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The

Voice The Nebraska State Education Association ď ś September 2010

September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 1


On the Cover: A year ago, business teacher Cindy Brazda was living, working and spending her paycheck in and around Wood River. The victim of a reduction in force, Brazda is now looking for work, reigning in spending, and contributing much less to the state’s economic well-being. For the story, see

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

Volume 64, No. 1 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 September 2010

Foundation Issues Innovation Challenge Profession’s Most Pressing Issues Sought; Prizes, Grants Available for Submissions The NEA Foundation has established an exciting new partnership with the US Department of Education. The initiative – C2i, for ‘Challenge to Innovate’ – is a call to action to all public school educators to identify and solve education’s most pressing classroom problems. C2i is a web-based, open invitation to public school educators that will be housed on the Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal. The best ideas will receive awards from the NEA Foundation and may be selected for further development. The NEA Foundation recognizes teachers as adopters, adapters, and creators of both educational processes and products, and as agents who must organize, manage, and assume risks in solving problems. Teachers engage in and lead this creative process in their classrooms, schools and communities. The first challenge will launch on Tuesday, Sept. 7. The challenge: Identify your most pressing classroom problem. To do so: n Register on the Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal at: https://innovation.ed.gov/ n Select the NEA Foundation C2i Challenge. n Following the DOE’s guidelines, post your most pressing classroom-based problem that is at the frontlines of teaching and learning and addresses the needs of traditionally underachieving or failing students. n Review, vote for, and comment on ideas posted. The five highest-ranked ideas will be awarded $1,000 and posted as the next challenge. The NEA Foundation will then develop and share critical knowledge and supporting materials from proposed solutions. Further, through a partnership with DonorsChoose.org, educators in classrooms nationwide can apply for an NEA Foundation/DonorsChoose.org grant of up to $500 so they can adapt a winning solution to meet their students’ needs.

Next NEA Grant Deadline Near Throughout the year, the NEA Foundation awards nearly 200 grants to educators. Their purpose: to close achievement gaps, develop creative learning opportunities for students, and enhance professional development. The two main grant categories are Student Achievement Grants and Learning & Leadership Grants. Applications are completed online. Deadlines for both grants are Feb. 1, June 1 and Oct. 15. n Learning & Leadership Grants provide opportunities for teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff to engage in high-quality professional development. The grant amount is $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study. n Student Achievement Grants provide $5,000 to improve the academic achievement of students by engaging in critical thinking and problem solving activities that deepen knowledge of standards-based subject matter. Also, through NEA’s Books Across America Library Books Awards, the Foundation awards $1,000 grants to public schools serving economically disadvantaged students to purchase books for school libraries. For more, go to: http://www.neafoundation.org/


From the President

They Watched Over Me

NSEA President Jess Wolf

These may be difficult times, but there is never a time when we should ever consider shortchanging our young people.

I was raised on a farm in south central South Dakota. We lived about three miles west of the Missouri River and about 10 miles north of the Nebraska state line. Our farm at the end of a quarter-mile lane was primitive, centered around an old wood-framed house without running water. It was surrounded by several functional outbuildings in various stages of dilapidation. I imagine we would have been classified as rural poor, but I wasn’t aware of that fact. Sure, there were noticeable comparisons to neighbors who had some things we did not, but I had a roof over my head, food on the table several times a day, and I had parents who loved and cared for me. The majority of my extended family lived within 10 miles, and we spent every Sunday and holiday at the home of my maternal grandparents, surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Fetching the Water No running water meant there were no modern conveniences. No kitchen sink. No indoor bathroom. All the water needs had to be met by “fetching” water from the well 75 yards from the house. It was real “Jack and Jill” stuff, except we went down the hill to “fetch” the water and we walked up the hill with the full bucket. Jack and Jill had it easy, going downhill with the full bucket – at least until Jack fell down! Fetching water was one of the first manly chores my brother Jack (his real name; no sister Jill) and I were assigned. You were really good at it if you could make the walk without changing bucket hands. We eventually determined that two buckets were easier to carry than one – something to do with physics, I later learned. Necessary Skills Initially, we were the first kids on the school bus each morning. It took 45 minutes to an hour to pick everyone up, and we got home about 20 minutes after the final bel rang. My teachers were friendly and determined that I learn what was necessary to succeed in life. I knew the

cook and custodian, and they were willing to let me help them when I could. I knew nearly everyone in town or, more importantly, they knew me. I was a phone call away from instant discipline if my conduct was ever found to be out of line. That was a message I needed to receive just once. I was truly a product of the village, and all the citizens of Fairfax, SD, took it seriously. While the jury may still be out on this point, I think I turned out all right as a result of this upbringing. We Hold the Future I relate this personal history to make a point as the new school year hits full stride. The message is one we as educators, citizens, and decision-makers need to be reminded about occasionally: We hold the future in our hands! As public school educators, we know that every child and every young adult deserves our total commitment. We must give each student the best education we can deliver. Regardless of a student’s background, their chances for success are enhanced only if we give them our very best effort, every day. Delivering the Best I hope the state’s decision-makers and policymakers realize that a well-educated populace is a must for any successful society. To fail any child or young adult during their developmental years is to fail ourselves, our society, our future. These may be difficult times, but there is never a time when we should ever consider shortchanging our young people. A child gets just one chance at getting started down the right path in life. When I was a youngster on that small farm in South Dakota, the citizens in my community and state watched over me and made sure I had the tools and opportunities to become a contributing citizen. Is it too much to ask that we be determined to do the same for today’s children?

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NSEA’s ‘Words That Stick’ Campaign Under Way Words, Actions of Teachers Inspire Students to Succeed; Contributors Can Win up to $500 Over the years, Nebraska teachers have inspired generations of children with words that stick and actions that matter. Those words and actions have pushed students toward success in the classroom and beyond. Every Nebraskan remembers a teacher who made a difference with such words and actions. Through a campaign organized by NSEA, using a grant from the National Education Association, Nebraskans now have a chance to share the story of how a teacher or teachers helped propel them to success. And they can win up to $500 in the process. NSEA’s campaign is also designed to rally support and inform the public about the importance of recruiting and retaining Nebraska’s great teachers. The campaign, ‘Words That Stick,’ is designed to highlight those moments when teachers inspire a student with words or actions that stay with that student throughout his or her life. The NSEA encourages Nebraskans to share their memories through a website contest that includes a $500 first prize and ten $100 runner-up prizes. NSEA President Jess Wolf remembers

that it was his fourth grade teacher, Twila Hicks, who pushed him to succeed. “I was 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.” The campaign includes several notable Nebraskans talking about the teachers who made a difference in their lives with words and actions. University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne and his wife, Nancy, are among the well-known Nebraskans taking part. Their stories will be conveyed through a radio campaign. A statewide push through Nebraska’s newspapers will also push Nebraskans to tell their stories on the NSEA website. For details on the campaign and contest, go to the website at: www.qualityteachers.org

A ‘Words That Stick’ Sample

This excerpt is from one of the early submissions in NSEA’s ‘Words That Stick’ Campaign. It was submitted by Ben Walther of Bellevue: “One thing my teachers tell me every year is, “you can tell me everything,” and I know it doesn’t sound like much at first. But, when you have that bad break up, or there is trouble going on at home, and you feel like you have no where to turn. I’ve got news for you, teachers are the people you can go to. “We are lucky enough to have these people who devote ALL their time for you and me. And you know what their reward is? It’s not the money. It’s not the satisfaction of having a job in this tough economy. It’s to see every one of us succeed, no matter how much time it takes. “Frankly, teachers are the one way ticket to accomplishing our dreams. Whether you love em’, or hate em’ teachers are some of the best people in our lives. They will make ALL the difference!!”

National Board Deadline Date Approaches With a new school year under way, many Nebraska teachers and counselors are considering candidacy for National Board Certification, the nation’s only advanced teacher certification. Interested candidates must submit an application to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards by Dec. 31. To qualify, educators must hold a bachelor’s degree, possess a valid state teaching license and have completed three full years of teaching or counseling.

National Board Certification can offer license portability, and can contribute to Continuing Education Units. In many areas, certification can also provide higher salary potential. Full or partial financial support is available for most candidates to help pay the costs. “Since becoming National Board certified, I have become methodical and reflective in how I teach,” said Tim Keller, an NSEA member who teaches music at Papillion-LaVista High School. “Now, I

ask myself ‘How did the lesson go? If it didn’t go well, how can I improve?’ I learned to reflect and evaluate my instructional practice from the individual development I received from the National Board Certification process.” There are nearly 100 National Board Certified teachers in Nebraska. For details, or to find a mentor that can walk you through the candidacy, call 1-800228-3224, or visit: www.nbpts.org September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 5


A Teacher’s Job Lost Passage of Education Jobs Bill Should Help Prevent RIFs Wood River Teacher’s Job Loss an Example of Effect of Budget Cuts on the Economy, Profession By all accounts, Wood River lost a very good teacher last spring when business teacher Cindy Brazda’s job was cut by a Reduction-in-Force. Students lost a great teacher, the offerings in a valued program were reduced and a superb teaching career may have been derailed as well. Viewed on a much broader spectrum, the loss of Brazda’s job knocked another of the dependable, stabilizing blocks off of Nebraska’s economic foundation. There are about 24,000 public school teachers in Nebraska. They live in or near the cities in which they teach. They spend money in local grocery stores, cafes, gas stations and retail outlets. They fuel Main Street Nebraska’s economy to the tune of well more than $1 billion each year. Add in other school employees, as well as instructors and professors at the state’s public colleges and universities, and the impact of public education on Nebraska’s economy is closer to $2 billion each year. Add to that the more than $300 million annual impact of retired teachers drawing from the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System, and education has one of the largest — if not the largest — economic impact of any employer in the state. So when a school employee like Brazda loses her job, Main Street Nebraska suffers. When thousands of teachers lose their jobs – as could happen next year if massive cuts to state aid take place – Nebraska suffers. It’s happened elsewhere. In Kansas last year, 3,000 teachers lost jobs due to budget cuts, and another 2,000 face job loss this year. Pushing the Economy That’s exactly why the early August passage of the federal Education Jobs Fund bill was so important. The $10 billion legislation will send nearly $59 million to Nebraska, with the funds to be used to keep teachers in the classroom. The estimated impact: nearly 140,000 education jobs saved nationally, with 1,000 of those jobs saved in Nebraska (see sidebar), each of those jobs pushing the economy to recovery. More importantly, the bill makes certain that children do not bear the brunt of the

