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Join KEA’s Campaign to Demand that Congress Repeal the GPO and WEP

BRIEFLY NOTED KEA Board Member to Receive National Award October 18

by Eddie Campbell, KEA Vice President

Are you in danger of being harmed by the GPO and WEP? If you are a teacher in Kentucky and pay into the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), there is a good chance that the answer to that question is yes. Most teachers will be impacted by these two devastating offsets of the Social Security system in some way. Classified school employees, who are enrolled in a different retirement system and pay into Social Security, are not affected by the GPO and WEP.

What is GPO? What is WEP?

Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduces a public pension employee’s spousal or survivor benefits by as much as two-thirds the amount equal to your public pension. Traditionally, when your spouse dies after paying into Social Security during their working career you are eligible to receive survivor benefits. However, because you are a Kentucky teacher and you pay into a public pension (TRS), your survivor benefits will be reduced by the GPO. Nine of ten public employees affected by GPO lose their entire spousal benefit. If that isn’t bad enough, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces the amount of Social Security benefits that you may have earned in other covered employment, because as an educator in Kentucky you pay into a pension system that is not covered by Social Security. WEP reduces the factor by which your average earnings are multiplied to determine your Social

Security benefits. Simply put, the WEP causes hard-working people to lose a significant portion of the Social Security benefits they earned. GPO and WEP are not new issues for educators in Kentucky and 13 other states. The WEP was a part of the 1983 Social Security Refinancing Act, and the GPO was a provision in the 1977 Social Security Amendments. Since that time, members of the National Education Association and your Kentucky Education Association have been working diligently to repeal these unfair offsets. Currently, there are two bills in Congress that would fully repeal both GPO and WEP. H.R. 973 and S. 1651 are the House and Senate versions, respectively, of “The Social Security Fairness Act of 2015.” Sadly, both bills are languishing in committees where no action has been taken on them and no attention has been given to them. Four members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation have chosen to stand up for educators and for the repeal of GPO/ WEP by co-sponsoring H.R. 973: Representative Ed Whitfield (1st Congressional District); Brett Guthrie (2nd CD); Rep. John Yarmuth (3rd CD): and Rep. Thomas Massie (4th CD). However, Representatives Hal Rogers (5th CD) and Andy Barr (6th CD) have not chosen to support Kentucky educators by co-sponsoring H.R. 973. Neither Senator Mitch McConnell nor Sen. Rand Paul has signed on to sponsor S. 1651. Please see ‘Join KEA’s’ on page 3

KEA Needs Paraeducators for Work on Implementing ESSA in Kentucky After a long and hard-fought battle won by NEA members and leaders, the bipartisan passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents millions of educators working in the nation’s public schools with an incredible opportunity. Educators now are better positioned to collaborate with other stakeholders to shape policies and programs to meet the needs of their students and correct many of the chronic challenges facing our schools. The ESSA ensures that paraeducators’ voices are heard in the decision-making processes at the federal, state, and local levels. This is a major improvement over No Child Left Behind. KEA has been empowering paraeducators for years. Most recently, KEA held its annual RESPECT Conference, the state’s only professional development conference

created exclusively for education support professionals. The keynote luncheon speaker was Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Stephen Pruitt. During his remarks, Dr. Pruitt challenged KEA to be a leader in the efforts to hear from the paraeducators across the state about how they can contribute to a new way of educating students in Kentucky public schools. KEA accepted the challenge, and now we need you. We will be asking for a geographically and demographically diverse group of para educators to come to Frankfort for a meeting with the Commissioner to discuss how this vital role in public education can be elevated. If you are interested in being part of this exciting work, please send an email request to and put “ESSA Paraeducator Group” in the subject line.

KEA congratulates Jennifer Hawkins (above), a preschool teacher at Cumberland Trace Elementary School in Warren County and a member of the KEA Board of Directors. The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children named Jennifer the recipient of its Rose C. Engel Award for Excellence in Professional Practice. She will receive her award at the DEC International Conference in Louisville on October 18th. Jennifer was nominated by Dr. Vicki Stayton, a Western Kentucky University professor who is recognized internationally for her work in early childhood education.

