Category: View Point

ViewPoint: Rural location should not prevent business from receiving help

By Johnathan Hladik, Center for Rural Affairs
While states are beginning to reopen in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are still hurting.
They will be for some time.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in March was a good first step in helping businesses overcome economic challenges.
Under the plan, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is paying all loans owed to agency lenders, including principal, interest and fee payments, for six months. This allows business owners to use money set aside for their loan payment to meet payroll, cover utilities, and manage unexpected costs.
Unfortunately, this relief effort left out small, rural businesses with loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP).
The Center for Rural Affairs has joined 64 other small business lenders in asking federal lawmakers to offer rural entrepreneurs an equal opportunity by including these same provisions in future legislation for business owners with RMAP loans.
Businesses with loans through RMAP have 10 or fewer employees, are located in a rural area, and have been unable to secure funding through the SBA due to an absence of local lenders or a lack of credit. Many are in the service industry—retail, restaurants, and salons—and are especially vulnerable today.
This policy has the potential to keep more than 1,000 entrepreneurs in business—real men and women on the streets of rural America who deserve to be treated equally. We urge Congress to move swiftly and address this oversight in any forthcoming legislation.

ViewPoint: Early ACCESS: being a baby is hard work

Early ACCESS: being a baby is hard work
By Gina Greene, Central Rivers Area Education Agency
You don’t have to be a child development expert to give a child a great start in life. In fact, it’s surprisingly simple – and fun. The first three years of life are a period of amazing growth in all areas of a baby’s development. Children are learning through everything they do. Providing a child with positive experiences can make all the difference for their future. Having safe and loving relationships and spending time with family and friends – playing, singing, reading and talking – are all very important.
Healthy development means that children can grow to be the most that they can be. You can make this difference. As a parent, grandparent, or caregiver you are the most important teacher your child will ever have. No two children develop, grow and learn in the same way or at the same pace. However, children do develop in certain predictable ways. If you have questions or concerns, Early ACCESS, Iowa’s System of Early Intervention, can help. Early ACCESS provides resources, support and information to parents and caregivers to help children grow and develop.
Kids who hear more words spoken at home, learn more words and are more ready for school. Kids who are read to regularly between ages birth and five hear more than 1 million more words than those who were never read to. Read to your baby from the very beginning!
If you have questions or concerns about how your infant or toddler 0-3 plays, hears, sees, talks, eats or moves, contact Early ACCESS. There is no cost to you for Early ACCESS services and support.
You can follow your baby’s development. To see what they will learn next each month visit Month by Month Development on the Iowa Family Support Network website. To get more information about Early ACCESS, including statewide and local resources and regional contacts, visit the Iowa Family Support Network at To reach someone for Early ACCESS information or a no cost evaluation, contact us statewide by calling 1-888-425-4371.
Gina Greene is the Early ACCESS Regional Coordinator for Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA). Central Rivers AEA serves over 65,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on Central Rivers AEA for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.

ViewPoint: Promoting problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, oral communication through math

By Kelly Gallagher, Cedar Rivers Area Education Agency
For most of us growing up, learning math was about solving problems the “right” way based on the steps our teacher taught. A lot has changed in the teaching of math, including support for encouraging students to find many ways of solving problems using a strategy known as Number Talks.
Number Talks involves the use of mental math strategies to promote flexible thinking, visualization, and problem solving. It can be delivered as part of the math block or in addition to learning to support or extend mathematical standards at any level of education.
Consider the problem 18 x 5. Some of you immediately reach for the nearest pencil, ready to scratch out an algorithm because that’s what you’re accustomed to doing. We trust that process because it’s been there for us so many times. However, flexible thinking and more efficient problem solving may suggest ways to solve this problem mentally in ways you’ve never imagined. You may think 10 x 5 is 50 and 8 x 5 is 40. 50 + 40 = 90. You may also break 18 into parts, knowing that 9 and 9 makes 18. Therefore, knowing that 9 x 5 = 45 and 9 x 5 = 45. 45 + 45 = 90. You may think about repeated addition by doing 18 + 18 + 18 + 18 + 18 = 90 in your head.
Another common way to consider this problem efficiently is to take 18 x10 and divide by 2. Students using this strategy know that 10 is 5 doubled, therefore needing to divide the final product in half to get the correct answer. 18 x 10 = 180 and 180/2 = 90.
Some use what we call a doubling and halving strategy to change 18 x 5. Students that solve this way recognize that half of 18 (9) and twice 5 (10) forms a new equation of 10 x 9, which also equals 90.
There are other ways students may approach this equation. The key to the Number Talks is that the teacher honors all the ways! When students hear their peers solve in different ways, it promotes growth, academically and socially. Oftentimes students who are quick to recall and repeat their math facts, lack conceptual understanding and/or struggle to articulate strategies. On the contrary, students that are using flexible strategies may take time to solve as they strengthen their fluency and mental math skills. The goal is to move all students forward regardless of their entry point. Number Talks builds effective, efficient, and collaborative problem solvers who honor multiple viewpoints and approaches.
The Number Talks routine is intended to be a short portion of the day, lasting only five to 15 minutes.
As the most desirable employability skills shift from reading, writing and computation, a higher emphasis is being placed on interpersonal skills, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and oral communication. The Number Talks instructional routine is designed to promote complex thinkers who are also creative problem solvers – future ready skills that all students will benefit from as they enter the workforce!
Kelly Gallagher is a School Improvement and Math Consultant for Central Rivers Area Education Agency. Kelly can be reached at Central Rivers Area Education Agency, based in Cedar Falls, provides innovative leadership and support for public and accredited non-public school districts in an 18-county area of Iowa. Learn more at

