ADVOCATE The official publication of the Knox County education Association A TEA/NEA Affiliate
Volume XX, Issue #3
I’m a Teacher: Politics Has Nothing to Do with Me By Kim Waller, KCEA President
KCEA Officers President Kim Waller Vice-President Athanasios Bayiates Secretary Paula Brown Treasurer Karen Peterman
Executive Board Past President Dana Stanfield High School Rep. Evelyn Gill High School Rep. Bill Bell High School Rep. Wendie Love Admin. Rep. Linda Delaney Minority at Large Judy Carpenter Middle School Rep. Sherry Morgan Middle School Rep. Catherine Gettys Elementary Rep. Jennifer Atkins Elementary Rep. Laura Cain Elementary Rep. Kitty Creekmore TEA Board Member Jessica Holman TEA Board Member Terry Uselton
Staff UniServ Director Betty Crawford Secretary Abbie Hoover
Ever heard anyone you know say that? As anyone who knows me will tell you, I would never say teaching and politics are not related. Almost everything we do has bee decided by someone who is elected by the public. Our paychecks, health benefits, class size, retirement benefit, policies regarding student discipline, sick leave bank, personal days, number of sick days…”No Child Left Behind” … ALL and more were determined by someone that probably you and I stood in an election booth and pushed a button for. For this reason, we have a duty and obligation to be aware of where candidates stand on issues related not only to children’s education, but to the working conditions that we have as teachers. During this most recent election, a handful of KCEA members called to ask why KCEA or TEA endorsed this or that candidate. A lot of people, many of them retired teachers, routinely call the KCEA office on election day and ask us who they should vote for. Many people vote for a candidate based on where that person stands on public education. While I can hope that all teachers make that a priority when voting , I understand that for some teachers, their number one priority might be a social issue, such as abortion or gun control. When NEA, TEA, or KCEA issues an endorsement, it is after a candidate has been interviewed by a group from the organization. That group is charged with asking only about education issues. There are many races where TEA and KCEA make “no endorsement” because, perhaps, candidates did not satisfy the committee with regard to education policies. Many KCEA members have participated in candidate interviews, both in Knox County and in Nashville. When I sat in on the senatorial interview last June in Nashville, I can tell you that only questions regarding education were asked. These are typically questions related to charter schools, voucher programs, No Child Left Behind, merit pay, teachers’ right to bargain. Etc. It would not be acceptable for us to ask a candidate how he or she feels about the Iraq war. Our ONLY issue is public education. Let me also say that dues money our members pay is NOT used to give to political candidates. Both the NEA and TEA have fundraising drives at different conferences and meetings, where those in attendance give money to a political action fund, if they choose to. At last summer’s NEA Representative Assembly, delegates raised nearly $2 million for political action This money is used for mailings, phone banks, and other advertising for candidates who have earned an endorsement form NEA or TEA. The bottom line is this. Political action money is are given by members. The only person in the voting booth is you. NEA, TEA, and KCEA are not in the booth pushing the button for you. We just want you to give public education your priority.
CBM/RTI By Athanasios Bayiates, KCEA Vice-President CBM/RTI are acronyms that many Knox County teachers have become familiar with in the last four months, while some have grappled with them for over a year. CBM, or Curriculum Based Measurement, is a school-wide reading and math test that is administered in the fall, winter, and spring. The results are used to determine which students in your classroom that need to be S-Teamed. RTI, or Response To Interventions, is the intervention process itself, that will lead to the identification of students with special needs. Students who are S-Teamed will go through a series of three tiers , and at each tier of six weeks, it is up to the classroom teacher to assess weekly, each student who had been identified by the CBM in their classroom to monitor the effectiveness of the interventions and to determine if the student should progress to the next tier of the process. Knox County has created this process in response to changes in federal law in how students should be identified for special education services. However, as our classroom, we need to look at how it can be implemented in such a way that it supports the work of teachers in the classroom. We at KCEA would like to know how CBM/RTI is affecting your classroom, so that we can positively affect changes in this new process. If you could tell us by either contacting the office or by contacting your building level representative about the amount of time you are now spending to assess the students for the RTI process, whether or not you have sufficient materials to meet the identified students; intervention needs, and any concerns or suggestions you have regarding the RTI process, it would help us in making any needed changes.
NCUEA Fall Conference By Athanasios Bayiates, KCEA Vice President KCEA President, Kim Waller, and Vice President, Athanasios Bayiates attended the NCUEA fall conference, where a number of national initiatives that affect our work in the classroom were discussed. The reauthorization of ESEA, TABOR initiatives, and the 65% Deception were a few of the issues that were on the agenda. The NCUEA, of which KCEA is a member, is the National Council of Urban Education Associations. It is comprised of over 200 of the largest NEA affiliates in the country. As members of the NCUEA, OUR Association is able to help shape NEA Resolutions, legislative programs, and policy statements, It also provides us with opportunities to see how other Associations are dealing with political actions at the national, state, and local level and what resources and tools are available to affect a positive agenda for our public schools. While TABOR has not been introduced in the Tennessee Legislature, the 65% Deception has been introduced by a legislator from East Tennessee and has failed. It is important that we, as an Association, are aware of initiatives that are being pushed by those that do not support our great public schools, so that we can protect them. KCEA President, Kim Waller, will be sharing information about NEA’s positive agenda for change in ESEA in the next issue of the Advocate so that we can put to work the tools we acquired at this year’s NCUEA Fall Conference. If you would like more information on TABOR, the 65% Deception, and other legislative attempts to weaken our great public schools, visit www.nea.org.
