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Voice The Nebraska State Education Association ď ś February 2011

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On the Cover: Brad Wellmann and his sister, Tina Hogue, are teachers, he in Nebraska, she in Kansas. A comparison of school funding in the two states shows that Nebraska is better off -- at least for the moment. For the story, turn to

Page 6. the

VOICE Nebraska State Education Association 605 S. 14th Street, Suite 200 Lincoln, NE 68508-2742 · (402) 475-7611 · (800) 742-0047

Volume 64, No. 6 ISSN Number: 1085-0783 USPS Number: 000-369 Executive Director Assoc. Executive Director Director of Public Affairs Assistant Comm. Director

Craig R. Christiansen Neal Clayburn Karen Kilgarin Al Koontz

NSEA Board of Directors President Jess Wolf, Hartington Nancy Fulton, Wilber-Clatonia Vice President NEA Director Mark Shively, Omaha Leann Widhalm, Norfolk NEA Director

Official publication of the Nebraska State Education Association, Suite 200, 605 South 14th Street, Lincoln, NE 68508-2742. Periodical postage paid at Lincoln, NE, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: send address changes to NSEA Voice, Suite 200, 605 S. 14th Street, Lincoln, NE 68508-2742. Published 10 times yearly according to this schedule: September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May and August. Payment of annual NSEA membership dues entitles Nebraska educators to receive The Voice. Total cost of producing 10 monthly issues of The Voice each year is about $4.84 per member. Advertising rates of The Voice are available from the assistant communications director. All advertisements and advertisers are screened prior to publication. Appearance of an advertisement in The Voice does not necessarily imply NSEA endorsement of either the product being advertised or the views being expressed.

Great Public Schools For Every Child

Teachers & Politics For Many Reasons, Educators Should Be Active in the Political Scene

Every decision that affects education is a political decision. Politicians determine what goes on in your district, your building and, yes, in your classroom! If you answer “yes” to any of the following statements, then you should be involved in who is elected to offices like the School Board, State Board of Education, Unicameral and the United States Congress. n Are you interested in the size of your class? n Are you interested in determining what your salary will be? n Are you interested in the length of instructional time you spend with your students? n Are you interested in the amount of state aid your school district will receive? n Are you interested in the framework of your teacher evaluation procedure? n Are you interested in your right to bargain collectively with your colleagues? n Are you interested in maintaining high achievement standards for your school district? n Are you interested in fringe benefits like health insurance, worker’s compensation, long term disability,

retirement benefits and unemployment compensation? n Are you interested in what you must do to keep your teaching certificate current? n Are you interested in working conditions like duty free lunch, length of workday, number of contract days, health and safety standards and teacher planning time? n Are you interested in the standards of ethical, professional practices for educators? n Are you interested in your right as an employee to due process and just-cause termination? n Are you interested in the instructional program and curriculum requirements of your school district? n Are you interested in what you must do to advance in certification levels? n Are you interested in the maintenance of healthy, safe, and “green” school buildings and grounds? n Are you interested in the programs individuals entering our profession must complete? n Are you interested in the guidelines for special education? n Are you interested in what’s best for kids?

Bargaining Conference for ESPs Will be Held at Kearney in March Education support professionals (ESPs) in Nebraska take note: there is a bargaining conference scheduled that is designed just for your needs. NSEA will host the Statewide Bargaining and Advocacy Conference for ESP members on March 25-26, in Kearney. The conference is designed for ESP members at K-12 and higher education institutions. Attendees can follow either of two tracks of study. The first will examine how members can advocate for themselves with supervisors and administrators. The second track will focus on bargaining, and will look at developing a proposal; behavior at the

bargaining table; and how to prepare for bargaining. The conference will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 25, and close at about 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 26. A grant will enable NSEA to cover hotel room costs, and to allow a $25 stipend for fuel for each carload of members traveling more than 50 miles. Registration online at the NSEA website after Feb. 1. That website is at: Questions about registration? Call Jan Anderson at 1-800-742-0047, or e-mail her at:

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When I was 8 or 9, I remember telling my Mother how much I wanted to farm like my Dad and both my grandfathers. She didn’t tell me “no,” but she did tell me that “you have to get an education first. You can be the first in the family to complete college.” I’ve never thanked my Mom publicly for that advice – until now.  Thank you, Mom! My belief is that mothers and sons today continue to have similar conversations. There are young men, and women, who dream of working the earth, or who dream of following a parent into the family’s small business. And in a great many cases, there is a parent who says “education first.” The burning question is this: Will there be a quality education system in Nebraska to meet the need? The budget before the Legislature proposes deep cuts to state aid – cuts that will affect everything you do in your classroom in the next two years. NSEA will continue to work tirelessly to encourage state senators to improve state aid. On Jan. 25, our testimony to the Legislature’s Education Committee reiterated the fact that education leads to prosperity. Below, I’ve included excerpts from that testimony. The specific schools mentioned are in the districts of those senators who sit on the committee. Choose Opportunity Schools sit at the center of our communities – socially, culturally and economically. Think of Bellevue East or Bellevue West High Schools. You cannot reach either school building without going through a residential neighborhood. Both schools draw community members to student concerts and plays. York Elementary School stands nicely at the edge of a neighborhood and welcomes folks to club meetings, little league activities, adult education and Tae Kwon Do classes. In Omaha, Norris and McMillan Middle Schools host events and potluck meals for families and the community. Ogallala High School sits inside a neighborhood and hosts girls’ and boys’ basketball games and the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Contest. Cedar Rapids Junior-Senior High School is in the center of a neighborhood and brings in community members to listen to the speech team practice for district and state competition. Malcolm’s school sits atop a hill in a residential neighborhood and draws hundreds of fourth and fifth grade basketball players from surrounding towns for the March Invitational Tournament. And found within a mile of our Capitol Building are McPhee and Elliott Elementary Schools, along with Lincoln High School – each serving as an anchor in Lincoln’s core-city neighborhoods. Our schools are hubs of social and business networking, where life-long friends are made, where the business of learning takes place, where life is

made better for all, not just a few. All of that is at stake in this conversation about providing for the learning and educational needs of Nebraska’s students – our kids, our grandkids, and all children in our communities. Do we shortchange our children, or provide them many and varied opportunities? Which choice do you make for your own children and grandchildren? When we make those personal decisions, each of us chooses opportunity. Prerequisite to Innovation Our children need a quality education to succeed. They need a quality teacher in the classroom. They need up-to-date books, materials, computers, and library and media centers. They need social interaction with a community of peers to learn how to work together. Children of working families or those without a vehicle need transportation to school. We will never return to the conditions we experienced before the Great Recession of 2008-09. It lasted just 18 months, but like a tornado that destroys a community, it changed the course of our lives. This is the time when we must work together. We must create an economic recovery that is, and always has been, dependent on putting education first. Let me repeat: Economic recovery is, and always has been, dependent on putting education first. Education is the prerequisite to research and innovation, business development and expansion. Education is the foundation needed to make wise decisions in commerce and in our households. Education is the pathway to economic recovery. Education has been a proven source of stability through the toughest of economic times. Education enabled our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents to lift themselves and their generations to a higher standard of living and a better way of life. Now is the time to seize this opportunity. Now is the time to make the decision to pay for the education that is clearly in best interests of our children, families, communities and our state. Now is the time to make the decisions that will determine the future of our state for generations to come. LB235 opens the door to that opportunity. On behalf of Nebraska’s 295,000 public school students, we encourage lawmakers to seize the opportunity. By doing so, Nebraska will move toward funding our public schools at the level that secures a prosperous future for all. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.” Indeed it does. February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 3

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Millard Students and Staff Recovering From Tragedy MEA Message: Proud of Millard South Staff, Students The leadership and members of NSEA have extended condolences and prayers to the families, students, staff and community of Millard Public Schools following the tragic shooting at Millard South on Wednesday, Jan. 5. The event has dramatically and forever altered the lives of three families and two school districts, and shocked and affected thousands of others in Nebraska and across the country. “That such violence has touched a Nebraska school saddens each of us,” said NSEA President Jess Wolf. “No child should feel so lost, so alone to have to resort to such action.” NSEA began working with Millard Education Association President Molly Erickson within an hour of the shooting, helping MEA staff in an offer to provide assistance to Millard educators, the school district and students. In a message sent to MEA members shortly after the shooting, Erickson said, “We are deeply proud of the students and staff at Millard South, who, with able assistance of law enforcement, helped save lives during today’s tragedy.” NSEA provided information from the National Education Association’s Health Information Network to Erickson, who shared it with MEA members and school district officials. “This is valuable information that all educators should be aware of – and I hope no educator ever has to use,” said

