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Voice The Nebraska State Education Association ď ś March 2010



Legislation Would Focus Anti-Truancy Efforts

n NSEA Sharpens Commitment to Bargaining Success n Kindergarten Eligibility Dates Debated in Lincoln March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 1

On the Cover: Truancy is an issue in every school district. Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha hopes to have schools and the courts work more closely to keep kids in school and out of trouble. For the story, see

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 63, No. 7 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 Vice President Nancy Fulton, Wilber-Clatonia NEA Director Mark Shively, Omaha NEA Director Leann Widhalm, Norfolk

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 Page 2 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

Enhance Your Leadership Skills Space Limited at NSEA’s New Leader Institute Want to tap your hidden leadership skills? There’s still time to get your name on the list of nominees for the annual NSEA New Leader Institute, but you need to act soon! In early April, letters will be sent to NSEA members who have expressed an interest in participating in the four-day, expense-paid training. About 30 participants will be selected, on a first-come, first-served basis, to make the trip to Lincoln to improve their leadership skills and to gain a better understanding of NSEA’s role in promoting and preserving public education. The 24th New Leader InstiDiploma in hand: At NSEA’s 2009 New tute is set for June 13-16. At the Leader Institute, the Omaha Education AssoInstitute, you’ll spend four days ciation’s Jack Bangert received his certificate in Lincoln honing leadership of completion from NSEA President Jess Wolf. skills and an understanding of tee will continue to seek nominees durthe Association. ing the month of March. All nominees All Higher Education, ESP and K-12 will receive a letter, an application, and members are eligible to attend. Minoria timeline to respond during April. Apties are especially encouraged to apply. plication responses will be accepted on The program begins Sunday aftera first-come, first served basis, as space noon, June 13, and concludes at a gradis limited. uation luncheon on Wednesday, June For details, contact NSEA at 1-80016. Participants must attend all sessions. 742-0047 and ask for Midge Dublinske, NSEA provides lodging and meals. New Leader Institute coordinator. The New Leader Institute Commit-

For Members: Liability Coverage very member of NSEA is covered by the Educator’s Liability (EEL) insurance policy purchased by the National Education Association. In general, the EEL policy provides coverage for members arising out of their educational employment activities. Those activities are generally defined as duties performed pursuant to the express or implied terms of their employment, or at the express request of the member’s supervisor acting within the supervisor’s school employment. In addition to defending civil matters, the EEL insurance provides reimbursement for bail bonds in employment-related criminal matters, and

reimbursement for personal property damages caused by an assault at school or while performing school duties. Further, the EEL insurance provides reimbursement in criminal matters arising out of educational employment activities if the member is found not guilty. The specific terms and coverage provided by the EEL insurance policy are governed by the insurance company. For additional information, contact your NSEA UniServ director, who will be happy to provide you with additional details. Reach your UniServ director at 1-800-742-0047.

From the President

Bobble Heads & Civility

NSEA President Jess Wolf ‘..civility is a rarity – on both sides of the political spectrum. We must expect and demand more from our elected leaders.’

What has happened to civil discourse in this country? Is anyone else even the least bit concerned about the tenor of the debate taking place in the hallways of Congress, on the radio and television airwaves, and, subsequently, on the streets and playgrounds where our students meet? As I was growing up, my parents tried to instill in my brother Jack and me a proper level of decorum that we were encouraged to use as we matured. I realize settings in the 1950s and 60s were decidedly different than they are today, but the loss of that decorum has concerned me in recent years. It has me decidedly apprehensive about our abilities, as a state and nation, to solve our common problems and move our nation forward. While my intention here isn’t to point fingers, the biggest culprits in this breakdown of civility are easy to determine. Just turn on nearly any syndicated radio talk show, watch any of television’s talking bobble heads, or listen to some of our national leaders on the floor of Congress. You’ll quickly discover that civility is a rarity – on both sides of the political spectrum! We must expect and demand more from our elected leaders. Feeble and Seedy The bobble heads either don’t consider or don’t care how their vitriolic rhetoric has lowered the level of civilized discourse. Anyone trying to make a point does so at the top of their voice. My parents taught, and I believe, that a loud voice indicates a feeble argument. Seedy showmanship and network profits don’t justify the deep and longterm divisiveness and damage being inflicted. History is littered with a list of great civilizations that imploded. Is that where we’re headed?

Quite obviously, we’re in difficult times. There must be discussion – civil discussion – that will bring all sides together to solve the problems we face. This is not about party, this is not about politics, this is not about power. It is simply about what is best for this country at this time and place. Tired of It All For those of us in education, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is of major concern. The 2002 version – dubbed ‘No Child Left Behind’ – was lacking in many respects. We need a new, less punitive approach, and the education community is ready to tackle the task. But, as happens all too often, congressional partisanship and a complete lack of reasonable, civil discourse has waylaid ESEA progress. The partisan wrangling over health care reform and other issues has stymied our hope for quick action on education issues. Today’s youth are paying an immediate price for this political bickering, but the costs to society as a whole are immense – and we’ll be paying those costs well into the future. It’s time we asked – in fact, demanded! – that our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., behave in a more civil manner. It’s time we asked them to consider how their actions and inactions affect us all. It’s time to ignore the talking bobble heads. If you take some time in the next few months to contact your representatives in Congress (which I hope you do frequently) let them know how tired you are of the bickering and sniping. Tell them you expect better from them – and don’t let them blame it on “the other side.” All are at fault. All Americans deserve better. Much better. Oh, and do I want tea, you ask? No, thank you!

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Now Open: NSEA Elections

Make Your Voice Heard: Vote for NSEA Leaders

Here’s the scoop: NSEA members across the state will elect scores of new leaders at the district level over the next two weeks. Here’s what those leaders will do: Their very best job of representing the interests of teachers and education support professionals in their districts. These leaders will work to advance the interests of the Association, so it’s important that every member weigh in during election season. And with NSEA’s pioneering electronic voting system, casting a ballot is easier than ever! Through the balloting, members in each of NSEA’s seven governance districts will elect officers to district boards. Each district will also elect members to represent them on the NSEA Board of Directors. Voters will also select at-large and cluster delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly this summer. This is the third year that the elections will be held entirely online. NSEA is one of just a few state associations to hold elections online. Voting Already Under Way Balloting began on Feb. 24, and will continue until midnight Wednesday,

