Letters to the Editor

Since when are teachers political foes?

When Republican legislators uprooted Iowa’s collective bargaining law last year, the only stalk still standing was public employees’ pay negotiating. Everything else was plowed under, including retirement and health care. Union shredding had worked in Wisconsin, where setting groups against one another — divide and conquer — is proven strategy (for example, exempting public safety workers from some measures). So why not in Iowa?

Here, at least, regard for schoolteachers crosses party lines. Who doesn’t have a friend or loved one who’s a professional educator?

No public employee union deserves the shredding inflicted by the GOP-controlled legislature. But stating their case is for another day. The focus here is on teachers and the depth of their dedication.

Do you volunteer? Chances are many of your colleagues are teachers. Five decades volunteering have found me working alongside scores of professional educators. That’s not unusual in library programs, early literacy and juvenile justice. They are close kin to public education. But teachers, usually retired, also line the rosters of other grass roots efforts. For example, of the 106 folks at the all-volunteer Linn Community Food Bank, roughly 20 percent are teachers. They are there because no one better perceives the needs of the marginalized.

Voters should understand what’s at risk Nov. 6. To impose laws apt to drive teachers from the profession is to stop setting children up for success. To say it the way rurally oriented lawmakers should understand, Iowa is eating its own seed corn.

Jerry Elsea

Cedar Rapids

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