Looking for work: Last year at this time Cindy Brazda was the business teacher at Wood River. Today, her fulltime job has been stripped from the state’s economy, and she’s substitute teaching and looking for a second job.

nation’s economic woes: class sizes will not be reduced; fewer programs will be cut; and students will generally be served in a more complete manner. Sen. Ben Nelson was a central figure in the passage of the Senate version of the bill, reportedly bringing several fence-sitting colleagues to the ‘yea’ side. No other Nebraska representative voted for the plan. Gov. Dave Heineman The Education Jobs Fund projections for Nebraska’s three has said he will apply for Congressional districts show incredible benefit: Nearly $59 the federal monies, which million infused into Nebraska’s economy will save or create will begin flowing into nearly 1,000 K-12 teaching jobs. state coffers later this year. In Nebraska’s First Congressional District, $15.3 But for Cindy Brazda, million in funding will create 266 public school jobs in that money comes too late. grades kindergarten through 12. In the Second Congressional District, an additional $24 Teaching million will create an estimated 418 jobs at the K-12 level. as a Career In the Third Congressional District, an additional Brazda earned a busi$18.1 in funding will create or preserve an estimated 315 ness degree from the Unijobs in K-12. versity of Nebraska-Lin-

Will the Education Jobs Bill Save Your Job?

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coln and found a job in Lincoln. The business world, however, was not what she had hoped it might be. “I started thinking about it, and realized it was my business teacher who was a big influence on my life,” said Brazda. So she returned to UNL, earned a teaching degree, and “found out what I wanted to do with my life.” Wood River, with an excellent FBLA program, seemed a great fit. “It’s always been a good program there, it’s always been an outstanding chapter,” she said. Under her leadership, Wood River’s program was one of 10 in Nebraska to receive an FBLA outstanding chapter designation last year. In July, chapter representatives won the FBLA’s national Parliamentary Procedure competition. Concerned for Programming That was several months after Brazda got the bad news: citing financial concerns, district officials planned to release Brazda and four elementary teachers from their contracts through a Reduction-in-Force. Brazda was the only one of the five to seek NSEA’s help and go to hearing. “Cindy was concerned about how the business program would suffer as a result of the cuts,” said NSEA UniServ Director Ron Goldenstein. “She was especially concerned for the FBLA program, which is held in high esteem in Wood River. She wanted to get that message across at the hearing.” The board sustained administrative recommendations to cut the position, and Brazda joined her former Wood River colleagues on the job hunt. A few short months ago, Brazda was living in or near Wood River, purchasing groceries and gas and other necessities in the area. Today, Brazda is pinching pennies, looking for part-time evening and weekend retail work to help pay her health insurance while she substitutes in area schools during the day. Lost from the Profession? Looking at the unsteady cash flow of substitute teaching is nerve-wracking. So while Brazda would like to get back to a full-time job, she does have a fall-back position. “I do have that business degree,” she said. One school has already let Brazda walk out the door. Will the profession lose her as well?

Jobs Bill is Huge Victory; Next Hurdle is NCLB Bill Will Save up to 1,000 Nebraska Jobs; ESEA Goals Said ‘Statistically Impossible’ NSEA was on the Education Jobs bill bandwagon early. In May, NSEA led Nebraska’s education community in urging the Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns to support the Education Jobs bill and to recognize that the blueprint for reauthorization of federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), “creates significant problems and raises serious concerns.” A letter to Nebraska’s congressional delegation was sent on May 28 and was signed by the executive directors of NeNebraska U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson braska’s three major education organizawas instrumental tions: NSEA, the Nebraska Association of in the August pasSchool Boards, and the Nebraska Counsage of the federal cil of School Administrators. The execs, Education Jobs bill. including NSEA’s Craig R.Christiansen, The $10 billion John Bonaiuto of the NASB, and Mike legislation, funded Dulaney of the NCSA, said they supported by closing overIowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s Education Jobs seas corporate bill, the funding of which would help build tax loopholes and a stable bridge over state budget gaps for other measures, the next two years. The final version of the will save or crebill will send $59 million to Nebraska. ate up to 1,000 Nelson From the date of the letter until the Eduteaching jobs in cation Jobs bill passed on Aug. 10, NSEA’s Nebraska next year. Those jobs will efforts to explain the importance of the legput money into, and stimulate, the islation continued with phone calls, emails economy. and personal visits to representatives. To thank Sen. Nelson, go to the Among Nebraska’s five-member con‘Policy and Politics’ and then ‘Email gressional delegation, only Sen. Nelson Your Senator’ links on the NSEA voted for the bill. website at: Winners and Losers www.nsea.org As for ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind, the letter said of “concern is the continued reliance on test scores as a means of categorizing schools and evaluating teachers, as well as the proposal’s emphasis on punitive school turnaround models that do not fit well in Nebraska.” The exes said they would participate with Nelson and Johanns in making changes to the blueprint “to better match the realities faced by our teachers, school administrators, school personnel, school boards, parents and communities. “The idea that every student in America can achieve a standard of proficiency by the year 2014 is a noble vision and goal; however, it is statistically impossible. Further, the accountability system of this ‘blueprint’ relies on standardized tests to identify winners and losers.” The blueprint also requires states to compete for federal resources, setting up a winners-and-losers scenario. “Nebraska will not be able to compete with larger states for these resources,” said the letter. “School turnaround efforts must be research-based and fully collaborative. Instead, we see top-down scapegoating of teachers, school administrators, and school boards, and not enough collaboration. The ESEA/NCLB reauthorization is still in development and NSEA members are encouraged to share their concerns and suggestions regarding changes to the Act by contacting Nebraska’s Congressional delegation: http://www.capwiz.com/nea/ne/state/main/?state=NE

Nelson Key to Jobs Bill Passage

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A Baker’s Dozen

NSEA-Led Summit Generates 13 Proposals to Inspire Family, Community Involvement in Schools Summit Conclusion: To Raise Achievement Parents, Schools, Communities Must Partner More than 130 Nebraska parents, teachers, community and elected leaders discussed the importance of family engagement in education during a day-long work session that produced 13 recommendations to support such involvement. The Family-School-Community Engagement Summit, held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in LaVista in May, was hosted by NSEA – in partnership with the National Education Association and 22 Nebraska organizations. Research shows that engaging families and communities as partners with schools positively contributes to children’s academic success, said summit keynoter Dr. Karen Mapp, director of education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “We’re finding that when we, as educators, step up and work to build the capacity of parents to become engaged, that engagement builds. So it’s a shared responsibility,” said Mapp. Through College Further, engagement that begins in early childhood is continuous across a child’s lifespan, through college and into career development. When parents and school staff work together to support student learning, Mapp said students: n Earn higher grades and test scores. n Enroll in higher-level programs. n Are promoted more and earn more credit. n Adapt better to school and attend more regularly. n Have better social skills and behavior. n Graduate and go on to higher education. “Our parents didn’t always have the Page 8 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

Compiling ideas: Small group leaders for the Family-School-Community Engagement Summit in LaVista work to compile the ideas generated in their group. From left are Judy Roach, Louisville; Lisa Fricke, Lexington; Nebraska NEA Director Leann Widhalm, Norfolk; and York College’s Dr. Al Arth.

Mom, Dad and Grandma stay out of information about how to collaborate their business, students are far more and how to guide their child’s learnlikely to stay in ing,” said Mapp. “In if their order to get these “...I plan to attend parent-teach- school families keep enresults, we need to be willing to share er conferences across the state this couraging them, fall.Tell me when you plan to have and demonstrating with parents.” interest in what NSEA President them, and I will be there.” Jess Wolf agreed, — Gov. Dave Heineman they are doing and accomplishand said everyone ing in school,” has a stake in stusaid Wolf. dent and school success. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a “Even though students of a certain strong advocate of parental and comage – teens – would really prefer that


The 13 Steps

Practices That Would Enhance Learning Recommended by Summit Attendees Small groups at the Family-School-Community Engagement Summit in LaVista focused on what policies, practices and actions are needed to increase the engagement of families in supporting student learning. Each group developed recommendations and actions, which were synthesized into a comprehensive set. These are the synthesized recommendations: Checking the options: A participant in the Family-School-Community Engagement Summit in LaVista considers some of the issues facing education today.

munity involvement, opened the conference. He said he has made education a top priority as governor, and encouraged participants to set an example. “I never missed a parent-teacher conference for our son,” said Heineman. “It sends a powerful message. So, I plan to attend parent-teacher conferences across the state this fall. Tell me when you plan to have them, and I will be there. If I can make time as governor to be there, then I’m hoping you can.” Investment in the Future NEA has pledged to invest $1 million each of the next six years to pursue strategies to increase teacher effectiveness at low performing schools. To that end, NEA convinced the Obama Administration to add to the models school districts could choose from to turn around low performing schools. The transformation model is now an option school districts can employ. It is the only fully collaborative model, and the only model that gives all the stakeholders, parents included, in public education an opportunity to actually change the system. Other coalition partners at the summit included Boys Town, Bright Futures Foundation, Educational Service Units Coordinating Council, EducationQuest Foundation, Gallup Organization, Latino Center of the Midlands, Lincoln Education Association. In addition, attendees included Lincoln Public Schools, Nebraska Association of School Boards, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, Nebraska Community Learning Center Network, Nebraska Council of School Administrators, Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska P-16 Initiative, Nebraska Parent Information Resource Center, Nebraska Parent Teacher Association, Nebraska State College System, Office of the Governor, Omaha Public Schools, PTI Nebraska, and the Sherwood Foundation.

