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Voice The Nebraska State Education Association ď ś March 2011

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On the Cover: Jeanette Maas knows teaching, and now she knows retirement. She also knows that the retirement system she contributed to for 45 years works, and works well. For the story, turn to

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

Volume 64, No. 7 ISSN Number: 1085-0783 USPS Number: 000-369 Executive Director Assoc. Executive Director Director of Public Affairs Assistant Comm. Director

Craig R. Christiansen Neal Clayburn Karen Kilgarin Al Koontz

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

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

Great Public Schools For Every Child

On, Wisconsin! WEAC President: Worker Rights Must be Protected

cial concessions, they would not forego Teachers, firefighters, police officers, the right to bargain collectively. snowplow operators and other public “What’s happening right now in Wisservants are in the midst of a difficult consin is historic,” said WEAC Presistruggle in Wisconsin. dent Mary Bell. A governor in the first six weeks of “Tens of thousands of citizens are his tenure has put on the fast track a bill gathering and speaking out to stop the that would abolish the rights of public attacks on the rights of educators, nursemployees to bargain anything more es, EMTs and other pubthan salary — and any lic employees. increases his bill would “If capitalism is fair “As a union of public allow would be tied to the then unionism must be. education employees, rate of inflation. we’ve been clear: this As a result of the un- If men have a right to is about school teachprecedented attack on capitalize their ideas ers and support staff rethe rights of teachers and and the resources of taining a voice in their others to bargain sala- their country, then that profession,” said Bell. ries, benefits, workplace implies the right of men “It’s about Wisconsin’s safety and other issues, thousands of Wisconsin to capitalize their labor.” future. The proposed Frank Lloyd Wright, legislation strips away teachers, other public service union employees Architect, Writer, worker rights and deand their supporters de- Educator (1867-1959) stroys the collaborative partnerships that exist in scended on the state capiWisconsin. tol in Madison to protest. “Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you The governor said the bill would they didn’t get into this profession for help the state deal with a $137 milthe money. We have said all along that lion revenue shortfall on a $3.3 billion this isn’t about pay and benefits.” budget. Educators and other public sector unions had already made $100 Including Nebraska million in concessions. But in addi“Let’s be very clear: we are prepared tion to gutting collective bargaining, to implement the financial concessions the bill asked educators to make even proposed to help our state in these tough further financial sacrifices. It would times,” she said. call on teachers to double their share of “It’s about compromise. We will health care premium payments and to meet the governor halfway, but we will increase retirement contributions from not be denied our right to collectively 0.2 percent of salary to 5.8 percent of bargain,” she said. salary. Legislation to prohibit the basic right of collective bargaining has been Willing to Talk introduced in several states, including While leaders in the Wisconsin EduNebraska. It has also surfaced in Ohio, cation Association Council (WEAC) Idaho, Tennessee and elsewhere. said they would talk about further finan-

Millard Foundation Continues Drive in Memory of Vicki Kaspar As mentioned in last month’s issue, the Millard Public Schools Foundation continues to accept donations in honor of the good work of Millard South High School Assistant Principal Vicki Kaspar. She died on Jan. 5 after being shot in the school by a student who was upset over a school suspension. Contributions accepted in Kaspar’s name will be awarded in a scholarship in her name. For more details, go to this web site:

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Every year, I receive questions about NSEA’s annual Delegate Assembly from members in several locals. This year is different, yet no different. As usual, I’ve had questions again this year, so I want to offer details about Delegate Assembly, set for the LaVista Embassy Suites and Convention Center April 15-16. But it’s also different in that this will be the 150th Delegate Assembly in NSEA’s 144-year history. Further, this is also a major election year, and I thought it important to set forth details around selection of delegates and the election of officers. During the week of Feb. 7, every local association president should have received notification from NSEA concerning the number of delegates their local is allowed to send to Delegate Assembly. The allocation of delegates is based on the number of members in each local on Jan. 15 each year. Article V, Section 3 of the NSEA Bylaws sets the number of delegates at one delegate for every 50 active members, or major fraction thereof, for each of NSEA’s local associations. This means that a local with between 26 and 75 members is entitled to one delegate.  Locals with 76 to 125 members are entitled to 2 delegates, and so forth. Locals with fewer than 26 members are clustered together with all similarly-sized locals in the same NSEA governance district (e.g, Capitol, Panhandle, Higher Education, etc.) to determine their collective delegate allotment. The same ratio described above is used to maintain the one person, one-vote parameters. Article V, Section 3 also directs how locals are to select their delegates: “Election of all delegates shall be by open nomination and balloting.” This requirement means that every member in a local must have an equal chance to represent that local.  Nominations to become a delegate must be open to dues-paying members, and every member in each local must be given the chance to vote for the person(s) vying to represent them at Delegate Assembly. If your local has not yet received the notification of your delegate allotment, contact NSEA immediately. New Officers This year’s Delegate Assembly will be significant, with the election of a new president, vice

ion conh School chool by

president and NEA Director, each for three-year terms. Because of the list of candidates for those offices, the possibility exists that a second NEA Director seat may open up, this one for a two-year term. Any active member of the association can be nominated for any of these positions. All nominations for NSEA officers are made on the floor of Delegate Assembly during the opening night. As the presiding officer, I will simply ask for nominations for president, vice president and NEA Director for a three-year term, in that order. Remember that nominations are just that, nominations! They do not require a second, and there are no nominating speeches. Second Election? Following nominations, all candidates will report to the Elections Committee, where positions on the ballot and the order for addressing the Assembly will be determined. Candidates will then address delegates, with a five-minute time limit. Balloting for these positions will take place on Saturday morning before the Assembly convenes. Members of the Elections Committee will count ballots and determine whether runoff elections are required.  Article II, Section 4 of the NSEA Bylaws stipulate that the winning candidate must receive a majority, rather than a plurality. If a runoff is required, delegates will be immediately directed to a second round of voting, with the choice between the top two candidates in the affected contest. In the event that it becomes necessary to elect a second NEA Director, nominations will follow the report of the second balloting results, and the election process will be repeated. It is quite an exciting and interesting process, made more so by the difficult choices members will face when they consider the candidates who have already declared. More importantly, this election will chart the direction of your association for the next three years. That course will affect every member, and, thus, every member should be interested, and more importantly, represented. So select your delegates now. Make sure that you’re represented April 15-16 at NSEA’s 150th Delegate Assembly.

ip in her

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to R Cove

There insurance early ret cators H 2011-12 ber 1, 20 Directors “This tricts an Nebraska cent incr in large p and their sions reg The E nounced beginnin to an incr providing budget ce

“The plan part their hea health ca executive Educatio the EHA “This our state fordable bers of th Ernst and the possible n A inflation n Low rates in h n Pha leading t n Ap the mana n Ho ministrat n The impleme and healt n Pru the desig Rates ply to eac health be Page 4 n The NSEA Voice n March 2011

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EHA: No Increase in 2011-12 BCBS Rates to Remain Static; Coverage Enhanced There will be no increase in health insurance premium rates for groups and early retirees participating in the Educators Health Alliance (EHA) for the 2011-12 plan year, beginning September 1, 2011, according to EHA Board of Directors Chairman Dr. Dan E. Ernst. “This is great news for school districts and school employees across Nebraska,” said Ernst. “The zero percent increase in rates is made possible in large part because school employees and their families have made wise decisions regarding their health care.” The EHA Board of Directors also announced that rates for the 2012-13 year, beginning Sept. 1, 2012, will be limited to an increase of no more than 4 percent, providing an unprecedented length of budget certainty for EHA participants. Careful Stewards “The EHA has taken action to help plan participants be careful stewards of their health and informed consumers of health care,” said Craig R. Christiansen, executive director of the Nebraska State Education Association and a member of the EHA Board of Directors. “This is one of the many benefits of our statewide risk pool. It ensures affordable health care insurance for members of the plan,” said Christiansen. Ernst said the one-year rate freeze and the second year 4 percent cap is possible due to a number of factors: n A significant decline in medical inflation trends; n Lower than anticipated utilization rates in hospital and physician service; n Pharmacy benefit management leading to reduced pharmacy trends; n A program designed to assist in the management of chronic diseases; n Holding the line on health and administrative cost increases; n The projected impact of the 2011 implementation of a statewide wellness and health promotion program and; n Prudent management over time in the design and choices of benefit plans. Rates for the 2011-12 plan year apply to each of the seven active employee health benefit plans; three early retiree

nancial concerns of our education membenefit plans; and five dental benbers as well as the fiscal constraints efit plans. The EHA plan will offer the facing school districts,” same benefit plans in the said John Bonaiuto, ex2011-12 plan year. A History director of the Also, the benefits of Rate Increases ecutive Nebraska Association of and offerings will be enThis is a landmark year School Boards. “We’re hanced to comply with for rates: no increase and en- pleased to be able to the provisions of the hanced benefits. Here is a hisnew health reform law, tory of rate increases for the hold the line on health including 100 percent Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance premiums for coverage of preventa- plan now managed by the EHA both districts and individual employees.” tive services, removal Board of Directors: of the lifetime benefit 2002-03:.....................17.0 % Financial Review maximums, expansion 2003-04:........................9.4% The decision to freeze of coverage to qualify- 2004-05:........................9.7% rates was made only afing dependents up to the 2005-06:........................9.0% ter careful review of the age of 26 and removal 2006-07:......................8.84% plan’s financial status, of pre-existing condition 2007-08:......................7.80% said Mike Dulaney, exexclusions for depen- 2008-09:........................4.8% 2009-10:........................7.7% ecutive director of the dents under age 19. Nebraska Council of “The EHA Board ap- 2010-11:......................4.56% 2011-12:........................0.0% School Administrators. preciates the expertise “This is the result of provided by its insurer, the cost-saving measures taken by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NeEHA Board, as well as by employees braska, and will work with its represenand their families,” he said. tatives in early 2012 to determine the The non-profit EHA was created to 2012-13 rates,” said Ernst. procure quality, affordable health care “Based on our claims experience, insurance for Nebraska education emcost-saving measures and current proployees. The board consists of members jections, the Board is pleased to be able of the Nebraska State Education Asto assure participants that those rates sociation, the Nebraska Association of will reflect no more than a 4 percent inSchool Boards and the Nebraska Councrease,” said Ernst. cil of School Administrators. “The EHA Board understands the fi-

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tightenin increased tem from School d a 101 per So w and som braska te Nebraska cent fund NPERS fi 25 perce ment sys cent fund Nebra more to are consi both the tributions

Thumbs up for a sound retirement system: Retired Lincoln teacher Jeanette Maas, foreground, and other retired teachers from across the state, stand strongly in favor of the state’s defined benefit retirement plan.

