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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Iowa House district 16 preview: Mary Ann Hanusa vs. Jen Pellant

Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take control of the Iowa House after the 2020 elections. One seat that wasn’t on the party’s 2018 target list (but should have been) was House district 16, covering part of Council Bluffs. State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa had a close shave there, defeating Democrat Steve Gorman by only 114 votes, a roughly 1 percent margin.

Gorman is running for the Iowa Senate this cycle, but as of October 1, Democrats have a strong challenger for the House seat: Jen Pellant.

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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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As labor unions decline, income inequality grows

Labor Day should be about celebrating the many successes of the labor movement. The Economic Policy Institute has found, “On average, a worker covered by a union contract earns 13.2 percent more in wages than a peer with similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector.20 This pay boost was even greater in earlier decades when more American workers were unionized.”

The percentage of U.S. workers represented by a labor union is lower now than at any point since World War II. That trend is among the factors contributing to income inequality not seen in this country since the 1920s.

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