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Serving the public every step of the way!












16 Inaugural


April 12, 2014

Seven Seas Convention Center Mandan, ND















Going into his first-year annual review on Feb. 14, 2013, Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah felt pretty good about his chances. As an assistant professor in the School of Food Systems at North Dakota State University, Dr. Thavarajah was at the end of what most observers would call an exemplary first year on his tenure-track appointment at NDSU.


On Feb. 24, North Dakota United (NDU) President Nick Archuleta jumped in his ‘Cat Mobile’ along with the Cat in the Hat (played by Pam Kjonaas and Linda Harsche) and traveled 1,717 miles across the state of North Dakota celebrating ‘Read Across North Dakota.’


United Voices is the official publication of North Dakota United, 301 N 4th Street, Bismarck, ND 58501. Postmaster, send address changes to: North Dakota United 301 N 4th Street Bismarck, ND 58501 Armand Tiberio Executive Director/Consulting Editor Linda Harsche Communications Director Kelly Hagen UniServ Director Field Communications Image Printing Design/Publisher ®








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Not since February of 2013 have delegates of the two predecessor organizations that formed North Dakota United gathered together in one place, to set the course of what has become the largest professional organization of public employees and educators in the state of North Dakota. On that historic day, over a year ago, both assemblies voted overwhelmingly to approve merger and combine forces, to form a more perfect union and create North Dakota United.


Winters can be particularly brutal in the state of North Dakota. While big cities in the South of the U.S. shut completely down this year after snowfalls of 1-2 inches, the residents of North Dakota are quite used to carrying on with business as usual in the midst of any treachery these winter months can throw at us. Ice, snow, blizzards, frigid wind chills, sub-zero temperatures and frozen terrain are rarely enough to stop, or even slow down, the people of our state.


Baesler’s time at the helm of the Department of Public Instruction has been busy. She has been instrumental in rolling out the new Common Core Standards in North Dakota, and is currently active in reshaping the accreditation system. She recently spoke with United Voices for this issue’s The Public Record, a Q&A feature with public figures, who play an important role in the careers of public educators and workers. For the full interview, visit our website at

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President’s Post

MOVING TOWARD THE FUTURE Greetings and thank you for your membership in North Dakota United

There has been so much going on around NDU since last I wrote that I am going to dedicate this column to just a few of those things.

Inaugural Delegate Assembly

By Nick Archuleta NDU President

Albert Einstein famously wrote, ‘Insanity: doing the

same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ Well, that applies to our organization, too. If we expect to grow this organization, we are going to have to think of the future, not the past. If we are to mold NDU into the transformational statewide organization I know it can be, then we are going to have to dare to be bold.”

I want to take this opportunity to encourage every local to send its full complement of delegates to the inaugural North Dakota United Delegate Assembly on April 12, 2014, at the Seven Seas in Mandan. The Delegate Assembly is your opportunity to get involved in the business of the Association. Your NDU staff and I have been busy planning for this important event and are happy with how things are coming into place. I was able to get the two most powerful women in education to join us in Mandan. Lily Eskelson-García, incoming president of the National Education Association, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, will address our gathering and provide insight on issues of great importance. We are also looking to add a couple of other familiar faces. If you are coming in on the 11th, plan on stopping by the NDU Social at the Seven Seas following the Celebration of Excellence.

Read Across America

Communications Director Linda Harsche and I have concluded our Read Across America trek around North Dakota. We visited 32 schools in some 28 communities and read “The Cat in the Hat” to roughly 1,500 first graders. From Fort Yates to Belcourt and from Dickinson to Fargo, we distributed 1,500 books, bookmarks and stickers to help instill the love of reading in some of our youngest learners. In all, we put 1,771 miles on our Cat-a-Van and 1,500 huge smiles on 1,500 adorable faces across the state. This project was made possible by the NEA and Renaissance Dental, who awarded NDU a $10,000 grant to visit community schools in rural areas as well as in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Linda garnered many hugs and high fives in her Cat in the Hat costume. Thanks, too, to UniServ Director Pam Kjonaas who, despite being inspected by two large dogs in Cannonball while in her Cat costume, joined us on day one of our journey.

