IA-Gov: New Register poll points to winning paths for Hubbell, Reynolds

If Iowans were voting for governor today, 43 percent would support Democrat Fred Hubbell and 41 percent Governor Kim Reynolds, according to a new poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. Another 9 percent of the 555 likely voters surveyed were undecided, and 7 percent backed Libertarian Jake Porter. The poll validates the view of leading election forecasters that the governor’s race is a toss-up. Selzer’s poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 points.

If this snapshot of the race accurately reflects the views of Iowans likely to vote in November, I’d rather be Hubbell than Reynolds. An incumbent barely above 40 percent despite much higher name recognition than her opponent is not in a strong position. Nevertheless, the Register’s survey points to ways either Reynolds or Hubbell could improve their prospects during the final six weeks of the campaign.

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Post-modern queer youth experience

“LGBTQ youth are forgotten even by members of the LGBTQ community,” writes advocate Nate Monson in this thought-provoking commentary. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Since 2007, I have served as the executive director for Iowa Safe Schools, a non-profit founded in 2002 to support LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, victim services, and advocacy. The organization works on the overall improvement of the queer youth experience for thousands of students across the state. The queer experience is the culmination of events and relationships a person has based on their LGBTQ identity. LGBTQ students are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience a range of issues such as bullying, homelessness, and suicide.

In early April, I gave a Tedx Talk at Wartburg College about the Post-Modern Queer Youth Experience.

Working in the LGBTQ equality movement for over a decade has given me a front row seat to its inner workings. What I’ve found is that LGBTQ youth take a back seat in this broader conversation on equality, even though LGBTQ youth represent one of the most marginalized and at-risk populations.

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Smaller districts more likely to strip optional items from teacher contracts

Randy Richardson, retired associate executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, has closely followed contract negotiations in Iowa public schools for many years. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Since the 2017 passage of a Republican bill to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, a little more than 8,000 teachers (out of a total of just over 36,000 statewide) in 107 school districts have lost the benefits and rights they enjoyed in their master contracts.

The new law allowed districts to remove items that were deemed “permissive” from collective bargaining agreements. That included such topics as leaves, grievance procedure, and in-service days. Many of those items had been bargained years ago and had been in master contracts for well over 30 years.

I thought it might be worthwhile to see if these districts had any commonalities.

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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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Part 1: How to corrupt a school district

First in a series by Tyler Higgs, an activist and former candidate for Waukee school board. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Let’s say you are a corrupt school administrator, and you want to accept kickbacks from vendors, manipulate time cards, and/or take school property. If you work in Waukee, just go ahead and do it. In this instance, crime really pays. Based on what happened with the the district’s current chief operating officer Eric Rose, here’s what you can expect:

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Democrats will get outspent in Iowa House races again. Here's why

Democrats have opportunities to make big gains in the Iowa House this year. Thirteen of the 59 Republican-held seats in the lower chamber are open. A number of Democratic challengers have done well on fundraising, in some cases even out-raising the GOP incumbents in their districts. The past year’s special elections for Iowa House seats suggest that Democratic turnout may be much higher than the level seen in Iowa’s last two midterms, thanks to extreme laws enacted by statehouse Republicans and an unpopular president in Washington.

But winning a state legislative race often requires more than a favorable political environment. Bleeding Heartland observed in February that “the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.”

Unfortunately, the latest fundraising numbers tell the same old story.

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