Kaspar Remembered Through Scholarship The good work and memory of Dr. Virginia Kaspar, a victim in the Jan. 5 shooting at Millard South High School, will be honored with the awarding of scholarship monies through the Millard Public Schools Foundation. To donate, go to:

Erickson. The NEA Health Information Network is a non-profit health affiliate of School Crisis Guide the National EducaAvailable Through NEA tion Association, and The NEA Health Information Netprovides health and work’s School Crisis Guide is an exsafety information to cellent resource for public schools to the NEA’s 3.2 million consider when implementing a school education employees crisis plan. and the students they Such a plan can make a difference serve. Since its incepbetween stability and chaos when it tion, HIN has dealt comes to handling a dangerous situawith numerous health tion.The HIN’s plan includes issues to and safety issues that address before a crisis hits; how to reaffect NEA members spond as a crisis unfolds; and how to and students, includhelp staff and students recover after a crisis has passed. Elements of those ing HIV/AIDS, subplans were shared with Millard Edustance abuse, teen cation Association members almost pregnancy, cancer, immediately upon the report of the mental illness, nutrishooting at Millard South on Jan. 5. tion, school safety, To learn more about the NEA asthma and environHealth Information Network School mental hazards in Crisis Guide, go to this website: schools. Erickson also expressed thanks for the outpouring of support from individuals and other local associations that has flooded into the Millard Education Association offices. Cards and letters expressing sympathy; e-mail messages of condolence; and offerings of prayer have been received from schools across the region.

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The Stark Difference Comparison of Kansas, Nebraska Offers Clear Warning of Correct Path for Public Education The economies of Kansas and Nebraska are largely driven by agriculture. The landscape in both states is broad, mostly flat and sits above the Ogallala Aquifer. The populace is predominately Caucasian, Christian and conservative, with rural roots. So it makes sense to compare K-12 education in Kansas and Nebraska – notably the status of state aid and retirement systems. The good news is that a side-by-side review of the numbers shows that Nebraska stands head and shoulders above Kansas in protecting quality public education for students and a secure retirement for public school employees. Putting faces to those facts gives a more personal view to the story and provides a reality check on the negative consequences if Nebraska fails to continue to invest in our public schools, students and staff. Brad Wellmann and his sister, Tina Hogue, grew up on a farm near Waco, NE. Both are now teachers. Brad has taught fourth grade at Fort Crook Elementary School in Bellevue for eight years. Tina taught third grade at Lawrence, KS, for three years before taking materinity leave this year. She hopes to return to teaching in September. “I want to teach next year, but with budget cuts in almost every district, I’m not sure a full-time position will be avail-


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Both sides of the line: Brad Wellmann and his sister, Tina Hogue, are both teachers, Wellmann in Bellevue and Hogue in Kansas.The differences in school funding and teacher retirement between the two states paints a stark picture for the education of Kansas children like Hogue’s daughter, Emma.

able,” said Hogue. “As of right now, it looks like multiple middle schools and elementary schools will be closed for next year and the year after that.” Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Wellmann said he is unaware of any major cuts to district staffing or programs. “I believe that most members are trying to use our current resources in a responsible and professional manner to help prevent cuts in upcoming years,”

said Wellmann, who was Bellevue Education Association president last year. Jobs Already Lost Nebraska lawmakers have now delved into a discussion over the twoyear projected state revenue shortfall of $986 million. To deal with that shortfall, Gov. Dave Heineman’s budget would cut aid to schools by $81 million next year and, from that total, another $9 mil-

Budget Cuts Will Mean Job Cuts Tell Your Lawmaker that Cuts Slow the Recovery, Hurt Kids Gov. Dave Heineman’s budget plan makes plenty of cuts to the state budget – the result of a predicted revenue shortfall of $980 million. The governor proposed $869 million in K-12 state aid for 2011-12 –an $81 million cut from the current year and far below the estimated $1.02 billion actual need under the current education aid formula. For 2012-13, the governor proposed another cut to $860 million.That’s well short of the estimated $1.13 billion in state aid need for 2012-13. Bottom line: those cuts translate to a potential loss of more than 1,500 K-12 teaching jobs statewide. Further, there there are no states or countries that have enjoyed broad-based economic prosperity by cutting education. Nebraska already ranks 49th in the nation in state support to public schools, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nebraska educators must contact state senators and the governor’s office with this message: Nebraska must have a well-educated workforce to ensure broad-based prosperity – and that means we have to do better in terms of investing resources in education, PK-16. To do so, go to this website: Page 6 n The NSEA Voice n February 2011

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RIFs: Coming to a School Near You With State Aid Cuts, Some Districts Will Cut Staff, Student Opportunities

Gov. Dave Heineman’s sobering budget (see sidebar) proposes deep cuts in state aid over the next two years. And while the governor has warned school administrators that the state aid cuts should not result in teacher layoffs, there will most certainly be educational jobs lost this spring. Heineman said school districts should have limited spending growth and put previously-received stimulus funds in reserve to prepare for the end of those stimulus funds. But that didn’t happen. For instance, the Omaha World-Herald noted that the Omaha and Lincoln school districts reduced their cash reserves by a combined $11.6 million this year. According to NSEA research, if school districts are unable to recoup the state aid reduction from other sources (property tax, reserve funds), as many as 1,500 of Nebraska’s PK-12 educator jobs could be lost. Many school districts already have reduction strategies ready, even though state aid numbers are months away from being unveiled, said Trish Guinan, NSEA’s director of Member Rights. “The RIF process has started early, as predicted,” said Guinan. “Although I hope that school districts don’t make cuts deeper than are necessary, it’s obvious that they do not seem to need to know exact state aid figures in order to make plans for next year.” Guinan said she has already received numerous calls from NSEA UniServ directors whose locals are reporting implementation vol-

untary separation program offers and other cost-saving measures. What most NSEA members must be aware of, said Guinan, are the steps they need to take to preserve their rights if they receive a RIF notice. “The best way to deal with RIF notices is to be prepared,” said Guinan. “And the best way to be prepared is to follow this tried and true advice when you receive a RIF notice: Call NSEA immediately.” State statute bars school districts from delivering RIF notices to teachers after April 15. Once delivered, however, a countdown begins. Educators have just seven days in which to file an appeal to contest the RIF notice. “While your situation may never reach an actual hearing, the best option is to act quickly by placing a call to NSEA immediately,” said Guinan. “Doing so will give you, your NSEA UniServ director and NSEA’s Member Rights department time to determine what steps are in your best interest.” If you receive a notice, do two things: Fax a copy of the RIF notice to the NSEA at 1-402-475-2630. Call your NSEA UniServ director at 1-800-742-0047 to verify that the notice has arrived. As always, if you have questions, contact your UniServ director or the NSEA office of Member Rights at 1-800-742-0047.

An $18 million state contribution to the plan next year, and lion the following year. That means that in each of the next two a projected $48 million addition the following year, would do years, state aid will fall far, far short of the actual needs-based much to resolve solvency concerns, according to actuaries. Yet cost of educating students as prescribed by the ever-tweaked lawmakers have little interest in such state contributions. state aid formula. If realized, such cuts will result in the loss Instead, talk has centered on increasing contributions by of important programs, supplies and technology for students plan participants – teachers and other school employees – and – and as many as 1,600 teaching jobs could be at stake, which by school districts. Such a rate increase would come on top of will balloon class size and hurt student achievement. a rate increase instituted on Sept. 1 of last year but would be Across the border, Kansas school districts lost more than slated to return to lower levels in 2014. While a few lawmak$200 million in state aid over the past two years. As a result, ers want to look at moving to a less secure, defined contribuKansas schools have fired more than 1,600 teachers, paraprotion retirement plan, the cost of such a move is prohibitive and fessionals, secretaries and other school employees in the last 24 is clearly not in the best interests months. And it gets worse: Kanof school employees, districts or sas lawmakers face a projected the state. revenue shortfall of another $500 n The cost in 2009 to educate a public school In Kansas, the state – rather million for the budget that starts than local school districts – July 1. student in Nebraska: $9,250.* The 1,600 jobs already cut n The cost in 2009 to house an inmate in Ne- matches employee contributions. However, the Kansas Legislature came at a significant cost to Kanhas never met the actuarial rate sans: The estimated 1,100 teach- braska’s youth correction facilities: $58,424.** *NEA’s annual ‘Rankings & Estimates’ report. for the employer contribution. ing jobs among those cuts sucked **Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Annual Report. Thus, as of Dec. 30, 2010, the an estimated $59 million out of Kansas teacher retirement plan the Kansas economy in the first was just 56 percent funded, with unfunded liabilities at $5 bilyear alone, according to one news account. lion. That’s $59 million not spent in Kansas shops and businesses “The trend was to put off to tomorrow what the state should each year. That’s diminished income and sales tax revenue. have been doing all along,” said David Schauner, general counThat’s a significant obstacle on the road to economic recovery. sel for the Kansas National Education Association. Efforts to bring solvency to the Kansas retirement system Better Shape have eliminated early retirement provisions and Schauner said Nebraska’s teacher retirement plan outshines the Kansas there is also talk of moving from a defined benefit to a defined plan, at least for the moment. contribution plan. A report on the status through June 30 showed the Nebraska A Jan. 12 report on the health of the Kansas plan says that plan was 84 percent funded – and it should be noted that the “without additional steps to address the shortfall, the School Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained more than 20 percent Group’s funded status, in particular, is highly vulnerable to since June 30.

