Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dear UNI President Ben Allen....

Dear President Allen:

I am a proud UNI alum with degrees from the College of Education. I have a B.A. from UNI in Elementary Education and Music. I also have a Masters degree in Reading Education. When I was in high school and was thinking about going into education the only school I thought of was UNI. I knew that the university was well known for their education of future educators. I feel as though I received a wonderful experience there. My professors were always accessible, helpful and knowledgeable in their field of study.

As I read your letter I was concerned as to your statements regarding the lab school. You stated that you were not sure if the “lab school was the best model for future teachers”. I beg to differ with your statement. When I was a student at UNI, one of the places a student wanted to go was the lab school. The elementary is set up in an open concept. My first teaching job was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When I was approached about teaching at an “open” school, they asked me if I’d even seen this concept…because of my experience at Price Lab, I knew it well.

You stated that there are many schools within a 30 mile radius that are interested in having UNI students as practicum and student teachers. While I believe this is true, I also remember trying to get placed in schools around the area only to find that they were not available because too many students needed a placement also. However, having the lab school on campus meant that you could still find another placement. Also I believe the level of diversity at the lab school far exceeds any of the schools in the area. Students of international faculty, different races, religions and backgrounds all attend the school. It is probably one of the more diverse, smaller schools in the state.

The next point I would like to address is the fact that the faculty at the Lab School are UNI Faculty. To suggest that the school may not be the best place for future teachers is offensive. These teachers are required to have a Masters degree. They need to be open minded, knowledgeable in their field, and principled in their own academic world. They are models to the education majors that pass through UNI on their way to becoming teachers. They are a part of the UNI faculty. If you are proud of your university faculty, you should be proud of them.

I hope that you carefully consider your decision of eliminating the Lab school. It is not only a school, but a place where future educators can experience “real world” teaching. I believe that I would not be where I was today in my career without it.


Jill Dykstra


  1. I love this letter. Please consider sending it to the Waterloo Courier- Letters to the Editor.

    1. Ms. Dykstra:
      Would you mind if I sent this letter to each member of the Iowa Legislature?

      Thank you

  2. My Master's thesis was based on observations in the Lab School, too bad if it were to be eliminated!!