March 10. In order to vote online, members must have their 10-digit membership identification number at hand. The membership number is embossed on each member’s NSEA membership card, and is also located just above the member’s name on the mailing label on each edition of The Voice. Each member should already have received an e-mail or postcard reminding them of the election. In either case, that message will include the member’s identification number. To vote, go to the NSEA Web site, and look for the ‘elections’ link on the home page. Click on that link, enter your membership number and follow instructions. Upon entering a membership number, members will be directed to the correct ballot. While reviewing the Web site ballot, members will be able to click on a candidate’s name and read a short statement by that candidate. Please note that not every candidate supplied a statement. In an effort to encourage higher participation, and as a reminder that the voting process has changed this year, postcards will be sent midway through the voting period to members who have not yet cast a ballot. Election winners will be announced in the April issue of The Voice. To vote, go to the NSEA Web site at:

Do You Practice ‘Green’ at School? Are you ‘green?’ Do you work with students to recycle in the classroom? Does your school compost? Would you share tips on your ‘green’ habits? As the April 22 date for Earth Day approaches, The Voice is looking for the green tips, ideas and projects that teachers use in their classroom in the spirit of that annual observance. We’re interested in anything you do that classifies as green. Being green in the classroom makes sense for the environment. It also sets a good example for our children, and it saves your school district and district patrons tax money. We hope to share some of the stories with the statewide audience of The Voice, but we need your input. Please send us some details about what you’ve done and we’ll share it in a future edition. Go to the NSEA Web site, and click on the ‘Green in the Classroom’ link. Fill out the information, and tell us your story. NSEA’s Web site is at:

RIF Notice? Call NSEA Immediately It’s an annual occurrence at school districts across the state, school districts large and small: a veteran teacher receives a Reduction in Force notice – a pink slip, if you will – notifying the teacher that at the end of the year, there will be no more job. As school districts continue to deal with extremely tight budgets, RIFs will likely be a fact of life across the state. The best way to deal with RIF notices is to be prepared. And the best way to be prepared is to follow this tried and true

advice when you receive a RIF notice: Call NSEA immediately. The moment you receive a RIF notice, a countdown begins. By statute, you have seven days in which to request a hearing to contest the notice. While your situation may never reach an actual hearing, the best option is to act quickly by immediately placing a call to NSEA. That will give you, your NSEA UniServ director, and NSEA’s Member Rights department time to determine what steps are in your best interest.

The statutory deadline for school districts to distribute RIF notices is April 15. If you receive a notice, do two things: n Fax a copy of the RIF notice to the NSEA at 1-402-475-2630. n Call your NSEA UniServ director at 1-800-742-0047 to verify that the fax has arrived. As always, if you have questions, contact your UniServ director or the NSEA office of Member Rights at 1-800-742-0047. March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 5

Hard at work: NSEA member and sixth grade teacher Sasha Chávez, left, works with students in her classroom at Omaha’s Marrs Magnet Middle School.

Taking on Truancy

LB800 Would Focus Law Enforcement, School Efforts on Early Intervention think that school isn’t the Sasha Chávez knows well place to be,” said Chávez. the damage that can be done ‘Early intervention, “They haven’t felt successby truancy. ful, they don’t find value She has seen the effects parental involvement, in learning, and they start of truancy on former classschool attendance, giving up.” mates: lost or lowered inyouth employment and So Chávez, who says come; joblessness; crime; she has excellent support even prison. alternatives to detention from her school office in “There was a group of and courts are, in our addressing unexcused abpeople – they had such a sences, can appreciate the opinion, critical to reducing bad experience at school need for an improved effort that it became no longer the learning gap and to in addressing truancy – an important to them,” said putting our at-risk children effort that involves the juChávez. “Today, those peodicial system not so much ple are anywhere else but on a pathway to fulfilling Ashford in a punitive manner, but being contributing members and productive lives.’ in a manner that involves of society.” Now, as a fifth grade — Sen. Brad Ashford parents, law enforcement and the school in getting teacher in Omaha, she works the child back on track. to keep kids in school. But And that’s what LB800, even with the efforts of pending before the Nebraska Legislature, would attempt to Chávez and her colleagues at R.M. Marrs Magnet Middle do. School in South Omaha, she sees kids who lose interest and begin skipping school. Changing Practice “In sixth grade, they start to drop off, more so in the secIntroduced by Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, LB800 is an ond half of the school year,” she said. attempt to reduce truancy and youth crime. “They come in as kids, they leave as teenagers, and they Page 6 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

“The whole idea is to bring the county attorneys and schools into a more collaborative effort,” Ashford told a group of education lobbyists in mid-February. With an estimated 5,000 or more kids at risk in the Omaha metro area alone, Ashford hopes to craft the final version of LB800 to allow “early alarm bells” that will identify those children who are at risk. “The earlier we know about them, the earlier we can get them help,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure on teachers to deal with these kids.” LB800, among other things, mixes parental involvement with early intervention in school attendance issues, and throws in civil citations and community service as alternatives to detention for young offenders who commit minor offenses. Such an approach not only keeps juveniles accountable but helps prevent them from developing an arrest record. LB800 proposes making changes in current practice by: n Finding alternatives to detention for children who commit minor non-violent offenses; n Clarifying current law to make clear that juvenile courts have jurisdiction over the parents of juveniles in the court system; n Establishing a Truancy Intervention Task Force to recommend to the Legislature strategies to reduce truancy and other behaviors that impede learning; n Defining ‘absence,’ ‘truant,’ ‘unexcused’ and other related words and; n Creating an effective process for sealing juvenile records. On the Record Ashford, in introducing LB800 to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said sealing juvenile records would allow children a chance to succeed. “Today, so many of our children are unable to obtain a scholarship, find employment, or otherwise become productive citizens because there is a record of a mistake they made as a juvenile,” he said. The final version may also allow courts to suspend driving privileges for children who are truant. “We believe that if a child is not in school, that child should not be al-

Worth Watching NSEA Monitoring Dozens of Education-Related Bills That Affect Teachers, Students and Public Schools Here’s a look at some of the more than 120 education-related legislative bills NSEA is watching during the Second Session of the 101st Nebraska Legislature:

Retirement Benefits

LB899 removes a June 30, 2011, sunset provision and would end an annual state contribution to the Nebraska School Employees Retirement System Annuity Fund.The contribution was set in 1996 to aid the fund in making an annual purchasing power adjustment. Continuing the contribution makes the state plan equitable with the Omaha School Employees Retirement System, and ensures benefit security. NSEA supports LB899 as a top priority. The bill is seen as a long-term investment not only in our state’s teachers, judges and state, but also as a way to lessen required state contributions to the retirement fund in future years. Further, if the retirement fund underperforms in coming years, the lack of a state contribution will put additional pressure on plan participant contribution rates – after teachers just absorbed an increase in contribution rates in September 2009. “What teachers receive from the defined benefit retirement system are security and peace of mind, knowing that their retirement is secure over the course of their career,” said NSEA President Jess Wolf, who testified in favor of LB899 on Feb. 16. “This is critical to the growth and maintenance of a well-trained and stable workforce in our public schools.” LB899 remains in the Retirement Committee.

