Campaign Description

Here's what this campaign is about:

Ensuring equal opportunities in curriculum and programming for all students

Providing our students and faculty with safe, healthy, technology-driven learning environments

Committing to our neighborhood schools

Guaranteeing responsible stewardship of public funds

Celebrating the diversity within our district

Engaging parents to become active participants in the schools

Making data-driven decisions with measurable results

Email us at or call 331-6746

Sunday, July 17, 2016

On Swift Boating

Swift-boat: verb (informal) to target a public figure with a campaign of personal attacks

The term swift-boating originated after John Kerry's bid for the white house fell short in 2004.  The Political Action Committee called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked Senator Kerry by smearing him publicly and raising question about his service in Vietnam. This political tactic is frequently utilized by candidates and campaigns who know that they can not compete on job qualifications or the issues and it is shameful.

I am sorry to see a number of local elected party leaders engaging in the same despicable type of behavior targeting Paul Roesler,  one of the three candidates for the special election to fill the board seat vacated by the resignation of Tom Yates in May.  You know who you are so I won't name names because I will likely have to interact with you in the future.  I will gladly point out though, that rather than ask the Board leadership or the Superintendent what it might take to restore confidence and effectiveness to the board team, you have chosen to play party politics with the academic wellbeing of our students and you should be ashamed of yourselves. You clearly don't understand what's at stake here and I'm sorry you didn't think to pick up the phone and give a friendly call to discuss the issues in order to gain a broader understanding before swift-boating Paul.

Service on the school board is a non-partisan elected volunteer position and anyone wishing to seek the office deserves to have the right to be judged on the merit of their understanding of the issues and their ideas as to how to solve them.  They do not deserve to be smeared and viciously attacked in the way that Mr Roesler has been.

As for my colleagues who serve on the board with me, well that's a different matter entirely.  It's not unusual to find oneself in agreement on various issues with certain candidates, but it is considered very poor form to inject oneself as a sitting board member into the campaign of an individual running for board.  I have been made aware of the fact that at least two of my colleagues have directly been involved with one campaign by helping distribute stacks of yard signs, place phone calls, and write emails on behalf of a candidate.

I've always been willing to discuss candidates with individuals asking who is best prepared to do the job or who has a firm grasp of the many issues that face the Board, but I'd never previously think to actually physically campaign for, or endorse, a specific candidate. Based on the activities of my colleagues and other local elected officials, it appears, sadly, that this is the "new normal" in our community.

So, to that end, since the community will be choosing on Tuesday who gets to sit at the table with me for the remainder of my term, I wrote a little something as an endorsement for the only candidate that I feel truly has the tools, knowledge and spinal fortitude to handle the job.  Additionally, in posting this blog, it occurred to me that the blog itself may not be as poorly titled as I thought after I was elected in 2013. Now, however, instead of advocating for myself to become a member of the Board, I am advocating for the entity of the Board itself because the decisions we make are so much larger and longer-lasting than my term.  Our students deserve to have effective and functional board governance and I believe at this time that there is only one candidate that can restore that.


There is a very important election this coming Tuesday.  As you may know, there is a vacant seat on the Iowa City School Board of Directors as a result of Tom Yates' sudden resignation on May 13.  There are three people running for that vacant seat.  All are fine candidates and we should be grateful to all of them being willing to put themselves out there.  One candidate, however, stands out as having a firm grasp of the issues and would be ready to hit the ground running on day one.

Paul Roesler has attended nearly every board and committee meeting over the past three years and truly understands not only the larger issues, but the delicate intricacies underlying them.  Additionally, he clearly understands the time commitment involved, which is significant.  

His campaign platform is focused on passing the GO Bond next year in order to deliver the 10-year Facility Master Plan and recommit our community to the next century of public education and equitable facilities for all students. Additionally, he understands the District Strategic Goals of increasing Reading and Math Proficiency while decreasing the achievement gap that currently exists for our most vulnerable students.  

Paul believes in embracing cultural and socioeconomic diversity in our classrooms in order to prepare our students for life beyond our school hallways. He understands that curricular and extra-curricular equity is critical to the student experience and delivering high achievement.  Perhaps most importantly, Paul is an excellent listener who takes the time to make informed decisions and then respects the product of the Board decision-making process, which is critical to moving our school district forward. 

Finally, Paul is a lifelong resident of our community and, being married to a teacher, has a keen understanding of the needs of educators and has committed himself to valuing teacher and community input over his own personal beliefs.