Education or Incarceration?

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market downturns for a protracted period of time.” A Working Retirement? Hogue is young enough that she doesn’t yet watch her retirement too closely. But she knows teachers who have retired and are forced to take parttime or even full-time jobs. “It scares me that I will put all of my time and effort and heart into teaching, and then have nothing to show for it,” she said. Even though retirement seems well down the road, Wellmann says he has attended several NSEA-Retired workshops, which have taught him that all teachers need to learn about and understand the retirement system. “Members must understand the benefits of our current system and the differences between a defined contribution and a defined benefit system,” he said. Understanding the system, however, doesn’t make it any easier to pay the increased contribution rates. “It’s been difficult for me, and other Bellevue teachers, to pay the contribution increases to our retirement system,” said Wellmann. “We’re doing our part in tough times; the state should meet its obligations, as well.” Said NSEA President Jess Wolf: “Nebraska’s retirement system is in very good shape compared to other states. It’s the responsibility of all of us – including the Legislature – to see that the plan’s health is preserved. When the plan is healthy, we all benefit.” Deep Cuts in Kansas Deep cuts were already felt in Hogue’s Lawrence school before she left the classroom. There were times when her school didn’t have simple supplies like copy paper and pencils. “We definitely had to alter lesson plans at times to eliminate the use of paper copies for all students,” she said. “Instead of students being able to learn about their town’s history in a walking tour field trip, they had to watch it on a slide show. That affects the quality of the learning.” Hogue said the music program lost keyboards and other instruments. Art classes were denied trips to museums. More important, teaching positions were lost, learning coaches were let go and mentoring programs were shut down – all changes that caused class sizes to increase and students and teachers to be shuffled. As a result, staff and

Education Bill Watch These Bills Will Affect Your Job

Here are some of the nearly 100 education-related bills that NSEA is watching closely: Cuts Away from the Classroom Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln introduced LB531, which requires that any reductions made in school district budgets made to comply with state-directed budget limitations “shall affect classroom expenses only as a last resort.” NSEA supports LB531. Retirement Contribution Rates Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, Omaha, offered LB382 on behalf of Gov. Heineman. It raises the retirement contribution rate by one percent to 9.28 percent for two years; drops the rate back to 8.28 percent for one year, then drops it to 7.28 percent in 2014. In addition, increases in school district contribution rates would be kept ouside the each district’s budget lid. NSEA supports the bill. Collective Bargaining at Risk Every NSEA member benefits from a contract negotiated with the local school board.Yet Sen. John Nelson of Omaha would end that bargaining process with LR29CA, a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed by voters, would prohibit public sector collective bargaining as a new section of the Nebraska Constitution. NSEA opposes LR29CA. Guns in School Sen. Mark Christensen, Imperial, has offered LB516, which would allow the governing board of any school district, with a two-thirds vote, to authorize security personnel, administrators, or teachers to carry concealed handguns on school property, if the staff member is in compliance with state law.Written notice would have to be given to students,and parents or guardians of each student. NSEA Bylaws support a zero-tolerance policy for weapons in schools. Assaults at YRTC Kearney Sen. Galen Hadley introduced LB242, which classifies as second degree assault any attack on an employee of the state’s Youth Rehabilitation Training Center by any person legally confined to YRTC. NSEA members who serve as teachers at the YRTC have been assaulted by teens housed at the YRTC in Kearney and Geneva. NSEA supports LB242. Cyber-bullying LB123, sponsored by Sen. Lavon Heidemann, adds cyber-bullying to the list of reasons a student may be disciplined by a school district. “There is no doubt that some students have used social media outlets to bully or otherwise harm other students and/or school employees,” NSEA President Jess Wolf said in a letter to Education Committee Chairman Sen. Greg Adams. “We appreciate the recognition of this problem and this effort to address it.” Tuition Reimbursement LB403, introduced by Omaha Sen. Brenda Council, provides full funding for the tuition reimbursement program the Legislature enacted two years ago.

student morale suffered. “A staff that was like family all of a sudden had been split up. It was hard to handle,” she said. With schools closing and attendance boundaries changing, students were upset because they were going to be separated from friends and classmates. “Teachers do what we can to mitigate that, but such disruptions truly do make a difference in student learning,” said Hogue. “It was a very difficult last few months.” It was more difficult for students most at risk, those students with an unstable home life. “School is the one place they can count on for structure and stability, and when it all changes in just a week or two, it really affects them,” said Hogue.

Wellmann said Bellevue teachers know of the state’s budget situation. “I think many teachers wonder how our class sizes will be affected by the state budget,” he said. “Will the district take three classrooms of 20 thirdgraders and create two classrooms of 30 fourth-graders the following year? With the increasing demands from state assessments, how will our students achieve in these larger classrooms?” “I hope that our state senators remember that our students only get one chance to be a fourth-grader. They are 9 years old just once – we can’t get that year of learning back. There are no doovers,” he said. “I don’t want to jeopardize their futures to save a few dollars, because it will end up costing Nebraska’s taxpayers even more in the future.”

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It’s Cold, Cold, Cold! Many Children Aren’t Clothed for Winter It’s the first of February, and it’s cold outside. It’s especially cold if you’re a young child headed to school in a light jacket or footwear more appropriate for summer weather. And that’s where the NSEA Children’s Fund can make a difference. Every NSEA member knows of children in such heartbreaking situations: children who wear light jackets in cold weather because they have nothing else; students who eat only when school is in session; students who can’t see because they need eyeglasses. Teachers often use their own dollars to help these children, knowing that they can’t help every child. That’s


You Can Help Keep the Children’s Fund Afloat In trying to address the enormous need Nebraska school children face in these tough times, the Children’s Fund itself is facing serious financial difficulty, and could be drained almost completely by the end of the current school year. There are four ways you can help keep the Children’s Fund afloat: n First, send a tax deductible contribution. Memorial gifts are accepted, and retirement donations are also a nice way to honor someone’s service to the education profession. n Second, participate in the annual Children’s Fund Golf Tournament, which raises, on average, more than $15,000 for the fund each year. This year’s event is set for Lincoln’s Wilderness Ridge Golf Course on Tuesday, June 7. n Third, ask your local association to consider an annual gift to the Children’s Fund. n Fourth, organize a local benefit for the Fund. For ideas, go to the NSEA website at:

why NSEA created the Children’s Fund, and continues to work to raise money for that Fund. Since 1994, donations to the Children’s Fund have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to help children in need. In the past two years, the Children’s Fund has provided nearly $120,000 in relief. Contributions to the NSEA Children’s Fund come from teachers and businesses across the state. A golf

tournament raises nearly $20,000 a year for the Fund. Contributions are tax deductible — and it’s important to note that every penny contributed helps children. NSEA picks up all administrative expenses. To receive funding to help a student, there is no red tape, no form for teachers to fill out. Simply contact the NSEA at 1-800-742-0047 and ask for Sally Bodtke. Or e-mail her at:

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Is Your Master’s Degree Worthless? Or Are Some Master’s Degrees Worth More Than Others?

