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February 2012

Senior Center Members Discuss Financial Future of The Center

IOWA CITY, IA. -- Members of the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center were invited to participate in two meetings in February with the purpose of exploring future financial needs and opportunities of The Center. The Senior Center Steering Council, a group of volunteer leaders within The Center, organized and led the meetings. Participants identified financial goals, recommended action steps, and brainstormed ideas for fundraising activities.

A key goal was identified at these meetings: Set a fundraising goal of 25% of the total operational budget to begin in Fiscal Year 2013. Evaluate progress in attaining this goal and gradually increase this amount in subsequent years as possible.

A summary of the two meetings is available on the Senior Center's website for review, and additional participant feedback is encouraged. For more information about these meetings, visit www.icgov.org/senior. To share ideas about The Center's financial future, please contact Senior Center Coordinator, Linda Kopping, at 319-356-5225 or linda-kopping@iowa-city.org.


Spring is near, it's almost time to play in the dirt

The weather here in Eastern Iowa is starting to warm up and the ground is starting to thaw.  Soon it will be time to get my hands dirty as I get busy with gardening, my favorite spring time hobby.

The long winters in Iowa forbid garden hobbyists from playing outside in the dirt, from November through February the ground can freeze solid to a depth of two feet......

Read the rest of Mike Thayer's Yahoo! Contributor Network article at:  http://voices.yahoo.com/spring-near-its-almost-time-play-dirt-11022262.html


Sen. Olympia Snowe announces she won't be running for re-election

Olympia_snoweMaine Senator Olympia Snowe is leaving the U.S. Senate at the end of the year, announcing she will not run for re-election in 2012.

This is no different than a Democrat calling it quits, so it's not big loss for Republicans who are truly Republicans.  One less RINO in the Senate is a GOOD thing.

Democrats currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.  


Romney barely wins Michigan, his home state

By Mike Thayer

Mitt Romney should have won Michigan by double digits, it's his home state, his father was a popular governor for the Wolverine state.

But Romney won by just 3 points, a 41 percent to 38 percent victory over the strong challenge of Rick Santorum.  Ron Paul finished third with just under 12 percent of the vote and Newt Gingrich finished last with 6.5 percent.

What is it about Romney that prevented him from being a big winner in his native state?  

  1. Romney still hasn't convinced the GOP conservative base that he is indeed conservative and,
  2. This one is key, Romney is considered out of touch.

If you need a couple of examples, look to his recent comments.

Romney_ford_fieldSpeaking to a small crowd in the very large venue of Ford Field (how much did that cost to rent out?) in Detroit on Friday, Romney said his wife, "drives a couple of Cadillacs."

Jetting to Florida on Sunday to attend the Daytona 500, Romney said that though he doesn’t follow NASCAR closely, he has “some great friends who are team owners.”

Coupled with his multi-million dollar carpet bombing approach to television advertising, what say you, is he out of touch?


Reaching across the aisle is dirty politics?

"The Republican establishment expects me -- and all of talk radio -- to do the heavy lifting.  They expect us to take it to Obama, because they're afraid of ticking off the independents.  Okay.  Well, what's Santorum trying to do today?  He's trying to reach across the aisle  -- and that's dirty politics?" - Rush Limbaugh

Iowa applies for waiver from No Child Left Behind

By Lynn Campbell
IowaPolitics.com

DES MOINES, IA. — Iowa on Tuesday joined three-fourths of the nation in applying for a waiver from the 2001 No Child Left Behind federal education accountability law.

"Though No Child Left Behind brought some positive changes, it is generally more known for its shortcomings and failures," said state Education Director Jason Glass. "Today marks a moment of opportunity for Iowa's schools — an opportunity for this era of blame and shame to come to an end."

Gov. Terry Branstad said it makes a lot more sense for Iowa to have its own accountability system — which takes into account Iowa's rural school districts — rather than trying to comply with a "national kind of one-size-fits-all system" aimed at failing, urban schools.

Critics of the federal law say it sets unrealistic goals, such as having 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Donna Owen, 42, a mother of three from Guthrie Center who attended the annual homeschooling day at the Capitol, praised Iowa leaders for applying for a waiver.

"I think any time a state takes the initiative to set our own guidelines, that's important," said Owen, who homeschools her children, ages 11, 8 and 6. "I'd like to see the states do that more. So, for that reason, I would like to see them step away (from No Child Left Behind)."

But getting a waiver from the federal law depends on a state's ability to show it has an alternate plan for accountability, including new student standards and assessments, better identification of top performers and help for struggling schools, and improvement of teacher and principal evaluations.

Branstad and Glass warned that a failure by the Iowa Legislature to approve bold education reforms this year will force the state to withdraw its application to get a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

"Neither the status-quo policy framework, nor an overly watered-down version of education reform, will meet what has been written into Iowa's NCLB waiver," Glass said. "Failure to act, or failure to act with boldness, will both result in a withdrawal of this waiver application."