No ‘Fix’ is Needed

Changes to Nebraska’s Teacher Retirement Plan May Do More Harm Than Good managing their own retirement dollars. Changes being considFor 45 years, Jeanette Maas taught kindergarten in the same ered for the state teacher retirement plan could also mean fewer classroom at Lincoln’s Pyrtle Elementary School. retirement dollars for future retirees. By all accounts, she was an excellent teacher; vivacious, As part of a radical, right-wing strategy to minimize the endearing and talented. Former students who became parents impact of labor unions across the country, public employee sought her out to teach their children. As she considered retireretirement plans are under widespread attack. Along with the ment the past few years, parents asked her to stay ‘one more more open legislative threats to year’ so she could teach Little organizing rights and bargaining Johnny. laws, public employee retirement Through her career, Maas unbenefits face changes in the guise derstood that her teacher retireEvery Nebraska educator contributes 8.28 percent of ment plan would provide her with his or her monthly paycheck to a retirement fund, managed of plans that ‘rescue’ retirement a comfortable, not wealthy, retire- by the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System. Em- systems hit hard by the recession. In reality, those plans would ment. She also knew that over ployers — your school district — match your contribution cost more, and provide fewer those 45 years, her retirement nest at a 101 percent rate. egg was being well cared for by Nebraska’s teacher retirement plan is among the most benefit dollars to participants. the Nebraska Public Employee sound in the nation. Even those teachers early in their caAsked to Do More Retirement System (NPERS). reers should watch carefully that the plan remains strong. Fortunately, Nebraska’s teach“It was safe. Retirement conAt least one proposal before the Legislature would alter tributions were taken out of every the plan from a defined benefit to a defined contribution er retirement plan is in good one of my paychecks for 45 years. plan. Such a move would weaken the plan in the long term. shape, comparatively speaking. E-mail your senator and express your concerns. At the And that’s largely because eduOther than that, I could forget about it and teach,” she said. “I’d NSEA web site, click on the ‘Policy & Politics’ link on the cators have stepped up, when be in investments if I wanted to left side of the home page, and look for the ‘E-mail Your needed, to bolster the retirement State Senator’ link. Tell why you think preserving the desystem’s fiscal standing. manage my retirement money.” Two years ago, in the midst of But Nebraska teachers could fined benefit retirement plan is a must. NSEA’s site is at: the recession and as others were be doing just that in a few years:

How Does This Affect You?

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Nebra benefit re employe amount percent o educator on salary A bill would cr ance Ret system to There ‘bifurcate benefit p members Define of the ‘l drawback the educ of funds provide i “Teac ergy on t Maas. “T ment cho Maas having st her hard“I wa by peopl they’re d

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tightening personal budgets, Nebraska teachers increased their contribution to the retirement system from 7.28 percent of salary to 8.28 percent. School districts match educator contributions at a 101 percent rate, and also added one percent. So while the recession hit public pensions, and some states ignored the warning signs, Nebraska teachers took care of business. As a result, Nebraska’s teacher retirement plan was 84 percent funded on June 30, 2010, according to the NPERS fiscal report – and the stock market is up 25 percent since then. By comparison, the retirement system for Kansas teachers was just 56 percent funded at the end of 2010. Nebraska teachers may be asked to do even more to support their retirement plan. Senators are considering a bill (LB382) to again increase both the employer and employee retirement contributions (see ‘Education Bill Watch’ on Page 8).



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The Threat to Retirement Nebraska educators contribute to a defined benefit retirement plan. Under such a plan, school employees and their employers contribute a set amount to retirement, the aforementioned 8.28 percent of every paycheck. After retirement, the educator receives a set benefit each month, based on salary and years of service. A bill before the Nebraska Legislature, LB680, would create the School Employees Cash Balance Retirement Act, and move that retirement system to a defined contribution plan. There has also been some legislative talk of a ‘bifurcated system’ that would retain the defined benefit plan for current members, but funnel new members into a defined contribution plan. Defined contribution plans, while the darling of the ‘less government’ crowd, have serious drawbacks. First, the participant — in this case the educator — typically directs the investment of funds alone, or hires a third party to review and provide investment strategies. “Teachers want to spend their time and energy on their students and their curriculum,” said Maas. “They don’t have time to pour over investment choices.” Maas also knows that she was better served by having state investment personnel watching over her hard-earned dollars. “I want my teacher retirement there, handled by people who are knowledgeable about what they’re doing,” she said. Lower costs Second, defined benefit plans are more costly to operate than are defined contribution plans. The National Institute on Retirement Security had this to say in a January 2010 report: “Defined benefit plans are economically efficient. A recent analysis found that the cost to deliver the same retirement income to a group of employees is 46 percent lower in a typical defined benefit plan than in a defined contribu-

At the Table: Three NSEA members testified before the Legislature in opposition to a bill that would affect their credentials and pocketbooks. From left are Jennifer Lee, Papillion-LaVista; Kerry Trent, Bellevue; and Leigh McAuliff, Papillion-LaVista.

Member Power NSEA Alters Stance on LB149; Members Urge Senators to Kill Bill

Members have power. They have the power to meld their association and to alter the course of the Nebraska Legislature. Just ask Jennifer Lee, Kerry Trent and Leigh McAuliff. When Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery introduced LB149 in January, NSEA took a ‘neutral’ stance.The bill proposed to create the Blind Persons Literacy Rights and Education Act, and would require that teachers of the blind and visually impaired “possess competence by certification” in the National Blindness Professional Certification Board or the State Department of Education by the 2012 school year. NSEA was ‘neutral’ on LB149 until hearing from Lee, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired at Papillion-LaVista and a member of the Papillion-LaVista Education Association. Lee said LB149 would require teachers of the visually impaired – who have already passed the Nebraska Braille Competency Assessment – to become nationally certified in Braille through an assessment administered by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, at a personal cost of $250 every five years. “We would be the only content area to require national certification,” Lee said. NSEA Director of Instructional Advocacy Jay Sears caught Lee’s e-mail, and took her concerns to the Association’s Government Relations team.There, NSEA’s stance on LB149 was changed to ‘oppose,’ and Sears testified against the bill. So did Lee, along with fellow PLEA member and teacher Leigh McAuliff and Bellevue Education Association member and teacher Kerry Trent, who is also president of the Nebraska chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Lee told the Legislature’s Education Committee that the national assessment favored by LB149 has not yet passed peer-review muster.And a statistical report on the pilot test has had tables and appendices of data removed from the available version on the test. Lee said LB149 could also deepen a shortage in her teaching field. “I have concerns that this bill, if passed, would have a negative impact on students by creating an even greater shortage. It imposes yet another redundant requirement, at our own expense,” she said. LB149 remained in committee at press time. March 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 7

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tion plan. This is because defined benefit plans offer longevity risk pooling, a more balanced portfolio, and greater investment returns, on average, than defined contribution plans.” Consider this note in a report by Ennis Knupp and Associates to the Nebraska Investment Council and the NPERS Board of Directors in November: “Differences in performance (between the defined contribution and defined benefit plans) can have significant implications for the ability of participants to reach their retirement goals. A factor in this performance gap is that D.C. plans tend to have high costs.” Finally, defined benefit retirement programs result in better returns, in part because the funds are managed by professionals, and in part because of lower fees. In fact, the same Ennis Knupp & Associates report said that: “While this move toward a defined contribution environment has generally been viewed as positive, there is increasing evidence that defined contribution plan participants are underperforming their defined benefit counterparts.” There’s another angle to consider. Also from the National Institute on Retirement Security’s January 2010 report: “Defined benefit pension plans also save governments money in reducing citizens’ need to rely on public assistance. In 2006, 4.7 million American households escaped ‘poor’ or ‘nearpoor’ classifications due to their defined benefit pension income. As such, some $7.3 billion in public assistance expenditures was saved.” In other words, the defined benefit systems offer a stronger payout at retirement. And that’s exactly what Nebraska teachers want and deserve. “I’m all for progress,” said Maas. “But if the wheels aren’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Education Bill Watch These Bills Will Affect Your Job