NCLB Update By Athanasios Bayiates, KCEA Vice President NEA, along with nine NEA affiliates and nine school districts, filed a lawsuit on April 20, 2005, claiming that the federal government was violating the unfunded mandates provision of NCLB by compelling states and school systems to use their own funds to meet the requirements as set forth in NCLB. In November of 2005, a lower court dismissed the suit; however, NEA has made oral arguments in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. To date, NCLB funding is $40 billion less than the original amount promised by Congress to fund the many demands imposed by the Act. As the ESEA comes up for reauthorization in 2007, NEA, TEA, and KCEA will be working to insure that federal funding is used to provide teachers and education support professionals with the resources and tools to get the job done. We know NCLB has affected our classrooms, and by many outside assessments of NCLB, it has been a failure. We, as educators, understand accountability. We also know we need shared responsibility and that without adequate yearly funding, we will not get adequate results. Look for more information in the upcoming Advocate on how you can get involved in the positive agenda for change. If you want to see information on how NCLB is affecting school performance, visit http://www.fairtest.org.
Health Insurance Cindy Buttry proposed, and the Knox County School Board voted, to pick up the total increase in the health insurance premiums this year. We would encourage all KCEA members to contact Cindy Buttry and their individual school board members to thank them for their support of the educators of Knox County.
Salary Committee By Athanasios Bayiates, KCEA Vice-President KCEA and the Knox County School Board created a salary committee at the beginning of the year, to research various proposals that have been put forward by school board members. The committee constructed a survey, which was sent to all school sites in Knox County, to get input, which will be compiled and analyzed by TEA and KCEA. The salary committee, along with the negotiations teams, will use the results to guide their discussions about benefits for the educators of Knox County. The results of the survey will be presented to the Knox County School Board on Monday, December 18th, at the AJ Building at 5:00 p.m. KCEA is committed to professional pay for all educators and we believe that resources that are available should be used to increase all educators’ pay so that it reflects the education and responsibility that educators have. While many outside of our Association are focused on merit pay, we believe that we need to focus on improving our salary schedule and providing opportunities for teachers to grow. We will support proposals tha tmake our great public schools better, by paying all our educators the professional salaries that we deserve. If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas, please contact your building level KCEA Representative. We also encourage all our members to come to the School Board workshop to hear the survey results.
Contact Your Legislator By Athanasios Bayiates, KCEA Vice President There is an important issue that will be coming up in the Congress in the coming months. The issue will probably be resolved by the current legislators, and that is the Classroom Epense Tax Reduction. As you are aware, in 2002, Congress passed legislation giving teachers a $250 federal tax deduction for out-of-pocket expenses and it is expected to be extended this year. However, Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) has introduced the NEA supported Teacher Tax Relief Act (H.R. 2989), which would make the deduction permanent, increase it to $400, and expand it to cover professional development expenses. The Senate version has been introduced by Senators Mary Landreieu (D-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and John Warner (R-VA). Contact our House Representative, Jimmy Duncan, and Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander and encourage them to support this legislation.
Minority Affairs Cindy Buttry proposed, and the Knox County School Board voted, to pick up the total increase in the health insurance premiums this year. We would encourage all KCEA members to contact Cindy Buttry and their individual school board members to thank them for their support of the educators of Knox County.
Great Public Schools Are A Right For Every Child In the next four issues of the Advocate, we will review the four parts of the NEA message for Great Public Schools for Every child and what they mean. Shared responsibility and mutual respect combine to produce results that will help students succeed in life. In addition to the familiar R’s, we need three more R’s: Respect, Responsibility, and Results. Parents, students, teachers, ESP’s, and all the members of the education team, along with elected officials and the community, must practice the three new R’s. We need mutual respect. Students, parents, teachers, and the entire community are responsible for helping students prepare for the future, The community, led by elected officials, parents, and concerned citizens, must make sure that public schools have adequate resources. When we are discussing issues that affect our schools at the local, state, and national level, everyone, not just educators, must show respect and share responsibility, so that we will get the results we all want: Great public schools for every child.
They Call Him “Dr. Davis” Congratulations to KCEA member and principal at Karns High School, Clifford Davis, for earning his doctorate in education this fall. Nice work, Dr. Davis.
Another Milken Award Winner in Knox County KCEA member and principal at Lonsdale Elementary School, Lisa light, was surprised on October 26 at a school-wide assembly by the Milken Family foundation when they awarded her with a $25,000 check. We can’t think of a more deserving recipient.
