Category: View Point

ViewPoint: Stop the summer slide

By Cheryl Carruthers, Service Area Supervisor of Information & Technology Services with Central Rivers AEA
Teachers and parents know that with the joy of summer also comes the lazy days of potential summer learning slide. Sitting idle for as long as three months could potentially undo the gains made throughout the year and affect how successfully a student will adjust to the coming new school year. Central Rivers AEA, in cooperation with Mackin, has developed two summer reading resource websites called I Want To Read. One website has materials for grades K-5 and the other is for middle and high school students.
On both websites there are links to eBooks within your school’s MackinVIA portal, as well as links to a summer reading journal and other book-related activities. These resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all summer long.
There is also a webpage on the Central Rivers AEA web site called Media Services GetMedia Resources with materials to go along with these summer reading resources, including a sample parent letter and templates for bookmarks and posters.
MackinVIA is an online eBook resource that is provided by Central Rivers AEA for access by students and teachers 24-hours a day, year round. Parents interested in accessing this resources should contact their child’s school building/district teacher librarian for more information regarding login. Parents can also contact staff at Central Rivers AEA at
If you have more specific questions regarding the Central Rivers AEA summer reading resources, please contact Cheryl Carruthers or Cari Teske, Central Rivers AEA librarians. Cheryl can be reached at

ViewPoint: Four ways to help your child deal with stress

Adults often complain they are “stressed out.” Increasingly, statistics show, American children are stressed out as well, and the effects on their health, emotional state, and cognitive ability can be significant.
It’s well-documented that adult stress can lead to serious illnesses. But many researchers believe that ongoing stress during childhood – from poverty, parents fighting or substance abuse, bullying, violence or other adversity – can harm kids’ brains and other body systems and possibly lead to major health issues when they’re adults.
Therefore, it is vital for parents to help their children cope with stress.
“Adults can handle more stress children, because our brains are already formed and we have many more coping skills,” says Alise McGregor, founder of Little Newtons (, an early education center with locations in Minnesota and Illinois.
“Research shows there from stress on kids’ development. Not exposing your child to any stress at home, of course, is ideal, but in today’s world there is so much affecting kids that parents need to know how to help them through it.”
Statistics cited in a article reflect the higher levels of stress that American children are experiencing: suicides among adolescents have quadrupled since the 1950s; and in the past decade, using pharmaceuticals to treat emotional disorders has increased 68 percent for girls, 30 percent for boys.
McGregor suggests four ways parents can help their children cope with stress:
Listen to them and communicate. “By listening to them, you are acknowledging their feelings but also strengthening the trust/bond you have with your child,” McGregor says. “Trust is so important in childhood. They feel supported and feel better being able to get it off their chest.”
Exercise. This is easy, fun and often necessary as a coping mechanism. “Children who are physically active release stress as well as build confidence,” McGregor says. “And they sleep better, which in turn makes them better equipped to take on their day.”
Take care of yourself, slow down. Children are aware of their surroundings and look to their caregiver for support. “If a caregiver is not fully equipped to handle their own stress, they certainly can’t fully support a child,” McGregor says. “We often are in such a hurry that many of the basic necessities of care-giving are rushed through. Children can feel the stress caregivers are experiencing and often will act out.”
Teach them relaxation techniques. Just as parents teach children how to throw a baseball or build a tower with blocks, they should also teach them how to cope with stressful situations in life, McGregor says. “There are ways to do this, such as count down from 10, or ‘breathe in the soup, blow out the soup.’ It slows down their ‘hyperstate’ of accelerated heart rate and fast breathing.”
“Most parents have the skills to deal with their child’s stress,” McGregor adds. “The time to seek professional help for a child’s stress is when any change in behavior persists, or when the stress is causing problems at home or school.”

ViewPoint: Helpful resources for farmers

By Cora Fox,, Center for Rural Affairs
Whether you are a beginning farmer or have been farming for 30 years, it is important to know resources are available to assist you in your farming venture – through education, technical assistance, mediation, or counseling.
Maybe you’d like financial counseling, or support during land transition, but aren’t sure where to go? Are you concerned about your farming operation or do you need mediation services?
The Center for Rural Affairs has compiled a list of well-established organizations to aid farmers in navigating these resources. While this list is not all-inclusive, it covers a wide array of services.
Iowa Concern, 800.447.1885, helps with legal issues, finance, stress, and crisis/disaster. Farmers in need can call the hotline or use live chat to speak with an expert 24/7. Iowa Concern information can be found in all 99 counties.
Center for Rural Affairs, 402.687.2100,, operates a helpline with information on farm bill programs that can help farmers or ranchers get started or implement conservation programs. Staff make referrals to organizations that may better address questions or concerns.
Farm Aid, 800.FARM.AID (800.327.6243),, connects farmers to resources with an online directory listing more than 750 organizations. Farm Aid also provides information on farm start-ups, sustainable agriculture, legal issues in farming, farm financing, and farm activism and organizing.
Michigan State University Extension, 517.279.4311,, has a free online program. “Weathering the Storm: How to Manage Stress on the Farm,” addresses signs and symptoms of chronic stress and helps farmers cope with challenges.
National Farmers Union, 202.554.1600,, plays an active role in the farm bill and works on grassroots driven policy. They have connections with numerous farm organizations, and make referrals.
Rural Response Hotline, 800.464.0258,, is available for farmers, ranchers, and rural residents to call. Staff make referrals to attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, other farmers, and mediation services, as needed. In addition, staff assists with stress, depression, or other mental health concerns.
National Center for Appropriate Technology, 800.346.9140,, provides information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, extension agents, and others involved in implementing sustainable agriculture practices. Specialists provide one-on-one technical assistance. Publications, webinars, and other resources are available.