President Honors Two KEA Members for Science Teaching

Congratulations to KEA members Vivian Bowles (at right, above) and Gina Kimery (left, above) whom President Obama named in August to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest recognition given to any K-12 science or math teacher in the United States. Bowles, who teaches at Kit Carson Elementary in Madison County, and Kimery, who teaches at Jefferson County’s Farmer Elementary, were among 213 teachers honored this year. They were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators. Each will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.

2 For Educators at Burlington Elementary, Learning Together at TALK Conference an ‘Easy Decision’

Twenty-two teachers and paraeducators from Burlington Elementary School in Boone County attend the 2016 TALK Conference together in June. Among them were these educators who contributed to this story: Visual Perception paraeducator Arlene Jones (in white at center of front row); Technology Skills teacher Ryan Dittmer, the KEA building representative for BES (at far right in front); Physical Education teacher Molly Ahlman (in black on the back row); third grade teacher Valorie Cooper (in pink on the back row); and RTI paraeducator Karen Beckett (in stripes, next to Cooper).

The 2016 ‘Let’s TALK’ conference attracted 350 educators to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington this past June. Though many Kentucky public schools sent more than one educator to the conference, the largest group was from Burlington Elementary School in nearby Boone County, which sent 22 teachers and paraeducators, all but two of whom are members of either Boone County EA or Boone County Classified EA. “The majority of our staff belong to KEA,” Ryan Dittmer, a K-5 Technology Skills teacher and the KEA building representative at BES, said. “We are a close group.” KEA member and special education teacher Kitty Shelton, who has taught at BES for 28 years, added, “We don’t have a lot of turnover here. Once you get here you stay here. And that means we get to know one another, to know each other’s kids and what is going on in each other’s lives. And that makes a big difference.” That “big difference” includes a school culture of cooperation and collegiality, where all the staff work together for the benefit of their students. Sara Bijayananda, a member and a special education teacher who has been at BES for ten years, said, “We are a group of people who understand how very important relationships are. Every teacher knows how important relationships are with the students, but I think we understand that our relationships with each other are very important so we foster those. And that leads to things like big turnouts at conferences.” The big turnout at this summer’s TALK conference helped strengthen the bonds among those who attended. Dittmer said the conference experience may have been most valuable for the effect that it had on the working relationships between teachers and paraeducators. “Our ESP paraeducators are teaching so much in classrooms. They are such a vital part of classroom instruction,” Dittmer said. “So they need that PD too. They need to hear the same things the teachers are hearing.” Paraeducator Karen Beckett agreed. She said, “It is always a good thing when teachers and paraeducators can attend professional development together and it does help you work together more effectively. The teacher does not have to come Kentucky Education Association

back and teach or train her paraeducator in what she has learned; sometimes two brains remember better than one. We also enjoy spending time together away from school, and an opportunity to learn and grow as educators with your friends is always an easy decision.” Beckett, who works in Burlington’s RTI lab and has been at Burlington for 15 years, also agreed there is a “special spirit” at BES: “The teachers and paraeducators at Burlington have always worked well together. We are treated as equals and that makes us feel valued. In my position, I am included in advisory team meetings and my opinion is often asked when deciding which computer intervention would best suit a child’s needs. Arlene Jones, a paraeducator who works in the school’s Visual Perception Program, said, “I think so many of us attended the TALK conference because so many of us care strongly about the students here and the effect that education has on our community.” Jones has been working at BES for nine years, but she has a long history with the school. She attended Burlington as a child, as did her children and grandchildren. Physical Education teacher Molly Ahlman, who has taught at BES for three years, also was a student there. She said, “This is a special community. We love teaching here, working together, teachers and paraeducators. TALK gave us all the chance to learn together.” Valorie Cooper said TALK has been on the calendar for BES faculty since “three years ago, when five or six of us went and came back just all excited because there were great sessions and we were able to teach what we learned to our colleagues. Naturally it made them want to go, too.” The TALK Conference is just one of many high-quality professional learning opportunities that KEA makes possible for members. If you would like to know more about TALK or any of KEA’s professional learning programs, talk to the KEA representative in your building, call the KEA office nearest you, or contact KEA’s Director of Professional Excellence, Michelle New. You can reach Michelle by email at michelle., or by phone at (800) 231-4532. September 2016

Volume 53

Issue No. 1


McCracken’s NBCT Academy a Product of EA, Schools Partnership Join KEA’s Campaign to Demand Congress Repeal the GPO, WEP Continued from page 1

How can I help?