The Legislature’s Education Committee continues its discussion of school finance. NSEA supports LB235 as a starting point for state aid. Here are the preliminary budget proposals for state aid, compared to the current appropriation of $950 million in 2010-11: FY2011-12 FY2012-13 LB235 (Sen. Greg Adams)..................................$844 million......................... $903 million Appropriations Committee Budget................$812 million......................... $866 million Gov. Heineman’s Budget.....................................$810 million......................... $860 million LB236 (Education Committee)........................$800 million......................... $840 million NSEA President Jess Wolf testified in favor of LB235 and said “We must create an economic recovery that is, and always has been, dependent on putting education first. Let me repeat: Economic recovery is, and always has been, dependent on putting education first.” Here is how NSEA stands on other education issues before the Legislature: LB531: Keep Cuts Away from Classrooms NSEA supports LB531, which strengthens current law by making clear that any reductions in a school district budget shall affect classrooms only as a last resort. “You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with the premise that dollars spent on education should first and foremost be spent at the classroom level – and with good reason,” said NSEA’s Karen Kilgarin. “That’s where student learning takes place. LB531 makes a clear claim on available resources and requires those funds to be used with laser-like focus to improve student achievement.” LB516: Allow Teachers to Carry Guns in Classrooms NSEA opposes LB516. NSEA’s Larry Scherer told senators that “children and education employees should be guaranteed a safe, secure learning environment and working conditions.” LB555: Removal of the Special Master for State College Employees NSEA opposes LB555, which removes the Special Master option from the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act. “Maintaining the Special Master streamlines and expedites the impasse resolution process,” said NSEA’s Jerry Hoffman. “Retention of Special Master would be of long-term benefit to all involved: the state as employer; the state’s employees; and the state’s taxpayers.” State Aid to Community Colleges Law on Governor’s Desk The community college state aid bill was enacted on a 49-0 vote, and awaits Gov. Heineman’s signature. The bill will provide $86.7 million in state aid to the six community colleges, the Nebraska Indian Community College ($38,815), and Little Priest Tribal College ($13,320). NSEA Supports Omaha and Lincoln Area Educational Service Units NSEA opposes LB381, which would not allow Class IV and Class V school districts to be members of a single-district ESU. NSEA testified in support of Sen. Greg Adams’ alternative (LB446) which allows ESUs serving Lincoln and Omaha to continue operations but modifies requirements and state aid computations for such ESUs. School Employees’ Retirement Fund The Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee continues a study of rate hikes for the teacher retirement plan. A preliminary analysis shows a required 0.6 percent increase, from 8.28 percent to 8.88 percent, for 2011-12, and a 0.9 percent increase to 9.78 percent for 2012-13.

NSEA, Administrators and School Boards Issue Joint Letter With state lawmakers addressing revenue shortfalls, and with state aid figures and other important budget details still far from finalized, the state’s three key education associations issued a joint letter to their members in February, pledging to “work together to ensure the fiscal constraints facing our state and our school districts will not diminish the ability of our schools to develop the kinds of citizens, workers, and taxpayers that Nebraska needs to compete with other states in the region, the nation, and the world.” The letter, signed by the executive directors of the three organizations, was titled ‘Budget Constraints and Local Negotiations.’ “There is little doubt that state aid to education for 2011-13

will not meet student needs as determined by the current state aid to education formula. While it appears the economy is on the mend, we must deal with the facts at hand,” wrote the execs. The letter noted the “time-honored practice of locallyelected school boards, administrators and teachers” keeping the local economy and fiscal constraints in mind as they bargain and reach prudent settlements that will allow districts and staff to meet the educational needs of students. “Clearly, during an economic recession, settlements must reflect the fiscal reality of the local school district and community,” they said. The letter was signed by NSEA’s Craig R. Christiansen; NASB’s John Bonauito; and NCSA’s Mike Dulaney.

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Dependable, fair: NSEA President Jess Wolf, speaking at a news conference in February, said the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations provides a sound and reasonable resolution to stalemates at the contract negotiations table.

CIR said ‘Predictable, Fair, Reasonable’ Some CIR ‘Reform’ Proposals Called ‘Atrocious’ or ‘Infringements’

ills, these broad-brush approaches disenfranchise and deny the rights of public servants,” said Wolf. Other union representatives at the news conference, also subject to CIR provisions, sided with NSEA. NSEA joined with representatives of more than a dozen state Public sector employees – teachers, police officers, firefightand local public sector unions to voice opposition to a slew of ers, electricians, snowplow operators, public power employees legislative bills that would revamp or eliminate the Nebraska and others – are “being painted as the No. 1 enemy” by lawCommission of Industrial Relations (CIR). makers who want to solve budget problems on the backs of the Nine proposed bills dealing with the CIR are an attack on the middle class, said Ken Maas, state director of the AFL-CIO. state’s middle class working men and women, and, if passed, But those employees provide services that are essential to would lessen the quality of public services that are vital to Nethe well-being of communities across the state, he said. braska’s quality of life, the union representatives said during a In addition, those public employees pay sales and income news conference in February. taxes, send their children to local schools and colleges and conNSEA members have relied on the CIR to resolve bargaintribute to the state’s economic well-being from every corner of ing disputes when local association negotiations with the local the state. school board stall, or when the loProposals before the Legislacal board refuses to negotiate. ture range from a bill that would “For more than 30 years, the prohibit public sector bargaining CIR has always provided a reato bills that would remove public Nebraska educators are able to collectively bargain with sonable, predictable resolution to their school district employer the annual contracts that schools from the Industrial Relanegotiations that are at impasse,” cover salary, benefits and working conditions. tions Act of 1920, and remove said NSEA President Jess Wolf. On the rare instance when those contract negotiations the special master mediation step “It’s a dependable resolution when reach stalemate, the Commission of Industrial Relations from the bargaining process for can be asked to resolve the stalemate. The CIR has an state employees. negotiations are at a standstill.” Wolf said that with 250 local established, nearly 40-year record of fair, reasonable and In addition, with the CIR in associations bargaining each year, middle-of-the-road salary determinations. its present format, uninterrupted, E-mail your senator and express your concerns. At the the argument that the CIR is “drivessential public services are guaring up taxes” is bogus. Just once NSEA web site, click on the ‘Policy & Politics’ link on the anteed. Public employees are not in the past three years has a K-12 left side of the home page, and look for the ‘E-mail Your allowed to strike in Nebraska local association resorted to the State Senator’ link. Tell why you support collective bargain- because the CIR provides a way ing and the CIR. NSEA’s site is at: CIR to resolve a dispute. to peacefully resolve bargaining “Rather than solve perceived disputes.

How Does This Affect You?

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NSEA for cons Advocac Norris;



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NSEA members on the team: NSEA leaders working to craft potential teacher evaluation and standards language for consideration by the Nebraska State Board of Education are, from left, Jay Sears, NSEA’s director of Instructional Advocacy; Tiffanny Heese, Winnebago; Cindy Serfass, District 66, Omaha; Trish Guinan, NSEA staff; Mary Schlieder, Norris; Amy Kelly, Hastings; Linda Freye, Lincoln; and Diana Casey, Omaha.

NSEA at Table as Evaluations, Teacher Standards Discussed

State Board of Education Hopes to OK Changes Yet This Year

Havelka said the committee did not get definitive guidance from the State Board regarding what teachers and principals should know and be able to do. “The drafting committees will propose guidelines for school districts, and will propose how the standards should be structured,” said Havelka. “I would guess they would be fairly broad standards with more specific indicators.”

Across the country, lawmakers and policymakers have begun to understand that the best way to improve student achievement is to put a great teacher at the front of every classroom – and to back that teacher with a great principal. So it’s appropriate that James Havelka’s PowerPoint Support to Improve Profession presentation on a proposed Educator Effectiveness Plan Jay Sears, NSEA’s director of Instructional Advocacy, includes a remark from a 2007 study on the world’s topsaid the process has drummed up good conversations that performing school systems. It says that “the quality of an will benefit NSEA members. education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” “I see parallels between these standards and the deThat line of thought has come to the fore in Nebraska, velopment of student standards,” he said. “This is about where staff at the Nebraska developing standards for Department of Education teachers and administrahas proposed an Educators, and how do we get tor Effectiveness Initiative the proper support and NSEA’s eight representatives are on two teams developing that would set guidelines tools to help them imstandards for teachers and principals. for both teachers and prinprove in their profession.” On the Teacher Standards Drafting Team are Cindy Serfass, cipals. After reviewing the A 40-member commitWestside District 66; Linda Freye, Lincoln; Amy Kelly, Hastings; staff proposal, the State tee has been appointed, Mary Schlieder, Norris; and Trish Guinan, NSEA staff. Board of Education asked and will split into two On the Principal Standards Drafting Team are Tiffanny Heese, that education stakeholders teams: one to consider Winnebago; Diana Casey, Omaha; and Jay Sears, NSEA staff. be allowed to provide inteacher standards; the othput before the development er to devise standards for process started. Following principals. The committee a meeting of those stakeholders, including NSEA, the State includes eight NSEA members and staff. Board approved moving forward with a standards drafting “All the right people are at the table,” said Sears. committee, which held an initial meeting in February. Donlynn Rice, the NDE’s Curriculum and Instruction One key point made by stakeholders at the late 2010 administrator, is supervising the project. Havelka, a former meeting: changes would be made from a standpoint of superintendent for the North Bend Central Public Schools, making Nebraska’s good public schools better, rather than is working with the NDE to develop the standards. fixing a broken system of education. “This came out of the state’s Race to the Top application,