NSEA members are asked to contact committee members and urge them to pass LB899. Do so at:

Tuition Reimbursement

LB1071 builds on 2009’s Enhancing Excellence in Teaching program and gives the State Board of Education broader authority to approve graduate programs for tuition reimbursement. This is one of NSEA’s top priorities. Jay Sears, NSEA’s director of Instructional Advocacy, told the Legislature’s Education Committee that quick passage is important to make the funding available to Nebraska educators who plan to take graduate hours during the summer and fall of 2010 (see Page 8 for more). LB1071 is an Education Committee priority bill.

Teacher Pay

LB1014 establishes a teacher performance pay fund, with new revenues generated from wind and solar leases on unsold school lands. NSEA supports LB1014, which is in the Education Committee. Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm has made LB1014 his priority bill.

CIR Changes

LB1040, LB1041 and LB1042 introduce significant changes to the Commission on Industrial Relations. NSEA opposes each bill.


In the Legislature’s state aid discussions, NSEA will push for maintenance of the $933 million in state aid for school year 2010-11.

Kindergarten Eligibility

LB1006 would move the kindergarten eligibility date from October 15 to July 31 beginning in 2012-13. NSEA member Linda Freye, Lincoln, testified in support of the bill, as it will help to close some of the developmental gaps among children who are closer in age. However, NSEA noted that the state of Nebraska must also provide funding for public pre-schools to serve all those children who want to attend. LB1006 has advanced to Select File and is now an Education Committee priority bill. See Page 9 for more details.

Wind, Solar Leases

LB235 permits the Board of Educational Lands and Funds to issue leases for wind and solar uses. NSEA supported the bill, which the Legislature passed and the Governor signed in early February. A companion bill, LB1014, includes provisions to direct revenue from these leases to a Performance Pay Fund for teachers. March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 7

lowed to drive,” Ashford said. NSEA supports LB800, but is asking for a change to language in the bill that could require teachers to schedule a conference with the student’s parent or guardian and the student, after a student incurs 10 cumulative unexcused absences. Teachers are already facing full workloads, and NSEA does not believe that teachers should be required to schedule and coordinate such conferences. NSEA has offered an amendment to Sen. Ashford that would ensure school administrators or building principals assume that responsibility. “Early intervention, parental involvement, school attendance, youth employment and alternatives to detention and courts are, in our opinion, critical to reducing the learning gap in our state and to putting our at-risk children on a pathway to fulfilling and productive lives,” said Ashford. In Omaha, Chávez understands the need for action. “If a child is truant now, what will he or she be doing later? It’s a crime prevention measure,” she said.

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Tuition Reimbursement on Hold – for Now Watch NDOE Web site for Updates Waiting to find out more details about how to apply for reimbursement for your post-graduate coursework under the Enhancing Excellence in Teaching Program? You’re not alone. The Nebraska Department of Education staff is patiently waiting while the Nebraska Legislature irons out technical flaws in the 2009 bill that formed the program. Once the Legislature approves LB1071, the NDOE will move forward with the details on the application process. The program allows teachers seeking to further their skills or degree level to be reimbursed for the college courses they take to meet those goals. NSEA pushed for the program’s approval as a way to enhance the skill and knowledge base of the state’s public school teachers. Last summer , nearly 300 Nebraska teachers received reimbursement for college coursework, applying directly to the Department of Education for funding. The money was distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, until it was gone, and more than 100 teachers who applied for reimbursement did not receive funding. Changes proposed under LB1071 would send the funding to the state’s colleges and universities, with distribution based on the number of graduate students those institutions have enrolled in the past. A Department of Education Web site will be updated each week with the latest news concerning the program. For details, go to:

No More Rugs, No More Naps Eligibility Date Change Would Align With Needs of Today’s Kindergarten When it comes to kindergarten, Linda Freye knows what she’s talking about. Freye, a kindergarten teacher with the Lincoln Public Schools, testified in favor of the passage of LB1006 before the Legislature’s Education Committee on Feb. 9. LB1006 would narrow the age range of children entering kindergarten, helping to close some of the developmental gaps among children who are closer in age. Among other things, the bill moves the kindergarten-qualifying age date from Oct. 15 to July 31. Gone are the days of rugs, naps and milk and cookies, Freye told senators. “Children who are 5 years old when they enter kindergarten will exhibit behaviors in their physical development, as well as in their social and emotional development that are appropriate for that age,” said Freye. “Being (age) 5 when you start kindergarten with this maturity in place will always help that child succeed in each and every grade.” Jay Sears, NSEA’s director of Instructional Advocacy, also testified in

Front, center: Lincoln member Linda Freye told state senators of the need of a change in the eligibility date for kindergartners.

favor of LB1006. LB1006 “should help to close some of the developmental gaps among children who are closer in age, but it won’t solve all the problems around the diverse developmental abilities children present when they enter kindergarten,” said Sears. “No bill that uses age as a determinant of entry can do that.” Sears urged senators to remember that even with the change in eligibility date, there will still be approximately 3,400 Nebraska children who will not qualify for kindergarten in 2012-13 (when the bill would take effect) who may not have a public pre-school to attend. The state does not currently fund enough public preschools to serve those children. “Passing LB1006 does not solve the problem of providing a developmentally appropriate free public education for every child,” said Sears. “Even so, LB1006 will begin to address the issue. LB1006 remains in the Education Committee.

Moved, Married? Change Your Address with Ease! 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 web site is at: March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 9

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Bargaining Targeted Statewide UniServ’s Goldenstein Will Become Specialist in Bargaining Issues NSEA will soon have a UniServ director who will focus solely on collective bargaining. Veteran NSEA UniServ Director Ron Goldenstein has been named as the NSEA Collective Bargaining Specialist for the 2010-11 Association year. The NSEA Board of Directors approved creation of the position at the board’s January meeting. Goldenstein The position will be new, but will not require the hiring of an additional staff person. Instead, with the Association’s current UniServ units realigned, the remaining UniServ directors will absorb an additional workload. Goldenstein will work directly with local associations that need additional help in the bargaining arena. Among other duties, the collective bargaining specialist will be responsible for: n Providing training in collective bargaining skills, strategies and tactics. n Providing local associations with training and support to build capacity, and to help those locals meet specified bargaining goals. n Working with other UniServ directors to provide bargaining support to locals as requested. Goldenstein will work closely with Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Bargaining and Research. The new staffing plan and model will be posted on the NSEA Web site through the early part of March, and local association presidents have received e-mails seeking their comments on the plan. Those comments will be considered as modifications are made to the plan. The final plan will be approved in late March. Goldenstein is NSEA’s longest-serving UniServ director, having been hired