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Encourage collaboration among schools, parents, religious organizations and community groups to create family-driven activities that assure opportunities to narrow achievement gaps. Establish teacher and principal preparation programs that emphasize family engagement strategies, culturally competent instruction, real classroom experience throughout the program, and connects to mentoring programs — all in the context of solid content and pedagogy.

3

Require accredited public schools to give teachers time to teach, students time to learn, and necessary resources in order to build capacity of staff and community partners to identify, understand and implement best practices.

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Identify parents, families and community partners who represent/reflect the school’s diversity. Provide them training to build capacity and fulfill school leadership roles using school improvement or other teams. Amend the credentialing process to include at least one course in teaching in a multilingual/diverse community. Amend local district ongoing professional development to include review of the challenges of ongoing demographic changes.

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Provide funding for adult English Language Learners (ELL) classes to be held in schools, scheduling some during the school day, with opportunities for families to attend together. Recommend the State Board of Education develop a statewide parent engagement plan, in conjunction with the entire education community, including parents and students, that incorporates accountability at the school district level for school personnel, parents and students.

8

Develop an effective communications and collaboration process between families, schools, HHS and the juvenile justice system that supports attendance and academic achievement by clarifying rules regarding educational and informational rights of biological and foster parents. Distribute this information to all necessary entities on an annual basis.

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Require businesses accepting tax incentives from the state to develop a formal education Memorandum of Understanding that allows four days annually for employee school engagement activities. Request that the governor convene a summit to encourage all Nebraska businesses to develop company policies that support parental engagement in schools. Provide targeted, ongoing professional development for all school staff regarding information on laws and regulations affecting challenged, struggling and special needs students. Provide access for rural communities to use new media for communication among staff, students, family and community; and for student learning. Encourage collaboration of parents and schools to write and distribute a parental engagement pledge that acknowledges the role of parents – from cradle to career – in the education, development and success of their children in schools. September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 9


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Reporting to Delegates: There is plenty of action taken, scores of reports to be made, as nearly 100 NSEA members attend the annual NEA Representative Assembly. Omaha member Deb Pauley passes along information during one of the Nebraska delegation’s early morning caucuses.

Hot Stuff in New Orleans! NEA’s Van Roekel, Others Criticize Education Reform That Includes High-Stakes Testing, ‘Impossible’ Standards “Plain and simple, this is not the change I hoped for. The weather in New Orleans was hot – and so was NEA Our members feel betrayed and so do I! Our members are President Dennis Van Roekel as he issued a stirring call to angry. So am I!” action to the 8,200 delegates at the National Education AsWith reauthorization of ESEA near, Van Roekel trained sociation’s annual Representative Assembly. much of his rhetorical fire for No Van Roekel criticized the failed polChild Left Behind, mocking the law icies and competitive grant programs “We must not allow another in stinging terms. being pushed by so-called education “We must not allow another bad bad ESEA. Because if they take reformers and the Obama adminisESEA. Because if they take the old tration’s education officials. And he the old NCLB, fancy it up and call NCLB, fancy it up and call it the new wasn’t alone in his criticisms. Former it the new ESEA, I think we ought ESEA, I think we ought to just call it U.S. Assistant U.S. Secretary of Eduto just call it TNT and blow the TNT and blow the whole damn thing cation Diane Ravitch and current Nawhole damn thing up!” up!” Van Roekel said. tional Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown The challenges facing public eduWessling, among others, pressed simi— Dennis Van Roekel, cation, he said, are too great to turn lar messages. NEA President away from. Activism must not begin Nearly 100 NSEA members were and end in election years. among those who attended and heard “If we are not activists in politics, the messages. They represented their we will be the victims of politics,” Van Roekel warned the fellow Nebraska teachers, professors and education supdelegates. port professionals at the five-day Representative Assembly, the largest democratically-run gathering in the world. RA Privatizing Education has its share of speeches, but also includes consideration of Ravitch, meanwhile, called for the defense of public edaction items that set the NEA path for the coming year. September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 11


ucation and the teaching profession. “The current ‘education reform’ movement is pushing bad ideas,” she said. “It wants to end tenure and seniority, to silence teachers’ unions, to privatize large sectors of public education. Don’t let it happen!” Ravitch, who served under President George H.W. Bush, supported some of those “bad ideas” for years, but changed her mind when she saw the damage they caused through NCLB. Ravitch blasted high-stakes testing, saying it might lead to higher test scores but not to real learning. She attacked merit pay because it undermines team work and has no support in education research. Ravitch also warned that public school choice and more charter schools could split the public school system into one system for haves and one for have-nots, because many charter schools skim the best students. And she noted that national studies have repeatedly failed to find charter schools do a better job. An ‘Impossible’ Standard Ravitch said NCLB set an impossible standard when it declared that 100 percent of children will be proficient. “Thousands of schools have been stigmatized as failing schools because they could not reach a goal that no state, no nation and no district has ever reached,” she said. NCLB has “paved the way for privatization. “Public education,” Ravitch said, “is the backbone of this democracy, and we cannot turn it over to privateers.” Ravitch said that nations whose students perform best in international comparisons “recognize that the best way to improve schools is to improve the education profession.” Wessling, an Iowa English teacher, learned that students deserve passionate teachers who provide them with every opportunity. She said educators deserve the same opportunities. “You’re worth more than any pay check or test score. You’re worth more than being a pusher of paper, than a ringer of bells,” she said. “You are worth the knowledge that your life’s work cannot be compartmentalized into bubbles and checkboxes; that your students are your life’s work.” Page 12 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

For women, minorities: Former Nebraska State Sen. DiAnna Schimek fought for many causes during her legislative career, notably standing up for the rights of women and minorities. For her work, the National Education Association honored Schimek with the Mary Hatwood Futrell Award.

Former Sen. Schimek Honored by NEA Receives Human and Civil Rights Award For Work on Behalf of Women, Minorities

Former State Sen. DiAnna Schimek has been honored for her work on behalf of women and minorities with the Mary Hatwood Futrell Award. The honor was presented at the National Education Association’s annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner in July. In 20 years in Nebraska’s Legislature, Schimek championed the causes of groups whose civil rights were in jeopardy.  Elected in 1989, she chaired or co-chaired committees or task forces that included, among others, those on racial and gender equity; urban affairs; veterans’ affairs; and sexual harassment. She introduced, co-sponsored or prioritized approximately 900 bills that helped transform the lives of women, minorities, migrant workers, Native Americans and others.  Unknown to many, several of her legislative victories were achieved as she fought breast cancer in the late 1990s. In addition to her tight focus on special minority issues – which included returning voting rights to individuals who had completed prison terms and ensuring affordable college educations for migrant workers’ children who had completed high school in the state – she sponsored or supported

acts important to the widest-ranging constituencies: to increase transparency in government, and to abolish the death penalty. Her campaign to protect the sovereignty and increase the economic stability of Native American communities gained her honorary membership in the Ponca tribe. Many Commendations An Alma native and University of Nebraska at Kearney graduate, Schimek began her career as a teacher in Limon, CO. She taught in Nebraska for more than 15 years before entering the political arena. Among her achievements are the creation of the Women’s Health Initiative of Nebraska and the Nebraska Affordable Housing Act.  She has received more than 25 commendations, including the 2007 Ethics in Government Award from Common Cause and the 2007 Friend of Education Award by the NSEA.   NEA presents the Mary Hatwood Futrell Award to a nominee whose activities in women’s rights significantly affect education and the achievement of equal opportunity for women and girls.


UNO’s Leaders will Chair NEA Student Program Will Serve a Two-Year Term University of Nebraska at Omaha senior Tommie Leaders has been elected chair of the National Education Association’s Student Program. And while his two-year term just started on Aug. 1, he already knows what he’ll do when his term is complete: he’ll finish his classes and begin his teaching career. He told the NSEA Board of Directors in July that he’s made that pledge. “I promised my Mom,” he said. Leaders’ mother, Sandy, is the English Department chair at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs, IA. Elected in June at the NEA Student “We have members in every Leadership Con- corner of the country, every city, ference in New Orleans, Leaders’ every community. Imagine what main role will be to we could do if each member were chair the Advisory to stand up, speak up and serve.” Committee of Stu— Tommie Leaders, Chair dent Members, and NEA Student Program to carry out the dayto-day operations of the Student Program. He’ll work out of NEA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and travel the country representing the Student Program at scores of local student meetings each year. “I’m looking forward to the next two years. It’s going to be a busy 24 months, but I’m excited and ready to start,” he said. As NEA Student Chair, Leaders will focus on improving membership. He will encourage members to be more active, both in terms of community service and political action.

At the helm: Tommie Leaders, a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has taken over leadership of the NEA Student Program. Leaders was elected chair in June.

“We have members in every corner of the country, every city, every community. Imagine what we could do if each member were to stand up, speak up and serve,” said Leaders. In addition to attending the Student Leadership Conference, Leaders was in New Orleans for the NEA Representative Assembly, where he was one of 100 members of the Nebraska State Education Association in attendance. Leaders served this past year as president of the Student Education Association of Nebraska, the 1,500-member student affiliate of the Nebraska State Education Association. He is a senior elementary education major from Underwood, IA.