District 72 Update

By Representative Dean Fisher
Week 14
We saw a significant slow down on the floor of the House as we dealt with background work on budget and tax reform issues ahead of introducing those bills.
On Wednesday of this week the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the House tax reform bill that is known as the Middle Class Tax Relief Act. This is an extensive bill that I will be unable to fully describe in this newsletter, but I will hit on a few highlights. The intent of this bill is that it be fair, sustainable, and modernize Iowa’s tax code. Iowa’s tax code is outdated in many areas, is overly complex, and contains some of the highest income tax rates in the nation. Furthermore, recent tax reform at the federal level has highlighted the need for Iowa to also reform our tax code. With the federal reform Iowans will pay $1.8 billion less in federal taxes in tax year 2018, but due to federal deductibility Iowans will pay slightly higher state taxes of $107 million in tax year 2018 and $153 million in tax year 2019. The Middle Class Tax Relief Act will reduce the burden on Iowa’s taxpayers by $1.3 billion over five years while protecting the sustainability of our budget.
Other notable bills:
Senate File 481 – Ensuring safe communities in Iowa. This bill was signed into law by the governor on April 10.
Senate Joint Resolution 2006 – Governor and Lt. Governor Succession – This bill proposes changes to the state constitution to clarify the details of how a Lt. Governor succeeds a governor that leaves office during their term, and how the Lt. Governor is then appointed. This issue was highlighted last year when Governor Branstad resigned to take the position as Ambassador to China. This bill clarifies that the Governor has the authority to fill the position of Lt. Governor by appointment.
On Thursday of this week the House was honored to have Dr. Peggy Whitson in the House chamber as we passed House Resolution 112 honoring her outstanding career as an astronaut. Dr. Whitson was born in Mount Ayr, Iowa and raised on a farm near Beaconsfield, Iowa. Dr. Whitson holds the record for being the American to spend the longest time in space, 289 days on the US Space Station, and the longest time in space for any woman worldwide. Dr. Whitson is truly a great Iowan and a great American!
As always, please feel free to contact me at or 641-750-3594.

District 72 Update – April 11, 2018

By Representative Dean Fisher
As week 13 comes to a close we are beginning behind the scenes work on the budget bills and a tax reform bill, and we debated a few bills on the floor.
Senate File 481: Ensuring safe communities – We debated this bill at length on Tuesday. This bill seeks to uphold two fundamental responsibilities of government, to ensure that our communities remain safe and that the rule of law is upheld. This bill seeks to re-iterate the requirement that local law enforcement cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding detainer requests for illegal immigrants that have committed crimes. The primary purpose of this bill is to include penalties for the local government if they intentionally do not cooperate by withholding funds from cities or counties if they violate this requirement. One of the amendments added to the bill in the House was to reduce the time period that funds would be withheld from 12 months to 90 days. This bipartisan bill had already passed by the Iowa Senate in 2017. As amended, it passed the Iowa House 55-45. On Wednesday night the Senate concurred with the House amendments 28 – 18 and sent it to the governor for review.
Two high profile bills were signed into law by Governor Reynolds this week. The first was Senate File 2349 which allows health plans to be created and sold by associations of employers or sponsored by certain agricultural organizations such as the Iowa Farm Bureau. In her Condition of the State address in January, the governor called for lawmakers to work together on a bill to give Iowa farmers, small business owners and their employees access to affordable health care. Before the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare) took effect, Iowa had a healthy individual insurance market. There were nine carriers, with good participation and reasonable premiums. Today, the state’s market is in collapse. Premiums went up as much as 57 percent last year, forcing many Iowans to choose between going broke or going without insurance. I have some constituents that have to pay over $31,000 per year in premiums for health insurance. As a result, 26,000 Iowans left the insurance market. Senate File 2349 allows Farm Bureau to build a self-funded health benefit arrangement that will work for Iowans forced from the individual market. It also includes a provision to create Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements that gives small employers the ability to band together to create affordable health care options for their employees.
Also, Gov. Reynolds signed House File 2458, the Future Ready Iowa Act, on Tuesday at the Future Ready Iowa Summit here in Des Moines. The Future Ready Iowa Act is the governor’s plan to train Iowans for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The goal of Future Ready Iowa is for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have education or training beyond high school by 2025 to meet the demand for the mid-skilled jobs our employers desperately need to fill. In order to reach that goal, another 127,700 Iowans need to earn post-secondary degrees or other credentials. Governor Reynolds called on the legislature to pass the Future Ready Iowa Act in her Condition of the State address in January. The bill passed both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. It passed the Iowa House on March 13, 98-0 and the Iowa Senate on March 19, 47-0. This bill is just one of many passed in 2017 and 2018 that addresses the need for better k-12 schools and a quicker and smoother transition for students into the high demand mid skill level jobs.
On Wednesday I had the honor and privilege of presiding over the House Chamber as we gaveled in. This was my first time in the speaker’s chair, I enjoyed the experience immensely. It’s a fairly simple process to introduce the morning prayer and pledge of allegiance, acknowledge those waiting to make an announcement, approving the House Journal, and announce the House will be going into recess.
As always, please feel free to contact me at or 641-750-3594.


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