. Sound bites outrank substance, and winning will trump a wall any day.

This fight isn’t about a wall. It’s about a symbol to gin a gullible base. In President Donald Trump’s mind, it’s win-win. If he doesn’t get his wall, he has the symbol of the wall. If he does, he can brag, “Look at that big beautiful wall I built for you.” It’s a narcissist’s dream. It’s the public’s nightmare.

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It's not expected

Bruce Lear discusses some of the biggest challenges facing public school teachers today. Earlier this year, Randy Richardson identified some of the same problems as leading reasons educators leave the profession. -promoted by desmoinesdem

It was the first day of school of 1979 in rural Iowa. The air was heavy with the sweat of 20 high school students and one mustached first year teacher. Air conditioning was for larger schools with money.

Since Alden was neither large nor rich, the bulletin board so carefully glued was coming a part in a windowless classroom recently converted from a storage room.

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Iowa culture lost

For decades, small-town Iowa fans and the national media were enthralled with Iowa 6-on-6 high school girls’ basketball, mostly played in towns with no stoplights. It was quaint. It was unique. It was entertaining to watch. I was a fan.

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The next step

Bruce Lear: “The post mortem for this election cannot be done exclusively in Des Moines by party professionals or even elected party committee people.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

The corpse of an election is barely cold when the concealed knives come out for the official, or more commonly, the unofficial autopsy to determine cause of death. What happened to those campaigns that looked so healthy in the glossy brochures and slick TV ads? The next of kin (the party faithful) are left to blame, grieve, and figure out how to get their affairs in order.

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"The most important election of a lifetime"

Bruce Lear on the stakes in this midterm: “Public education as we know it hangs in the balance,” which has never been the case before in Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In January 1976, I trudged through the Pella, Iowa snow to go to my very first presidential caucus because it was the “most important election of our lifetime.” I caucused with about eleven over-eager college students in the basement of the student union. We were a small but determined group. After all, it was a Democratic caucus in Pella, in January.

By the way, I caucused for Fred Harris, a little-known and soon-forgotten senator from Oklahoma. His only claim to fame was he drove around in a recreational vehicle and never used hotels. Instead, he stayed at supporters’ houses and in exchange, gave them a card good for one night in the White House. None were redeemed.

That’s how my involvement with the “most important election of our lifetime” began. For the next 30-plus years, every two years that phrase roared to life on radio, TV, and in countless mailings soon deposited in the circular file to be forgotten until the next most important election of our lifetime.

It got old. It got cliché–until now.

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When good people make dumb decisions

Bruce Lear examines some common mistakes by school districts “that help the critics take aim, fire, and reload on public education.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

In sports, we call them unforced errors. In real life, we call them dumb stuff that someone thinks is a good idea. I’m talking about decisions that, when implemented, leave most people scratching their heads wondering why we ever made that stupid choice in the first place. Yes, it’s “Monday morning quarterbacking,” but sometimes those Lazy Boy quarterbacks are right.

Like private business, public education sometimes suffers from unforced errors that make the critics howl and redouble their efforts to privatize. But remember “New Coke?” Few Americans believed the only way to solve that corporate problem was to dissolve the company and start guzzling large quantities of another brand. Instead, the problem was quickly fixed by going back to the tried and true recipe, and “New Coke” became a footnote on bad decision making. The company learned from the mistake.

Because public education is now under heavy fire from the likes of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her disciples, it’s hard for school leaders to look inward, examine some of their own mistakes, and find ways to avoid repeating them.

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