Eight Members, Two Teams

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where Nebraska had looked at a number of educator effectiveness issues that would apply to both teachers and principals,” he said. While Nebraska failed to land any of the federal Race to the Top funds, the teacher and principal standards program could likely be the legacy of the state’s application effort. Nebraska’s application had called for development of teacher and principal standards; statewide induction, mentoring and evaluation programs; continuous professional development; and performance-defined certificate renewal. First Step: Performance Standards Among the goals of the initiative are development of teacher effectiveness polices that are cohesive, aligned and strategic; a focus on effective school leaders, as well as teachers; provision for horizontal alignment across an educator’s career; and vertical alignment across all levels of governance, from the school building, to the school district, to the state level. The program must also manage teaching talent in a systematic manner in order to enhance student learning and upgrade the education profession. Possible components of a teacher/ principal evaluation program could include, for instance, standardsbased teacher and principal evaluation; additional state requirements or guidance for local systems; linkage to student achievement, as well as standards of practice; and linkage to professional development activities. The first step, Havelka said, is to develop performance standards. He said that preliminary investigation shows that states that are doing the most in the teacher standards area have used standards to guide teacher preparation, to assist in professional development, and other similar areas. Vermont has five teacher standards; Utah has scores. Other states fall somewhere in between. A draft plan will be presented to the State Board in July, followed by several months of public input. Final adoption of the standards is tentatively scheduled for the State Board’s October meeting. Watch The Voice for updates.

Middle Level Educators will Meet in Lexington The Nebraska Association for Middle Level Education (NAMLE) invites educators who work with middle school students to the Association’s annual Professional Development Institute. The institute is designed to meet the needs of the students in the middle. The 2011 Institute will be held at Lexington Middle School on Thursday, April 21, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Keynoting the event is Debra Stafford, who is sponsored by Incentive Publications and Nuts and Bolts, one of the nation’s top middle level conferences. Stafford will provide two keynotes and include breakout sessions. In addition to Stafford’s sessions, the Institute will offer other breakouts that will focus on the needs of middle level students. If you are interested in presenting at the Institute, contact Julie Herink at: Registration for the institute is $50 for members and $70 for non-members, and includes lunch. For more de-

tails, check the NAMLE web site at: Institute host Randy Schlueter also has details and can be reached at:

Vote for...

Marcia Benner

NSEA Board of Directors

Capitol District


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Make Your Voice Heard NSEA Elections Now Under Way: Vote for NSEA Leadership NSEA members across the state will elect scores of district officers during coming weeks. Those leaders will represent your interests at the regional and state level; will work to advance the interests of the Association; and will act to promote the public school agenda. Thus, it’s important that every member take part in the election – made easier with NSEA’s web-based voting system! Here is what’s at stake: seats on each of NSEA’s seven governance districts, as well as spots on the NSEA Board of Directors. Voters will also elect at-large and cluster delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago this summer. Watch for E-mail or Postcard Alert On or about March 3, all members with e-mail will receive a note alerting them that balloting will open at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9. Members without access to e-mail will receive a postcard alerting them to the balloting.

In order to vote online, members must have their 10-digit membership identification number at hand. The number is embossed on each member’s NSEA membership card, and is also located just above the member’s name on the mailing label on each edition of The Voice. Each member should already have received an e-mail or postcard reminding them of the election. In both cases, that message will include the member’s identification number. In order to vote, go to NSEA’s home page site and look for the ‘Elections’ link. Click on that link, enter your membership number and follow instructions. By entering your membership number, you will be directed to the proper ballot. While reviewing each ballot, members will be able to click on a candidate’s name and read a short statement by that candidate. Not every candidate supplied a statement. Balloting will close at midnight on Wednesday, March 23. The NSEA Board of Directors will certify the results in April, and those results will be announced in the May issue of The Voice. The NSEA web site is at:

Five NSEA Members Earn National Certification Complete Rigorous National Board Certification Process Five NSEA members have achieved National Board Certification, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The NBPTS is the organization that sets and maintains the standards for teaching excellence. NSEA members who received National Board Certification are Elizabeth Leach and Judith Stucky of Westside; Lise Wagner and Linda Wood of Omaha; and Samantha Morrissey of Millard. More than 90 Nebraska teachers now have the National Certification designation. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently singled out the nation’s current class of NBCTs during a discussion about elevating the teaching profession. “I know how tough that process

is. It’s a tremendous amount of hard work, but you are some of the best teachers in the country getting better,” said Duncan. “I think the example of being a life-long learner, of challenging yourself to continue to improve even when you are already so good, is an amazing example for our students.” A voluntary assessment program designed to develop, recognize and retain accomplished teachers, National Board Certification is achieved through a performance-based assessment that typically takes one to three years to complete. While state licensing systems set basic requirements to teach in each state, NBCTs have successfully demonstrated advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices. In the most rigorous and comprehensive study to date about National Board Certification, the non-partisan National Research Council found that students taught by NBCTs make

higher gains on achievement tests

UNK than students taught by other teachThe Voice ers. For more details, go to: 2.25” x 3” color 1-04-11





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

March 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 13

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Children’s Fund: Still in Need Members Asked to Consider Fundraisers with March4Children The photograph arrived at the NSEA offices in mid-February. A young girl was looking up from her school desk and smiling broadly into the camera. She was wearing new eyeglasses. The hand-written letter that accompanied the picture wasn’t really needed — the photo said it all. But, using a black marker, she had crafted these five words: “Thank you for my glasses.” It was another example of the important work done by NSEA’s Children’s Fund. Founded in 1994, the Fund has helped hundreds of students see the front of the room with new eyeglasses; get hot meals; receive warm winter coats; get needed dental care; and get other vital services they might not have otherwise received. But with unprecendented demand during the past few months, the Fund is running short on cash. Comptroller Sheri Jablonski told the NSEA Board of Directors that the need for Children’s Fund dollars is depleting the fund so rapidly that it could be empty by the end of the current school year. For instance, on one December morning, NSEA staff took eight requests for help from the Children’s Fund — all before 10 a.m.

March Children

accepted donations and then sent those funds to teachers who come across children in need of winter coats, mittens, eyeglasses, snow boots or other necessities that will get them to school and in a position to learn. There is no red tape for teachers making requests, and NSEA absorbs all costs — every penny donated benefits a child. A summer golf tournament brings in between $10,000 and $20,000 each year, and a corporate donor provides another $500 or so a month. Gifts from individuals and other sources arrive on a regular, but not reliable, basis. Local associations and individuals have stepped up in recent months, but the need is still not being met. Statewide Effort Jablonski proposed to the NSEA Board of Directors that members across the state be asked to consider a local as-

sociation fundraiser in March to benefit the Children’s Fund. If enough local associations participate in a ‘March4Children’ fundraiser, it would help the fund stay solvent, she said. “We want to continue to be able to send dollars out to help children in need,” said Jablonski. “But we can’t do that when there’s no money in the fund.” Fundraisers might include a benefit walk or ‘March4Kids’ with pledges collected. The collection of donations from teachers in exchange for allowing a casual day at work is another option. For instance, such a casual day organized by the Papillion-LaVista Education Association annually collects between $2,000 and $4,000 for the Children’s Fund. A simple request for donations from family or friends; a bake sale at a school event; or a raffle of donated items; might also raise money. More ideas are at the web site at: Questions about the fund can be directed to Jablonski or Sally Bodtke at 1-800-742-0047, or at:

Warm Clothes Since 1994, the Children’s Fund has


Susan Stake

President, NSEA Capitol District March 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 15

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In 1938, Neola Skala was named Acting Executive Secretary of the Nebraska State Teachers Association — an unheard of rank for a woman at that time. Finally, Skala has been properly recognized for her role in shaping NSTA, the predecessor to NSEA.

On display: For decades, a wall featuring photographs of past executive directors of the NSEA has been without a photo of Neola Skala. At far right is a clipping from the September 1941 Nebraska Educational Journal, predecessor to The Voice, detailing Skala’s resignation.

Neola Skala: Forgotten No Longer

A long-standing wrong has been corrected at NSEA. More than 70 years ago, Neola Skala served the Association as acting executive secretary-treasurer, the equivalent to today’s executive director. Skala was appointed to the post after Executive Secretary-Treasurer Charles A. Bowers died from a heart attack on Feb. 5, 1938. Skala was just 31 years old at the time of her appointment. Skala served in that capacity for seven months, until Scottsbluff Superintendent Dr. Archer L. Burnham was named to succeed Bowers. Photographs of Bowers, Burnham and 11 of the 13 other executive directors have graced the walls of NSEA for years. No photograph of Skala was posted – in fact, there were no photograph of Skala in the Association’s extensive archive. Also missing is a photograph of H.O. Sutton, who served as acting secretary for 11 months starting in February 1921. After a lengthy search through files, newspaper archives, University of Nebraska-Lincoln records and other sources, it turns out a photo of Skala was just a phone call away. Photo Search NSEA Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen has been keen to track down a photograph of Skala for years. Christiansen was NSEA president when he researched and wrote the 130-year history of the Association, published in 1997. In that history, Christiansen wrote “The significance in 1938 of naming a woman as Acting Secretary can perhaps best be appreciated by the fact that, 46 years later (in 1984), Judy Behnke was believed to be only the third woman in the United States to hold the chief staff position of an education association when she was named NSEA Execu-

