Teachers at culture war front lines with Jan. 6 education

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Teachers have found themselves on the front lines of the culture wars as the anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol arrives. With shouting crowds at school board meetings and political action committees investing millions in races to elect conservative candidates, talking to students about what happened is increasingly fraught. Now, they’re being left to decide how — or whether — to teach their students about the events that sit at the heart of the country’s division. And the lessons sometimes vary based on whether they are in a red state or a blue state.


Woman sentenced in Waterloo fire that killed boy, his mother

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A 45-year-old woman has been given two life sentences for setting a fire that killed a 9-year-old boy and his mother in Waterloo. Susanna O’Brien was sentenced Monday for the deaths of 32-year-old Ashely Smith and her son, Jaykwon Sallis, in April 2018. Prosecutors said O’Brien set the fire because she was upset her boyfriend was staying with another woman at Smith’s home. The boyfriend and the second woman escaped. While handing down the sentence, the judge said O’Brien set fires at the home’s front and back doors in order to trap everyone inside. O’Brien’s attorney said she continues to maintain her innocence. 


Iowa sees coronavirus surge with over 17,700 cases in a week

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State public health data indicates Iowa is beginning the new year with a large surge in coronavirus cases. The state Department of Public Health on Monday posted 17,773 confirmed positive tests in the past seven days. That rate of about 2,500 cases a day is a significant jump from the 1,300 to 1,400 daily average during December. The surge pushed Iowa’s 14-day positivity rate to 13.5%, a rate that signifies a high rate of spread. Hospitalizations fell slightly to 768 from 773 reported on Friday. The state reported 163 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, a slight drop from 170 reported Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 59% of Iowa’s population is fully vaccinated. 


Iowa Cubs outgoing owner, associates give $600K in bonuses

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — When outgoing Iowa Cubs chairman and owner Michael Gartner gathered the team’s 23 full-time employees last week in Principal Park’s Betfred Sports Lounge, he told them he was handing out new business cards. What he handed out instead were bonus checks to the tune of $600,000. The Des Moines Register reports the money came from profits from the recent sale of the team, and Gartner and his four associates wanted to share those profits with staff members. Everyone, including the club’s custodian, got a check — $2,000 for every year they had been employed, even as interns. The longest tenured employee received a check for $70,000.


Davenport schools cancel classes, citing bus driver shortage

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Schools in Davenport surprised parents Monday with an announcement that classes for the day had been cancelled because there weren’t enough drivers to run school bus routes. The Davenport Community School District informed parents early Monday that classes were cancelled because of a school bus driver shortage. All Saints Catholic School and Trinity Lutheran School also announced closures Monday because of the shortage. Edward Flavin, a spokesman for Durham School Services that provides school bus service to the districts, blamed “varying reasons,” including absences due to COVID-19 infections and quarantining following exposures. Flavin said the company anticipates that all its routes will be covered for the rest of the week.


December report: Midwest economy, confidence improve

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The final 2021 report on a monthly survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states shows the region’s economy continues to improve going into the new year, with confidence in the economy over the next six months soaring. The overall index for December of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions released Monday grew to 64.6 from November’s 60.2. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. The survey’s business confidence index, which looks ahead six months, rocketed from a weak 46.2 in November to 64.0 in December. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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