HE Conference and PE Conference

ND United has hosted two inaugural conferences: the Higher Education Conference and the Public Employee Conference. The HE Conference was held in Fargo on a very wintery day. Despite the impending blizzard, 35 of the 81 registered attendees showed up and, by and large, offered very positive reviews of the proceedings. As a result of those comments, I have formed an advisory committee of HE professionals to advise the Board and NDU leadership on the issues important to higher education. They will also offer guidance as we plan next year’s HE Conference. As I write this, the PE Conference is still two days away. The establishment of the PE Conference and the HE Conference continues NDU’s commitment to all our constituency groups. As our organization matures, I fully expect that our members will come to realize that NDU is unlike either of the two predecessor organizations. In the future, if we engage our members as I know we can, we will have more locals collaborating on more issues and creating leadership opportunities for all our members. To that end, I am asking all of you to think about NDU differently than you thought of your previous associations. Albert Einstein famously wrote, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Well, that applies to our organization, too. If we expect to grow this organization, we are going to have to think of the future, not the past. If we are to mold NDU into the transformational statewide organization I know it can be, then we are going to have to dare to be bold. I do not subscribe to the notion that anyone at NDU is smarter than Einstein. We should be wary of anyone so stuck on past practice that he or she cannot imagine the future.



NDSU assistant professor able to defend job through SCFR hearing By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


oing into his first-year annual review on Feb. 14, 2013, Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah felt pretty good about his chances. As an assistant professor in the School of Food Systems at North Dakota State University, Dr. Thavarajah was at the end of what most observers would call an exemplary first year on his tenure-track appointment at NDSU. “I thought I had a very good year,” he said. “Basically, what they expect from tenure-track assistant professors is research, teaching and service. … As a new faculty in the first year as a starting professor, I got a lot of grants. All of the grants I applied for, I got – over $300,000. I have another $200,000 pending, so I’d brought in close to half a million in my first year to the University. My research, I did a very good job, and on teaching, I thought I did a good job.” His appointment was 85 percent research, and 15 percent teaching. Thavarajah’s research skills were considered excellent by his peers, and his supervisor, Dr. Deland Myers, who said Thavarajah was one of the most productive researchers that Myers had ever worked with. His SROI scores during the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 had been graded as being very good and above average for both his School and the University. SROIs for the last semester, in Fall 2012, had come in below average, and included some negative student comments. But Dr. Thavarajah had acknowledged his mistakes, and expressed a willingness to take steps to improve his teaching several times since he had been hired. Just getting to this review had proven difficult, as his supervisor, Dr. Myers, stepped down from his position on Jan. 31, to return to a position as a faculty member, and he did not complete the annual review for Thavarajah before leaving the position. Thavarajah’s review was supposed to be completed by Feb. 1, and the task then fell to Dr. Ken Grafton, then Dean of the College, and now the Vice President for Agricultural Affairs. Grafton requested that Thavarajah provide a summary of his first-year activities to Grafton for review, and this information, along with the recommendations of Dr. Myers, the SROI scores for Dr. Thavarajah’s courses he taught, and other information he had received concerning student and staff concerns were considered. And on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, Thavarajah went to meet with Grafton, expecting to receive good news. Instead, all he received was heartbreak. Dr. Thavarajah received a recommendation to nonrenew from Dr. Grafton at this review. Also in attendance at their meeting was Dr. Jane Schuh, the Assistant Dean of the College, who was meant to meet the requirement that a “neutral third person be invited and present at the meeting,” in accordance to policy. “It was a shock,” Thavarajah said. “I didn’t know what to do, really. I was lost, and a little bit angry and frustrated.” In the coming days and weeks, Dr. Thavarajah tried everything he could to save his job. He sent an e-mail to Dr. Grafton the day after the meeting, asking him to reconsider the decision to recommend nonrenewal. “I am willing to learn to get better,” he urged, and promised, “I will work with anyone you appoint to correct any deficiencies I have.”