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tive Director. “Miss Skala was congratulated for her executive ability during her seven months as Acting Secretary, but it is difficult to believe that any woman at that time would have been seriously considered as a permanent chief of staff,” wrote Christiansen. Top Credentials Skala certainly had the credentials. According to the 1940 edition of Who’s Who in Nebraska, Skala earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska in 1927 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa the same year. After graduation, she worked for the Lincoln State Journal in the society department and as a feature writer. She earned a master’s degree from the university in 1929, and that year began work as an assistant in the University’s English and journalism departments. In 1931, she started work at NSEA as assistant editor and first assistant to Bowers. In 1932, while at the NSEA, she published Our Nebraska Capitol, the book-length story of the then-new state capitol building. Her Feb. 15, 1992, obituary in the Lincoln Star notes that in 1938, she was national chair of the Rural Education Committee. Skala’s own typed obituary noted that, in 1940, she was given a one-year leave of absence because of ill health. She returned to NSEA in 1941, but by September of that year had resigned her position (see clipping, at right, from September 1941 edition of the Nebraska Educational Journal, predecessor to The Voice). Thereafter, she cared for her ailing mother, who died in 1964. Loved Education Skala was a charter member of, and chair of the constitution committee when the Women’s Division of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce was organized. She presented more than 100 radio broadcasts on radio station KFAB and Nebraska Wesleyan University station WCAJ on the topics of schools and education. Skala’s entry into the 1940 Who’s Who in Nebraska listed her hobby as education. In fact, she loved education so much that she gave 95 percent of her estate to the University of Nebraska. Her gifts to the university established fellowships in memory of her parents, John and Louise Skala, and provide for research in new industrial

uses for agricultural products, and in the medical field, including endocrine gland, asthma and heart problems. Very Few Leads Although her tenure as secretary was brief, Christiansen believed Skala’s service should be recognized, as has the work of other for executive secretaries and executive directors. For 10 years, NSEA’s communications staff, including a series of interns, researched files and microfilm, called various libraries, and scoured newspaper clippings in search of leads. Because Skala was an only child, and never married, those leads were few. Then, last year, a contact at the University of Nebraska noted that a cousin of Skala’s was listed in paperwork concerning a scholarship set up in her name. The cousin, living in Florida, was contacted. He had a 1920s high school graduation photograph of Skala. She was a graduate of Beemer High School, and the photo carried the imprint of a photographer in West Point. The NSEA team called Tom Black, who taught at West Point for years, served on the NSEA Board of Directors and today edits the NSEA-Retired Corner. Black responded with a link to the Who’s Who in Nebraska entry, which included Skala’s mother’s maiden name: Wostrel. It was a long shot, but NSEA Assistant Director of Communications Al Koontz had worked with a newspaper reporter by that name. He contacted Cindy Wostrel Jeffrey, now the executive director at Health Education Inc., in Lincoln. Yes, came the response from Jeffrey, Neola Skala was her grandfather’s cousin, and the family had suitable photos, including the college graduation photo shown on Page 16 . “Neola certainly loved and believed in education,” said Jeffrey. “She would use every spot on a piece of paper, not wasting anything. She would let repairs go on her house, always saving every penny that she could to put that money into her estate. She gave almost all of her estate to the University and the Journalism College because she believed so strongly in education and was so grateful for it. “I know my family appreciates that her picture will hang at NSEA, and I certainly do, too.” And a long-standing wrong has been corrected. March March2011 2011n nThe TheNSEA NSEAVoice Voicen nPage Page1717

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It Doesn’t Just Happen Bargaining Success a Result of Planning and Preparation Bargaining a new contract is always a process, and tips and insight into better bargaining practices can always be of use. Following a lengthy and sometimes difficult negotiations process that eventually saw his association’s contract settled in the union’s favor by the Nebraska Supreme Court, former State College Education Association (SCEA) President Bill Clemente, a professor of English at Peru State College, was invited to speak at a recent bargaining conference at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, D.C. The conference was attended by staff local negotiatiors from around the country. Clemente is currently the secretary of NSEA’s Higher Education Academy District. Following are excerpts from his comments. Do Your Homework; Learn from the Past “One of the most important things I’ve learned over these years is the essential role doing your homework plays. We really did our homework, and learned from past negotiations. We made sure we got some good people in the negotiations sphere. We’ve made sure we’ve had a good turnover – but always with some veteran people – in and out. “We did our homework and in the end [management] couldn’t counter any of our arguments without saying, ‘We’re not going to negotiate.’ We felt confident that we did everything we could legally, morally, everything, but, as we discovered, that kind of effort doesn’t mean the other side’s going to respond in kind.” Build Broad-based Support; Devise a Long-term Plan “Our campaign started nearly five years ago. It was incremental. One of our first goals [when I became president] was to rewrite the SCEA constitution so that the executive board became an elected body that included

all the constituents at the three state colleges. We made other substantial changes that meant that everybody was talking to everybody involved, from the local all the way up to the president. This process did not take place overnight, and it wasn’t easy. But the hard work culminated in the last negotiations, when more and more members shared in the decision-making, and consequently felt included. “We conducted surveys of the faculty about salary and other issues so that everybody felt included in the process. The more you get people involved, the less inclined they are to take an adversarial role.” Build Stronger Locals; Increase Membership; Inventory Your Human Assets The more instructed members are about what actually happens in negotiations, the more likely that imaginative things will emerge. We start talking about tuition for faculty children, the dental plan, a lot of these kinds of things. People then get a stake in the always challenging process. “We experimented as well with inviting into the discussions other union groups on campus. How often do other union groups come to your meetings? We never did. Now that we’ve invited them — we have three different union groups on the Peru campus — they started coming and we heard their perspective and they could see

Front lines: Peru State College English Professor Bill Clemente shared his tips on conducting successful negotiations at a bargaining conference at NEA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

that they’re worth more. We continue to try to do more of that. “In the past, other union groups and administrators keyed their salary increases to what salary the faculty negotiated. This time, the other two unions on campus got bullied into accepting not-so-good contracts. They’ll never make that mistake again.”

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

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Save Cash Fast! Use Your NSEA Membership Card and the Access Program: Save on Dining, Hotels, Retail and More! Want to save some money in these tight economic times? Use your NSEA membership card to cash in on the money-saving discounts through the Access program. Searching for dining discounts will be particularly rewarding. Nationwide, the Access program offers savings at more than 60,000 locations. For instance, Lincoln-area members can save at Highnooner’s, Samurai Sam Teriyaki Grill, Papa John’s Pizza and Misty’s, among others. Members in Omaha can save at Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Little King, Sam and Louie’s, Hardee’s, Charley’s Philly Grill, and many more. Or, if you’re near Grand Island, consider these offerings: Valentino’s, Pizza Hut, TCBY and Papa Murphy’s. You can find dining savings through your NSEA membership card across the state. And that’s just dining – hotels and motels, golf courses, retail outlets and theme parks also offer discounts through the NSEA membership card program. All you need is your 10-digit number from your NSEA membership card – the number is also above your name on the mailing label for The Voice – and a computer. Log in to the NSEA web site, and look for the NSEA membership card icon and the words ‘Click Here for Member Savings.’ That link will lead you to a savings bonanza. The NSEA web site is at:

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NEA Seeks Tomorrow’s ESP Leaders NSEA members in the educational support professional membership category, take note: the National Education Association offers a superb professional development opportunity for future association leaders. The NEA Leaders for Tomorrow program is a three-session training process held over an eight month period that is open to dues paying NEA ESP members who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Candidates must be nominated for the program and have their application acknowledged and signed by their state Association. Leaders for Tomorrow will train both current and future leaders in leadership attitudes, skills and knowledge that will enhance their ability to be a visible, vocal advocate at the local, state and national levels of the NEA. The training is broken down into 11 modules, including communication, organizing, effective meeting skills, assertiveness and presentation skills. Participants are expected to attend three training sessions scheduled for July 21-25 at Minneapolis; Nov. 11-14 at Washington, D.C.; and March 4-11, 2012, at Memphis. Participants are fully funded as allowed under the NEA travel guidelines, including transportation, lodging, meals and substitute pay or salary reimbursement. The application deadline is March 25. For an application form, go to the NSEA web site at:

‘Nuts and Bolts’ Training Set for ESPs this Month Bargaining Conference Planned in Kearney Education support professionals are the fastest-growing segment of NSEA and NEA membership. It makes sense that NSEA offer a bargaining conference scheduled that is designed just for the needs of those ESP members. NSEA will host the first Statewide Bargaining and Advocacy Conference for ESP members on March 25-26, at the Kearney Holiday Inn. The conference will address the bargaining needs of ESP members at both K-12 and higher education institutions. “This will be ‘a nuts and bolts’ training for ESP leaders, negotiators and local association officers,” said Larry Scherer, NSEA’s director of Bargaining and Research. “It will be a real benefit to those who attend.” The theme is ‘ABC’s for ESPs’ – for Advocacy, Bargaining and Communications. The conference will be highlighted by a Friday night session featuring a panel of Nebraska ESP leaders sharing successes and challenges they have encountered. Attendees will be able to choose from one of two tracks. The first – ‘Getting Organized for Negotiations – will look at building an effective team; communicating with members; gathering pay data; developing contract proposals; and practicing good table tactics. The second track – ‘Advocacy for Members of Your Local’ – will focus on dealing with administrators and board members in order to resolve problems, as well as the handling of member rights issues. Members will be asked to select their track at the time they register. The conference is an opportunity for ESP members to network with other ESP members from across the state, to learn

about progress on the organizing and bargaining fronts, and to brainstorm those issues. The conference will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 25, and close at about 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 26. A grant will enable NSEA to cover one-half the cost of a hotel room for each attendee. For those staying overnight on the evening of March 25 who are not already sharing a room with an attendee, NSEA will make the hotel reservation, pay for the room, and assign a roommate. Those who wish to have a private room are asked to make their own reservation, and NSEA will reimburse for half the cost of the room, which is $77 plus tax. Reservations must be made by March 11 through the Holiday Inn at 1-308-237-5971. The grant will also allow a $25 stipend for gas money for each carload of members traveling more than 50 miles. Registration is now online at the NSEA web site at: Members who do not have computer access may also register by calling NSEA’s Karen Hunt at 1-800-742-0047. Members who register in this way will receive confirmation of registration in the mail. Questions? Call Hunt at the number above, or e-mail her at:

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L In training: Eleven NSEA members attended the Minority Leadership Training Conference that preceded NEA’s Western Region Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City recently. From left are Vida Stabler, UmonHon Nation; Derrick Nero, Omaha; Maria Burgos, Elkhorn Valley; Broderick Steed, UmonHon Nation; Marguerite Cortez, UmonHon Nation; Chris Humphries, Omaha; G.E. Thornton, Omaha; Willie Banks, Lincoln; Sarah Dragon, Omaha; and Tracy Hartman-Bradley, Omaha. Not pictured is Susan Townsend, Lincoln.

All Members Covered by NEA Liability Policy Every member of NSEA is covered by the Educators Employment Liability (EEL) Insurance policy purchased by the National Education Association. In general, the EEL policy provides coverage for members arising out of their educational employment activities. Those activities are generally defined as duties performed pursuant to the express or implied terms of their employment or at the express request of the member’s supervisor acting within the supervisor’s school employment. In addition to defending civil matters, the EEL insurance provides reimbursement for bail bonds in employment-

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

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Love and Paperwork A Cautionary Tale

Note: This story first appeared in the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Plan publication ‘Retirement News.’ Patrick had always dreamed of being a science teacher, and had been thrilled when he landed his first teaching job. Although brilliant at science, he wasn’t quite as wise when it came to paperwork. His desk was always cluttered with papers he always intended to get to... someday. Patrick met Annie and they fell in love. She affectionately called him “The Nutty Professor” for his wild, unkempt hair and his disorganized ways. They married and lived happily for years. Then one day, as Patrick was driving home from school, another vehicle crossed the median and collided with Patrick’s car. He died at the age of 59. Choice of Benefits Following his death, Annie was assured by other School Retirement Plan members that as Patrick’s widow, she would receive a monthly benefit for the rest of her life from the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System. Although the couple’s finances were

sound, Annie had recently lost her job and a few years remained on the mortgage for their home. The money would be needed. She located Patrick’s retirement account statement, which indicated he had 34 years of service credit, and an account balance of $115,681 comprised of his contributions, plus interest. She searched the NPERS web site, and learned that a surviving spouse could choose either a lifetime annuity, or a refund of the member’s account. By using the online benefit estimator, she discovered that even if she lived only six more years, the lifetime monthly annuity would provide far more to her than the refund. A Shocking Discovery Annie notified NPERS of Patrick’s death and inquired about claiming the surviving spouse’s benefits. She was shocked to discover that since Patrick had begun working before he met her, he had designated his parents as his beneficiaries and had never gotten around to updating his forms. Since Annie was not listed as the sole primary beneficiary, the death benefit would be limited to the refund option and would be paid to his parents.

Even though Annie was listed in his will as his sole beneficiary, the beneficiary form on file at NPERS took legal precedence. Patrick’s elderly parents kindly shared the refund with Annie, but as a refund, much of the money went to taxes. The opportunity for Annie to be able to draw a lifetime monthly benefit was lost, along with the thousands of dollars she could have used to live out her golden years. The above dramatization is not entirely a work of fiction. It is recommended that beneficiary forms be updated any time a member gets married or divorced, a child is born, or an existing beneficiary passes away. Beneficiary forms are available through your employer, or by request from the NPERS office (1-800-2455712) or on the NPERS web site at: If you’re not certain who you currently have listed as a beneficiary, now is an excellent time to complete a new form, make a copy for your records and submit the original to the NPERS office.

Vote for

John Heineman

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News You Can Use GEON Institute Headed West The Geographic Educators of Nebraska will repeat one of their most popular – and free – professional development opportunities this summer. The Geography of the Frontier – Resources and Heritage of the West Summer Institute will be based at Western Nebraska Community College from July 11-16. The institute will be packed with field studies, lectures and lessons presented by elementary/secondary GEON teacher consultants. Field study will take place at Scotts Bluff, Chimney Rock and Wildcat Hills in Nebraska, as well as Fort Laramie, Black Thunder Coal Mine and Devils Tower in Wyoming. Participants will create and share standards-based lesson plans relating to Nebraska geography. Three hours of graduate credit are available through Wayne State College. Participants completing all requirements will receive a $250 stipend, which they may apply to graduate credit. Housing at Western Nebraska Community College is provided, along with field trip transportation and two meals per day. A Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education grant funds the institute. For details, call Lonnie Moore at 402-430-2081, or e-mail him at:

LEAP into Learning Groundwater Are you ready to LEAP? Learn, educate, act, then protect? ‘LEAP into Groundwater’ is a new project-based educational curriculum – developed to engage students in learning about groundwater and taking action to protect their water resources. LEAP is designed for middle and high school-age students, but can be adapted for students of any age. The LEAP project can be implemented in the classroom, during after-school programs, as Girl or Boy Scout projects, or any other youth group activities. The project has four phases: learn, using The Groundwater Foundation’s Awesome Aquifer kit; educate, where students use what they have learned and educate their peers, parents, or members of the community about groundwater; act, a phase in which students choose a groundwater-friendly activity to take part in; and then protect, a final phase of LEAP that’s a compilation of all the prior phases and promotes sustainable behavior. For details, contact Jamie at 402-434-2740 or at this e-mail or web site address:

Three hours of graduate credit will be available through Wayne State College. Participants completing all institute requirements will receive a $250 stipend, which they may apply to graduate credit. Registrants who reside outside a 50-mile radius of Lincoln will receive free housing at NWU. All participants will receive free teaching materials. A Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education grant funds the institute. Applications are due on May 20. For details on how to register, call Brian Burback at 402-

476-0948, or e-mail him at:

Environmental Ed Week Focus is on Oceans The ocean covers nearly three-quarters of our planet’s surface, provides 70 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and houses about 20 percent of the known species on Earth. No matter how far from the coast, water in every stream or river eventually ends up in the ocean, and all life on Earth depends on its health. More than

Second GEON Institute Planned in Lincoln The Geographic Educators of Nebraska are planning a free and exciting professional development opportunity this summer. The Geography of the City–Lincoln Summer Institute will be held at Nebraska Wesleyan University from June 13-17. The one-week professional development institute features guest lecturers; field trips in and around Lincoln; free teaching materials; and lesson plans geared toward state standards. Field study will be held at the State Capitol; Wyuka Cemetery; Lincoln Air Base; Memorial Stadium; Spring Creek Prairie and Yankee Hill Brick Co. Participants will create and share standardsbased lesson plans relating to Nebraska geography. Page 24 n The NSEA Voice n March 2011

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half of all Americans live within 50 miles of the coast, but near or far, our lives are linked to the ocean. As part of an Ocean Connections theme, Environmental Education Week, April 10-16, provides special resources, lesson plans and opportunities for educator professional development and for students learning about the Gulf oil spill. For details, visit: connections

Student Experiments on the Space Shuttle The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) invites U.S. school districts to be part of the historic last flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle program through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Participating school districts will have an experiment slot in a real microgravity research mini-laboratory flying on Space Shuttle Atlantis. The NCESSE will guide the district through an experiment design competition within the grade 5-12 range, open to the district’s choice: as many as 3,200 students or limited to a single middle or high school. Students then design real experiments, vying for a reserved slot on the flight, with designs constrained by mini-laboratory operation and the need to pass a real NASA Flight Safety Review. For details, visit the web site at:

Winning display: Crete teachers and staff show the wellness awards recently received from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. From left are family and consumer science teacher Kathy Boyes; physical education and health teacher Jebb Hatch; business manager Sandy Rosenboom; weights and conditioning teacher Chuck McGinnis; and food service director Jodi Erickson.