The final step: NSEA leaders and officials marked the end of an 18-month renovation of the Association’s Headquarters building with a re-dedication ceremony at the January meeting of the NSEA Board of Directors. Unveiling a plaque that now hangs in the building lobby were, from left: Associate Executive Director Neal Clayburn; Comptroller Sheri Jablonski; President Jess Wolf; Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen; Sinclair Hille Architect David Quade; NSEA Board Member and Building Committee Co-Chair Leonard Hartman, Alliance; NSEA Board Member and Building Committee Co-Chair Robert Beck, Dundy County/Stratton Public Schools; and Sinclair Hille Architect Liz Kuhlman.

in 1975. He currently serves the Tri-City UniServ Unit, which includes Grand Island and Hall County, as well as the local associations in Kearney and Hastings. A former social studies teacher,

Goldenstein has served locals across the state during his tenure with NSEA. Goldenstein will assume the collective bargaining specialist duties on Sept. 1.

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Conference to Fete Labor’s Role Conference Addresses Economic and Social Justice Issues A long-time labor adage says ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’ That will be the topic for the opening session of the 11th ‘Promoting the General Welfare Conference’ at the University of Nebraska at Omaha on Saturday, April 10. Dr. Elaine Bernard, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, will open the conference. She’ll address organized labor’s role in promoting the general welfare of the nation. The conference brings together representatives of the academic, labor and social justice communities to examine selected economic and social justice issues. There are six continuing education units in social work available for attending the full conference. Following Bernard, three 75-minute workshops will address: n Teaching labor studies in our schools. John Kretzschmar, director, UNO William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies, will explore why teaching history of the evolution of the employee/employer relationship is important in preparing our children for their civic and economic responsibilities in creating a society that promotes the general welfare

of the nation. n Examining the ‘other’ and its historical role in denying human rights in the United States. Stephen Pitts, Ph.D., is with the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of California at Berkeley. America’s history has been one of finding ways of extending to all who live here the inalienable rights with which we are all endowed. Pitts will examine ‘the other,’ and the damage it has done and continues to do by creating divisions in our nation. n Exploring the promise of green jobs and a sustainable environment. Kate Gulley, regional program manager for the Blue Green Alliance, will address strategies for using green jobs to recover from the recession. In the closing plenary, Kent Wong, J.D., director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, will focus on using the information gained at the conference to become more effective agents for change. The conference will be held at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Milo Bail Student Center, 6001 Dodge St., third floor. The cost before April 2 is $20 for students and $30 for general admission. After that date, the cost is $30 for students and $40 for general admission. To register, call 402-595-2344. The conference is hosted by UNO’s William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies.

Guidance Offered on Educating Undocumented Students The NEA and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) have jointly published a comprehensive legal guide on the education of undocumented students. Entitled Legal Issues for School Districts Related to the Education of Undocumented Children, the publication is meant as a general guide and not meant as legal advice. Nevertheless, the very informative summary includes answers to such questions as: n Are public elementary and secondary schools required to educate undocumented children? n Can school districts ask questions about immigration status to determine if a student is a resident of the district? n Must, may, or should a school district report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement a student who attempts to attend school in violation of his or her visa? n What behaviors does Immigration and Customs Enforcement consider “harboring” in relation to school employees assisting students and parents?  Page 12 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

The publication is free of charge, and an electronic copy of the publication is posted on NEA’s public Web

page at: docs/09undocumentedchildren.pdf

Advocating for Higher Ed

Photos By Bill Clemente/Peru State College

Nearly 40 NSEA members of the Higher Education Academy District met for the district’s Advocacy Conference in February. The meeting was held on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus. The two-day meeting included Saturday sessions on resources and structure of negotiations, as well as coordination and strategy for negotiations. Those sessions were presented by Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Bargaining and Research, and UniServ Director Midge Dublinske. Director of Member Rights Trish Guinan gave an overview of the Association’s Member Rights program, and NEA Member Benefits representative Snookie Krumbiegel highlighted NEA’s offerings in that arena. On Friday night, Higher Ed Academy members had a chance to question NSEA leadership about the UniServ program, and how it’s aligned to serve Higher Ed members. On hand to answer questions were NSEA President Jess Wolf; Vice President Nancy Fulton; NEA Director Leann Widhalm; Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen; and Associate Executive Director Neal Clayburn. While a realignment of the UniServ program is in the works, and is expected to be finalized later in March, NSEA leaders agreed to consider issues of representation raised by Higher Ed members at the Kearney meeting.

Kearney gathering: Above, Metro Community College’s Joan Trimpey, vice president of the Higher Education Academy District, makes a point during conference discussion. Below, Higher Ed members listen to a presentation. Below at left, Grace Ann Petersen of Chadron State College watches a conference presenter.

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Burwell Classroom Wins $30K Technology Facelift Headed To Schott’s Sixth Grade Room NSEA member Joy Schott’s sixth grade classroom in Burwell has gained some national notoriety. The students won $30,000 in classroom technology with a video they entered in a contest sponsored by eInstruction. In the video, students parodied the 1980s Billy Joel song ‘It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me.’ The Burwell version, titled ‘It’s All Technology,’ focused on the fact that a lack of funding is the biggest obstacle schools must overcome in keeping up with technological advances. “Ignorance is our enemy,” Schott told the Custer County Chief newspaper. “If we aren’t exposed to the technological tools available, then we are doing a disservice to our students.” The classroom also received a $1,000 cake party from eInstruction to celebrate the victory. Schott is on the executive committee of NSEA’s Sandhills District. Lawrence-Nelson, Thedford, Fremont and Madison Earn Read Across America Grants Four Nebraska schools have won $250 grants from NEA’s Read Across America program. Each school submitted applications in particular categories. Lawrence-Nelson Elementary won for the Outstanding Elementary School ‘Read Across America’ Event. The Madison Education Association’s ‘Reading Paradise’ won for Outstanding Partnership or Co-Sponsored Event. Arnold Public Schools held a ‘Read Across America Pow Wow’ and won for Outstanding Multicultural Event. Clarmar Elementary School in Fremont hosted ‘Lights! Camera! Action! Reading Idol’ and won for the Most Creative Read Across America Event. Lincolnites Win Grants From NEA Foundation Two Nebraskans have won grants from the NEA Foundation. Kathleen Wingard received a $2,000 Learning and Leadership Grant. She will study current best practices in library science, in order to develop read-

Quite a topper: Members of the Chadron Teachers and ESP Association selected NSEA President Jess Wolf to wear the Dr. Seuss birthday cake hat during a Panhandle District Bargaining Conference in Gering last month. From left are Steve Kubo, chief negotiator; Renee Noble, treasurer and chief negotiator;Wolf; and Dave Anderson, association vice president.