Mortensen is a professor emeritus and former associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He cited examples of advanced degree programs and award-winning teachers with advanced degrees. A retired educator from Blair has challenged an assertion by “Could it be that graduate study in teachers’ major curriculum the nation’s top education officer that post-graduate degrees do fields and highly developed pedagogical skills had an impact little to improve student learning. upon their teaching effectiveness, or has U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Your Thoughts? Mr. Duncan found a study that supports Duncan questioned the value of master’s his previous position on teacher pay?” Has your postdegrees in a speech late last year. A guest As for paying educators more for graduate degree or editorial by Robert Mortensen that apthe advanced degrees they earn at their degrees helped you peared in the Omaha World-Herald on own expense, Mortensen said “when Mr. to become a better Jan. 5 took the Secretary to task. Duncan states that paying teachers based Duncan’s comments were seen by on longevity and advanced degrees is a teacher? Tell us how some critics as part of a sustained nawaste of money, he removes a primary on NSEA’s Facebook page at tional campaign to de-professionalize initiative a teacher may have to become the teaching profession; or to disbetter at his or her craft.” credit colleges of education and K-12 Finally, Duncan should engage teachschools; or to promote charter schools – or all of the above. ers and solve education’s problems from the bottom up, not Duncan said that U.S. school districts “currently pay about from the top down, advised Mortensen. $8 billion each year to teachers because they have master’s de“Teachers should be rewarded for the efforts they put into grees, even though there is little evidence teachers with mastheir profession. Teachers today are dealing with problems ter’s degrees improve student achievement more than other never before faced in education, such as students coming teachers — with the possible exception of teachers who earn to school hungry, abused, unmotivated and without parental masters in math and science.” support for the value of education. Teachers need innovative While Duncan didn’t explain how advanced degrees can ways to address the broad spectrum of learning styles of all benefit math and science teachers while being of little value students, and this can most certainly be achieved through to other educators, Mortensen challenged Duncan’s assertion. graduate study.”

Bargaining Conference for Higher Ed Set at Kearney Plans are almost complete for the Feb. 11-12 Bargaining Conference for higher education members of NSEA, according to Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Bargaining and Research. The conference will be held at the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus.

On the agenda are the issues: contract maintenance and analysis; organizing; building membership; bookkeeping; retirement issues; table tactics and behavior; and comparability data for bargaining. There will also be time for local units to meet with their UniServ direc-

tor to discuss and set future bargaining goals. There may also be a session on interest-based bargaining. To register, contact NSEA or call your UniServ director at 1-800-7420047. Registration will also be available on the NSEA website at:


Susan Stake

President, NSEA Capitol District February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 11

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Nebraska Teacher Salary Update Annual Review is a Barometer for Negotiators As Nebraska educators prepare to head back to the bargaining table, it is good to do so with accurate details. The information on these charts comes from the NSEA Bargaining and Research Department and represents the figures for the 2009-10 school year. The charts serve two purposes: they provide factual, though slightly dated, information to NSEA members and negotiators; and they allow negotiators and individuals to make fact-based decisions as they begin the negotiations process. The numbers are also useful to members searching for new employment. However, members in the job search mode would be wise to also ask questions about health care and other benefits provided by each school district’s negotiated agreement. These numbers also provide benchmarks, and allow negotiators, in particular, to set goals based on competitive — and not just comparable or average — measurements. The charts represent information from the state’s more than 250 K-12 school districts, each represented by an NSEA bargaining unit. Questions? Contact NSEA’s Karen Hunt at:

Starting Salaries

Bottom 25 Wheeler Central $25,500 Lynch $25,950 Spalding $26,000 Loup Co $26,200 Arcadia $26,200 Sargent $26,300 Homer $26,350 ESU 17-Ainsworth $26,500 Maywood $26,600 Sutherland $26,800 Anselmo-Merna $26,800 Mullen $26,800 Elba $26,800 Arnold $27,050 Brady $27,100 ESU 7-Columbus $27,115 Callaway $27,150 Wauneta-Palisade $27,200 Ansley $27,200 Prague $27,250 Rock County $27,325 Sioux County $27,400 Neligh-Oakdale $27,400 Eustis-Farnam $27,450 Hartington $27,450 Pleasanton $27,450 Top 25 Wilber-Clatonia $31,025 Madison $31,050 Arlington $31,170 Gretna $31,200 Harvard $31,212 Pierce $31,320 Gering $31,350 $31,675 ESU 5-Beatrice Holdrege $31,719 North Platte $31,840 Raymond Central $31,900 Elkhorn $31,941 Columbus $31,950 Umonhon Nation (Macy) $32,000 Norfolk $32,000 Norris $32,000 ESU 2-Fremont $32,037 Bennington $32,400 Omaha $32,485 Winnebago $32,589 Blair $32,621 Walthill $33,070 Westside $34,200 Millard $34,383 Lincoln $36,008

Master’s Degree - Max Bottom 25 Lynch $39,444 Spalding $40,560 Elba $41,808 Stuart $41,952 Homer $42,160 Loup Co-Taylor $42,444 Arcadia $42,968 Amherst $43,524 Cedar Rapids $43,608 Loomis $43,680 Keya Paha County $43,680 Wheeler Central $43,860 Pleasanton $43,920 North Loup-Scotia $43,924 Harvard $43,928 Red Cloud $43,992 Niobrara $44,080 St. Edward $44,082 Hayes Center $44,240 Litchfield $44,320 Wynot $44,400 Brady $44,444 Greeley-Wolbach $44,480 Ewing $44,586 McCool Junction $44,616 Top 25 Pierce $52,490 North Bend Central $52,521 Norfolk $52,640 Wisner-Pilger $52,686 Lyons-Decatur $52,762 $52,854 North Platte Grand Island $52,879 Hastings $52,950 Gering $52,950 Malcolm $53,064 Bridgeport $53,127 Kearney $53,178 York $53,193 $53,592 Raymond Central Umonhon Nation (Macy) $53,760 Fremont $54,069 West Point $54,300 Bellevue $54,366 Ralston $54,503 ESU 11-Holdrege $55,076 ESU 13-Scottsbluff $55,640 Tekamah-Herman $56,579 Papillion-LaVista $60,561 Omaha $65,221 Lincoln $67,916

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$39,444 $40,560 $41,808 $41,952 $42,160 $42,444 $42,968 $43,524 $43,608 $43,680 $43,680 $43,860 $43,920 $43,924 $43,928 $43,992 $44,080 $44,082 $44,240 $44,320 $44,400 $44,444 $44,480 $44,586 $44,616

$52,490 $52,521 $52,640 $52,686 $52,762 $52,854 $52,879 $52,950 $52,950 $53,064 $53,127 $53,178 $53,193 $53,592 $53,760 $54,069 $54,300 $54,366 $54,503 $55,076 $55,640 $56,579 $60,561 $65,221 $67,916

Salary Schedule - Max Bottom 25 Lynch $41,520 Spalding $42,900 Arcadia $42,968 Stuart $43,056 Wheeler Central $43,860 Arthur Co. Hs $45,100 Elba $45,560 Cedar Rapids $45,954 West Boyd Unified $46,084 Anselmo-Merna $46,096 Loup Co-Taylor $46,112 St. Edward $46,454 Wynot $46,620 Greeley-Wolbach $46,982 Giltner $47,040 Keya Paha County $47,040 Kenesaw $47,376 Newman Grove $47,472 Niobrara $47,560 Amherst $47,988 Ewing $48,042 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller $48,074 Ansley $48,144 Maywood $48,146 Leigh $48,160 Loomis $48,160 Top 25 Hastings $61,050 Bridgeport $61,254 Kearney $61,313 $61,365 Northwest (Grand Island) ESU 1-Wakefield $61,387 Elkhorn $61,516 Plattsmouth $62,115 So. Sioux City $62,210 York $62,729 Ralston $62,888 $62,944 ESU 11-Holdrege ESU 9-Hastings $63,740 Gering $63,750 $64,123 Grand Island Norris $64,320 Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca $65,395 Bellevue $65,487 Columbus $66,146 Norfolk $66,240 $67,182 North Platte Fremont $67,365 Omaha $69,541 Papillion-LaVista $69,902 Lincoln $72,353 Millard $73,006 February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 13

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Considering Leadership? Now is the Time to Act; Filing Deadlines Near In order to remain strong, your Association needs strong leaders, both at the district level and at the state level. NSEA will hold elections in midMarch for nearly two dozen district offices, along with several slots on NSEA’s Board of Directors. Those elected will take leadership roles in determining the future of the Association. The filing deadline for those offices is Sunday, Feb. 20. Voting will take place from Wednesday, March 9, through midnight on Wednesday, March 23. To file, simply go to the NSEA website and click on the ‘2011 District Elections’ link. Select your district, and then select the office you are interested in seeking. All candidates will need their personal 10-digit NSEA membership identification number, which can be found on the NSEA Access membership card, or above the address on the mailing label on The Voice. During the online filing process, all

