Bruce Lear

Virus-free school board members

Hundreds of Iowans won school board elections last week. Bruce Lear has ideas on how to combat some pitfalls that may await them. -promoted by Laura Belin

Since that cold day in 2017 when Republicans demolished public sector collective bargaining in Iowa, our kids and our educators have needed independent thinking school board members more than ever. But how can independent thinking candidates stay that way after being elected?

I have often marveled at the transformation of some candidates when they begin sitting around the board table. The once feisty crusader becomes as timid as a Donald Trump cabinet member. What happens?

There are at least three kinds of viruses that may threaten independent thinking on a school board. Fortunately, if the virus is caught early enough, the board member can be safely inoculated.

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What's scarier than Halloween?

Bruce Lear examines how large class sizes affect teachers and students. -promoted by Laura Belin

What’s scarier to a teacher than a room full of kids on a sugar bender from Halloween Reese’s pieces and Kit Kat Bars?

One thing that keeps educators awake beyond the witching hour of Halloween is overcrowded classrooms. I’m not just talking about raw numbers, because that’s just one dimension of the problem. Overcrowded classrooms are a multi-dimensional fright.

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School board elections matter. How to find out where candidates stand

Bruce Lear: “For too long, many communities have elected nice, willing, sincere people to school boards, without an understanding of what they believe. That leads to trouble.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It was my third year teaching in a tiny Iowa town. I was a rookie no longer. I was off probation now, a seasoned veteran teacher with six preps in charge of the yearbook. Also, because of the six preps and no time for the restroom, I had left an Association meeting to pee. When I returned, I found my campaign, and my inauguration for president had occurred in my absence. It had not been a vigorous campaign.

As a result, on a cold night in February of 1983, I found myself at a school board meeting to help defend a popular principal who was being fired by an unpopular superintendent. No, the Association doesn’t represent principals in Iowa, but in a small town where everyone played cards and went to church with other school people, it didn’t matter. I was the defense.

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Let's get their attention!

Bruce Lear: Strikes are not an option for Iowa’s public sector workers, but teachers can get politicians’ attention in other ways. -promoted by Laura Belin

There once was a farmer who desperately needed a mule. He heard one of his neighbors had the best mule in the county, so he went over to buy it. His neighbor said, “Yup he’s a great mule, but you have to treat him with tender loving care to get him to work.” The farmer bought the mule, took it home and hitched it up.

The mule wouldn’t budge. Remembering what his neighbor had said, he lifted the mule’s ear and whispered sweet nothings. Still the mule wouldn’t move.

He called the neighbor who sold him the mule, who came over, assessed the situation, and hit the mule right between the eyes with an axe handle.

“Wait, I thought you said to treat him with tender loving care,” the buyer yelled.

“I did, but first you need to get his attention,” the seller replied.

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Laughing at a bully

Bruce Lear: “In this election cycle, I’d offer a different approach to dealing with the Bully in Chief. I’d laugh at him.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Remember when First Lady Michelle Obama told Democrats, “When they go low, we go high?” I’d like to revise that just a bit, to say, “When they go low, we laugh at them.”

As school begins, the message has to be, “Bullying is never OK.” Well, President Donald Trump and his ilk has made bullying in politics the norm, and that’s also not OK.

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An open letter to Iowa Republican educators

Bruce Lear urges GOP-leaning educators to “look for the tells” and reject candidates who are not genuine friends to public schools. -promoted by Laura Belin

Dear Republican educators:

I know it’s almost time for the first school bell, and probably the last thing you want to think about is politics, but you as a group can be the super heroes for the education profession. Not an endgame, but a new beginning.

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