Heinz, Fennell: NEA Post an Opportunity Tommie Leaders is the third chair of the NEA Student Program to hail from a Nebraska college or university since the program was organized in its present form in 1983. The two Nebraskans to have previously served in that role said the experience was of great benefit to their teaching and leadership skills. Hemingford native Colleen Heinz was student chair from 1986-88. North Platte native Maddie Fennell was chair from 1988-90. Heinz was a student at Chadron State ColHeinz lege when she was elected, and had served as president of the Student Education Association of Nebraska. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from CSC and began teaching in Fort Morgan, CO, in 1990. She became active in the Colorado Education Association, and was soon elected to the CEA Board of Directors. Today, she is in her fourth year as vice president of the CEA. “I would not be where I currently am in the NEA family if it

weren’t for the great training and experience I was fortunate to receive while I was a student leader in Nebraska,” said Heinz. Fennell, a Creighton University graduate and former president of the Omaha Education Association, now serves on the NSEA Board of Directors. She has taught in Omaha since 1990. Fennell was also president of the Student Education Association of Nebraska. “I feel that I graduated from the University of NEA! The experiences and people that I Fennell met while a student member were of infinite value when I began to teach, especially when I struggled,” said Fennell. “As a student leader, I was taught the structure of the NEA and personally knew all of the NEA leadership and many staff. This was a great asset when I became an active member, because I knew who to contact when my colleagues needed assistance.” September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 13


Page 14 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010


It’s Time to Apply! Blue Cross and Blue Shield Scholarship Applications are Now Online Educators seeking advanced degrees can have some of the costs of those degrees covered by a scholarship through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Professional Development Fund. The competitive scholarships are awarded three times each year, and the next deadline, for the fall term, is Saturday, Oct. 2. For the first time, all applications must be made through the NSEA website. Scholarships may be used to pursue an advanced degree, seek additional teaching endorsements or to take course work for certification requirements. Stipends may cover up to 50 percent of the cost of a single, three-hour college course. Each applicant may apply for scholarship dollars for no more than three hours of course work. Books and supplies are not covered. To apply, NSEA members must complete the application form on the NSEA Web site. The form will be posted on the NSEA Web site through the Saturday, Oct. 2, deadline. Scholarship winners will be notified in November. The goal is to award stipends to the largest number of members

from each of NSEA’s seven governance districts. To be eligible, NSEA members must be covered by either single or family Blue Cross/Blue Shield health care. Previous applicants, successful or not, may re-apply. However, applicants may be scholarship recipients in only two of the three scholarship cycles during a school year. Winners must provide evidence of completion of course work at an accredited post-secondary institution before they receive the scholarship funds. All courses must be taken for credit. Since 1986, 4,508 NSEA members have shared more than $565,000 in scholarship dollars, thanks to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. The scholarship program does not affect Blue Cross and Blue Shield premiums. To apply, go to the NSEA Web site at: www.nsea.org For details, contact Sally Bodtke at 1-800-742-0047 or via e-mail at: sally.bodtke@nsea.org

Nurses, Trainers, Therapists: Get Added Coverage Nurses who teach or supervise in the medical arts area should not start the school year without the NEA Educators Employment Liability Program Insurance. For just $13, NEA provides nurses and other health educators and athletic trainers additional liability insurance coverage for teaching and supervisory responsibilities. The policy for active and active parttime NSEA members covers school nurses for: n Rendering first-aid and regular nursing services as a part of the member’s educational employment. n Administering oral prescription medicine to students, if advance written authorization has been provided. In addition to nurses, eligible school employees include dental hygienists, occupational therapists or physical therapists. NSEA members who are athletic trainers may also buy the coverage. NSEA members wishing to purchase this extended coverage should send a letter requesting the coverage, along with a check for $13, payable to NSEA, to: Megan Lyons, NSEA, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE 68508-2742. Be sure to

indicate your occupation (school nurse). Also include your home and work telephone numbers and your NSEA membership number. Checks for the 2010-11 school year must be received by Oct. 1,

2010. Checks received after that date will provide coverage for the remaining months of the employment year. For details, call NSEA at 1-800742-0047.

September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 15


NEBRASKA’S

CIR

The Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations is under attack. Yet any reasonable review of the history of the CIR easily justifies both the commission and the process it uses to determine outcomes in public sector wage disputes. This is the first in a series that relates how the CIR affects Nebraska educators. Editor’s Note: Mark McGuire is a managing partner with the law firm of McGuire and Norby, has practiced school law in Nebraska for nearly 40 years and has worked on behalf of NSEA for nearly 30 years. By Mark McGuire In many states, when public sector unions and their government management bosses reach a negotiations impasse, the union employees can strike. Not so in Nebraska, where the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) offers an alternative to public labor union walkouts. Many terms and conditions of employment of Nebraska public school teachers are affected by the CIR and its case decisions. This article will

Page 16 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010


introduce the fundamentals of the CIR and what it does and does not do, and why. Future editions of The Voice shall delve in greater detail into specific issues, and the impact of anticipated legislative challenges to the current role and status of the CIR. Constitutional Foundation Post-World War I America experienced a variety of unique social-political phenomena, including a rather tumultuous expansion of industrial unionism. In addition, Nebraska was experiencing rapid expansion of public power services. To prevent disruptive labor-management disputes (strikes) from interfering with the developing public power system, a dispute-resolution mechanism was included in Nebraska’s Constitution when it was amended in 1920. That Constitutional Convention of 1920 provided that an “Industrial Commission may be created for the purpose of . . .” resolving public sector employer-employee controversies. In 1947, the Legislature specifically provided that no individual or group could hinder, delay, or suspend the delivery of governmental services by way of a strike. However, the Legislature went on to provide that to have balance to carry out the no strike rule, industrial disputes could and would be resolved by the then newly created Commission of Industrial Relations. An Objective Standard The CIR was specifically authorized to resolve “industrial disputes” by “establishing rates of pay and conditions of employment which are comparable to the prevalent wage rates paid . . . and conditions of employment maintained for the same or similar work of workers exhibiting like or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions.” The fact the Legislature chose to adopt a standard of determining salaries by a process of determining terms and conditions of employment which are “comparable to the prevalent” is quite significant. It establishes that the statutory scheme adopted by the Legislature was exclusively an impasse-resolution formula and not a general standard for establishing teacher compensation in Ne-

braska. The Legislature elected an objective standard ­– i.e., comparability, rather than a subjective standard – i.e., “ability to pay.” A thorough analysis of the current push by anti-CIR forces for a subjective “ability to pay” standard, premised upon the renunciation of 39 years of bargaining history and precedence, will follow in future editions of The Voice. What is the CIR? The CIR is like a state agency. It is comprised of five commissioners. The commissioners (formerly called judges) are appointed by the gover-

“Those critics who claim the CIR renders outrageous decisions miss entirely the unequivocal point that all the CIR does is find a grade ‘C’ outcome.” — Mark McGuire, Attorney nor with the advice and consent of the Legislature. The current commissioners are four practicing attorneys and one retired district court judge. By statute, the commissioners are appointed not because they are representatives of either employees or employers, or are Republicans or Democrats, but rather because of their experience and knowledge of legal, financial, labor and industrial matters, as well as being accomplished trial lawyers. ‘Going to the CIR’ A case before the CIR is the result of either an employer or employee association filing a petition with the CIR. The procedures and rules are very similar to district court rules. “Going to the CIR” resolves industrial disputes raised by a petitioner’s filed documents. A CIR judge hears the petitioner’s evidence and the respondent’s evidence, much like in a district court trial. The eventual ruling will reflect the facts established by the evidence, with the appropriate legal principles applied. Comparability As noted, the Legislature assigned

the CIR to resolve “industrial disputes” by establishing “rates of pay and conditions of employment which are comparable to the prevalent to the wage rates paid …” to workers with same or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions. Because the CIR can order lower as well as higher salaries, it is of vital importance that any local affiliate does its homework before a petition is filed with the CIR. The homework is known as a comparability study. With this “comp study,” the local association analyzes and determines what its faculty would be paid if placed on the indexed salary schedule of each array school. The list of array schools is determined by applying the following long-standing rule: the array is selected based upon a potential school’s geographical proximity to the subject school, and size – i.e., an enrollment total that is no more than twice as large nor half as small as the subject school. First Step Devising the array is just the first homework assignment. The next step is actually placing the subject school teachers on each array-school’s salary schedule. The result establishes a “total teacher compensation midpoint.” This is the amount of money required to pay salaries and benefits to bring the subject school’s faculty to the midpoint where their salaries and benefits are “… comparable to the prevalent …” This homework is vital. Fortunately, the NSEA UniServ staff and the Collective Bargaining and Research Department are well-equipped with software and the skills necessary to assist local associations in the comp study process. Please note that all the comp study does is to determine the approximate midpoint, or an average, of total teacher compensation. Those critics who claim the CIR renders outrageous decisions miss entirely the unequivocal point that all the CIR does is find a grade ‘C’ outcome. The next edition of The Voice will process the “subject school” as it addresses “To CIR or not to CIR,” “Risks and Rewards” and “Traps for the Unwary.” September2010 2010nnThe TheNSEA NSEAVoice VoicennPage Page1717 September


‘Gold Star’ Settlements Reported Local Negotiations Efforts Yield Decent Results Stagnant wages result in more conservative consumer spending, which in turn slows economic growth. The best way to improve the local and state economy is to increase sales and income tax receipts. That can only be achieved by improving salaries and wages, which are spent largely in Main Street businesses in cities and towns across the state, spurring the economy. Thus, as each of NSEA’s local association affiliates negotiates a new contract, the resulting pay raises not only give the families of thousands of Nebraska teachers more financial security, those pay raises also benefit the economy. Collectively, by mid-August, nearly 100 of NSEA’s 250 local affiliates had reported settlements for 2010-11. Listed here are some of the top settlements – deservedly called ‘Gold Star Settlements’ – which include 11 local affiliates that have topped, for the first time, the $30,000 level for starting salaries. All but two of these settlements reported a base increase of $1,000 or more. Those local affiliates – Litchfield and Fremont – made contract gains in other areas. With settlements like this, Nebraska teachers are doing their part to help grow and re-energize the economy! Local

Base Increase $1,000 $1,000

Alma AnselmoMerna Banner Co. $1,000 Blue Hill $1,200 Callaway $1,000 Chambers $1,500 Central City $1,300 Conestoga $1,000 David City $1,000 ESU No. 6, $1,000 Milford ESU No. 16, $1,650 Ogallala Eustis$1,000 Farnam Franklin $1,200 Fremont $ 939 Friend $1,000 Giltner $1,500 Gordon$1,900 Rushville Gretna $1,100 Hampton $1,000 Hartington $1,500 Hastings $1,080 Humboldt$1,000 Table Rock-Steinauer Humphrey $1,100 Kearney $1,011 Litchfield $ 950 Millard $1,649 Mullen $1,000 Neligh$1,100 Oakdale Newman $1,050

