Gov. Terry Branstad, First Lady Chris Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced they will visit three Iowa school districts this fall to learn more about what Iowa schools are doing to deal with bullying and what steps Iowans would like the state to take next.
Better addressing the problem of bullying in schools has been a top priority of the Branstad-Reynolds Administration. Their work has included two statewide bullying prevention summits in Des Moines, which each drew an audience of more than 1,000, including many students from across the state. They’ve also proposed legislation to give schools clear discretion to respond to cyberbullying that occurs away from school but seriously interferes with a student’s education at school, as well as requiring parents to be notified if their child is the target of bullying.
Fifty-seven percent of sixth-, eighth- and 11th-graders reported being bullied at school in some way in the past 30 days, according to the 2012 Iowa Youth Survey. That was up from 50 percent in the 2010 Iowa Youth survey.
“All students deserve to feel safe and respected at school,” said Governor Branstad. “Many schools and their communities have started anti-bullying campaigns. We want to learn more about what they are doing, and to hear from educators, students, parents, business leaders and others how they think they state could better support their efforts to reduce bullying in schools.”
“Cyberbullying is a particular concern,” said Reynolds. “We can protect free speech and keep students safe at the same time. We have an obligation to make sure schools have the authority they need to look out for a student who is being tormented on social media”
“As a mother and grandmother, I want to help bring attention to why it’s critical to better address the problem of bullying,” said Chris Branstad. “It’s unacceptable that some students dread going to school because they worry about being taunted by classmates.”
The listening tour meetings are open to the public. They will include a panel discussion with students, educators and others as well as time for audience comments and questions.
The first of the three events will be held Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the West High School Media Center, 2001 Casselman St., Sioux City. Branstad and Reynolds will attend.
The second listening tour town hall will take place Monday, Oct. 6, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at North Linn Junior/Senior High School Gymnasium, 3033 Lynx Dr., Troy Mills. The third town hall will take place Tuesday, Oct. 7, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the Orpheum Theater, 220 E. Main St., Marshalltown. The governor, first lady and lt. governor will attend both of those meetings.