Metro District Board Has Five Openings A listing of openings in the leadership ranks of NSEA’s Metro District last month did not include openings in two sub-districts.Thus there are five, rather than three, openings on the Metro District Board of Directors.All of the odd-numbered district seats – 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 – are open for election this year. The filing deadline for those offices is Sunday, Feb. 20. Voting will take place from Wednesday, March 9, through midnight on Wednesday, March 23.To file for office: Simply go to the NSEA website and click on the ‘2011 District Elections’ link. The NSEA website is at Select your district, and then select the office you are interested in seeking.All persons seeking to file as a candidate will need their 10-digit NSEA membership identification number. Your number can be found on your NSEA Access membership card, or above your name on the mailing label on The Voice.

candidates will have an opportunity to provide a 50-word statement. Voters will be able to access that statement during balloting. It may be easiest for candidates to type the statement in a Word or other text document before beginning, and then pasting the statement into the appropriate box during the filing process. Note that NSEA’s Minority Involvement Plan encourages minorities to seek office. If you do not have access to the Internet, mail your name, address, local

association name and a 50-word statement to: NSEA Elections, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE 68508-2742. Be sure to state which office you are seeking. In all cases, the deadline for filing is Sunday, Feb. 20. The NSEA website is at


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Teachers as Rangers Two NSEA Members Spent Last Summer as Park Rangers. You Can, Too! Two southeast Nebraska teachers and NSEA members have a better understanding of the National Parks System in general, and of Homestead National Monument in particular, thanks to the National Park Service ‘Teacher to Ranger to Teacher’ (TRT) program. For other Nebraska teachers interested in such an experience, now is the time to consider applying. Last summer, Beatrice fourth grade teacher Ellen Janssen and Sutton secondary social studies teacher Craig Rafert spent eight weeks at Homestead National Monument near Beatrice. They worked on the Monument’s living history project; wrote curriculum; and researched history related to the Monument.

steader schools. She also wrote curriculum that will be an online resource for teachers. “It’s been an opportunity to do research that you don’t have time to do during the school year,” she said. “It has really increased my appreciation for what the homesteaders went through. It was really a trying time – for the homesteaders to survive was just amazing. I hope I can convey that to my students better.”

Understanding the Homestead Act Rafert was more active in the living history aspect of the Monument, and gained valuable knowledge. “I have a broader understanding of the Homestead Act,” he said. “In the past, we’ve touched on it, Research Opportunity for maybe a day, and that would be While the national parks system generous. But now I’ve found ways offers great learning and recreation to tie homesteading back to the enopportunities to all Americans, not all children – and particularly chilOn duty: Ellen Janssen and Craig Rafert spent tire curriculum.” Park Ranger Tina Miller, Homedren in low-income families – have eight weeks as Park Rangers at Homestead Nastead’s education coordinator, said access to the park system. The TRT tional Monument near Beatrice last summer. Janssen and Rafert were assets to program links National Parks sites the park’s summer programming. with teachers from Title I school districts, forming a link “I’d keep them both forever, if I could,” she said. “They between the park system and children. bring a different perspective, an educator’s language. It’s Teachers selected for the TRT program then spend a sumbeen fun for me.” mer working as a uniformed park ranger. Duties can include For more details on the TRT Program, go to this website: development and presentation of interpretive programs for the public; manning the visitor’s desk; developing curricuFor more details about Homestead National Monument, lum; research; or other projects. go to this website: Then, at school, the ‘Teacher Rangers’ use park resources in the classroom. Each April, during National Park Week, the Nebraska has two other national monuments, Agate Fos‘Teacher Rangers’ wear their park uniforms to school; discuss sil Beds National Monument, and their summer as a ranger; and work Scotts Bluff National Monument. with students and other teachers in “..I’ve found ways to tie homesteading For details on those, and other napark-related activities. tional park-related sites in Nebrasback to the entire curriculum.” Janssen spent time last summer on a living history project and at the — Craig Rafert, ka, go to: old school house on the Monument Sutton social studies teacher index.htm grounds, telling the story of home-

Need a Spark in Your Nebraska Studies? Contact Homestead National Monument Does your classroom curriculum need something new and Nebraska-related? The Homestead National Monument offers field trips; curriculum materials aligned to social studies, math and science frameworks for Nebraska schools; and professional development.

Homestead Monument staff also provides distance learning opportunities for further enrichment. For more details, contact Ranger Tina Miller at 402-223-3514, or click on the Homestead National Monument link at this website: February2011 2011nnThe TheNSEA NSEAVoice VoicennPage Page15 15 February

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News You Can Use Classroom Earth Offers Development Grants Are you interested in enhancing your understanding of the living world, and learning to teach about wildlife conservation in your subject area? Classroom Earth is supporting middle and high school teachers around the country who want to make wildlife conservation part of their curriculum. Classroom Earth’s 2010 Professional Development Grants will enable applicants to take one six-week online course offered by the Wildlife Conservation Society to create a strong foundation in wildlife conservation. Participating teachers will be better equipped to bring wildlife conservation education into the classroom, facilitate scientific learning and to connect students with their natural surroundings. The Classroom Earth grant opportunity will also support teachers to earn graduate level credit. To apply by the Feb. 1 deadline, go to:

Use Social Media to Teach Social Justice As social networking sites and mobile technology offer new ways for students to socialize, educators can turn this technology into powerful classroom tools to engage students and teach lessons that promote social justice and challenge stereotypes. This information is included in the Spring 2011 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine. Challenging stereotypes and labels is also the subject of a series of articles that will help educators teach their students about immigration. This topic is one of several timely issues explored for teachers seeking classroom lessons that provide students an opportunity to exercise empathy and critical thinking skills. Teaching Tolerance is being distributed free of charge by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to more than 400,000 educators nationwide. It can be read at:

Driver’s Ed Instructors Needed in Central NE The Nebraska Safety Center in Kearney seeks instructors for driver

Statehood Birthday Parties Set

A tradition of the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office is to teach and entertain children at events observing the anniversary of Nebraska’s March 1, 1867, statehood. A series of birthday parties is held across the state to commemorate the anniversary. The parties, geared to fourth-graders, are sponsored by Secretary of State John Gale, the NEBRASKAland Foundation and the Nebraska Humanities Council. The parties are part of Gale’s civics education mission to encourage students to become good citizens. The 2011 parties will be held from April 11-14 in these cities: Columbus, Norfolk, Seward, Central City, Omaha, Boys Town, Fremont and Nebraska City. Troupe members will include Gale (portraying Cactus Jack), Chris Sayre (Sodbuster Sam), David Seay (Deadwood Dave) and Tom Bassett (Casey Jones). Students will enjoy musical entertainment, sing-alongs and a chance to showcase their knowledge of Nebraska history. And no birthday party would be complete without a birthday treat for each student. Space is limited. Reservations are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, print and mail or fax the registration form at this website to Gale’s office: For details, contact Sharon Hambek at 402-471-6044 or:

education classes in Central Nebraska. This has traditionally been an opportunity for teachers to supplement their income. The beginning wage for teaching driver education is $16 an hour, rising to $20 an hour by the third year. A typical session would involve approximately 100 hours, with the possibility of sessions in the fall and spring, and up to three sessions in the summer. The average class size is about 20. To become a qualified instructor, completion of three three-credit-hour safe driving classes, at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, is required. For details, contact Sherry Morrow, interim Safety Center director, at 308865-8259.

Vote for Pat Etherton

NSEA-R Vice President NSEA-R Rep. Assembly NSEA-R Del. Assembly

Doodle for Google and Win a Scholarship Doodle 4 Google is a competition that invites K-12 students to use their artistic talents to think big and redesign Google’s homepage logo. Whether students want to find a cure for cancer or take a trip to the moon, it starts with art supplies and a sheet of paper. One student artist will take home a $15,000 college scholarship and $25,000 technology grant for their school. Registration closes on March 2; entries must be postmarked by March 16. The winning doodle will be featured on Google’s homepage on May 20. For details, go to:

Vote for...