It is time that we raise our collective voices to let our US Representatives and Senators, our fellow educators and the people in our communities know about the unfair Social Security offsets that punish educators who have dedicated their lives to students and public education. Now that the new session of Congress has begun, KEA asks you to join in a social media campaign to spread the word about the devastating effects of GPO and WEP and demand their repeal. You can begin this campaign by visiting to send an email to Senators McConnell and Paul asking them to help by supporting S. 1651. If your Member of Congress is Rep. Rogers (5th CD) or Rep. Barr (6th CD) you also can use the tool there to send them a message asking them to help by supporting H.R. 973. Next, go to and download information regarding GPO/WEP to share with colleagues and community members. Then download and print one of the prewritten #repealGPOWEP messages (or a blank to write your own message) and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Be sure to use the hashtag #repealGPOWEP. Last, let us know how GPO and WEP have impacted (or will impact) your life. Go to and send us your story so your NEA Directors can take them directly to your representatives in Washington, D.C. By raising our voices together, we can focus attention on this important issue and repeal these unfair Social Security offsets that punish the hard working and dedicated teachers of Kentucky.


Volume 53, Issue 1 September 2016 Stephanie Winkler President Eddie Campbell Vice President Mary Ruble Executive Director Charles Main Editor Periodical postage paid at Williamsport, PA. KEA News is published four times a year, in September, November, March and May, by the Kentucky Education Association, 401 Capital Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601. Phone 800-231-4532. KEA News is the official publi­cation of KEA and reaches all KEA members. The annual subscription rate to members is $1.50, included in annual dues. The subscription rate to others is $5. ISSN 0164-3959 Postmaster: Send address changes to KEA News, 401 Capital Avenue Frankfort, KY 40601

September 2016

Volume 53

by Crystal Culp, NBCT, President of the McCracken County Education Association

In my school district, I am seen as the expert in all things dealing with National Board Certification. For that, I thank KEA and the leadership opportunities that were provided to me in designing, managing, and delivering the association’s candidate support program. Once, National Board certification was a major focus for professional development in my school district, but that support has waned over the years, as a result of funding cuts in the state sponsored candidate support structure. I envisioned a more localized candidate support program, and I believed that I could make that vision a reality. The potential value it held for my already distinguished school district was immense. National Board certification is the gift I gave to myself and to my students. It has bonded me to my profession, it has centered my practice, and it has invited me to really know my students. It was the fire that tempered my teaching practice, giving me malleability and durability as I grew to meet the challenges that my students brought to the classroom everyday. I also believe that when local boards of education invest in the certification process, they are investing in their teachers and in the students of their district. So, I went to work. As I was introduced to the teacherleader framework, I became a self-identified teacher leader. I worked to reintroduce a district program designed to have an authentic impact on professional practice. I was already an experienced candidate support provider because of my years of work with the KEA candidate support structure, and because KEA taught and trained me on the importance of working with my local board of education, I knew that I would need administrative support and a clear plan to achieve this goal. To begin, I researched the potential impact of National Board certification on our district and built positive and productive relationships with our assistant superintendent. What I found didn’t surprise me. I looked at leading researchers from across the country and over and over I read phrases like, “NBCTs outperform other teachers,” “NBCTs rank higher,” and “NBCTs were significantly more effective.” Through my own designed and implemented survey, I learned that the teachers in my district wanted meaningful professional development. To quote one survey response, “I need to know what I am doing in the classroom is making a difference.” This and other comments from that survey fueled my desire to bring a National Board support system to the teachers in my district. I knew I couldn’t pitch my idea without a model in place, so I got to work examining root causes and connecting them to the benefits of certification. Through the use of driver diagrams and the science of change ideas, I designed and then shared