New Base $29,500 $27,800

Percent Increase 3.51% 3.73%

$29,300 $29,750 $28,150 $29,000 $30,000 $30,100 $30,800 $30,150

3.53% 4.20% 3.68% 5.45% 4.53% 3.44% 3.36% 3.43%

$29,900

5.84%

$28,450

3.64%

$29,075 $30,485 $29,450 $29,500 $30,000

4.30% 3.18% 3.51% 5.36% 6.76%

$32,300 $29,000 $28,950 $31,080 $30,300

3.53% 3.57% 5.46% 3.60% 3.41%

$29,000 $31,140 $28,650 $36,032 $27,800 $28,500

3.94% 3.36% 3.43% 4.80% 3.73% 4.01%

$28,650

3.80%

Page 18 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

Bargaining Conference: A Look at The Road Ahead There are two reasons for every K-12 local association’s negotiations team to attend NSEA’s 2010 fall Bargaining Conference: performance compensation contract language and U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson. The conference will once again dwell on salary improvement. But there will be a twist this year: the focus will be on the inclusion and implementation of performance compensation in contract language. And as a bonus, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson will keynote the conference at the Saturday, Nov. 6, luncheon. Nelson is an ardent support of public schools, and is the third statewide official to address the conference in the past three years, following Commissioner of Education Roger Breed and Gov. Dave Heineman. Earlier this year, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB1014, which sets a new path for teacher compensation in Nebraska. LB1014 earmarks wind and solar energy lease revenue from state-owned school land, and allocates that revenue for locally negotiated performance pay. Under the provisions of LB1014, the teacher performance pay will be a supplement to the salary schedule provided in local collective bargaining agreements. Teacher performance pay measurements, criteria and payout amounts are mandatory topics of collective bargaining. When the revenue from the energy leases begin flowing to school districts in 2016-17, those revenues will be used in each district only for the performance pay amounts provided for in locally negotiated contracts. Because of the long-range aspect of the performance pay legislation, the conference theme this year will be Bargaining for Success – The Road Ahead. However, for the energy lease monies to flow to any Nebraska school district, 75 percent of the state’s school districts must have a locally-negotiated performance pay plan in place. Separate bargaining conferences will be held at a later date for higher ed and education support professionals. The Fall Bargaining Conference will be held at the Midtown Holiday Inn at Grand Island Nov. 5-6. For details, watch the October issue of The Voice, call NSEA at 1-800-742-0047, or go to the NSEA website at: www.nsea.org Grove Plainview $1,065 Ravenna $1,050 Red Cloud $1,000 Rising City $2,100 Silver Lake $1,000 South Platte $1,000 St. Paul $1,000 Syracuse$1,460 Dunbar-Avoca $1,000 Umonhon Nation West Boyd $1,000

$30,000 $29,900 $29,200 $30,600 $29,400 $29,100 $29,650 $31,185

3.68% 3.64% 3.55% 7.37% 3.52% 3.56% 3.49% 4.91%

$33,000

3.13%

$29,100

3.56%


Rulings Favor Higher Ed Locals Supreme Court Affirms Decisions on Behalf of SCATA, SCEA Members gressive, expensive litigation campaign, rather than work to The Nebraska Supreme Court has issued favorable rulhammer out a fair resolution at the table,” said Scherer. ings regarding salary disputes involving teachers at stateThe decision means that SCEA run institutions and professors at state members at Chadron, Peru and Wayne colleges. “We believe the thousands state colleges have been awarded a In both cases, the court upheld deciupon thousands of taxpayer and wage increase of 7 percent for 2009-10 sions issued by the Commission of Intuition dollars spent on litigation and 4 percent for 2010-11. Employees dustrial Relations (CIR). And in both will receive raises retroactive to July 1, cases, the CIR had previously upheld would have been much better 2009. decisions by a Special Master. spent funding adequate compenIn the second case, the SCATA rulIn a case involving the State College sation for state college and state ing followed the same path to the SuEducation Association (SCEA), the Suagency employees.” preme Court. The court’s ruling means preme Court upheld a CIR ruling in favor — Larry Scherer, that SCATA’s 72 members will be of 270 SCEA faculty members at Chadron, Peru and Wayne state colleges. NSEA Director of awarded pay increases of 4.2 percent The court also upheld a CIR rulBargaining and Research for 2009-10 and 3.9 percent for 201011. Those raises are retroactive to July ing affecting more than 70 teachers in 1, 2009. the State Code Agency Teachers AsAs with SCEA, Scherer said SCATA sociation (SCATA), who serve at state negotiators made good faith offers that were rejected by the prisons and work camps, the Beatrice State Developmental state. Both contracts could have been settled at the bargainCenter, state regional centers and other sites. ing table, said Scherer. “We believe the thousands upon thousands of taxpayer Most Reasonable Offer and tuition dollars spent on litigation would have been much After talks between SCEA and State Board representatives better spent funding adequate compensation for state colreached impasse, a Special Master was called upon. As set lege and state agency employees,” he said. in statute, the Special Master considers the last offer by both parties, and selects the offer he deems most reasonable. “Particularly in this difficult economy, it’s important to note that the SCEA team attempted to settle below the ruling amount specified by the Special Master,” said Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Collective Bargaining. Throughout the process, the SCEA team negotiated in good faith, making compensation proposals that were fair and based on evidence, said Scherer. The Special Master found the SCEA team’s final offer the most reasonable. But the State Board appealed that decision to the CIR, which upheld the Special Master’s finding. The State Board appealed yet again, this time to the Supreme Court, which concurred with the earlier rulings. “We regret that the State Board chose to engage in an ag-

Moved? Changed Your Name? Update Your Membership Listing 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: www.nsea.org September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 19


Page 20 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010


You Can Get Free Lunch — If You’re in Fourth Grade! Program Will Increase Awareness of Ag’s Importance Fourth-graders in Nebraska classrooms touring the state capitol this year will learn about the vital role of agriculture in the state. Some will also get a free lunch! It’s all thanks to a new program developed by the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA). ‘The Nebraska Ag Sack Lunch Program’ package is designed to educate Nebraska fourth-graders and their families on how important agriculture is to the state – historically, currently and into the future. The program includes a sack lunch featuring nutritious food produced in Nebraska, a presentation on the vital role agriculture plays in the state’s economy, and a fact-filled card game designed for students. “Our objective is to make students aware of agriculture’s importance to us in Nebraska, as well as our role in helping to feed the world,” said Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the NSB. “By playing the card game at home, students will help inform their families, as well.” Letters of invitation will be sent in early September to fourth-grade teachers in 660 elementary schools in 44 counties in the eastern third of Nebraska. “We consider classes in these schools to be the most likely to make the Lincoln trip,” says Larry Sitzman, NPPA executive director. About 20,000 fourthgraders visit the state capitol each year as part of their school-year curriculum. The lunches, donated by the NSB and NPPA, are limited to the first 1,300 students registered for the program. “We urge teachers to register their classes as soon as possible, even if they haven’t scheduled their capitol tour yet,” said Bohuslavsky. Find more details online at: brokawmarketing.wufoo.com/forms/ ag-sack-lunch-reservation-form/

Accepting for NSEA: NSEA President Jess Wolf accepts an award recognizing the ‘green’ efforts undertaken in remodeling the Association’s headquarters building. From left are NSEA Vice President Nancy Fulton; NSEA Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen; Wolf; Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler; NSEA Associate Executive Director Neal Clayburn; and NSEA Comptroller Sheri Jablonski.

NSEA ‘Green’ Efforts Lauded In a June ceremony, the NSEA was one of five entities to receive a LincolnLancaster County Environmental Leadership Award. NSEA was recognized for the remodeling of the Association’s 50-year-old building. NSEA was recognized in the non-profit organization category, and was cited for the 18-month renovation of the Association’s 1962 headquarters building, located directly west of the State Capitol. The citation said “the project reflects a commitment by the NSEA to refurbish a building with state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly materials and practices. In the end, the architectural uniqueness was preserved while bringing a 1960’s-era building up to 2010 environmental standards.” The ceremony recognized businesses, organizations and individuals who have demonstrated environmental stewardship and dedication to sustainable practices that improve air, land, and water quality while protecting public health. The awards are intended to inspire others to follow the models and examples set by award recipients. The award was sponsored by the City of Lincoln, Lancaster County, the Lincoln City Public Works Department and the Lincoln and Lancaster County Health Department.

September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 21


Charting a Course

Ten NSEA members from across Nebraska spent two days at NSEA Headquarters in June learning about NSEA’s Navigator software, which performs salary comparability between school districts for use in negotiations and in cases before the Commission of Industrial Relations. Pictured, seated from left, are: Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Bargaining and Research; Heather Cox, Douglas County West;Vicki Winterlin, Umonhon Nation (Macy); Jane Leadabrand, Ralston; Eliene Loetscher, Winside; and NSEA UniServ Director Kristen Sedlacek. Standing, from left, are: Barb Kolath, Winside; Tory Harrington, NSEA Bargaining and Research paralegal; Kathy Hutchinson, NSEA Bargaining and Research associate staff; Dave Herbener, Papillion-LaVista; Andy Isaacson, Papillion-LaVista; Linda Floro, Papillion-LaVista; Stephanie Miller, Bellevue; and Trish Swoboda, Bellevue.