Wellness Works at Crete Public Schools A year ago, the Crete Public Schools became one of the first schools in Nebraska to enlist in the Wellness Plan pilot project sponsored by the Educators Health Alliance. The first year has been quite a success. The school staff earned the Healthy Schools Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation by creating a healthier school environment for students and staff. Andrea Hicks, a resource teacher at Crete Middle School said that “The first step to a healthy mind, is a healthy body. Being more aware of all my food choices, has really given me more energy throughout my days.” Crete Business Manager Sandy Rosenboom said that “Creating a culture of wellness with our own emails, posters, and healthy snacks has helped make wellness important at Crete Public Schools. The employees have told us that by providing this program, it makes them feel that we care about them.” Learn more about the EHA Wellness Program at the EHA web site at :

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Snookie’s Snippets NSEA members save an average of $373 per year on auto insurance through the programs of NEA Member Benefits by: n Low rates with your member discount. n Multi-policy discounts for auto and home coverage. n Discounts for family members who are either good students or mature drivers. What are the benefits Krumbiegel of the program? Consider that theft of personal property from your vehicle is covered up to $500 – including school supplies. The program has an Identity Theft Resolution Service included, with auto or home policies, at no extra cost. And it offers a deductible waiver for vandalism in a school parking lot or within 500 feet of a school or school event. For complete information on coverage, or to get your free, no-obligation quotation, call 1-800-877-7345, or visit: Did You Know? The average cost of health care benefits per employee jumped 6.9 percent in 2010 – three times faster than inflation and the biggest increase since 2004. During the same period, we’ve seen a gradual erosion of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in favor of consumer directed health plans (CDHPs). That news is from the February 2011 issue of Benefits Magazine. Consumer Tip of the Month Rent payment records are now being included in the credit reports of select consumers. Experian, one of the three national credit bureaus, began incorporating rent payment histories in a limited number of credit profiles in December 2010. Experian said only positive rental information is currently being reported. Negative data, such as missed payments, will be added in 2012. Call NEA Member Benefits at 1-800637-4636, or visit this site for more details on Member Benefits programs: Snookie Krumbiegel is Nebraska’s NEA Member Benefits representative.

NEA Member Benefits

The ‘Snowball’ Plan An Efficient Way to Pay Down Your Debt By Darrell Delamaide For NEA Member Benefits You made a resolution to get out of debt, or to reduce your debt, because times, and jobs, are uncertain. You have a number of credit cards, a car payment and a home equity loan out there you haven’t used in a while. You’d like to get rid of all or most of this debt. Where do you start? How do you do it? It seems daunting, but personal finance experts have devised useful strategies. First, obviously, is to avoid taking on new debt. Use a debit card for purchases instead of a credit card, so you’re only spending money you have. Be careful, though, to avoid some of the risks in using a debit card, such as over-drafting your account or greater liability if you lose the card.  Second, itemize your debt. What is the balance on each? The interest rate? The minimum payment? You don’t need to include the primary mortgage on your home in this list unless you would like to. Total up the minimum payments that must be made each month, then figure out how much more you have available to pay on the debt. The core strategy is to focus on one account at a time, and apply all the money you have beyond the minimum payment obligations to that one debt. Focus on One Logic, and math, will dictate that you focus on the debt with the highest interest rate first. The sooner you get that paid off, the less interest you’ll pay and the more money you’ll have to pay off your other debts. With mathematical certainty, this is the quickest way, and highly motivated people should probably proceed in this manner.   But financial guru Dave Ramsey recommends making a concession to human nature. People aren’t always rational and, sometimes, their motivation wanes. Paying down debt, like breaking a bad habit or losing weight, needs posi-

tive reinforcement along the way. So Ramsey recommends the ‘snowball’ method of paying down debt. In this method, you pick your smallest debt to pay down first. You make the minimum payments on all your other accounts, and apply all extra funds available to that one debt.  Because it’s the smallest debt, you’ll be able to pay that off more quickly. Then you can apply the minimum payment you were making on that debt, plus all the extra available funds, to the next-smallest debt, and pay that down.   Whittled Down By the time you get to the third debt, you have the minimum payments from the first two, plus your extra monthly amount to utilize. These larger monthly payments whittle away that debt even faster – the way a snowball gets bigger as it rolls down a hill. The positive reinforcement of seeing these debts disappear one after the other is worth more, Ramsey reckons, than tackling a higherinterest debt that might be so extensive that it doesn’t appear as if your monthly payments are even making a dent. One way to make that ‘snowball’ grow even faster is to add the ‘snowflake’ method to your strategy. In this method, you pull out all the stops, and do everything you can to increase the amount you can pay toward your debt each month. Sell things on eBay; have a yard sale; never pass up an opportunity to earn some extra money; limit your Starbucks visits to once a week; etc. Take all this extra cash – these ‘snowflakes’ – no matter how small, and apply it to your current priority debt. Even make interim payments, if you can, to reduce the principal as quickly as possible. An extra $100 or $200 a month will soon make a visible difference in your debt.  Ultimately, you have to set your own priorities, depending on how big your debts are, and how long you have to save for retirement. March 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 27

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EHA Monitoring Health Care Reform

By Kurt Genrich EHA Plan Advocate The Educators Health Alliance (EHA), as part of an overall plan to help members increase their wellness and overall health, will provide a Wellness Plan to schools that wish to participate this spring. The health and wellness of plan members matters, and thus EHA is offering the opportunity to participate in a personal health assessment (PHA). The best way to protect and maximize your health is to complete a personal health assessment. A PHA is a simple health questionnaire that members can complete online. In return, participants will receive a free customized report that will give an overview on your health status. The PHA will review your lifestyle, family history and medical concerns, and give you a “snapshot” of your current status of health. All school employees and retirees enrolled in the EHA health plan will have the opportunity to complete a personal health assessment in early April. Participation is strictly voluntary; however, by completing the wellness survey, members will receive the personal health report that will help you assess and monitor your health status. In addition, each member who

to complete the PHA online. It will only take approximately 15–20 minutes to complete PHA. Once completed, members can download the confidential health report.

completes the assessment will receive a $25 gift card. Completely Confidential All personal health information will remain confidential. A third party organization, Wellstream LLC, will process the PHAs. All personal health information will be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). EHA and school officials will receive only the aggregate information obtained from the survey. This information will be used to create programming to serve your interests and set goals for improving the health and well-being of the entire employee population. How does the process work? In April, each school employee enrolled in an EHA plan will receive a special email with instructions on how

There’s No Catch Finally, there is no catch. Participation in the PHA process is entirely voluntary and free. EHA cares about members and wants to help those members achieve a higher level of wellness. Therefore, we hope every EHA plan member will complete the PHA and make a personal commitment to improve their health in 2011. The Educators Health Alliance has contracted with Kurt Genrich to serve as the EHA Plan advocate. Genrich will work with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska plan participants to answer questions and promote the plan. The EHA Board is comprised of six NSEA representatives and three each from the Nebraska Association of School Boards and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. NSEA Associate Executive Director NealClayburn is vice chair of the EHA Board of Directors. Call Genrich at 1-866-465-1342; on his cell phone at 402-217-2042; or e-mail him at:

Study in Costa Rica with Toyota’s Help The 2011 Toyota International Teacher Program to Costa Rica will take place Nov. 19 through Dec. 3, 2011. Classroom teachers of all subjects and librarians, grades 7–12, are invited to apply. The program is a fully-funded professional development opportunity. Funded by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and administered by the Institute of International Education, it advances environmental stewardship and global connectedness in U.S. schools and communities. The Costa Rica program will explore environmental and cultural preservation, biodiversity and sustainability through a variety of site visits, discussions, lectures and activities.  The application deadline is May 4. For details, visit the web site at:

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Paying Their Fair Share Economists tell us that the central problem of ecoConsider this: nomics is disproportionate distribution. The inequity in In 2009, 46 Nebraskans made more than $1 milNebraska’s tax system is not just an obscure thought lion and paid absolutely nothing in Nebraska Inproblem for economists. It is an important element of come Tax. How much did you pay in that year? In the current tough economic reality in this state. fact, for the top 500 Nebraska earners, their effecEvery household in Nebraska understands that when tive tax rate is significantly less than many who are times are hard, the household budget may have to be making a small fraction of what they do. Why? amended. Expenditures may have to be trimmed and There are several reasons why top earners usually non-necessary spending may be put on hold. But that pay less than other groups of taxpayers. The legal reaisn’t the whole story. Every household also asks sons are part of the structure of our tax system. They whether income can be inhave pass-through income creased. These two basic from business investment, questions, how to cut excapital gains, or benefits from penditures and how to inthe Employment and Investcrease income, are the same ment Growth Act (LB775) two questions that should and the Nebraska Advantage be asked of Nebraska govAct (LB312). All of these are ernment when the state budthe legal reasons why they get faces difficulties. can pay relatively fewer taxes At the state level, it is than you or I do. The politicertainly legitimate to ask cal reason why they can do the questions about costthis is that the people of Necutting. When the question braska continue to allow it to of whether we can increase be done. income comes up, the kneejerk reaction is usually that Should the End Be Near? taxes are too high already. The time to end this situReally? For everyone? ation may be coming. Look Families understand that carefully at who is behind the when times get bad, everycalls to strip public services, one has to contribute…to drastically reduce the salaries do their part. The fact in Is it time to petition for a fair tax system? NSEA Ex- and benefits of public employNebraska is that everyone ecutive Director Craig R. Christiansen is ready at the ees, and create additional tax is not doing their part. Tax door of the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office. breaks for business and high burdens are not distributed income earners. There are equally. And the ironic — and indisputable — fact is several “institutes” and other organizations that have that the richest people in this state are not paying their played on the conservative nature of well-intentioned fair share towards the state’s current fiscal problems. citizens to focus on cutting public services, instead of paying attention to the unbelievable unfairness of tax Big Income, No Taxes breaks for the very wealthy. Continued pressure from If our household budget were in trouble, would we the Platte Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and other let rich Uncle Pete continue to live with us and contribsuch organizations brings into focus the need for a conute relatively less than other members of the family? stitutional amendment that prevents the kind of hijackOf course not, but that is exactly what is happening in ing of our tax system that has occurred in the name of Nebraska. good business. For most Nebraskans, the relative amount of their LB 775 and other tax give-aways went too far. The income tax bill increases as their salary increases. In current economic problem in Nebraska must certainly other words, as a person’s income increases, the perinclude legitimate cost-cutting measures. The solution centage of that income that will be paid in taxes inmust also include millionaires paying their fair share of creases. That seems fair. It is a progressive tax structaxes. Perhaps the time has come for a constitutional ture. But wait! That system only applies to those who initiative to guarantee a fair tax system. That time is don’t have the biggest incomes. long overdue.