Issue No. 1

Crystal Culp , NBCT, teaches at the McCracken County Regional Juvenile Detention Center

my idea for a district-supported National Board Academy with our Board of Education. I designed the Academy to include five candidates who would participate in 18 hours of mentoring, divided out over the 10-month school year. The district would fund the cost of one component for these candidates. The pitch included more than research and predictions about the potential outcomes of the academy; it included my own journey through the National Board process and how it has made all the difference in how I teach. The vote was unanimous in support of a district -funded National Board Academy. Teaching in juvenile detention, I credit my certification for my ability to analyze and reflect on my practice in such a way that I make real connections with students and identify their needs. Now, I am able to better engage them in their own learning so they see that success in school is possible. I have the skills to best serve these students and will continue to teach in this alternative setting, a setting that sees a high rate of teacher turnover. Every National Board certified teacher has a similar story to tell, but it is more than a story; it is the reality of the impact an accomplished teacher has on student learning, no matter the educational setting. Once achieved, certification continues to affect a teacher’s growth mindset, and that is what I want to bring to my school district. The model that I am building in McCracken County is sustainable and it is repeatable. It is my hope that every school board in Kentucky will find value in National Board Certification for their teachers, just as McCracken did. For information about how KEA can provide support for you, your school or your district with National Board Certification, contact Michelle New, KEA Director of Professional Excellence, by calling (502) 875-2889 or by email to

Kentucky Education Association


Two FCEA Members Lead Initiative to Make Big Changes at Crawford Middle to Better Serve Students In 2014 The Fayette County Public Schools appointed a committee of parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and community stakeholders to make recommendations for redrawing the district’s school attendance boundaries. Among the group’s recommendations to superintendent Emmanuel “Manny” Caulk was one that would transform Crawford Middle School - which serves Lexington’s ethnically diverse north side - into a performing arts magnet academy. Since the report was released, two KEA members who teach at Crawford have taken the initiative to draft a plan for that transformation. They presented their plan to the Crawford site-based council and to FCPS administration. Margaret Van Hook Stevens, who teaches Arts & Humanities, and Social Studies teacher Sara Green talked with KEA News about the plan and about why they assumed responsibility for seeing it implemented. Stevens: “Part of Superintendent Caulk’s blueprint is for schools to be innovative, so we are trying to take the initiative to make sure Crawford does have something innovative to offer when redistricting goes into effect next school year. The arts is our largest component where students are involved. Half our students are in band or orchestra, choir or some type of performing art, so we want to specialize in that, where students will be choosing a discipline to focus on when they come here. We want to be a school with a purpose within the arts.” Green: “Our student population is very expressive. Their families and subcultures are very expressive in nature. A lot of them don’t do well in your typical academic settings but they do well in the expressive

arts. So we took what the redistricting committee recommended and built a formal proposal with empirical data in order to bring this opportunity to students on the north side of Lexington.” Stevens: “Our demographics are diverse—there are about a third each Caucasian (36%), African American (33%) and Hispanic (28%). We want to keep that diversity. Often when you have magnet programs you lose a little bit of that, so we have built a program with our community in mind.” Green: “I don’t teach performing arts. I’m a social studies teacher. But just like any educator, my investment is in the student population, the kids and what is best for them—not just in the kids at Crawford but this community on the north side. That’s where my passion is and I feel like this opportunity is going to allow our kids to have different expression of their abilities that they have never had in Fayette County Schools before. “This is my 13th year and as I have grown as an educator over those years my main motivator to have the courage to step forward has been KEA. As a member of KEA I have been able to grow not only as a teacher but as a leader in the profession. Working within KEA has given me the courage to step forth and say ‘I have the knowledge, I have the education and the experience,’ and I have people who are backing me. There are so many times during this process I have gone to leaders in KEA and said, ‘Hey, where do I go?’ And I always get an answer.” Stevens: “I have an extensive background in the arts, but here at Crawford I teach arts and humanities. Why should I be the one to lead this effort on the magnet plan? I’m passionate. And I