Legislative Agenda By Bill Bell, Legislative Committee Chair The legislative dinner was attended by Mayor Mike Ragsdale, Representative Joe Armstrong, and Representative Harry Tindell. With the elections just completed, KCEA members present at the meeting asked how our legislators will be addressing members’ concerns such as health insurance and changes in the state BEP formula in the next legislative session. The representatives expressed the opinion that while they supported the TEA goal of improving the state contribution to locals’ health insurance plans, they would be focusing on the changes in the BEP formula. Other items critical to employees and students of Knox County Schools were discussed. These included: forcing teachers to perform medical procedures for students, such as giving insulin shots, the possible effects of the sheriff’s department pension, and virtual schools. If we want to affect legislative action to support our great public schools, we need to talk to our legislators, so they know what the effects of their action will have on our classrooms. The visit to Knox County legislators in Nashville during the 2007 legislative term will be in late February or March. If you would like to attend, or if you would like to join our grassroots political action effort, contact the KCEA office. This is a great way for you to gain a voice in Tennessee’s political arena. Come join us and let your voice be heard.
Eighteen Hours Explained By Athanasios Bayiates, KCEA Vice President As we prepare for the upcoming changes in the unscheduled in-service hours for the 2007-2008 school year, it is important that there is an understanding of how and why these changes were made. There is a misconception that teachers will just be working tow uncompensated additional days,. This is not true. What has happened is that two inservice days were taken out of the calendar and converted into two unscheduled in-service days. The rationale is that a majority of teachers are, at this point, attending over 6 hours of unscheduled in-service days, and teacher would be better served with the opportunity to choose in-service that would support what they are doing in their classrooms. The Professional Development Center is changing how inservice hours are logged and providing a greater number of opportunities for in-service on their website. If you have not already received a card with a login name and password, you should soon. If you have any question, please contact the KCEA office.
Valuebuilder The NEA Valuebuilder program is the only retirement program endorsed by the NEA. Knox County has two new representatives to serve the needs of our members. Charles Ewing and Andrea Carpenter have been endorsed by Security Benefit to serve as the financial advisors for Valuebuilder. Charles and Andrea are committed to public education and service to help members understand their options as it relates to their specific situation. They have an office in Alcoa and have experience working with teachers in many areas of financial services. The Valuebuilder program offers mutual funds and variable annuities for 403b’s. The program offers more than 30 investment options, pre-tax savings, tax deferred accumulation, flexibility as well as an exclusive NEA endorsement. If you currently have a Valuebuilder account or need to establish one, they want you to understand your options. Valuebuilder has many new options, such as more ways to invest and ways to protect your future values that did not exist in the past. They invite you to call them directly to explore your options. Please call at 681.4040 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Message From NEA Member Benefits What’s keeping you from enjoying the benefits of homeownership? Don’t let a home buying myth cause you to put your future on hold. Read on to see how breaking down perceived bariers, understanding the truth, and working with the NEA Home Financing Program offered exclusively through Wells Fargo Home Mortgage can help you make the investment of a lifetime. Myth: “I can’t qualify for a mortgage with less-than-perfect credit.” Truth: Even with a limited or imperfect credit history, you may still be able to qualify for home financing. The NEA Home Financing Program has loan options with relaxed approval guidelines that accommodate credit and income challenges. Begin with the basics to achieve your goals: Check your credit report and know your credit score. Lenders look at your credit history to see how you’ve handled financial obligations in the past. Lenders also look at your monthly debt to be sure you’re able to add on a mortgage payment. So, if you plan to buy a home, check your credit report before you apply. Your credit score may be better—or easier to improve—than you think. Count on the NEA Home Financing Program to help you move beyond credit challenges and into your own Home. KCEA members can learn more by calling your certified TEA Home Mortgage Consultant, Betsie Hughes, at tel. 865.690.2721 or on the web at http://www.wfhm.com/betsie-hhughes.
Well Represented The following is a list of school sites whose Association Representative attended the November KCEA Representative Assembly:
5th Avenue A.L. Lotts Adrian Burnett Austin East Bearden Elementary Bearden Middle Bearden High Beaumont Belle Morris Bonny Kate Brickey McCloud Carter High Cedar Bluff Middle Cedar Bluff Primary Cedar Bluff Intermediate Chilhowee Intermediate Corryton Dogwood East Knox Farragut High Farragut Intermediate Farragut Middle Fountain City Gibbs Primary Green Gresham Middle Halls Elementary Halls High Halls Middle
Hardin Valley Holson Karns High Karns Middle Karns Elementary KAEC Lonsdale Mooreland Heights Mount Olive New Hopewell North Knox Vocational Northwest Middle Pleasant Ridge Pond Gap Powell elementary Richard yoakley Rocky Hill Sarah Moore Green Sequoyah Shanondale Spring Hill elementary Transition School Vine Middle West Haven West High West Hills West Valley Whittle Springs,
Remember, your KCEA representative is there for you. If you are ever in need of assistance or have any questions about your profession or your professional Association, contact your KCEA representative at your building or contact KCEA directly.
Contact us: KCEA 2411 Magnolia Ave. Knoxville, TN 37917 Phone: 865.522.9793 Fax 865.522.9866 http://www.kceaintouch.org