Marcia Benner

NSEA Board of Directors

Capitol District

Page 16 n The NSEA Voice n February 2011

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Supplies Sought for SEAN Benefit Nebraska 2011 Teacher of the Year Bob Feurer of North Bend will headline the Student Education Association of Nebraska (SEAN) Spring Conference, set for Hastings College later this month. Also on the conference agenda: a silent auction to raise money for the SEAN undergraduate scholarship, which is used to send a SEAN underclassman to a national conference. To aid that silent auction, SEAN is seeking gently used, donated items for classroom use. Donated items can be anything a teacher could use, such as new or gently used bulletin board items, books, lesson plans, activity projects, etc. SEAN members planning to attend the Feb. 25-26 conference will be in for a treat with Feurer, a science teacher. Also on the agenda are these topics: a panel of firstyear teachers; a member rights discussion; and a workshop on contracts and salary schedules. If you have items to donate to the auction, please make arrangements for NSEA to collect donations by calling NSEA’s Tamra Mick at 1-800-742-0047, or by emailing her at:

SEAN Scholarship Deadline is Near College juniors or seniors preparing to teach during the 2011-12 academic year may want to consider applying for a SEAN-NSEA Retired Scholarship. And they’d best be quick: the application deadline is Feb. 1. Four $750 scholarships will be awarded, based on both financial need and essay question answers. Applicants must be juniors or seniors who will student teach in 2011-12, and who have been a member of the Student Education Association of Nebraska (SEAN) for at least two years, including the current academic year. Three letters of recommendation shall accompany the completed application form: one letter from a faculty or staff member; one letter from a local SEAN chapter officer; and the third, a recommendation from the chapter advisor. Completed applications and letters must be postmarked by Feb. 1, 2011. Download the current application from this website: awards/SEAN_Scholarship.htm For details, contact Tamra Mick at 1-800-742-0047 or via e-mail at:

What’s Your Favorite Quote? Everyone has a favorite quote they turn to for inspiration. Some people have two or three favorites. Such adages may be scrawled on blackboards, printed and pinned to bulletin boards or used as tag lines at the end of e-mail messages. The sentence or two of inspiration may have been uttered by a famous author or politician or philosopher, or its origin may have been lost to the passage of time. We’d like to know what quota-

Change of Address? Have you moved? Have you changed your name by marriage? Are you planning to move? If so, you can update your Association membership information online. How? Log on to the NSEA web site and click on the ‘For Members’ button on the left side of the screen. Then click on the ‘Members Only’ link and look for the ‘Member Update’ icon in the center of the next screen, and follow directions. Keep your issue of The Voice near, as the mailing label includes your membership number, used to access your information. The NSEA website is at:

tions inspire you to teach. We’d also like to know why your favorite quote moves you. So send us your favorite quotation, the quotation’s author, and a couple of sentences about how and why those words move you to excel in the classroom. We’ll publish the results in an upcoming issue of The Voice. To parUNK ticipate, look for the ‘My The Voice Favorite Quote’ link on 2.25” x 3” the homepage of the NSEA web site at: color 1-04-11





March 29, 2011 9:30am-2:00pm Learn More At 308.865.8501

February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 17

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Lincoln Mom’s Story Judged Best in ‘Words That Stick’ Campaign ‘Try Again’ Lesson Voted Best Among More Than 100 Entries A Lincoln mother – who happens to be an NSEA member and teacher – has been declared the winner in the NSEA’s innovative ‘Words That Stick’ Campaign to publicize the inspiring words and actions of Nebraska teachers. Alisa Meyer’s story was about her then-first grade daughter’s encounter with failure, and how she rebounded after her teacher taught her that “it’s OK to try and fail and try and fail again, but it’s not OK to try and fail and fail to try again.” “The story of Alisa’s daughter is a lesson to us all. It’s also an example of the excellent work that teachers do every day in classrooms across the state,” said NSEA President Jess Wolf. “That is work upon which our future depends.” Nebraska teachers have inspired generations of children with words that stick and actions that matter. Those efforts have pushed students to success in the classroom and beyond. NSEA’s campaign was designed to rally support, and inform the public about the importance of recruiting and retaining Nebraska’s great teachers. ‘Words That Stick’ highlights those moments when teachers inspire a student with words or actions that stay with that student throughout his or her life. Nebraskans were encouraged to share such memories through a website. At stake: a $500 first prize. NSEA President Jess Wolf remembers that it was his fourth grade teacher, Twila Hicks, who pushed him to succeed. “I was just treading water in the classroom, just getting along,” said Wolf. “I turned in a mediocre paper, and she wrote across the top ‘You can do better, Jess.’ Those words have stuck with me all these years, and encouraged me to try harder, to do better, in everything I do.” Other finalists were Jennifer Bantam, Curtis; Lana May,

Try, try again:That was the lesson told in a story by Lincoln teacher Alisa Meyer, about her daughter, Graycee.The story won NSEA’s Words That Stick campaign contest.

Hayes Center; Jessica Stanley, Lincoln; Renee Kent, Omaha; Beth McCracken, Lincoln; Holly Ortega, Grand Island; Sarah White, Lincoln; Jennifer Van Winkle, Lincoln; Jerry Brown, Callaway; and Jerry Lovell, Bellevue. For the submissions by the finalists, go to the website at:

Scates to Resume UniServ Duties in Omaha In Omaha, the old is new again. Former Omaha Education Association Executive Director Tom Scates has left retirement to work as a UniServ director for OEA members. He replaces Tim Krapp, who resigned effective Jan. 31. Scates was a UniServ director in Omaha for eight years before becoming the OEA executive director in August 1996. He held that post until his retirement in 2007. Before joining OEA, Scates taught social sciences at Winfield Scates High School, in Winfield, KS, for 23 years. In his previous tenure with OEA, Scates was involved in political organizing, including work to defeat a zero percent school budget lid, and work on a successful $250 million Omaha Public Schools building improvement bond election. Scates’ primary responsibility will be in the area of member rights. Long-time NSEA UniServ Director Ellen Yates will handle negotiations duties for OEA.

Krapp, who left OEA to explore other career opportunities, had served Omaha educators for four years. Prior to joining OEA, he taught social studies for OPS for five years. “My service to OEA members has been very fulfilling,” he said. “I wish OEA and its members continued success.” “We have come to depend on Tim’s professionalism and skilled advocacy for our Omaha members,” said NSEA Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen. “He will be missed, esKrapp pecially by so many who witnessed his compassion for teachers. Their concerns always became his.” Prior to his OPS teaching career, Krapp was a legislative aide for several Nebraska state senators, and also spent two years as a legislative intern to then-U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. He is also a past chair of the OEA Political Action Committee, and past member of the OEA Board of Directors.

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Snookie’s Snippets NSEA members might do well to consider taking a look at these great NEA Member Benefits programs: n NEA Income Protection Plan: This plan provides members income when they are unable to work due to illness or injury. n NEA Pet Insurance: This plan provides coverage that reimburses for 80 percent Krumbiegel of the covered services from any licensed veterinarian. Meow and woof! n NEA Introductory Term Life: $15,000 of life insurance at no cost to eligible new members. NSEA members can also share the savings from the NEA Member Benefits ‘Click and Save’ program with up to four family members. As of mid-November, NEA members had saved more than $5 million through the ‘Click & Save’ program. And check out these discounts at the NEA Member Benefits website: n GovConnection: Computer products at great savings. n NEA ID Theft Protection: Members can choose from among five comprehensive protection plans at up to 30 percent off the retail price. n H&R Block: Special savings with a special discount just for NEA members. n Enterprise Weekend Special: Starting at $9.99, with member rate weekends from Friday through Monday; free pick up at your home; and 100 free miles per day. n NEA Cash Rewards Credit Card: A $75 statement credit offer, and members can earn cash back. n The NEA Academy: The NEA Academy provides K-12 members with practical online courses to meet professional development and continuing education needs. Discover the best on online learning opportunities. Call NEA Member Benefits at 1-800637-4636, or visit this site for more details on Member Benefits programs: Snookie Krumbiegel is Nebraska’s NEA Member Benefits representative.

NEA Member Benefits

Types of Mortgages Understanding Your Options Enhances Your Ability to Choose Correctly Even if you’re a first-time borrower faced with making a down payment and other challenges, there are many mortgage options available to you. The kind of mortgage you decide to apply for depends on several factors: interest rate; length of the term; the kind of payments you prefer; and the documentation you can provide (e.g., bank and tax statements) to verify your ability to repay the loan. Your sense of security is the most important thing to consider in choosing a loan product and a loan amount. Every product has its benefits and its drawbacks. Selecting the product that works for you over the long-term is critical to secure homeownership. Consider the two basic mortgage options: a fixed rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage. A fixed rate option is stable and allows you to budget easily. Although the rate may be higher than an adjustable rate mortgage, your payments stay the same throughout the entire length of the fixed rate loan term. If you’re looking to pay less interest in the first years of the loan, an adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, may be right for you. An ARM may start with a lower rate than a fixed rate loan, but the rate may adjust up or down every year, which changes your monthly payments.

