Members of the state’s largest union for teachers collected winter clothing Monday in what they called a “day of action.” Iowa State Education Association president, Tammy Wawro, oversaw the collection at the group’s headquarters in Des Moines.
She says the whole thing was prompted by the national union, but they hoped to point out the needs of Iowa students — especially those living in poverty. “There is a very large gap, and it is widening from our children struggling in poverty from the rest of our children. Right now one in five kids in the United States are living in poverty. In Iowa, it’s over 40-percent statewide. Here in Des Moines, we have over 70-percent of our children in free and reduced lunch,” according to Wawro.
Wawro teaches in Cedar Rapids. “As educators we are trying everything that we can within the walls and we know that we just can’t do it all, so this is one small way just to start shedding a light on how we can help our students,” Wawro says.
She says the student environment is key to helping them learn. “It’s not rocket science that when our kids come to school ready to learn, their bellies are full and they are not worrying about when they are going to eat next and they are not freezing, and their minds can actually focus — that’s huge for our kids and huge for our community,” Wawro says.
The ISEA says they hope to follow up on the actions they took collecting winter clothes with other action in the spring.