Panhandle Gets Bargaining Update, Raises Cash for Children’s Fund NSEA members in the Panhandle District raised nearly $550 for the NSEA Children’s Fund during a bargaining conference in February. Each year, district officials choose a fun activity, and the local that raises the most money for the Children’s Fund gets to decide who will be the ‘recipient’ of the fun activity. This year, the Chadron Teachers and ESP Association had the honor, and earned the right to determine which NSEA representative would wear the Dr. Seuss birthday cake hat – and NSEA President Jess Wolf was selected. Conference participants also voted with each dollar contributed on who would ‘kiss the pig.’ Again,Wolf was selected. Fortunately, the pig was a child’s stuffed toy pig. Conference attendees received an update on bargaining issues, prepping them for the upcoming negotiations season. The Children’s Fund allows teachers to tap into a source of cash for immediate needs to help children in need. Children who need warm winter clothing, eyeglasses, minor medical care and other aid have been helped. For more details, contact NSEA’s Sally Bodtke at 1-800-742-0047. ing and literacy projects for students who ride her school bus. She will work with local literacy experts and librarians to plan a timeline featuring literacy programs and libraries, and will share her findings with other Lincoln bus drivers. Andrew James, a science teacher for the Lincoln Public Schools science focus program, received a $5,000 Student Achievement Grant from the Foundation. With his grant, his physics students will design and build an ‘energy bike’ that will transform mechanical energy (pedal power) into electrical energy.

The bike will be available at the Science Focus Program Science Day, an educational outreach to fourth and fifth graders, and to other district science teachers. The bike is part of a program to educate students about energy conservation and alternative sources of energy. Every year, the NEA Foundation awards nearly 200 grants to support efforts to close the achievement gaps, develop creative learning opportunities for students, and enhance professional development. For more, go to: March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 15

Resources You Can Use Students Urged to Enter Nebraska Spirit Art Contest Nebraska students in kindergarten through fifth grade are encouraged to show their creativity by entering the 2010 Nebraska Spirit Art Contest. The contest, designed to promote Nebraska, is sponsored by Secretary of State John Gale and, the state’s Web site. Contest entry starts March 1, and entries must be postmarked by April 26. Contest details are available at: Winners from each grade will have their work featured on a downloadable computer screen saver. They will also be invited to a day of activities in Lincoln on June 4, including a ceremony with Gale and Gov. Dave Heineman; a tour of the State Capitol; a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion; and an outing at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. For more details, call 1-402-4717810, toll free to 1-800-747-8177, or e-mail to:

FactCheckEd.Org ‘Cuts Misinformation’ As a sister site to the Annenberg Political Fact Check,, has been created to “help students learn to cut through the fog of misinformation and deception that surrounds the many messages they’re bombarded with every day.” Both projects are housed at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. On the Web site, teachers can find lesson plans in the categories of critical thinking, sources or deceptive arguments. Full versions and shorter versions of the lesson plans are available. Once inside a lesson plan, numerous attachments are available, including the applicable national standards, student handouts, and even links to You Tube videos. A listing of Web sites considered to be generally reliable can also be found under the tab called “Straight from the Source.” The page links to official government sites, non-government organizations with a neutral point of Page 16 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

Freebies Offered by Education Museum The National Museum of Education is offering free items on innovation, invention, problem-solving and design to K-12 teachers. The materials meet state and national standards in science, technology, social studies and more. Included in the offerings are classroom sets of eight high-quality glossy posters with 35 heavy postcards to spark the interest of students. They’re free, plus shipping and handling. Additionally, there are free resources available on the museum Web site for an extensive innovation unit including: n Free original downloads for classroom use. n Online database of student inventors. n Technology integration ideas, including problem-solving activities, invention research and more. For details, go to the Web site at:

view, and advocacy organizations for certain policy matters. Finally, the site links to its sister site,, where the student or teacher may ask a question or read other questions and the responses written by the FactCheck staff.

Stipend for Hours Available from C&B The Christopher & Banks Corporation has established a scholarship pro-

gram to support current undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education, and current teachers pursuing a master’s degree in teaching. Teachers enrolled for on-going or license recertification classes are not eligible. Students must be working toward an education degree. Awards of up to $2,000 each will be granted. Awards may be renewable an additional two years, pending annual continuation of this program by Christopher & Banks Corporation. The application must be submitted

Outreach to Teach Set Near Hastings Another ‘Outreach to Teach’ project is on the schedule! Members of the Student Education Association of Nebraska (SEAN) chapters from Hastings College and the University of Nebraska at Kearney have scheduled an ‘Outreach to Teach’ effort at Prairie Loft, an outdoor classroom near Hastings. The event is set to start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 10. Work planned will include general renovations, landscaping and general clean up.Active and retired NSEA members are invited to help with the project. ‘Outreach to Teach’ is modeled after an annual NEA project, in which delegates to NEA’s Representative Assembly converge on a school in the host city and repaint, clean up and relandscape the building. For more details on the April 10 event, contact Cassidy Pitkin at Hastings College or Heather Sullivan at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.They can be reached by e-mail at: You may also contact Tamra Mick at NSEA at 1-800-742-0047, or at:

electronically by 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2010. For more details, go to the site at: christopherandbanks/

Middle Level Institute Set for Grand Island The schedule is set for the yearly Professional development Institute of the Nebraska Association of Middle Level Education. Keynoting the event will be Laurie Robinson, a nationally-known speaker from Solution Tree. Her keynote topics will include ‘21st Century Preparation Throught the Lens of Differentiation’ and Feedback to require and Inspire.’ Also on the schedule: several breakout sessions on various middle level topics. The event will be held at Westridge Middle School in Grand Island on Friday, April 16. It will open with registration and a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m., with the programming to begin at 8:20 a.m. There is a registration fee. For more details, go to the NAMLE Web site at:

sources developed by organizations nationwide – making it easier for educators to find and make use of those resources. In addition, several partners, including the Center for History and New Media, the History Education Group at Stanford University, the American Historical Association and the National History Center, create materials that detail innovative ways of teaching and learning history, helping educators to improve their classroom teaching. For example, the site’s Tools for Teachers section highlights best practices using digital tools in K-12 classrooms. To learn more, go to the Web site at: http://teaching

ESP Leaders Sought for NEA Program Training to Enhance Advocacy Skills Applications for NEA’s 2010-11 Education Support Professionals ‘Leaders for Tomorrow’ program are now available. The program is open to any education support professional who has been an NEA member in good standing for at least the past three years. The program is a three-session training held over an eight-month period. It will train both current and future education support professional leaders in leadership attitudes, skills and knowledge that will enhance their ability to be a visible, vocal advocate at the local, state and national association levels. The three trainings are July 2125 in Minneapolis; Nov. 12-15 in Washington, D.C.; and March 6-11, 2011, at a site to be determined. NSEA President Jess Wolf has more information. For details, call him at NSEA headquarters at 1-800742-0047.