Dr. Grafton forwarded his recommendation for nonrenewal on to the Provost, including his own document from the meeting, but not including the e-mail from Thavarajah. Again, on Feb. 27, Dr. Thavarajah requested that Dr. Grafton reconsider his recommendation and allow mediation, but Dr. Grafton denied the request. Thavarajah wrote directly to Provost Rafert with his response to Grafton’s recommendation of nonrenewal. He brought up his own concerns with Grafton’s methods by which he came to the decision, and the conclusions he’d come to. On March 22, Provost Rafert wrote to President Dean Bresciani to state his support for Dean Grafton’s recommendation to nonrenew. On March 22, President Bresciani nonrenewed Dr. Thavarajah’s appointment, and he was given six months to finish up his commitments to NDSU. Thavarajah was not ready to go quietly, however. During the appeals process, he’d asked for the opinions of some of his peers in the faculty of NDSU, and among his advisors was Dr. Bruce Maylath, a professor at NDSU and North Dakota United member. Maylath advised him that, yes, NDSU policies allow a probationary appointment to be terminated without cause. But there are policy requirements that must be followed, rules and procedures to a termination without cause, and those policies were clearly not followed in this case. He was told he needed to stand up for his rights, and that the union was ready and willing to stand with him. “I looked around the campus for people who know this stuff, the policies and procedures. One of the members was Bruce (Maylath). Bruce was one of the people who came to me and talked to me initially, and helped me to sort things out.” Dr. Thavarajah joined North Dakota United in February, and was advised that he should seek the legal assistance of attorney Leo Wilking. With Wilking’s help, Thavarajah requested to take his case in front of the Standing Committee on Faculty Rights (SCFR). “I had only about six months’ time to do whatever I can do,” Thavarajah said. “Vice President Grafton argued that I shouldn’t even have held this SCFR hearing. He argued, he fought that several times. … We had to write a lot of letters to SCFR, and SCFR made the determination that they should hear this case.” A hearing was held on June 24, 26 and 27 before the committee of five NDSU professors who make up SCFR. Dr. Thavarajah’s case hinged on his allegation that the University failed to comply with applicable policies on nonrenewal in three respects: A neutral party was not present at the nonrenewal meeting. He was not given 10 days to respond to the proposed nonrenewal, and what he did provide was not forwarded to the Provost.

ND United Voices

Dr. Pushparajah Tavarajah sits on campus at North Dakota State University

And the nonrenewal meeting was not summarized, including that it did not include a summary of any input or statements by Dr. Thavarajah during the meeting. Testimony raged between the two sides of the case. Both sides provided students with strong opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of Thavarajah’s teaching. One student, who had been the most vocal in denouncing Thavarajah, was a graduate student advisee of his, who had asked to withdraw from the graduate program. “I pushed my students with the fact that writing is very important. That’s a fact of life. And that, really basically, is what this particular student was not happy about. She went directly to the Dean with that. ... And then he started my performance evaluation by saying, ‘In my 20 years, no student had ever come to my office, complaining about a professor’s teaching. This is the first time, so that’s the reason you should go home.’” Both sides acknowledged the incredible strengths that Thavarajah brought to NDSU in his research skills, which make up 85 percent of his duties at the University. A number of his peers in teaching, students who admired his methods, and private partners such as the Corn Council, testified strongly on his behalf. At the end of the hearing, the committee’s decision was unanimous. With a 5-0 vote, SCFR ruled in favor of Dr. Thavarajah. The College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources (CAFSNR) has a policy in place for promotion, tenure, evaluations, dismissals, termination and nonrenewals, and NDSU failed to comply with the CAFSNR Policy 6.4, in two different respects.

It was a shock,” Thavarajah said. “I didn’t know what to do, really. I was lost, and a little bit angry and


First, Dr. Schuh could not serve as a neutral third party in the initial meeting on Thavarajah’s nonrenewal, as she serves directly under Grafton, and had proven herself emotionally invested in the case. Secondly, NDSU failed to comply with CAFSNR Policy 6.4 in relation to preparation of a summary of the nonrenewal meeting by the Chair or Head, to be provided to the faculty member. The findings of the SCFR were turned over to President Bresciani on July 1. Bresciani ruled that Thavarajah can continue in his current position through June 30, 2014. At that time, his department will be dissolved, so Thavarajah has until then to find a new department within NDSU, or move onto somewhere else. In all, the administration at NDSU failed repeatedly to follow procedure for nonrenewal of Dr. Thavarajah, and gave the nonrenewal inadequate consideration. With guidance from his union, he was able to defend himself, and earn a second consideration. “University policies are designed by the faculty,” Thavarajah said. “Administrators are there to implement the policies. Just like you and me are the shareholders of the company, the CEO’s job is to make sure that the company runs, in the interest of the shareholders. And here, the vice president, while making those decisions, doesn’t know the policies. I find that very troubling.”