In some cases, homeowners may have lower interest costs with an adjustable rate mortgage. In other cases, after one or more adjustments, an ARM may have a higher interest rate than a fixed rate mortgage. Before you choose an adjustable rate mortgage, be certain that you can handle making the higher payments should you have to. Now consider repayment terms that may work for you: If you’re looking to make lower monthly payments over a longer period of time, you can choose from loan products with longer terms. These loans may have higher interest rates than those with shorter terms, but because the payments are spread out over a longer period, your monthly payments will be lower. A longer term also means you’ll build equity in your home more slowly. Some homebuyers choose shorterterm options, because the rates are usually lower and you may build equity faster. But shorter-term mortgages also have higher monthly payments. To learn more about the steps to buying a home, call the NEA Home Financing Program at 1-800-632-4968 and speak with a Home Mortgage Consultant. Remember, the benefits of the NEA Home Financing Program are extended to parents and adult children of NEA members.

Spice Up Your Life with Mike! Experience, Enthusiasm, and Desire! Vote Michael Schawang for NEA Director February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 19

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EHA Monitoring Health Care Reform

By Kurt Genrich EHA Plan Advocate The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is moving forward with its 2011 health care reform regulatory agenda (including issues such as health insurance exchanges and ‘essential’ health benefits), but the environment in which the health care reform issues are being discussed and implemented is extremely complex. This will be a key year for all three branches of government, and for state governments, in determining the ultimate scope and impact of health care reform. In addition to HHS’ work on exchanges and ‘essential’ health benefits, regulators will work on firming up parts of the 2010 provisions, including: n Prohibiting the use of flexible savings accounts and health savings accounts for over-the-counter drugs without a doctor’s prescription as of Jan. 1. n On EHA’s renewal for Sept. 1, 2011, benefits for Wellness will increase, and will include the doctor’s

office visit covered at 100 percent, as well as other benefits n Elimination or reduction of Medicare beneficiaries’ cost-sharing for preventive services. n Cuts in Medicare Advantage payments. The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives voted in January to repeal health care reform. But the vote was symbolic due to the Democrat majority in the Senate. However, Republicans could still weaken the health care bill through smaller efforts, such as repealing the 1099 tax provision and otherwise reducing the bill’s funding. In the judiciary, the next major court battle over health care reform (and specifically, the individual mandate) will

most likely take place in Florida, where a federal court heard oral arguments last month. The suit was brought by 20 state attorneys general and joined by the National Federation of Independent Business. The Florida case comes on the heels of a recent decision by a federal court in Virginia to strike down parts of the health care reform law. The EHA Plan and Board of Directors will keep members updated on issues that may affect the benefits offered to Nebraska’s educational professionals. The Educators Health Alliance has contracted with Kurt Genrich to serve as the EHA Plan advocate. Genrich will work with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska plan participants to answer questions and promote the plan. The EHA Board is comprised of six NSEA representatives and three each from the Nebraska Association of School Boards and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. NSEA Associate Executive Director NealClayburn is vice chair of the EHA Board of Directors. Call Genrich at 1-866-465-1342; on his cell phone at 402-217-2042; or e-mail him at:


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From the Executive Director

Looking for Public Enemy No. 1 Who is the enemy this week? The mayor, gun owners, insurance companies or Wall Street bankers? Each has taken a turn as Public Enemy No. 1. Sadly, no one is exempt from the constant search for a simple target to blame for our problems. It appears that now public employees are the target du jour. Those who were once public servants are now considered public scoundrels. Public employees are the backbone of the quality of our communities. Yet legislation has now been proposed that would destroy our ability to attract and retain quality employees. Public employees are our neighbors, friends and relatives. They live in every community in our state. Their record of service and dedication is largely responsible for the great quality of life in our communities. There is good reason that they are considered…literally…the public service.

expert experience. I don’t want to risk the education of our grandchildren with teachers who are teaching temporarily, because they can find a job in another state or profession with better pay and benefits. I don’t want to drive on roads that have not been expertly maintained because experienced workers have left for jobs with better insurance for their families. For my family, I want communities that are safe and well-maintained, with good schools, good teachers, and the very best public servants that we can attract.

Who Will Serve? Unfortunately, there are those who think that attacking the salaries, the pensions, and the collective bargaining rights of public employees is somehow good public policy. Nonsense. These are idiotic ideas that promise the ruin of our communities…and we should say so. We have a state sysThe Faces Change... tem to decide public emThe faces of these pubployee labor issues withlic servants change from out strikes. We provide town to town, but the imstable pensions and benportant roles they play are efits for public employsimilar in every commuees. If we abandon these What salary and benefits would you need to rush into a nity. When we look at the burning features of public jobs, building? NSEA Executive Director Craig R. Christianlatest target of economi- sen thanks all who work hard to maintain our communities. who do we think will take cally foolish cost-cutting, these jobs? It certainly we see the faces of the teachers who taught our children will not be the high quality of public servants we have or grandchildren; the office clerks who process our Social now. What salary and benefits would you need to rush Security checks; the firefighters who risk their lives deinto a burning building? fending our property; and the road workers who maintain the quality and safety of our streets and highways. Not the Enemy There are very dangerous — and foolish — voices who There is no one reason why the economy is in trouble. call for us to cut the cost and the quality of these public There is no one person or group to blame. And now is not servants. The end result would abandon civic priorities the time to shut our minds to all our options by choosing in virtually every aspect of what it takes to maintain a one simple target as the culprit. Teachers, firefighters and quality of life in our communities, including education, other public servants are part of our hope, not our enemy. fire protection, social services for the elderly, or the secuNebraskans, do not overreact. We are one of the most rity of an adequate police force. These are hard economic recession-proof states in the nation. We can’t forfeit our times. They will only get worse if we abandon our supfuture by scurrying back and forth from one bad idea to port for civic services, and the people who provide those the next. We need to maintain the quality of life in this services, in our communities. state by supporting those who most directly work for our I don’t want to risk the lives of my family with fire fightpublic good. Support our public servants. As they supers who are not paid well enough to stay on the job and gain port us and our communities.

February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 21

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NSEA-Retired Corner

Two Very Important Dates Events on NSEA-Retired Calendar are Approaching Quickly

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Purdy, treasurer. Plans indicate a busy educational and charitable year: a food drive for the Bellevue Pantry; identity theft and consumer fraud; family and student empowerment; Juvenile Detention Education Program K-12; storm chasing; and Henry Doorly Zoo expansion; among others. Reach Gibson at 402292-3748 and Allen at 402293-1660, or e-mail at: auntk.gibson@gmail. com

Two most important dates are fast approaching – one focused on important business, the other on pleasure and relaxation. Members should consider attending both! First, and most important, is the NSEA-Retired Lobby Day, set for Tuesday, Feb. 15. The Nebraska Legislature is in full swing, and there are scores of isCentral Panhandle sues facing state senators, Sandy Harrach is presimost important of which dent; Jeanie Williams is is the state revenue deficit. vice president; and Janet Some reports indicate that Gardner is secretary-treastate senators will consider surer. This group meets cuts to state aid of as much the third Monday of each as $140 million, which month. Members conwould translate into the loss centrate on recruitment, of as many as 2,500 teachcommunity involvement, ing jobs statewide, and the hobbies and educational certain increase in property programs such as the Vettaxes at the local level as erans’ Upward Bound and school districts try to make VALTS—Alternative High up for the loss. School. Their concerns are The Lobby Day will He’s warm and fuzzy: NSEA-Retired President Roger Rea is maintenance of retirement include a luncheon at the bundled up in the latest quilt created by Lincoln member Lorene and pro-public education Governor’s Mansion, just Behrends – and the quilt could be yours! NSEA-Retired is giving political activity. Call Sansouth of the State Capitol. the quilt away in a raffle to benefit the NSEA Children’s Fund. dy for details at 1-308-635On April 13-14 in Oma- Tickets are $1 each, or six for $5, and are being sold at NSEA and 3048, or e-mail her at: ha, the NSEA-Retired An- NSEA-Retired events. Past raffles have raised more than $1,000 sharrach@embarqmail. nual Meeting and Spring for the Children’s Fund.The drawing will be held this summer. com Conference will be held at the Metropolitan Community College’s Culinary Arts Institute. Panhandle Education Association-Retired The event will include a business meeting, speakers and breakJadie Giorgis is president, and Joan Dietz is vice president. out sessions that will be certain audience-pleasers. Other officers are Earladean Walker, secretary, and Gordon and Members should register for both events in advance. The Shirley Whartman, treasurers. Retirement benefits and providdeadline for registration for Lobby Day and to attend the luning retirement planning information to the younger, still-active cheon at the Governor’s Mansion is Friday, Feb. 11. NSEA members are the members’ chief concerns. Call Giorgis The registration deadline for the Annual Meeting and Spring for details at 1-308-235-4453, or e-mail her at: Conference is Friday, April 8. In both cases, registration can be completed by calling NSEA’s Rebecca Smith at 1-800-742-0047, or by completing Millard Education Association-Retired the form on the NSEA-Retired website at: Jim Rames is the president; Sid Rames is the vice president; and Pat Brinkman is the secretary-treasurer. A full schedule includes a monthly business meeting; lunch Local Association Contacts on a cruise; an Ashland art/craft exploration; bowling; an OmaEach year in this space, we review and update the list of loha Press Club holiday party; a visit to Joslyn Art Museum; golf; cal retired association leadership. Here is the final installment attendance at the NSEA-Retired Lobby Day on Tuesday, Feb. for the 2010-11 Association year: 15; NSEA-Retired’s Spring Conference on April 13-14; and the annual luncheon for new retirees. For details, call Jim RaBellevue Education Association-Retired mes at 1-402-895-2484, or e-mail him at: This local has two presidents! Mary Kay Gibson and lene Allen are serving as co-presidents. Other leaders are Herb — Tom Black, Editor Barelman, vice president; Barb Vaughn, secretary; and Mike Page 22 n The NSEA Voice n February 2011