New Plan Helps Pay For College, Grad School NEA Student Loan by Sallie Mae Helps Members Save Money The new NEA Smart Option Student Loan by Sallie Mae is designed for students who need supplemental education funding after maximizing grants, scholarships and federal loans. The plan allows students to make payments while in school, graduate with less debt and pay off loans faster. In comparison to a payment-deferred, 15-year term private education loan, a borrower can save with two in-school payment options: n $25 monthly payments while in school and during the six months thereafter. This option not only helps students budget each month, but can save more than 30 percent in interest and pay off an average of five years faster. n Monthly interest-only payments while in school and for six-months after. A student can save more than 50 percent in interest charges over the life of the loan and pay off the loan in seven years after graduation—eight years faster! Through the NEA Smart Option Student Loan, Sallie Mae offers undergraduate and graduate students market-leadPage 22 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

ing interest rates and additional benefits and incentives. Students who successfully make all monthly payments by automatic debit may be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction. In addition, the program offers an

exclusive benefit for NEA members and their families of 0.25 percent interest rate reduction when the borrower makes 12 consecutive on time payments. For details, visit: www.neamb.com/studentloans


Services Held for Zetterman, 73 Was NSEA President, UniServ Director; Services Also Held for Former Vice President Anderson, Members Triplett, O’Hare Lowell Zetterman never met a stranger. His folksy, friendly and talkative approach served him well as a teacher, as NSEA president, and later as an NSEA UniServ director for more than 20 years. Zetterman, 73, of Lincoln, died June 8, 2010, at his home from complications of a brain aneurysm. A Shickley native, Zetterman graduated from Doane College in 1958 and accepted a job teaching social studies, coaching junior high athletics and announcing athletic events at Lexington that fall. In 1966, he took a year’s leave to attend Ohio State University on scholarship, working toward a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on urban geography. He returned to Zetterman Lexington, where his 1973 girls’ track team doubled the score on the competition in winning the state championship. Active in NSEA, he was elected president of NSEA’s District 4, now TriValley District, in the early 1970s. Later, he was elected and served as NSEA president in 1977-78. Prior to being elected, he had been asked to consider UniServ work. But in a 1999 retirement interview, he said he lacked the required master’s degree. He finished that degree, and in 1978 was hired to serve schools in western and southwestern Nebraska. Zetterman was well-known in his UniServ unit, and always went to great lengths to help members. He once kept a teacher-member company at a hospital while the member’s daughter had her tonsils removed. In addition to his love for teacher advocacy, Zetterman served on the Lexington Planning Commission for years, and was the commission chair for eight years. He was a past president of the Nebraska Social Studies organization in the early 1970s. He was also an avid fisherman, hunter, antique collector, sports enthusiast and debater. Survivors include his wife, Diane,

Lincoln; daughter, Suzan Culver of Owensboro, Ky.; son, Stuart, Lincoln; mother, Maurine, Geneva; stepdaughter, Lynn Fitzgerald of Lincoln; brother, Rowen, Omaha; and five grandchildren. Anderson Was Past OEA President Former NSEA vice president Vickie Anderson of Omaha died on June 2, after a battle with cancer. She was 63. Anderson spent 34 years as a Spanish teacher at Omaha Central High School, but her work went well beyond her classroom walls. She served two terms as vice president of NSEA; was a past president of the Omaha Education Association; was a long-time delegate to both the Anderson NSEA Delegate Assembly and the NEA Representative Assembly; was a vice president of the Teachers Annuity Aid Association; president of the Zeta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Iota, a professional organization for educators; and director of the Western Region of the National Council of Urban Education Associations. She also worked on the political campaigns of numerous Democratic Party candidates. For 35 years, Anderson kept statistics for the Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament in Omaha. She also volunteered at the Nebraska state track meet and the girls state softball tournament for 25 years. She was an award-winning teacher as well, and earned a 1999 Alice Buffett Award for teaching excellence. She is survived by a sister, Lynne Landon.

pointed superintendent. That same year, he received an administrative internship at Bellevue, and a year later was named assistant superintendent for business. He eventually became superintendent, where he remained until his retirement. Among other activities, he was a member of the Bellevue Education Association, SAC Museum Board of Directors, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the University of Nebraska President’s Advisory Council. He was also a Nebraska Association of School Administrators past president. Survivors include his wife Kay, Bellevue; two sons and a daughter. Jan O’Hare, 60 Retired Ainsworth teacher and NSEA member Jan O’Hare, 60, died April 26 after a battle with cancer. O’Hare was an active member of NSEA, the NSEA Sandhills District and the Ainsworth Education Association. She also frequently served on NSEA ad hoc committees and was a regularlyelected representative at NSEA’s Delegate Assembly. O’Hare was also an active member, and held various offices in the Nebraska Music Educators Association. Survivors include her husband Corby, three sons and a daughter.

Bellevue’s Triplett was 76 Dr. Richard L. Triplett, long-time teacher, former Bellevue superintendent and NSEA member, died on June 3. He was 76. A Kearney native, Triplett started his career as a business teacher at Maywood in 1961, and in 1964, was apSeptember 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 23


News You Can Use Speech-LanguageHearing Group Hits 50 at Fall Conference The 2010 Nebraska Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention will include the observance of an important milestone: the organization’s 50th anniversary. The convention is set for Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 at the Kearney Holiday Inn. A Thursday night buffet, followed by an Endowment Fund Auction and a reception for past NSLHA presidents, will mark the anniversary. The conference opens with a student share fair on Wednesday evening, and follows with two full days of sessions on Thursday and Friday. Among the highlights: n Advocating for the Professions – Strategies for Member Success, by Robert Augustine. n Central Auditory Processing Disorders, a two-part session presented by Teri Bellis. n Grassroots Advocacy is for Everyone, by Sue Rowland and Ryan McCreery. To register, go to the NSLHA website at: www.nslha.org For details, call Angie at 1-402-4769573.

Science Association Also Notes 50th at Fall Gathering Science is Golden is  an appropriate theme for the fall conference of the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science (NATS) – this year marks the organization’s 50th anniversary! The conference at Camp Calvin Crest, south and west of Fremont, is set for Sept. 23-25. The NATS mission  has been to advance, stimulate, improve and coordinate science teaching in all fields. Highlighting the conference will be NASA Mission Specialist Clayton Anderson, an Ashland native. Anderson will share his experiences in the space program, including his recent fivemonth tour of duty working aboard the International Space Station.  Dr. Alan McCormack, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) president, will share the vision of Page 24 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

Nebraska Student Vote 2010: A Lesson in Democracy

Nebraska Student Vote combines civics instruction, newspaper readership and a mock election for K-12 students. Conducted every two years in connection with the November General Election, the program is sponsored by Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale and the Omaha World-Herald. Although the United States is a bastion of democracy, voting rates are low compared with other nations.Teaching our youth to be educated voters is a critical challenge facing teachers, parents and the nation. To address the need for voter education, the Secretary of State’s office and the World-Herald joined in 1996 to create Nebraska Student Vote. It is hoped that students who participate will be more likely to become active citizens and lifelong voters. The program has been well-received and is highly regarded nationally. More than 63,000 students participated in 2008. The 2010 Nebraska Student Vote will be under way soon. Teachers who want to make the program part of their curriculum can register at: www.nestudentvote.com For more details, contact Sharon Hambek at 402-471-6044 or: sos.events@nebraska.gov NSTA and science education. Sessions and presentations from all disciplines K-12, as well as field trips, are available for  professional development. For details, and directions to Camp Calvin Crest, go to this website: http://www.neacadsci.org/nats/Conferences/index.htm For details, e-mail NATS President Joan Christen or Program Chair Kirsten Smith at: jjchristen@diodecom.net ksmith@lps.org

Dyslexia Associations, UNK Host State Confab The Nebraska Branch of The International Dyslexia Association and the Friends of the Nebraska Dyslexia Association will host a statewide conference – entitled Differentiated Instruction: Embracing Individuality – on Sept. 17 in Kearney. The conference will provide practical information, resources and best practices for elementary, middle school and high school educators and administrators who want to improve literacy skills for students who struggle. The conference features nationallyrecognized speaker Anthony Pedriana, author of Leaving Johnny Behind: Overcoming Barriers to Literacy and Reclaiming At-Risk Readers. Pedriana believes that building coalitions among reading practitioners is the ultimate expression of child advocacy.

The conference will also include sessions on evidence-based approaches for teaching spelling, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and writing. The conference is co-sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Kearney College of Education, and begins at 8:30 a.m. Conference and registration details are available in the ‘Conferences’ section at: www.ne-ida.com

Needed: Driver’s Ed Instructors The Nebraska Safety Center seeks more instructors for driver education classes in Central Nebraska. This has traditionally been a good opportunity for teachers to supplement their income. The beginning wage for instructors is $16 per hour. That rate goes to $20 per hour by the third year. A typical session would involve approximately 100 hours, with the possibility of sessions in the fall and spring, and two to three sessions possible in the summer. The average class size is near 20. To become a qualified instructor, completing a trio of three-hour safe driving classes at the University of Nebraska-Kearney is required. For details, contact Sherry Morrow, Interim Safety Center director, at 308-865-8259.


Think Big, Think Fast, Thinkfinity! Verizon Thinkfinity already has tens of thousands of free educational resources for use in and out of the classroom. Now there’s a lot more. Verizon Thinkfinity has unveiled an updated and expanded website that contains: n A new online community where teachers, parents and administrators can share ideas, ask for assistance or discuss the topics of the day. n Virtual online filing cabinets, where teachers can save their favorite online lesson plans and resources so they are always just a click away. n Newsfeeds on the latest educational resources. n New social media tools, widgets and blogs. The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational website at: www.thinkfinity.org Verizon also fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2009, the Foundation awarded more than $67.5 million in grants to nonprofit agencies.

