Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Where were you?

Eligible voters, all I can say is, "Shame on you." A less than nine percent turnout to vote yesterday. Come on! If we want our schools to be great, we ALL need to participate. We need to be informed. We need to ask questions. We need to show up, for goodness sake. It's no wonder that our national government has taken charge of education. Our local citizens don't seem to care if they have a say.

Clearly, voters who sat at home were not seriously contemplating, "What's best for kids?"

Congratulations to Peter Steinfeld and Erika Dierking who were elected to the Storm Lake Community School District Board of Education, and "Way to go," Stephanie Wilhelm, for choosing to run in this local election. Thank you to all three of you for participating. Thank you for being informed. And, thank you for asking the tough questions.

It's time to get involved, Storm Lakers. To butcher a famous quote, attributed to several in various forms: "If not now, when? If not you, who?"

Monday, September 11, 2017

"This is my home"

Interesting article in the Pilot Tribune last week.

I can't help picturing my own young adult children who are all peers of the Dreamers - who I moved several times, with absolutely no input from them, starting when the oldest was 2 years old. What if they were suddenly dropped in a foreign country where they didn't know the language, knew no one, and had no job or place to live?

America, where is our heart?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"We view our diversity as a strength..."

Hats off to Iowa City's Superintendent and his kind letter to his school community yesterday:

Message to Our Community

Dear Members of the Iowa City Community School District Family,

Today it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and will stop processing any new applications for the program. To all of our students who are impacted by this decision – and to their friends, classmates and teachers who are also concerned because of this decision – know that the Iowa City Community School District stands by you. We serve all families in our District and we want our students to be safe, to feel welcome, and to learn and succeed in our schools and community. The Iowa City Community School District does not condone nor support any action that demonstrates intolerance, bigotry, or that promotes discrimination. As a District, we remain committed to celebrating and embracing our diversity, as that diversity makes us stronger.

Our District has a responsibility to provide a safe, secure, and nurturing environment for all of our students to participate in their education. We do not tolerate discrimination because these actions impact all of us and detract from an inclusive educational environment. Over the next few months as this issue makes its way through Congress, there will be teachable moments during which we can discuss the democratic process, how to resolve differences, how to deal with conflict, and how to reconcile diverse and contradictory values. Living in a democracy affords us this opportunity. Teaching our students how to process the outcome of the DACA decision is a privilege that we have as educators and adults.

As a district, we place great value in building an inclusive culture of learning where all students and families feel welcome, safe, and secure. Please know that the District will never give out immigrant status information and we are proud to stand with our DACA students and families. We view our diversity as a strength and celebrate the fact that over 70 languages are spoken throughout our buildings. We are proud to stand by, support and celebrate each and every unique individual within our District.

Thank you to everyone for helping our students understand this decision and how best to move forward. I have no doubt that questions and concerns will linger and that we will need to continue our vigilance in monitoring the health and safety of our students and schools. The District has resources to provide assistance to students and families who may need additional support. Please reach out through our School Counselors and Student and Family Advocates if you, a student, or a District family has unmet needs. We will do our best to provide support or assist them in finding the support they need in our broader community.


Stephen F. Murley
Iowa City Community School District

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Happy First Day of School!

As I was pulling out of my driveway this morning, a lone acorn rolled off the top of my car and over my windshield. A flood of first day of school memories washed over me.
  • The smell of new tablets and crayons and first day of school clothes
  • The view of the sunlight on the trees as summer starts to wind down
  • The excitement to see friends unseen since the last day of school
  • The trepidation of getting to know a new teacher
  • The anticipation for fall sports and marching band
I grew up in a household where fall rather than January was considered the beginning of the new year - where resolutions were made - and everyone knew that anything was possible.

May all of our students experience the joy of a new school year and the love of our SLCSD family. Welcome back!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Education is our best hope

Education is our best hope for the future of our world. Therefore, it is immeasurably important that all of our students feel welcome in our schools. Every. Single. One. Of. Our. Students.

This post is from Twitter a few days ago:

And this photo was taken of a classroom door at Maple Grove Elementary in West Des Moines posted on Facebook several months ago:

Education is our best hope for the future of the world, students, and you are most welcome here.

All of you.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Patriotism and Love

Tomorrow we go to the polls and cast our ballots during the most divisive political climate of my lifetime. I have strong feelings about who should be elected as I hope you do, too. The people in charge of our government are important, and everyone should analyze the issues and decide what's best for our country and VOTE.

This isn't a political blog post, though. This is a post about patriotism and love. Some of us are going to be heartbroken when this is all over. Some of us are going to be angry. Some of us are going to be disillusioned. And, while all of these emotions are valid, here is my cautionary advice:

We must support the word of the people. Then if we think the system could be better, we must work together to change it. We must be willing to compromise to solve our problems. We must put love of country above politics. We must remember that democracy is messy and scary and mean sometimes, but when it comes down to it, it's the best system in the world.

I don't know where you stand on the issues or the candidates, and I wouldn't hold that against you if I did. What I will hold against you, though, is refusing to come together and work together once the people have spoken. We are all in this together, and we will have only ourselves to blame if we don't walk away from the "us and them" mentality of the election and move towards the middle to "we."

If we all love our country, and I think we do, then we better learn to love our fellow Americans, even those we adamantly disagree with.

American flag heart