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NSEA-Retired Corner

Spring Conference Ahead! Gourmet Meals, Historic Homes and Relevant Sessions on Tap

egate spots for the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago in early July. Vote and return ballots in the postage-paid envelopes before March 12!

An exciting Spring Conference and Annual meeting agenda is on tap in Omaha in April. Lobby Day Success The conference is set for the Metro Community College CuNearly 60 retired members, representing more than half of linary Arts Institute, located at North 32nd Street and Sorensen Nebraska’s 49 Legislative Districts, converged on the State Parkway on the Fort Omaha Campus of Metro Community Capitol on Feb. 15 to discuss vital retirement legislative issues. College. Members discussed maintaining Nebraska’s Defined BenIt doesn’t get any better than this: on Wednesday evening, efit pension plan, exempting Social Security benefits and teachApril 13, students at the Culinary Arts Institute will provide a multi-course gourmet meal for conference participants. The following day will feature a full day of sessions, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. After the conference, a tour of the historic General Crook House will be available to conference attendees for the small cost of a $5 freewill donation. Among highlights of the conference will be a keynote address by Jana Halloran, of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. Halloran’s topic: Legal Issues and Living Options During Retirement. Also on the agenda will be Tim Current officers: The team of officers for the NSEA-Retired affiliate met in Lincoln Anderson, author of John Nei- in February. Seated, from left, are: Twila Griffiths, Scottsbluff, Panhandle District direchardt, Black Elk Speaks. tor;Tom Black, West Point, Elkhorn District director; Jan Barnason, Hastings,Tri-Valley Tentative breakout sessions District director; Pat Etherton, Lincoln, Capitol District director; and Walta Sue Dodd, include these topics: digital cam- Omaha, Metro District director. Standing, from left, are Joyce Huggans, Burwell, Sandhills District director; Art Tanderas; cooking for two; diabetes erup, Blair, treasurer; Roger Rea, Omaha, president; Ruby Davis, Omaha, secretary; John and nutrition; restoration of the Jensen, Omaha, Metro District director; and Jim McDermott, Scottsbluff, vice president. General Crook House; dementia and how to deal with the symptoms; writing to preserve family memories; and the Educators Health Alliance Wellness Project ers’ pensions from state income taxes (Nebraska is one of only and how you ‘fit in.’ five states that fully tax these pension benefits); and preserving Register for the conference and the Wednesday night meal the Commission of Industrial Relations. after March 1 at this web site: Those 50-plus members then trekked across the street from the NSEA Headquarters to the Capitol, where they pressed state senators to support public education. To send you views Elections Under Way to your state senator and the governor, click on the ‘Legislative It’s that time of year. Ballots were mailed to NSEA-Retired Action Center’ at this web site: members on or about March 1. If you haven’t received your ballot yet, you can check the entire list of nominees for spots on the NSEA-Retired Board NEA And H&R Block of Directors; delegates to the NSEA Delegate Assembly; and A partnership between NEA and H&R Block offers reduced delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago on or free discounts for IRS tax preparations for members through the NSEA web site at: the H&R Block offices. Your editor has used this benefit for three years. It works; it saves money. To print your coupon, go Those positions open on the Board of Directors include to this web site: president, vice president, and the director positions from the Capitol, Elkhorn and Sandhills districts. There are also 14 del— Tom Black, Editor egate positions open for the NSEA Delegate Assembly, uled April 15-16 at the LaVista Embassy Suites, and four delPage 30 n The NSEA Voice n March 2011

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Movie review: NSEA President Jess Wolf was one of five panelists from education interests to offer comments following a recent Lincoln showing of the docu-drama Waiting for Superman, which takes a harsh look at public schools, primarily from an inner-city viewpoint. Wolf told an audience of about 200 that “we want good teachers in every classroom. No teacher wants to be a failure.” He also said charter schools are not a good fit for Nebraska, where option enrollment allows students to attend the school of their choice. On the panel, from left, were Ted Hamann, associate professor of teaching, learning and teacher education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Bob Evnen, vice president of the state Board of Education; Deb Andrews, a Lincoln student learning activist; Wolf; and Dr. Steve Joel, superintendent of schools in Lincoln.

Lindsay, 69; Wormington, 58, Were NSEA Leaders, Activists Services for Janis Lindsay, 69, of Norfolk, were held in Norfolk on Dec. 20. Lindsay, a long-time NSEA member and former member of the NSEA Board of Directors, died on Dec. 15. A Grand Island Senior High School graduate, Lindsay earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree from Wayne State College. She taught in Grand Island and in Waterloo, IA, for a short period before beginning a long career at Norfolk in 1973. She taught fifth and sixth grades at Jefferson and Washington Elementary Schools in Norfolk for many years. She was a member of Alpha Phi sorority and a member of the First Congregational Church of Christ. She is survived by her husband, Edwin; their two children and their families; and her mother. NSEA member and retired Millard Public Schools science teacher Bart

Wormington, 58, died in Longview, WA, on Saturday, Jan. 22. Starting in 1981, Wormington was a secondary and college science educator for 29 years in the Millard Public Schools. He was also a past instructor at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. He had degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and from Western Washington University. Wormington was a past track and field head coach. He was a chess coach, with multiple state high school and middle school team championships to his credit, as well as two top-three finishes at the national tournament in the novice division. He was active in the Omaha Community Playhouse and enjoyed biking, charcoal/chalk pastel drawing and outdoor activities. He was a member of the Millard Education Association and a past member of the MEA negotiations team. He was also a past delegate to the NSEA Delegate Assembly.

Barb Triplett: Still Teaching On the Bus Barb Triplett taught for 35 years at the Fort Calhoun Community Schools, and has been retired for three years. But she’s still teaching! Triplett offered a great idea to the NEA ‘Works4Me’ program (see Page 32). Here is what she wrote: “I’m a retired teacher who taught for 35 years. For more than 10 years I have driven a school bus. During that time I have found there is still ‘the teacher’ in me. While the students are on the bus, we pretend the left, right, back and front sides of the bus are parts of a clock. The students help spot deer daily.  If they see a deer in a nearby field they simply say ‘Deer, three o’clock.’ In that way, I know that there is a deer on the right somewhere.  If they say, ‘Deer, nine o’clock,’ there is activity on the left.While driving it helps to have extra eyes, and the students (even the younger ones) learn the hour hand positions! “This is my third year of retirement.  I still drive for Fort Calhoun because I have had many of my bus students’ parents in third or fourth grade! Yikes, that makes me older than I feel!” March 2011 n The NSEA Voice n Page 31

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Consider Leadership Institute

July Sessions are Key to Leadership Growth

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

NSEA members thinking of stepping into a leadership position in their local association might consider dancing into leadership instead – with the help of the NSEA Leadership Institute in July. “Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard,” said the late Warren Bennis, a pioneer in the field of leadership studies. With that thought in mind, NSEA staffers are developing a dance-themed series of sessions for this summer’s Leadership Institute, formerly known as the New Leader Institute. Participants will acquire valuable association leadership skills through hands-on activities, which include team building; effective communications techniques; capacity building; and other topics. Scheduled for July 20-22, the event will be held at the NSEA Headquarters in Lincoln. Other than travel costs, all expenses are paid. Space is limited. For details, or to register, call NSEA at 1-800- 742-0047, and ask for Rebecca Smith. Or you can e-mail Smith at:

Speaking of Teaching “Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. To the child, we cannot answer ‘tomorrow.’ The child’s name is Today.” — Gabriela Mistral, Teacher, Poet and Nobel Prize Winner

Family of Teachers

Three generations: The Waldmann-Krikac family of teachers gathered in Ord for a reunion and photo recently. Seated, from left, are Fern Waldmann, Ord; and Doris Kamarad Hurlburt of Arcadia. Standing, from left, are: Alan Waldmann, Ft. Atkinson, WI; Cassie Schmidt Musil (holding Sarah), Central City; Barbara Waldmann Leska, Sargent; Mark Musil, Ord; Paula Waldmann Musil, Ord; Scott Musil, Grand Island Northwest; Kim Waldmann Flessner, North Loup Scotia; Cindy Coleman Waldmann, Colorado Springs; Margaret Waldmann Bader, Johnson Lake; and Shannon Osborn, Millard. If you have a family of teachers, snap a photo and send it to: Family of Teachers, c/o NSEA, 605 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE, 68508-2742.

Year-End Evaluations From Zee Ann Poerio, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Louise de Marillac School in Pittsburgh:

“I ask my students for their opinion on the activities and special projects that were assigned during the school year. They list the major projects, assignments, or novels that we studied as I read them aloud. I ask them if I should ‘use it’ or ‘lose it’ for next year, and what

they liked or disliked about each project. This helps me to evaluate projects from year to year and to modify and adjust my assignments for the following year. The students love this activity, because they know that their opinion counts, and I love this activity because I get valuable feedback!” Sign up for Works4Me at this link:

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The Voice, March 2011  

NSEA The Voice, March 2011

The Voice, March 2011  

NSEA The Voice, March 2011