Green Summit a Step to Healthy, Efficient Schools October Summit Set for UNL Campus; NSEA a Cooperating Sponsor A Green Schools Summit is set for Oct. 22-23 in Lincoln, and teachers, school administrators and board members, as well as community members, are invited to attend. The Summit is a gathering of teachers, students, parents, administrators, school board members, faculty, government, architects, engineers and industry leaders to learn more about strategies for greening the schools in Nebraska communities. Experts will share case studies from communities that have successfully “greened” their schools; learn about energy audits and financing possibilities; and network with industry leaders in the technology display area. The Green Schools Summit will provide information and resources anyone can use to build timelines and action plans for creating more energy efficient, innovative and healthy schools. The event is hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nebraska

Center for Energy Sciences Research, the Peter Kiewit Institute, State Sen. Ken Haar, and the Flatwater Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. The conference will be held in cooperation with the NSEA, the Nebraska Energy Office, the Nebraska Association of School Boards, the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Council of School Administrators and the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association. Registration is $50 before Oct. 1. For more information, contact: awishart@leg.ne.gov Visit the website at: http://research.unl.edu/events/ greenschoolsummit/

September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 25


BCBS Q&A

Dependent Coverage Extended By Kurt Genrich EHA Advocate With the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on March 23, 2010, certain changes have been made in regard to dependent’s eligibility for health insurance who are between the ages of 19 and 26 and covered under the EHA plan. Effective immediately, if you have a child currently on the plan that is between the ages of 19 and 24, they may stay on the plan as your dependent, until their 27th birthday. EHA’s partner, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, will no longer request student verification for any eligible dependents between these ages. For example, if your child is out of state, married, or no longer a full-

time student, they will be able to stay on the plan until their 27th birthday. If you have a dependent between the ages of 19 and 26, who is not currently on the plan, they will be eligible to come back as a dependent under your coverage Sept. 1, 2011. This is when the EHA plan must comply with all requirements set by the new law. New Identification Cards! All members of the EHA plan will receive new identification cards for the new plan year beginning Sept. 1,

2010. The new cards will have new identification numbers and, as of Sept. 1, the old cards will no longer be valid. If you need additional cards for your family, please call Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska customer service at 1-877-721-2583, or call me at the number listed below. 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. 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: kurt@ehaplan.org

Beatrice Board of Ed Rebuked by AG Open Meetings Law Violation Alleged The Nebraska Attorney General’s office has determined that five members of the Beatrice Board of Education violated the Nebraska Open Meetings Act as they sought to hire a new superintendent. The June opinion came five months after the board voted 5-4 to offer a contract to Millard Administrator Jon Lopez. Prior to the vote, four board members made public statements alleging wrongdoing in the hiring process. The attorney general found that Board President Jim Spangler led an action in which other board members were called until the needed five votes were secured in order to approve a contract with Lopez. At that point, Spangler allegedly made a contract offer to Lopez. “The end result was that Mr. Spangler lined up the necessary five votes to approve any motion to offer the contract to Dr. Lopez, and did so outside the parameters of a public meeting,” the Attorney General’s report reads. Spangler admitted to the process, which he said was cleared by the school board’s Lincoln attorney. Violation of the Open Meetings Act is punishable by a Class IV misPage 26 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

demeanor, and might have voided the contract with Lopez. The attorney general said that, because the actions were taken on the advice of attorney, a criminal prosecution was not warranted. However, the opinion said the attorney general would not consider or tolerate reliance on an attorney as a defense to criminal proceedings in

the future. “We would further remind the board that closed sessions are only permissible when clearly necessary to protect the public interest or prevent needless injury to an individual’s reputation. If this board is unable to make this determination, then a closed session is improper,” said the opinion.


Snookie’s Snippets Begin the 2010-11 year by checking out neamb.com for opportunities that will maximize the value of your NEA membership. By taking advantage of NEA Member Benefit resources, you’ll save time and money. NEAMB reaffirms its dedication to making the personal and professional lives of Association members better through ‘best Krumbiegel of class’ products and services! Those services include: n The NEA-sponsored money market savings account, which is FDIC insured; offers competitive rates; and offers a one percent bonus for the first 60 days. n The auto and home insurance program gives members an average annual savings of $373. For more, call 1-866-680-5141. n The NEAMB Member Assistance Program includes a job search service, financial counseling, personal assistance and online resources. Call 1-800-637-4636 or e-mail to: ask-us@neamb.com What You Get! Many Association members don’t know the value of NEA membership. Your dues include these automatic benefits: n NEA Complimentary Life Insurance: This is a guaranteed, no-cost member benefit. Get the details, and register your beneficiary online. n NEA Introductory Life Insurance: For new members only, there is no cost for a $15,000 life policy for 12 months. New members must register their beneficiary online at: NEAMB.com ‘Click & Save!’ During the school year, remember to check out Click & Save at the Member Benefits website. Look for ‘Buy-Lights’ special discounts each month! www.neamb.com/clickandsave Snookie Krumbiegel is Nebraska’s NEA Member Benefits representative.

NEA Member Benefits

Is Your Retirement Report Card A or F? Most Americans Retire with a Shortfall in Their Retirement Accounts Average Retiree Needs 15.7 Times Annual Salary to Retire Comfortably Just as educators let students know how they’re doing on a regular basis, it’s always a good idea to give ourselves a regular Retirement Report Card. How do you give yourself a grade when it comes to retirement savings? After all, most of us have a pension and many of us will have Social Security. But a recent study by Hewitt Associates shows that four out of five American workers have a retirement savings shortfall that could leave them short of income when they retire. The focus of the study was broader than educators, but it included those with pensions. How much will the average American need in retirement? According to Hewitt’s research, the average American worker will need 15.7 times their final salary to retire on their current standard of income. If you’re eligible for Social Security, it should account for 4.7 times final pay, with the rest made up from pensions and personal savings. For instance, if you make $50,000 per year salary and you wish to live at

your current standard of living, you’ll need to have saved the equivalent of $785,000 in today’s dollars. Today, Social Security would take care of roughly $235,000. That means your pension and savings need to cover $550,000 in retirement savings to generate income. Do you know what your pension would equate to? Do you know how much you will have and if that will be enough? Sadly, many educators go into retirement just like some students go into finals. They didn’t do their homework, and they weren’t prepared when the test was handed out. Trying to figure it out on your own can be a frustrating and confusing process. Just as students don’t grade themselves, you don’t have to grade yourself. As an NEA member, you have access to professionals in your area who have the tools and expertise to help explain what your retirement benefits will be and to accurately grade your retirement readiness. At the NEA Valuebuilder advisorassisted web page, the “representative locator” will quickly provide contact information for trained representatives who can help you with retirement planning. That web page is at: https://nea.securitybenefit.com/ neavaluebuilder/advisorassisted. htm

To Those New, First-Time Members: You Have Life Insurance, Courtesy NEA $15,000 Coverage is at No Cost to New Members Note to those members new to NSEA membership in the 2010-11 Association year: You have $15,000 in life insurance coverage – at no cost – as a result of your membership. The life insurance is courtesy of NEA, and is effective for 12 months

from the effective date of your membership. At the end of the 12 months, members may be eligible to extend the term of the coverage at members-only rates. For more details, call 1-800-6374636. September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 27


Page 28 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010


From the Executive Director

Teaching Alone peak levels. Eight out of every ten Nebraska educators carry an There are lessons for us in what has happened to othNSEA membership card. There is power in belonging to er organizations. The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) an association like the NSEA…and there is pride in our is a familiar example for everyone connected to a public collective action and accomplishments. Members list the school in America in the last century. The PTA became one NSEA on their resumes and families of educators often list of the most powerful — and influential — associations in the NSEA in their loved one’s obituaries. The Association American history. The PTA had nearly 12 million memis part of being an educator in Nebraska. bers by 1960. Today, that number is about 5 million. What Americans love associations. Charitable non-profits, happened? unions, and civic societies are all expressions of both collective and democratic action. These organizations help to Collective Action, Collective Good maintain democracy. The National Education Association, As educators, we know the importance of parent inat 153 years old, is a powerful example of the American tenvolvement in schools. Teachers and parents (and custodency to come together to solve problems. Since its 1857 dians, school secretaries, grandparents, business leaders, founding, the NEA has been the premier professional assoretired workers, and ciation for professors, other members of teachers, administrathe PTA) working tors and other educatogether create a tion employees. Only strong school com10 years younger, the munity that provides NSEA is the collective safe and welcomvoice for teachers at ing schools for our every level in Nebrasstudents. When the ka. The NEA and the pressures….and exNSEA are examples cuses…of busy lives, of professionals actthe cost of membering collectively with a ship, and just sitcommon purpose. ting in front of the But many in Amertelevision interfered ica have forgotten with active engagethe power of working ment in the PTA, the together. The trend, membership plumenhanced by the elecmeted. And chiltronic age, is to “codren and schools coon” in a virtual and suffered. The NSEA often socially solitary world. And the result is Lessons for us: NSEA Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen with has worked to prothat membership…and a historical marker commemorating one of the largest organizations in tect public education, students, and the proactive engagement… U.S. history…left with only a fraction of that membership today fession of teaching in churches, unions, for 143 years. If the fraternal organizations, pressures that caused the decline of PTA membership— garden clubs and bowling leagues has plummeted. Could and the power of the PTA—ever affect the membership in that happen to the NSEA? the NSEA, we all suffer. Collective action is also a collective good that benefits all of us. The Decline of Social Networks The start of school is the time to think about memberThe book Bowling Alone (Putnam, 2000) is a fascinatship in the NSEA. It is a time to think about engagement ing look into a trend toward individual isolation and a dein the organization. If we forget the power of membership, cline in social networks and civic engagement. Americans we consign our professional association to the same fate as still bowl; they just don’t tend to bowl any more in leagues. many other organizations. Just as others may be ‘bowling They bowl alone. This trend is widespread. Union memalone’ as solitary players, without a strong NSEA with a bership is less than half what it was in the 1950s. The issue powerful membership, we could be ‘teaching alone’ withmay be membership itself, considering that the Shriners, out the professional collegiality, protection and security of Optimists, NAACP, 4-H, Jaycees, Rotary, the Bar Associathe NSEA. tion, the American Medical Association and the American Membership is everyone’s business…and responsibility. Nursing Association have all suffered declining memberHave you asked a new teacher or a non-member to join? ship in the last three decades. They are not alone; most Do it today. civic organizations now have fewer members than their September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 29


NSEA-Retired Corner

Social Security, Age 75 Once Again, the Venerable Program is Under Attack There are fears that Social Security is under-funded – that it will collapse in a few short years. Some of those fears are based on myth and fear-mongering, but there is no doubt that the program must be watched carefully and must be maintained. There are two concerns already: Recipients are living longer, and will be dependent on Social Security for years to come. Today, 53 million Americans receive an average of $1,067 each month. In 75 years, 122 million Americans will be drawing benefits. We need to be sure they have the benefits they were promised. Social Security paid out more in benefits than it collected in taxes this year. But that shortfall was due largely to the economic downturn, the resulting loss of jobs, and the resulting payroll decrease on which to collect contributions from workers and their employers. Solutions? The entire $5.3 trillion shortfall could be erased if payroll taxes were increased by 1.1 percent for workers and employers. Or, Congress could tax all wages, not just those below $106,800. Other, less effective solutions would be to raise the full benefits qualifying age to 70, though many workers may not be physically able to continue to work that long. Or Congress could reduce the annual cost-of-living increases by 1 percent. Privatization Not an Answer Then there’s the usual call to privatize Social Security: giving people the choice of putting their own money into savings plans that would build into the retirement funds they would need when they retire without Social Security benefits. Be honest! How many people that you know would save back enough money of their own to provide $1,067 a month for their 20-30 years of retirement, realizing that in addition they need to cover Medicare expenses and, in Nebraska, income taxes on their monthly benefit. And then one has to purchase Medicare Supplement and other insurances, etc. In most cases, it just wouldn’t happen. Safety Nets Preserved Page 30 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

And the winner is... Barbara Fletcher of Grand Island was the winner in the annual NSEA-Retired quilt raffle. NSEA-Retired President Roger Rea, left, and NSEA President Jess Wolf, right, drew Fletcher’s name during a meeting of the NSEA Board of Directors recently.The raffle raised nearly $1,000 for the NSEA Children’s Fund. Another raffle of a quilt made by Lincoln’s Lorene Behrends is scheduled again this year.