History Resources At Clearinghouse Site The National History Education Clearinghouse is the central online site for K-12 U.S. history education. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Web site brings together K-12 American history reMarch 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 17


Are Your Children Graduating Soon?

By Kurt Genrich EHA Plan Advocate Each spring, many children of our Educator’s Health Alliance members graduate or no longer want to continue their education. There are a lot of items for you as parents to sift through during this period, and we want to make sure that you don’t overlook their opportunity to continue coverage. Here is useful information to remember if you are in such a situation: n Children are covered through the EHA plan until age 19 unless they continue their education as a full-time student. If they are a full-time student, they can continue coverage until their 24th birthday. n If a student graduates in the Spring (May, June), the coverage will end Aug. 31. If a student graduates at any other time during the year, coverage ends the last day of the month of student status. n If you have a dependent with special needs, they can continue on your coverage as long as they are considered a dependent on your Federal taxes. If you have dependents in this situation, contact your school’s Human Resources person to obtain the proper

paperwork filled out for EHA/BCBSNE. n Dependents would be eligible for COBRA coverage, which allows for an additional 18 months of coverage. If there is a longer term needed, LB501 was implemented on Jan. 1. Provisions of LB501 allow your dependent to continue coverage, at single rate, through your school plan for as long as they need the coverage.

EHA Completes Member Survey In November, an EHA plan survey was produced and sent to the membership to gather information about the EHA’s medical and dental plans, the communication of the plans, as well as topics that might be of interest in the future for our members. More than 2,300 members returned their information for input for improving the EHA plan for all its members. To see the complete survey, go to the Web site. To all who participated in the survey, the EHA wants to say ‘thank you.’ Your valuable comments and input will make this a better plan for all members!

Early Retirement Webinar is on EHA Web site On Jan. 28, a webinar was held for EHA members who are considering retirement or are leaving their school. The webinar addressed questions that members have in regards to eligibility; special dues; benefits; billing and options; and health and dental benefits after you leave employment. The presentation was recorded. To view the recording, go to the Web site at:

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 Executive Director Craig R. Genrich Christiansen chairs 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:

Tune Up Your Bargaining Skills with NSEA ‘The Spring Game’ Will Help Prepare Local Negotiators

Knowledge is power, and if local association negotiators hope to do well at the bargaining table this year, they’d be well-served to spend a few hours at NSEA’s Saturday, March 20, Bargaining Conference meeting. In order to save members time and travel, the bargaining sessions will be held by videoconference at six sites, spread across the state. The theme this year is ‘Bargaining 2010: The Spring Game.’ The game plan is to discuss, among other topics, NSEA and local association bargaining goals for 2010-11; state aid; property tax levies and lids; an update on health insurance premiums; and more. Indeed, local association bargaining goals will be a key conference detail. Page 18 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

“We’ll have a process, during the conference, where negotiators have a chance to build their own local association bargaining goals,” said Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Bargaining and Research. Sites are at: n The University of Nebraska at Kearney Campus. n Educational Service Unit 16 in North Platte. n Harms Center at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. n Omaha State Office Building at 1313 Farnam St. n The NETV Building on the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s East Campus. n The Northeast Community College Campus in Norfolk. Local association negotiators are urged to save the date in order to participate in the program. The program will start at 9:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. MST) and will close by 2:30 p.m.

For details, call NSEA at 1-800-7420047, or check the NSEA Web site at:


David Shrader NSEA Board of Directors Elkhorn District

NEA Member Benefits Snookie’s Snippets Making ends meet these days is difficult for everyone, not just educators. So why pay more for clothing, electronics, books and school supplies when you can use the exclusive offers or discounts at neamb. com? Check out these Web site offers: n 1-800Flowers. com: Get a 20 percent, year-round discount (use the code Krumbiegel ‘NEAMB’). n H&R Block: Make taxes less stressful! n TeachAde: The online store for education products includes books and videos for children, teens, parents, and educators. Categories include bullying, ADHD, autism, child safety, peer pressure and child behavior. Looking for magazine offers? They are available on the NEAMB Web site. Get $5 off on subscriptions at: coupon.htm Through June 30, check for free magazine subscriptions at this site: National Cyber Security Alliance This user-friendly site provides a wealth of curriculum, information, ideas and opportunities for spreading safe and secure online practices. The NCSA is a nonprofit organization created to teach citizens how to use the Internet securely and safely. For more, visit:

Long-Term Care & Financial Success Make Long-Term Care Part of Your Strategy

If you’d rather write your will than talk about planning for long-term care (LTC) needs, you’re not alone. In a 2006 John Hancock Life Insurance Company survey, more than half of respondents opted for the will. A slightly smaller percentage said that going to a nursing home is worse than becoming bankrupt. Half considered it worse than dying. It’s clear that emotions surrounding the thought of losing our independence can keep us from action. But once people understand long-term care, planning is easier, and it offers peace of mind about preserving savings and protecting family members from the burden of caregiving. The Impact of Caregiving Long-term care is the assistance needed by someone who can no longer perform daily activities such as eating, bathing or dressing. This care can be received at home; in an assisted living facility; adult day care center; or nursing home. Long-term care does not always mean nursing home. In fact, 80 percent of older adults who receive LTC do so

in their homes or community settings. With the national average cost for nursing home care at more than $71,000, and the expenses of at-home care or services provided in a community setting on the rise – the costs really add up. The Best Funding Solution Long-term care insurance was identified by 42 percent of survey respondents as the best way to fund long-term care costs. Premiums are based on age and health when you apply, so it makes sense to buy when you are young. An LTC insurance policy can help: n Protect retirement savings. n Give yourself control over where you receive care. n Give you the means to pay for higher quality care. n Relieve your family and friends from care giving responsibilities. Do some research at the Health & Wellness ‘Benefits’ section of the NEA Member Benefits Web site. For more, click on the ‘NEA Long Term Care Program’ link. That site is at:

Sweepstakes Reminders Go to NEAMB’s site for these giveaways: n March 1 through April 15: Quicken Financial Software; $1,000 Liberty Travel gift cards; and Alamo two-day weekend car rentals. n March 16–31: Barnes & Noble “Nook” eReaders. n March 15 through April 14: $5,000 travel getaway sweepstakes and five $500 Whirlpool gift cards. Register to win at: Snookie Krumbiegel is Nebraska’s NEA Member Benefits representative.