ViewPoint: Farmers: Critical deadline approaching

By Amanda De Jong, State Executive Director in Iowa, USDA Farm Service Agency
The clock is ticking… March 16 is THE LAST day to make what is likely one of the most important business decisions you will make for your farming operation this year.
If you have not already visited your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office to make your 2019 election for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and to sign your annual enrollment contract, you should call and make your appointment now.
Many of you are gearing up to head to the field for spring planting, but I cannot stress enough the importance of not letting this deadline get lost in the hectic day-to-day obligations of farm life. If you fail to make an election and enroll for 2019 ARC or PLC, you will be ineligible to receive a payment for the 2019 crop year.
ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms. These programs cover 22 commodities produced in the U.S.
FSA anticipates more than 1.7 million producers will enroll in ARC or PLC – that’s a lot of producers to assist in a short period of time. As of February 3, FSA records in Iowa show 31,691 farms out of an expected 151,279 farms have completed ARC or PLC election and enrollment for the 2019 crop year.
Want to maximize your time visiting with FSA? Inquire about deadlines and options for also enrolling in 2020 ARC or PLC by June 30, 2020 and updating 2020 PLC payment yields by September 30, 2020. Our staff will help you make the most out of your visit or set you up with a future appointment to help check FSA programs off your lengthy “to do” list.
If you’re still unsure about the choice of ARC or PLC, we offer online decision tools to help you determine the best program election for your farming operation. To access these tools, visit
Call FSA today for an appointment. To locate your local FSA office, visit
We know that time is money… so make the time to avoid losing the money.

ViewPoint: Fake history and the constitutional value of a black person

By Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bond to Service for a Term of Years [i.e., indentured servants], and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons [i.e., slaves].” U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 2.
In the spirit of fake news, Black History Month provides a forum for news pundits to lament that the Founding Fathers thought the relative worth of black persons was three fifths of a person. They should (and likely) know better. The Three-fifths Clause is not about black or white but was a formula for counting slaves for purposes of congressional representation and taxation. Clearly slavery dehumanizes the enslaved, but the Three-fifths Clause was a compromise that was a partial win for abolitionists.
Free black persons existed long before the Constitution was written. The first Africans brought into captivity to colonial Virginia in 1619 became indentured servants who were freed typically after 7 years just as their white counterparts. Other slaves were freed when they converted to Christianity.
The proposed Constitution allowed one representative to Congress for each 30,000 inhabitants in a state, in contrast to the existing Continental Congress, where each state had an equal vote. The initial suggestion at the sometimes contentious 1787 Constitutional Convention was that representation be based on all free persons. But slaves were half the population in some southern states. Despite slaveholders counting slaves as their property, they also wanted to count slaves as if they were free inhabitants (i.e., “whole persons”), thus increasing the South’s representation in Congress—and essentially be rewarded for having more slaves. Cleverly, Northern abolitionists argued that if the South could count slaves, then the North should be able to count livestock for purposes of representation.
To resolve the issue, liberal Pennsylvania delegate and future Supreme Court justice James Wilson proposed the Three-fifths clause as a necessary compromise to gain the South’s support for the new Constitution. The three-fifths of a vote provision applied only to slaves, not to free blacks in either the North or South. Thus, the much-maligned clause actually benefitted the abolitionists and the slaves by limiting the pro-slavery States’ representation in Congress.
The first U.S. census in 1790 showed a population of about 4 million Americans. Nineteen percent were black and about 13 percent of those black Americans were free. By 1860, as more states abolished slavery and slaves were voluntarily freed or purchased their freedom (manumission) in the South, about a half million free blacks lived in the U.S. with more in the southern states than in the North.
Electorally, slave status mattered. Free blacks could hold office in some states and could vote. As Justice Benjamin Curtis noted in his dissent in the infamous 1856 Dred Scott decision, “Several of the States have admitted persons of color to the right of suffrage, and, in this view, have recognized them as citizens, and this has been done in the slave as well as the Free States.” Black votes were not trivial: black votes helped to ratify the new Constitution and in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1700s, more blacks than whites voted in elections.
Today’s “woke” social justice warriors rail that the racist Founding Fathers should have abolished slavery altogether right then and there. Our Founders would have preferred to do so. Great Britain was making boatloads of money from the slave trade and prevented the abolition of slavery in the colonies. In 1774, at the First Continental Congress, delegates Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin called to end the importation of slaves by December 1, 1776. This provision was put in the Articles of Association of the Continental Congress. At the January 9, 1776 Second Continental Congress, a resolution to end of the importation of slaves to America was passed. Of course, the 13th through 15th Amendments freed the slaves, gave them full citizenship, and males the right to vote.
Witnessing our current vitriolic political divides over less weighty issues, it is hard to imagine the determination and negotiating skills our Founders’ needed to bring differing philosophies together to form a new country with new values based on liberty for all.
Rectifying our social ills begins with telling the whole truth. Truth #1: The Three-fifths clause was not about the relative worth of a black person. Truth #2: Black people owned slaves (as workers, not family). Truth #3: All white men are not bad—now or 400 years ago.


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