Bruce Lear

Three words

Bruce Lear helped negotiate educator contracts for 27 years as a regional director for the Iowa State Education Association. -promoted by Laura Belin

After February 16, 2017, I heard three words across the bargaining table that sent chills up my spine and tears to my eyes.

We were bargaining at a community college. The college had made an initial proposal to eliminate all provisions of the Master Contract except the base wage. We pushed to hear why. After all, those provisions had been in place for over 30 years, and they worked for both parties.

We didn’t get an answer. We pushed harder and a little louder. Still, there was silence from the other side. Finally, forgetting about everything except getting an answer, I used my undiplomatic voice and shouted, “We expect an answer, and we expect it now!”

The outburst was met with eye averted silence. Finally, in a voice barely above a whisper, the human resource director said, “Because we can.”

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When being fair isn't an Iowa value

Bruce Lear: Lately, I am struck with how Iowa values are eroding before our eyes. -promoted by Laura Belin

Three college guys decided to head to my hometown of Shellsburg, Iowa for a weekend. We threw three bags of dirty laundry in the trunk for my unsuspecting Mom, and we left Pella in Carl’s very used Toyota. In 1977, Toyotas in Iowa were about as rare as a Democrat in Pella. There were some, but they were hard to spot.

Things went fine, until it died. It was not a prolonged death with symptoms. It was sudden. We were three guys with a dead car on a county road outside of Kellogg, Iowa. We knew a lot. After all, we were sophomores in college. Unfortunately, our sophomore smarts didn’t extend to fixing dead Toyotas.

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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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