Please read more about Paul here:

Don't just take my word for some notable endorsements for Paul here:

Eric Johnson:

Cindy Abrams:

Write ups detailing the issues and what's at stake:

Vote at your school district polling place, which you can lookup easily here:

Join me in supporting Paul Roesler this Tuesday, July 19.  EVERY SINGLE vote counts as turnout will likely be low due to the summer timing.  Our community and our students depend on it. 
I would also like to add one more endorsement of Paul from Michael Tilley, who I sometimes agree with and sometimes don't, but I always enjoy the logic he brings to the discussion. Read it HERE 

Last, but not least, I would like to submit, for your reading pleasure the opinion of the Iowa City Council and the mayor of North Liberty who officially contacted the board after the May10 meeting when four votes overturned nearly two years worth of board and community work.  Both letters indicate that the general obligation (GO) bond in 2017, which is needed to finish our 10-year Facility Master Plan, is very much in jeopardy the way things sit now. Students across the district will continue to suffer in cramped, crowded, hot classrooms and Liberty High will remain unfinished for many years to come if we do not get back on track.

Here are the links:
Letter from City of Iowa City
Letter from Mayor Nielsen of North Liberty

SO, on Tuesday: Vote early. Vote often. Sink the swift boat.
...and make sure your friends, neighbors, and coworkers do too as every vote is going to matter.

Monday, June 6, 2016

To Appoint, or Not to Appoint....THAT is the question.

Tomorrow evening, the ICCSD Board of Education will be considering seven applicants who have submitted their names for possible appointment to the board seat vacated by Director Yates last month.  All seven are brave souls to put themselves out there and I am grateful that we have such interest in our community. 

We've received conflicting information as to whether the appointment would be until the November, 2016 general election or the next scheduled school election in September, 2017,  but the Iowa Code regarding the appointment process is pretty clear on the fact that we must try to appoint. The guidance we received from the Director of Elections from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office is to:

"..... advise your Board of their statutory duty to appoint within 30 days.   Provisions in §279.7 that provide for an election if an appointment is not made within 30 days do not give your school board authority to go straight to an election."

In other words, the Board must try, in good faith, to appoint.  If we do not appoint someone by June 12, then by default, we would go to a special election.

There are a few concerns I have with willingly not appointing and intentionally letting the process roll over to special election...  

First, and foremost, is that the Board will have willingly not done what Iowa Code explicitly directs us to do. Dillon's Rule applies to school boards in Iowa and unlike Home Rule, which applies to other elected entities, it does not allow us to chart our own path.  We can only do what we are permitted to do. 

Second, elections cost money.  The best estimate I have seen is approximately $16,000 for the District to hold a special election this summer.  That money comes directly out of our General Fund, which pays for teachers, transportation and student learning.  

Third, there are numerous decisions that must be made by the board over this summer.  With secondary boundaries in flux (yet again), new schools set to be completed within the year, rapid growth in a time of inadequate funding, a general obligation bond campaign on the horizon, and an achievement gap for our minority students that we have vowed to attack, we don't have the luxury of time and an election would hamstring us for another six weeks at minimum. 

Finally, my suspicion is that a school district election held in the summer when people are busy with vacations, summer camps, etc may create low turnout and could be viewed as not being truly representative of the community. Anyone elected would be serving until 2019.  School district elections can be affected by a few hundred votes and when the outcome is to fill only one seat, it may create problems for the credibility of that person and the board as a whole going forward. 

There are seven good people all with individual strengths who have willingly put themselves forth for consideration.  I believe, that in the interest of saving money and time that we need to look no further than this great group of people in order to find our newest member and resume the important work that is currently on hold. 

One final note: It'll take just four votes to appoint, but in my opinion, six would be best. If I were a new appointee, I certainly wouldn't want to come into this board knowing that 1/3 of my colleagues didn't support me.  

To view tomorrow's agenda and to read the applications click HERE

6/7/2017 UPDATE:  Despite conventional wisdom, sometimes things move pretty fast with the Board. This morning we received guidance from the Johnson County Auditor, as well as the Director of Elections for the Iowa Secretary of State that if we appoint tonight, the term will only run until the next General Election (not School Election) ballot in November of 2016.  On the surface, the shorter term (5 months vs 15 as initially thought) isn't an issue with me.  However, the District would be responsible for 50% of the cost for regular precincts where ICCSD voters reside.  That cost to the District is estimated to be approximately $75k.  So, now the dilemma is to appoint and spend $75k in 5 months, or to not appoint and hold a special election in July and spend $16k to do so.  As with many questions the Board has to ponder, there are no good decisions, only varying levels of bad ones.  I suspect we will get to six votes pretty quick

In other words: you can disregard much of what was written in the initial post above.