On Tuesday, February 4, 2020, Shannon Baity, Southeast Polk Special Education teacher was an honored guest of Representative Cindy Axne at the 2020 State of the Union Address in Washington DC.
Mrs. Baity has worked for Southeast Polk for six years and is currently a special education teacher at Clay Elementary. She is passionate about advocating for students with special needs, especially in the areas of behavior and mental health. This trip provided her with many opportunities to discuss current education issues with Representative Axne and her staff, as well as, other special education teachers and individuals working in mental health from across the country.
The impact that class sizes, lack of resources and lack of funding, especially for IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) have on students and educators were just some of the topics discussed. Representative Axne has extensive knowledge in each of these areas and Baity shared it was refreshing to see her sincere concern and praise for the work they are doing and how she can help.
“I expressed to Representative Axne several times how grateful I am that she was bringing awareness to the issues we are facing in education, from mental health to funding,” Baity shared.
The meetings and receptions Baity attended took her through several historic locations in our nation’s capital including the Library of Congress, the Speaker of the House’s office, the Capitol Building and the tunnels that connect them.
“The State of the Union was a very unique experience; a lot of pomp and circumstance, standing and sitting, clapping (or not clapping). It seemed to go a lot faster in person than it does on TV.” Baity sat in the balcony of the House of Representatives Chamber in the United States Capitol next to several other teachers. “There was a lot of discussion with the guests around me. It was interesting to hear their stories and how they were invited.“
Representative Axne invited Baity to participate in future round tables regarding the issues they discussed, as well as, helping with her campaign. Baity expressed, “I am eager to be a part of these round tables and would love feedback from colleagues to share. We need to draw greater awareness to these topics and not give up fighting for the rights of public education, teachers and our students.”