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Retiring? Attend An NPERS Seminar Soon Are you among the scores of Nebraska teachers considering retirement this year? If so, you’ll want to be in attendance at one of the more than two dozen pre-retirement seminars scheduled this spring by the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System (NPERS) office. For those anticipating retirement, NPERS mails out enrollment brochures to all eligible members four weeks prior to the seminar. Under state law, each eligible school plan employee may receive leave, with pay, to attend up to two retirement planning programs. That leave, according to state statute, “…shall mean a day off paid by the employer and shall not mean vacation, sick, personal, or compensatory time.” Retirement plan members may attend a seminar more than twice, but any leave beyond the two days will be at the member’s expense and at the employer’s discretion. Below is a list of dates and sites for the seminars. For more details on seminars in your area, call the NPERS Education Services Department at 471-2053, in Lincoln, or tollfree at 1-800-245-5712 from elsewhere in the state.You may also find more information on the website at: March 1.................................... Lincoln March 3.................................... Omaha March 4.................................... Omaha March 9.......................... Grand Island March 10.................................Kearney March 17.................................. Lincoln March 18.................................. Lincoln March 23.................South Sioux City March 24................................. Norfolk March 31........................ North Platte April 6............................ Grand Island April 7.....................................Kearney April 13.................................... Lincoln April 14.................................... Omaha April 21...............................Columbus May 4.....................................Valentine May 5....................................... Norfolk May 11...................................... Lincoln May 12...................................... Omaha May 18....................................... Gering May 19....................................... Gering May 24..................................... Norfolk May 25.....................................Kearney June 8........................................ Lincoln June 9........................................ Omaha June 15........................... North Platte June 16..................................... Lincoln June 22..................................... Lincoln June 23........................... Grand Island June 29..................................... Omaha

Stuff You Should Know Sandhills District’s Brown Remembered as a Leader Long-time NSEA member Kevin Brown, 55, of Burwell, died at his home on Jan. 15 after a battle with cancer. Brown was a long-time member and officer of Loup County Education Association (LCEA). He served as an active NSEA Sandhills District Executive Committee member for 13 years and Sandhills District vice president for another two years. Brown Brown graduated from Burwell High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He began his teaching career in 1977 at Stanton, where he taught English, Spanish and speech. In 1982, he was hired by the Loup County Public Schools in Taylor. He taught there for 28 years, and enjoyed the moments he spent with the students and staff. He has been awarded the UNL College of Education and Human Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005 and John Thurber Distinguished Teacher Award in 2008. He was also honored with numerous district speech champion and runner-up awards during the years. He was heavily involved in the Loup county Historical Society, which allowed him to enjoy local history, researching and writing. He is survived by his mother, Maxine, of Burwell; a sister; and nieces and nephews. Memorials are suggested to St. John’s Lutheran Church or the Loup County Historical Society.

The Five Websites Your Kids Won’t Tell You About From  Parents today must be aware of the latest Internet trends among teens. Some of the most popular sites can be potentially dangerous to children and teenagers.  Parents should do their best to create an open dialogue with their child about Internet safety, and add these sites to their “watch list.” 1. Formspring: This is a social networking site in which users can anonymously post comments about other people.  In essence, it’s an open invitation for insults and gossip.  Formspring is a breeding ground for cyberbullying, and has been linked to at least three teen deaths this year. 2.  Chat Roulette: This is a social networking site in which users are randomly matched with strangers around the world to engage in webcam-based conversations. A March 2010 survey by RJMetrics, revealed that 13 percent of its users are either nude or appear to be engaging in a lewd act.  Parents should be aware of a similar, popular site called Omegle. 3. Stickam: Stickam is a site that features live-streaming video, audio, images and video chat.  With more than four million members and content from networks like MTV, G4 and CBS, the site seems reputable. However, kids can easily access inappropriate content, and sexual predators abound.  The New York Times has reported three predator arrests linked to the site. 4.  4chan: This digital bulletin board lets users anonymously post comments and share images.  The site made headlines in 2008, when a member allegedly hacked into then-Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s email account.  4chan’s members also organized an “attack” against YouTube by posting hundreds of sexually explicit videos in a short period of time.  5.  Foursquare: This is a location-based game in which users identify where they’re located in return for virtual badges like “Mayor” and “Super Mayor.”  Foursquare (and a similar site called Gowalla) are apps that are primarily accessed via cell phones. Your kids could be revealing their actual location to strangers.  You can set up restrictions to disable your child’s cell phones from downloading any apps like this one. For more details, check this website: February 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 23

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Recognize Good Work! Nominate Colleagues for NSEA Awards!

The deadline is near: Friday, Feb. 4 is the last day that nominations will be accepted for the awards presented at NSEA’s Delegate Assembly. The awards recognize first-year teachers; veteran teachers; education support professionals such as paraprofessionals, custodians or school secretaries; community service; local associations; local news outlets; and more. The awards will be given at NSEA’s 150th Delegate Assembly at the LaVista Embassy Suites Hotel on April 15-16. These awards carry cash prizes, and nominees must be NSEA members: NSEA Rookie of the Year; Award for Teaching Excellence; and Education Support Professional of the Year. Nominees must also be NSEA members for these awards, which do not carry cash prizes: Community Service; and Local Public Relations. Several media awards are also available to local news outlets. Nomination forms and instructions are found at the ‘Call for Nominations’ link on NSEA’s website at: For details, contact the NSEA at 1-800-742-0047.

Speaking of Teaching

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ­— Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

Mailed By: The Nebraska State Education Association Suite 200, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE 68508-2742

Family of Teachers

All in the family:The Bailey family is a true family of teachers! From left are Steve Fusco, who has taught at Centura, Howells, JohnsonBrock and has been at Dorchester for the past five years; Dani Bailey Fusco, who taught at Prague, Fremont and has been at Lincoln’s Pound Middle School for seven years; Chad Bailey, who has taught at Holbrook, Arapahoe, Bertrand and has been at Holdrege for 15 years; and Ken Bailey, who has taught at Wallace, Blue Hill, Elmwood and for 21 years at Benedict. If you have a family of teachers, snap a photo and send it to: Family of Teachers, c/o NSEA, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE, 68508-2742.

Back to School, Back to Work From Julie Wlliams, a high school teacher in Fort Wayne, IN:

“My high school students often comment that they don’t bring basic supplies on the first day of school because the teacher reads the rules, and they do nothing in class. To avoid this basic, boring routine, I give an activity to all students as they enter the classroom. I ask that they print their name at the top and begin working on the activity right away. When the bell rings, I take roll by walking up and down the aisles marking present students, while the students continue to work. Walking around gives me a chance to see that ‘Peter’ wants to be called ‘Pete’ and so on without boring all the students by verbally calling roll and wasting time. It

also picks up any misplaced students with a schedule error without embarrassment. “As for the rules, most students in high school know the basics, but I address my specific rules as they are needed. When an announcement comes on, I ‘stop, look and listen’ to the announcement and then address that rule with the students. When a student is tardy, I address the tardy rules for my class at that time. When a student asks to use the restroom, I discuss those rules at that time. The rules are laid out, and students are paying attention to the rules instead of hearing me say ‘blah, blah, and blah.’ It’s very effective, and sets precedence on the first day that they should be working.”” Sign up for Works4Me at this link:

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The Voice February 2011  
The Voice February 2011  

The Voice February 2011