March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 19

Page 20 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

From the Executive Director

We Get What We Reward Good teachers understand a very basic maxim in the demand…that if there is an oversupply of teachers, classroom: We get what we reward. Good behavior wages will remain low. Tell that to Superintendents doesn’t just happen. The same is true for good manners, in this state who have lost valuable staff members to good grades, and good appearance. Teachers know this higher wages in neighboring states. Tell that to talented and so do students. Everyone pays attention to what is college students who choose other fields because the valued and rewarded. wage gap is so great. Yes, there are many more licensed What is valued and rewarded for teachers? teachers in this state than teaching jobs. The question Compared with other comparably educated people is whether they are sitting at home or are working at in comparably responsible jobs, teachers earn about 15 other jobs that pay more. Most members of this group percent less. That have already made means that every their decision — and pay day, teachers it isn’t teaching. get a powerful message — what they Desire to Serve do is not as highly In fact, an overvalued or rewarded supply of potenas what others do. tial teachers does Some would argue contribute to part that teachers have of the problem non-monetary reof low wages, alwards that others though the teacher jobs don’t. Patients labor market does and their families not have the same love the nurses that market dynamics care for them. And that describe other nurses, on average, markets. Perhaps also make more the most significant money than teachfactor is the desire ers. Love doesn’t of teachers to serve Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen and his three brothers. They in the work they pay the rent. four professional licenses: two nurses, an engineer, and a teacher. The gap between hold love. Teachers are Can you guess which license is paid the least? what teachers make not self-interested, and what other colhighly mobile, salalege graduates make is actually increasing. When ry-maximizers that flit from job to job, chasing higher teaching was one of the few professions accessible by salaries. They tend to be attracted to their own home women, female teachers made about 15 percent more town and are long-time member of communities than other college educated women. Fifty years later, where they can make a difference (which often transthat is now reversed. It is increasingly difficult to atlates into high risk, lower socio-economic students), tract high-quality students into the teaching profession in work that they define as doing what is best for stu— and, once there, it is harder to retain them. Are we dents. The fact is that they agree to work in teaching getting what we value and reward? for much less than they would make in another job. The wage level that teachers will accept is an imporNo Difference tant factor in the overall picture of teacher salaries. Some argue that teachers work fewer days than other But do we really want a different personality profile jobs. Research consistently finds that there is no sigfor the teachers that take care of our kids? Or should nificant difference in the amount of time teachers work we reward those qualities of care and stability with at during the year, compared with other jobs. Working 50 least the same wages that we do for computer technihours per week in a job that takes 40 weeks a year is the cians, accountants, or nurses — all of whom have the same time spent as working 40 hours a week in a job same college requirements as teachers — and all of that takes 50 weeks a year. A teacher recently told me whom make more? that she worked about 60 hours a week. She asked me This state has been lucky. It has gotten far more than if that was a lot. Well, not for teachers. it has rewarded. The danger is someday it might get Some argue that wages are a function of supply and only what it rewards. March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 21

NSEA-Retired Corner

Lobby Day: A Political Primer Retirees Watching Legislative Bills That Affect Active, Retired Teachers Fifty NSEA-Retired members met Tuesday, Feb. 9, at NSEA to receive an overview of the NSEA 2010 legislative agenda and to learn a few pointers about lobbying state senators. NSEA-Retired has particular interest in and is supportive of LB958. If passed, LB958 would exempt a portion of state taxes on a retiree’s Social Security and teacher’s pension incomes. Nebraska is one of a very few states that does not exempt all or a portion of these income sources from state income taxes. While consideration of the bill has been earmarked for the 2011 session, retirees are encouraged to contact their state senators and add their names in support of LB958. Another bill that can put extra money in your pocket is LB899, which makes permanent the annual state contribution to purchasing power adjustment in the Nebraska School Employees’ Retirement System. Contact your state senator to support LB899, too. Supporting the Profession In addition to being active on issues of importance to retirees, NSEARetired always urges members to support legislation affecting the active members of NSEA. LB1071 broadens the approved graduate programs eligible for tuition reimbursement. LB235 permits the Board of Educational Lands and Funds to issue leases for wind and solar uses and LB1014 establishes a teacher performance pay fund with those lease revenues. LB107 requires the employer to provide notice of reason for job termination to the employee. Please add your support to these bills. LB1040, LB1041 and LB1042 make significant changes to the Commission on Industrial Relations. Many a teacher has benefited from CIR decisions on cases brought to it from local NSEA affiliates seeking better salaries and working conditions for their members. The three bills change the comparability analyses in wage cases and include “reasonableness” or the “ability to pay” in wage cases. Join NSEA and your former colleagues Page 22 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

Rotunda discussion: NSEA-Retired member Harriet B. Schaeffer of Cortland briefs Sen. Norm Wallman, also of Cortland, on an issue during the NSEA-Retired Lobby Day in Lincoln in mid-February. Nearly 50 NSEA-Retired members attended and spoke with senators.

and contacting your senators and asking them to oppose these bills. Contact Your Senator Take these steps on your computer to learn more about specific legislative bills and to contact your state senator: Go to the NSEA Web site. On the left side of the page, click on ‘Policy & Politics.’ You’ll see a pop-up list that contains among other things ‘Legislative Updates’ and ‘Become a Cyberlobbyist.’ Click on ‘Legislative Updates’ to be directed to a page that gives you a current update of what’s going on with the Association’s legislative agenda. In addition, at the top of the page, you’ll find two ways to click for information on the bills and a way to contact your state senator: “Search and find information on legislative bills by clicking HERE” and “Find and e-mail your state senator by click-

ing HERE.” Finally, click on ‘Become a Cyberlobbyist’ and follow the registration instructions. As a member of the NSEA cyberlobbying team, you’ll receive Legislative Updates via email. You’ll also receive alerts during the session and calls to action when NSEA needs you to contact your senator. The NSEA Web site is at: If you don’t have access to a computer, telephone the Legislative Hot Line at 471-2709 in Lincoln or 1-800742-7456 outside Lincoln, and request a copy of a specific bill. You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 1-402-471-2311, or 471-2311 in Lincoln, and ask to be connected to the office of your state senator. Or write your senator at the State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604. — Tom Black, Editor