Branstad said Tuesday he is disappointed with what he's seen from the Legislature on education reform so far.

"We should not be afraid to be bold and do good things that are going to really, dramatically improve education," Branstad said. "I believe that watering down our aggressive education reform is a mistake; I am disappointed that we don't have something more aggressive out of committee."

An Iowa House plan would:

No longer require that students get a 3.0 grade-point average for admission into teacher-preparation programs, as proposed by Branstad;

While the governor proposed that all 11th-graders take a college entrance exam, the House plan would give students the option of a college entrance exam or a career readiness test;

And while Branstad proposed allowing 100 percent of instruction to be delivered online, the House plan says that online schools cannot deliver instruction solely online.

An Iowa Senate plan, meanwhile, is described by observers as smaller and more modest. While it goes along with Branstad's plan of moving teacher reviews from every three years to every year, the Senate plan would require that two of those reviews be done by peers, instead of by supervisors.

Senate Education Chairman Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said the education-reform package developed by Senate Democrats includes some elements of the governor's waiver application.

"However, we have no interest in supporting some of the risky, unproven proposals contained in this application," Quirmbach said. "It doesn't make any sense to pass bad state policy in an effort to get a waiver from bad federal policy. Two wrongs don't make a right."

Groups representing Iowa's school boards, school administrators and urban school districts said they support Iowa's waiver application from No Child Left Behind.

"It moves Iowa education closer to our vision of aligned standards, curriculum and assessment," the Urban Education Network of Iowa said in a prepared statement. The network is a consortium of 17 school districts, including Iowa's eight largest, which enroll nearly 40 percent of Iowa's public school students.

A poll released last week shows the majority of Iowans surveyed support annual evaluations for teachers, end-of-course exams for high school students, and holding back third-graders who struggle to read, as proposed by the governor. The poll of 800 Iowa adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

But the state teachers' union did not sign off on Iowa's waiver application.

"While we understand the need to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach to testing and school accountability under NCLB, the ISEA still has questions about the specifics of this application that need to be addressed," said Chris Bern, president of the Iowa State Education Association, which represents more than 34,000 educators.

Bern said one area of concern for educators is tying student achievement data to teacher evaluations.

"As frontline professionals, our members need to be at the table when those decisions are made, and the state should be cautious when proceeding with this large policy shift," Bern said. "In addition, we are concerned that implementation of the waiver application will require resources, and education funding decisions are still a long way off in the legislative session."

The education reform plan proposed by Branstad and Glass would cost $25 million in the first year, including $17 million in new money and $8 million reallocated from other areas.

Eleven states applied in November and have received a waiver from No Child Left Behind: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Iowa was expected to be one of 26 states, along with the District of Columbia, to apply in the second round of waiver applications by Tuesday's deadline.


Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker’s Reaction to Vice President Joe Biden’s Visit to Iowa State University

Des Moines, IA. -- “Three Iowa visits already this year clearly show that this administration is worried about its reelection prospects in November.  As a resident and businessman from Ames, I have witnessed firsthand recent graduates struggling to find jobs in this economy.  With a 13.3% national unemployment rate for young men and women ages 20-24, Vice President Biden and the administration have a lot to explain.   This administration’s policies have failed not only the American people generally, but young, eager Iowans coming right out of college in particular.”

Chairman Spiker added:  “With gas prices rapidly approaching $4.00 a gallon, per capita share of national debt outpacing that of Greece, and no regulatory or tax relief in sight for small business, Iowans of all ages are very worried about the prospect of four more years of failed policy from this administration.  Iowans now understand that the Vice President and the administration have no real solutions for the economy or American manufacturing.   We need a new direction in this country, and Iowans of all political stripes will judge this administration not by its rhetoric but by its record this November.”


University of Iowa's American Indian Mascot policy is politically correct liberal-minded nonsense

By Mike Thayer

When the University of Iowa denied the North Dakota Fighting Sioux an invitation to an upcoming track meet, they denied student athletes an opportunity to create, achieve, experience. 

U of I policy forbids the school from competing against schools using American Indian mascots unless they are "NCAA approved" and also OK'd by the respective American Indian tribes.  Such policy by the U of I is politically correct nonsense.

This isn't something for the U of I to police, it's up to the NCAA and in this particular case the state of North Dakota.   Butt out, Iowa.

Think about it, the result of U of I policy.....  Trying to *manage* political correctness.....  The only outcome has been to punish students for a matter they didn't even create.  It's a denial of opportunity, a denial placed not only on U of I students, but the University of North Dakota students as well. 

Get rid of the nonsense.


Second student dies from Ohio school shooting

Chardon, Ohio (CNN) -- A second victim has died from wounds suffered in the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office said Tuesday.

Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead early Tuesday, according to the medical examiner's office. He was shot at Chardon High School on Monday, the agency said in a written statement.

Student Daniel Parmertor died on Monday. Three other students were wounded in the shooting.

Read On.....  http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/28/justice/ohio-school-shooting/index.html