Public education lines have been drawn. Time to pick a side

State Senator Claire Celsi: “Governor Reynolds has chosen private schools over the public schools 92 percent of Iowa’s children attend.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ private school and voucher activism has gone from coy to brazen. Simply entertaining “Secretary of Education” Betsy DeVos at the state capitol is a signal. Reynolds has never been a credible supporter of public education and now has publicly chosen a side. She chooses the 8 percent of Iowans whose kids attend private schools over the 92 percent who attend public schools. Reynolds has thrown down the gauntlet.

Now, an important question for you. Yes, YOU. Sitting in your comfy chair reading this post. Do you support Iowa’s public schools – or not? Time to make a decision.

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Republicans are worried about Iowa Senate district 30, with good reason

Voters in Cedar Falls, Hudson, and part of Waterloo will elect a new state senator on March 19. Three candidates are on the ballot for Iowa Senate district 30: Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Eric Giddens, and Libertarian Fred Perryman.

Republicans took some advantages into this campaign, which is on a shortened timetable because Senator Jeff Danielson resigned during the legislative session. Rogers was better-known than Giddens, and Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the vote during spring break for the University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls public schools, when many people in Democratic-leaning constituencies would likely be out of town.

But since Bleeding Heartland previewed this race in late February, Giddens has emerged as the favorite. Republicans tacitly acknowledged their weaknesses by launching a second over-the-top negative television commercial on March 15, rather than closing on what was supposed to be Rogers’ selling point: giving Black Hawk County and UNI a voice in the Iowa Senate majority caucus.

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Show me the money: Is your school district hoarding cash? (updated)

Exclusive reporting by Randy Richardson on Iowa school districts that have accumulated excessive cash reserves. -promoted by Laura Belin

The last eight years haven’t been kind to Iowa’s public school districts. During that time the Supplemental State Aid (the money local districts can spend on their regular program budgets) has been on a downward trend — from a 4 percent increase in fiscal year 2010 to a 1.8 percent average increase over the last eight years. Many school districts have been forced to tighten their belts by laying off staff or giving out smaller pay raises.

However, a few Iowa districts have found a way to spend far less of their resources and have accumulated huge savings during this time period.

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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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Steve Bullock's testing these messages among Iowa Democrats

Although Montana Governor Steve Bullock has not yet declared plans to run for president, a group supporting his ambitions has been polling Iowa Democrats to test positive messages about Bullock and several other declared or likely contenders.

I’ve long encouraged readers to record or take notes on political surveys. This post draws on a recording an Iowan provided after receiving the call on the evening of March 7. (Bleeding Heartland never provides identifying information about respondents; I’m only interested in the questions asked.)

The latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom found Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders well ahead of the rest of the Democratic field in Iowa, with 27 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Bullock was among several candidates at 1 percent. Later today, Bleeding Heartland will publish analysis by Dan Guild, taking a historical view of polling this far out from the Iowa caucuses.

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