Deadlines Near for DA Actions For any local association considering submitting at the April 16-17 Delegate Assembly either a New Business Item, Bylaws Amendment, proposed Resolution, or proposed change in the Standing and Procedural Rules, now is the time to begin. The intent of each is listed: n A New Business Item calls for a specific action. For example, “The NSEA shall ask the Legislature for an increase in teacher salaries.”  Those are due to NSEA by Monday, March 29. n A Bylaws Amendment would change the governing documents of the Association.  For example, a section of the Bylaws could be changed to add a particular duty to the job description for the president. Those are due to NSEA by midnight Tuesday, March 16. n A Resolution is a statement of beliefs.  For example, “The NSEA believes that all students should have a safe environment in which to learn.”  Those are due to NSEA by Monday, March 29. n A Standing or Procedural Rule governs how the Delegate Assembly will function.  Such items submitted to NSEA by midnight Tuesday, March 16, require a majority vote of delegates. Items submitted at the Assembly require a two-thirds majority vote. Associations and/or individual delegates may also submit New Business Items or Resolutions during the first and/or second business sessions of the Delegate Assembly. Standing and Procedural Rule changes can still be submitted during the first business session. 

Wanted for Delegate Assembly: Student Artwork Cards, artwork, poems or letters from your students could be on display during NSEA’s 2010 Delegate Assembly. NSEA is asking teachers across the state to submit such student works, with a theme of ‘Thanks to Nebraska’s Education Community.’ The items will be on display during the Delegate Assembly at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, set for Friday and Saturday, April 16-17. More than 400 teachers from across the state will be on hand for the annual meeting, at which delegates set the course for the Association for the coming year. Please have each submission marked with the student’s name, school and the name of the student’s teacher. If you have your students create such works, mark the envelope to the attention of ‘Thanks to Education’ and send it to NSEA, Suite 200, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE 685082742. Items will not be returned.

LEA to Again Host DA Fundraiser The Lincoln Education Association will host its sixth annual silent auction during the 2010 NSEA Delegate Assembly. The silent auction benefits the LEA Foundation, with 10 percent of proceeds going to NSEA’s Children’s Fund.The Foundation funds scholarships and grants to graduating seniors and to LEA members. In addition, financial grants are given to LEA members who are faced with a catastrophic event in their lives, or have a special project in their classroom. The silent auction will be open during the first session of the 2010 Delegate Assembly, from 4 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Friday, April 16. It will be held in the atrium of the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, site of the Delegate Assembly. Anyone can place bids, and those bidding need not be delegates. In addition, members can have delegates place bids on items on their behalf. A complete list of the raffle and auction items can be found on the LEA Web site at:

Those who submit items for consideration during the first and/or second business session will be responsible for bringing 500 copies for distribution. The appropriate forms for submitting these business items can be ac-

The Best Laid Plans… Despite our best efforts to check, re-check and re-check again, last month’s edition featured a classic switcheroo: the photos of two of the three teachers featured in a story about lengthy teaching careers were transposed. Karen Clark, now in her 49th year, is a counselor at Omaha South High School. She works for a simple reason. “It’s because I like to work with kids. I hope I make a difference in their lives,” she Clark Schmidt said. Carol Schmidt is also in her 49th year. She teaches at Lincoln’s Brownell Elementary. “I love it!” she said. “First graders are the best.” Our apologies to these fine teachers! The Editor

cessed on the NSEA homepage at: Delegate Assembly Standing and Procedural Rules and the current governing documents of the NSEA are also available on the NSEA homepage.

York Mourns Passing of Keelan-White

Long-time York Public Schools special education teacher and NSEA member Peggy Jo Keelan-White, 56, died Dec. 9, 2009, in Lincoln. A breast cancer survivor, she had been battling acute leukemia since August. A graduate of Lincoln High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and a master’s in educational psychology. Except for one year at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, she had been employed with the York Public Schools since 1977. Survivors include her husband Don Keelan-White of York, and two sons. March 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 23

Speaking of Teaching “Unlike assembly lines that discard materials that can’t guarantee a predetermined uniform result, public schools don’t discard any child. Children can come hungry or filthy; they can speak English or Spanish or Vietnamese or Hmong; they can be athletic or clumsy, artistic or musical; they can be black or white, Latino or Asian; they can be gay or straight, rich or poor; Muslim or Jewish or Christian or Hindu or atheist. They can know a lot or a little. In public schools, teachers take students as they are, respect all as they are, and promise to teach all, as they are. It might be the plaque on the Statue of Liberty that says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ but it’s public schools that live that message daily.” — Kylene Beers, Past President, National Council of Teachers of English

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

Family of Teachers

End of the Year Activity From Lorraine Ryan, a language arts teacher at The Hartford School in Moorestown, NJ:

“At the end of the school year, have this year’s kids write letters to next year’s kids. Give them suggestions on topics to include, such as behaviors to avoid so they don’t get in trouble or make the teacher mad; advice for getting all their work done; some great treats to look forward to that are annual events; and what cool projects the new students can expect. These letters will make the transition to your class a little easier, and it’s a way for one class to connect to another class. It’s a great practice on letter-writing skills for your current kids as well.” Sign up for Works4Me at this link: Works4Me.html Page 24 n The NSEA Voice n March 2010

Smeal Family of Teachers: Before marrying Ray Smeal, Arlene Smeal taught at Langley School in Colfax County. Little did she know that she would start a family tradition! Seated, from left, are son Larry Smeal, who taught business at Dodge High School; Arlene Smeal; and daughter Diane Wiese, who taught in Dodge and then retired in 2007 from High Plains Community Schools in Clarks, after 32 years in the classroom. Standing, from left, are: granddaughter Sheri Genovese, an occupational therapist for the El Cajon Public Schools in California; granddaughter Mallory Smeal Smith, a teacher at Eustis-Farnam Public Schools; daughter-in-law Lois Smeal, who retired after 37 years at Dodge and then Clarkson; granddaughter-in-law Katie Weber, a teacher for Sylvan Learning Center in Gainesville, FL; granddaughter Elizabeth Greer, a math teacher at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; grandson Reid Weber, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Florida; granddaughter-in-law Laura Weber, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, and an adjunct instructor at Creighton University; daughter Dorothy Weber, director of the Learning Center at Wayne State College; grandson Chris Weber, a former graduate teaching assistant at the University of Michigan; and son-in-law Norm Weber, who spent 39 years teaching science at Wisner-Pilger Public Schools. Not pictured are granddaughter Anna Dewey Greer, an art teacher at an Omaha Montessori School; and Morgan Smeal, a junior education major at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont. If you have a family of teachers, send your photo and information to Family of Teachers, c/o NSEA, Suite 200, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE 68508-2742.

NSEA The Voice March 2010  

NSEA The Voice March 2010

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