Remember, Social Security was originated to provide security for the elderly. If not for Social Security and Medicare, many elderly would be forced to move out of their homes and go to “the poor house.”   With the assistance of Social Security and Medicare, rural areas have access to living expenses and medical service that they would not have otherwise.  These contracts — safety nets – need to be preserved.  The contributions made to these programs come with the need to provide the promised benefits when the contributors qualify for those benefits.  Because the increased number of retirees will demand more of the system, changes need to be made that will strengthen the program, not weaken it.  Social Security has worked for 75 years. With minor revisions, it should work for 75 more, and then 75 more. Study this massive problem and telephone or write your senators and representatives and tell them something must be done. If not for you, then it must be

done for your children and grandchildren. Here is contact information for Nebraska’s congressional delegation: n Sen. Ben Nelson: 720 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510, 1-202-224-6551. n Sen. Mike Johanns: 404 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510 1-202-224-4224. n First District Rep. Jeff Fortenberry: 1535 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515, 1-202- 225-4806. n Second District Rep. Lee Terry: 2331 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515 1-202-2254155. n Third District Rep. Adrian Smith: 503 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515, 1-202-225-6435. — Tom Black, Editor wpc6296@cableone.net


The Inside Page

Spending on HAL Criticized State Output on Gifted Program ‘Pathetic’ says State Board Member

“That’s $59 million in economic development coming our way, money teachers will spend on Main Street,” he said.

Behne is Top History Teacher The Nebraska Department of Education, like other state The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awards agencies, has been told to propose budget cuts of 10 percent for the Preserve America History Teacher of the Year each year, an the next budget cycle. effort to promote the study of American history. The Institute In August, the State Board of Education heard pleas to prerecognizes a history teacher of the year in every state. The 2010 serve funding for gifted and other programs. Board member Nebraska recipient is Lindsay Behne, a teacher at Bryan High Bob Evnen of Lincoln made his feelings School in Omaha. known – and offered some long-term Behne received $1,000, an archive of strategy – to the gifted representatives classroom resources and the opportunity who hoped to save the High Ability to participate in a Gilder Lehrman Institute Learners (HAL) program. summer seminar. “Spending $2.1 million on gifted education in our state is pathetic,” said Persistence Pays for York Teacher Evnen. For York Middle School teacher Pa“In this particular area, more spendmela Petersen, a second effort got results. ing is better. What we spend is just not Her second application to the Honeywell adequate,” he said, noting that the exEducators @ Space Academy worked: she pectation is that “these kids grow up and spent a week at the U.S. Space and Rocket carry us forward.” Center in Huntsville, AL, this summer. The Strategically, Evnen said gifted supAcademy experience included tuition, airporters should watch for an economic fare, meals, accommodations and materirebound, then push the Legislature to inals. Honeywell hopes attendees will inspire crease spending on gifted programs. their students to pursue careers in science While the State Board directs the DOE and technology. budget, the Legislature sets the budget, “My kids are so lucky,” Petersen told the Well-deserved: Crete Science teach- York News-Times. “I feel so blessed.” effectively telling the State Board how er Mike Coe, left, was honored in June much it can – or can’t – spend. for his more than 25 years of service as a member and chair of the Teacher Ed- Literacy Day Proclaimed ‘Go to the Source’ Gov. Dave Heineman has proclaimed ucation Special Advisory Committee. State Board Vice President Jim Scher- TESAC is composed of NSEA members Wednesday, Sept. 8, as International Liter of Norfolk agreed. who serve on the Nebraska Council on eracy Day. With the signing, the Nebraska “We may write the checks, but we Teacher Education. Presenting the cer- State Reading Association, along with the don’t make the (funding) decision,” he tificate to Coe was NSEA Director of International Reading Association and Rosaid. “The ultimate decision is in the Instructional Advocacy Jay Sears. tary International, hope to draw attention to hands of the Legislature. If you’re truliteracy. Literacy is the fundamental buildly looking for an impact on education, ing block of all learning, essential to the success of every child. that’s who you need to talk to.” The board agreed to propose a 10 percent cut in gifted educaRetirees, Be a Part of Intergenerational Mentoring! tion funding, saving the HAL program by cutting staff positions Mentors are needed for the NSEA-Retired affiliate’s 2010elsewhere and juggling other items. With a cut of 10 percent, 11 Intergenerational Mentoring Program! Nationally recogthe department would face the loss of 16 staff members. nized, the program is funded through the NSEA-Retired and NEA-Retired, with support from NSEA and SEAN. Paying Teachers is Economic Development! The program matches experienced, retired teachers with colNSEA’s Jay Sears was at that State Board meeting. Sears lege students studying education. The retiree acts as a positive reiterated remarks made earlier by board members who said support system and mentor, providing suggestions, expertise “we’re into amputation now – there’s no fat left, if there ever and responses to questions from the student. The intent is not to was any fat.” replace an advisor or administrator during the student teaching Sears reported that a day earlier, the U.S. House of Represenexperience and first year of teaching, but to add an additional tatives passed a jobs bill that will send $59 million in education source of support. The time commitment is flexible and will be funding to Nebraska to keep up to 1,000 teachers working. jointly determined by the student and mentor team. Mentors in Sears noted that, on the same day the jobs bill was passed, the program must be a NSEA-Retired member. the Nebraska Department of Revenue acknowledged a $19 milDetails for this year’s site and training date have not yet lion refund to a corporation under the state’s business tax incenbeen set. If you are interested in taking part, contact NSEA’s tive program. While the corporate tax refund will create needed Maureen Nickels at 1-800-742-0047 or email her at: jobs, Sears stressed that the $59 million will do the same. maureen.nickels@nsea.org September 2010 n The NSEA Voice n Page 31


Don’t Just Say ‘No’ to Health Insurance Newly-hired teachers: you have 31 days after employment to enroll in the Educator’s Health Alliance (EHA) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska health plan. If you don’t act within that time, you may not get another chance! EHA rules prohibit late enrollment in the Blue Cross program, so teachers should consider their decisions carefully, said Neal Clayburn, NSEA’s associate executive director. “Teachers should not decline health insurance ‘to save the district money,’ or because they or their spouses are already covered. In many instances, declining EHA insurance is irrevocable,” he said. In larger districts, after the first 31 days, teachers are not eligible for enrollment in the EHA plan unless there is an involuntary change in coverage due to death, divorce or job loss. Members in smaller districts may join after 31 days, but there is a 50 percent surcharge for two years. Regardless, it’s important that teachers not be dissuaded from taking insurance, or be persuaded into taking other options in lieu of insurance. If members gain a spouse through marriage or a child through birth or adoption, those dependents must be enrolled within 31 days. Questions? Call the NSEA at 1-800742-0047.

Speaking of Teaching “Facts are important, but I want my third graders to be more than Trivial Pursuit experts.” ­— Gino Marchetti, 2003 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

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

Family of Teachers

Across the state: The teaching family of sisters Cheryl McWaters and Mary Kulhanek are, or have been, in classrooms across the state. Seated, from left, are sister-in-law Vicki Scism, who taught for 34 years, first at Sandy Creek and then Kearney; McWaters, who taught for 33 years at Nelson and Minden; and Kulhanek, who taught for 34 years at Shelton. Standing, from left, are brother Tony Scism, who has taught for 32 years, at Sutherland and now Aurora; niece Nikki Scism, in her third year at Millard; sister-in-law Connie Scism, who has taught for 14 years, first at Sutherland and now at Hampton Lutheran; great-nephew Matt Hadenfeldt, an education major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; niece Sherri Freeland, who has taught for 18 years at Kearney, Lynch and is now at Dundy County-Stratton; and Kris Freeland, who has taught for 15 years at Lynch and now Dundy County-Stratton. 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.

Improve Communication From L. Carvel Wilson, a geography teacher at Legacy Junior High School in Syracuse, Utah:

“I’ve found over the years that the more information parents and students can find on my Web site, the less difficulties, emails, phone calls and struggles they will have during the year. My Web site has, in PDF format, all handouts, worksheets, lectures and items I use in my classroom. This allows parents to be team partners in educating their children. CutePDF is a great tool for converting Word files – or any other document that can be printed Page 32 n The NSEA Voice n September 2010

from the Windows environment – into PDFs. And the cool thing is that it is free. Download and install the PDF Writer and Converter, which are available at CutePDF, and you’re off and running. After you’ve created a document and are ready to convert it to a PDF, go to ‘Print’ and select CutePDF as your printer. Then save the newly-created PDF file where you can link it to your Web site. Instant access for your kids and their families for just a few seconds’ work.” Sign up for Works4Me at this link: http://www.nea.org/tools/Works4Me.html

The Voice, September 2010  

NSEA The Voice, September 2010

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