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Testimony of Mary Klein, who has worked with students with behavior goals for 25 years.

My name is Mary Klein.  I have taught special education working with students with behavior goals for 25 years.  I have taught the IEP course at Central College for 10 years. I’m here today with my husband of 27 years. I have been encouraged to speak by my colleagues and the Professional Educators of Iowa organization to share reasons why we should support the bill SSB 3080.

My 5th graders are writing poems during this Valentine’s month of February.  I too wrote a poem and would like to read it tonight.

Dear me,

This is a letter to end the blame and shame

I want to keep on going

Yet a new career is calling my name.

School was where I’m supposed to educate

But now why does it seem like

It’s a place to tolerate

Being spit, hit, punched and kicked at

And you know even worse

The students aren’t the only ones who need to see the nurse.

Doctors, and medicine, and disorders diagnosed

It’s written in his IEP,

“Student can’t, not student won’t”

Performance or a skills deficit

Will we ever know

It looks manipulating, but I can’t say so.

I read, I research, I attend trainings

A bachelors, a masters, and continuing degrees

Meet them where they are, always stay informed

I love the ones with adverse childhood trauma healing from their scars

Then why do I end up several days

Crying in my car?

Free and Appropriate Public Education should be for all

But when student assaults and commits a crime

The police should be called.

“My child didn’t do that”

Is what admin frequently hears

The security camera catches it all

So there is nothing left to fear.

We plan for restorative justice

No need to run and hide

Suspend, expel, just trust us

Ignore the inner critic inside.

Since when did it become ok

To allow one student

to command the school day?

Special needs are loved by me

Goals are to set

to be met

Relationships guaranteed.

Make the connection

Forgive and start again

Sabotaged and fractured

Praying for strength from Him.

Locks, lights, out of sight

We practice lockdown drills

But when a young student threatens, uses violence

It seems to not matter how it makes me feel.

Take a break

Work for choice

Disruptions soon begin

Reinforce PBIS

Don’t think about a consequence.

Room clear

To the hall

What I fear

Is the detriment to them all

What will others have to say

When their learning is done for the day?

Will it be minutes or hours

Managing emotions of students and ours

Planned ignoring while the room is trashed

CPI trained

But time outs are bashed

Do it wrong, or do it right

There will be a lawsuit in sight.

Protect the others on my roster

They need taught too

Praise and reward

And love to foster

Am I reaching just a few?

Jump through the hoops


Challenging behavior team

Schedule a meeting at ten.

Working at home until 11 o’clock

My spouse and children are waiting

Teachers have the whole summer off

Might be the reason I’m staying.

Teachers are lucky

Making a difference

It’s time for change

Looking in the rear view mirror

As my colleagues leave the profession

I hope a safer future will appear.

Representatives, administrators, school board, parents

You need to walk in our shoes

Education involves grit and perseverance.

Mr. Rogers always said,

“Look for the helpers.

You can always find people who are helping.”

I’m raising my hand for teachers,

But who is really noticing?

Note to self

I have to end the silence

Emotions regulated

No more classroom violence

Safety in schools is not negotiated.



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Author: Jacob Hall