Social Studies teacher Sara Green (above) and Arts & Humanities teacher Margaret Van Hook Stevens (below) are leading the effort to turn Lexington’s Crawford Middle School into a performing arts magnet for students in the city’s north side community.

believe teaching the arts is a way to teach leadership. “When I came to Crawford Ms. Green said, ‘Let me show you all the good things you can do with KEA.’ I value the different opportunities that KEA offers—especially for leadership—and the security of knowing that I can always go to KEA and find someone to help me, just as they have helped us with this effort.”

KEA Cadres Ready to Train Colleagues on Kentucky’s Next Generation Science Standards KEA’s cadres on the Next Generation Science Standards Sharon Thompson-Saito, who teaches at Watterson are in place and ready to offer training to local associations Elementary in Jefferson County, said this “second phase” and school and district faculties. There are a dozen of the elementary science training is meant to “actually get trainers availalbe to support NGSS work across the state. everybody on board to use the new standards. In phase one Nancy Broyles teaches freshman science at Tilghman High we started by going over the new standards and how you read School in Paducah. She them. It was lots of paperwork said the design of the and lots of slides and it was pretty trainings was driven in intense.” part by the concerns of This time around, she said, teachers, most of which “We are focusing more on, ‘How have to do with testing. can we show them how to use “We don’t know the standards, and how do these what the testing is standards translate into practice yet,” Broyles told KEA in the classroom?’” News. “Teachers are Thompson-Saito said teachers wondering how to want to know, “How am I going incorporate the new to teach science when it’s all standards to prepare reading and math, reading and students for testing.” math and test, test, test? There Broyles said the KEA are a lot of concerns and teachers training on NGSS is who do want to teach it but built around creating just don’t know where to start.” engaging, interactive She added, “If you come to this lessons. “We are always training you’re going to walk out Members of the core planning team of KEA’s training cadre for the Next going to improve our with things you can use in your Generation Science Standards work at KEA headquarters to finalize the teaching the more that classroom the next day. new training. From left are Vivian Bowles, of Madison County EA, Sharon we are able to let our “We are hoping, once they see Thompson-Saito, of JCTA, and Nancy Broyles of Paducah Independent EA. kids use manipulatives. how easy it is, that they get These lessons are together with other teachers and designed to be hands-on. By letting students engage in come up with their own lesson plans. It’s the whole PLC enriched activities, we will help them love science and they concept – professional learning communities.” will learn it better.” Kentucky Education Association

September 2016

Volume 53

Issue No. 1


September 2016

Volume 53

Issue No. 1

Kentucky Education Association

When you contact KEA to discuss anything that may involve your personal information, please be prepared to verify your identity. We may ask you to provide your KEA member ID number or the last four digits of your social security number. We take your privacy very seriously. We thank you for understanding and we appreciate your patience.


the stories in this issue of KEA News highlight KEA members who are acting to effect POSITIVE change. thESe members are living KEA’s core values of integrity, professionalism, respect, unity, advocacy and collective action, which form the foundation of citizenship in a democratic society. to help you communicate those values to your students, we have included in the center spread of this issue a FREE full-color poster entitled, “What does it take to be a good citizen in a democratic society?” The poster was created by the League of Women Voters of Washington STATE, who gave us permission to reprint it. We hope you will find this poster a useful resource for your classroom and BELIEVE that it will spark interesting discussions with your students.

INSIDE the issue

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Go to page 1 to learn how you can join the campaign to repeal the penalty for public service that robs teachers of their Social Security benefits.


September 2016 Volume 53 Issue 1

KEA News volume 53 issue 1  

The first issue of KEA News for the 2016-2017 school year includes a front page story by KEA Vice President Eddie Campbell on the Associatio...

KEA News volume 53 issue 1  

The first issue of KEA News for the 2016-2017 school year includes a front page story by KEA Vice President Eddie Campbell on the Associatio...