Education Perspectives


For students to evolve, educators must do the same


By Karen Christensen Vice President of Education

n today’s world, if you walk into a school without wi-fi, you are entering a school missing an enormous opportunity for teaching and learning. If you enter a school where phones and tablets are banned, you are walking into a school missing the chance to expose students to a processing power used to put a man on the moon. We can’t look for yesterday’s education to get students ready for tomorrow’s careers. Continuing to do what we have always done to get students ready for the future isn’t realistic today.

Education is a complex partnership between parents, educators, political leaders and community members. Developing students that

are college and career ready requires strong educational leaders as role models in every part of our students’ lives.” Students of today will be expected to learn to solve real problems, ask questions that expect critical thinking, and develop skills to market concepts that were once thought impossible. The standards that have been adopted will allow educators the opportunity to give students the environment to reach goals beyond yesterday’s boundaries. The creative activities presented by educators to apply real world situations to their lessons will challenge our youth to move out of their comfort zones. “If I had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford We can’t expect students to perform rote memory exercises, or write better and faster than we did in the past. We need to continue to change within our classrooms to meet the needs of our students so they are college and career ready. Students need to use available information to develop new ideas and not regurgitate old information and old ideas. Educators are no longer the presenters of information but the facilitators of idea development and growth.


“Education can be encouraged from the top-down but can only be improved from the ground up.” - Sir Ken Robinson Today, not only are educators dealing with an evolving educational system, they are also dealing with a new generation of students. Students come to school with a sense of immediate gratification. As educators, we need to develop the virtue of patience. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. Spending time mastering a skill will give students the gratification that will carry them to new challenges. Students must learn to “own” the outcomes of their conduct. Educators cannot allow students to look to someone else for their needs. Steering away from being a “victim” of circumstances empowers students to liberate themselves. Grades and privileges are given as goals are reached and not given for meeting the age standard. Educators work closely with students to help them understand that all students deserve an education and no one is more deserving than anyone else. Humility is taught in cooperative group situations where students will have to consider the impact of all members in the outcome of the project – not just of themselves. Education is a complex partnership between parents, educators, political leaders and community members. Developing students that are college and career ready requires strong educational leaders as role models in every part of our students’ lives. Looking to the future makes implementing the standards set forth a natural step. “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Michelangelo

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Public Service Perspectives


NDU member is semi-finalist in Everyday Hero contest


ublic employees and educators perform “Work that Matters” each and every day in North Dakota.

We as public employees sometimes don’t think of our jobs as that important, but in reality By Gary Feist the work we do enables Vice President of the state to function Public Employees and allows the citizens of North Dakota to have the quality of life we all enjoy. In this time of economic boom in the state, we need to be proud of the work we do and talk with our families, friends and legislators about the quality work that is being done by public employees to help people become aware of all the Work that Matters being performed by public employees. Work that Matters is being done all across the state, from the chemists at the state lab to make sure we have quality drinking water and clean air to breathe; to the biologists and game wardens at the Game and Fish Department who make sure we have the best hunting and fishing opportunities to enjoy with our families; to law enforcement and correction officers who make sure our roadways and the communities in which we live are safe. I have had the chance to talk to many state employees over the years about the work that they do, and it is truly remarkable. Hearing their stories has provided me with a greater appreciation and understanding of all the great services that are performed by public employees, and how important they are to the people who are receiving each service. Many of us have heard the saying, “North Dakota has two seasons: construction and winter.” This statement has proven especially true the past couple of years. And it is our Department of Transportation (DOT) employees all across the state that are held most responsible in both of these seasons. They are working to build and maintain the roads that are absolutely crucial for facilitating the states’ ever-expanding economy being led by the Bakken oil development in Western North Dakota.

Without the quality services being provided each and every day by public workers, this state

would be a far different place.”

But as we all know, the strong demand for additional infrastructure and public services is not limited to the West. During the winter, we all expect the roads to be clear when we need to travel across town or across the state to get to work or visit family. The DOT snowplow drivers are responsible for making sure the highways of this state are open. Mike Stebbins, an equipment operator based in Underwood, is profiled in this issue of United Voices in our Member Profile piece. He says he loves his job and likes fighting Mother Nature. Mike and his colleagues are out doing their job whenever Mother Nature calls, often putting in more than 14 hours a day and facing hazardous conditions to protect us all. They have missed many family dinners, birthday celebrations and holidays with their family so we could be with ours. The work they do matters! Public employees at the State Hospital in Jamestown and the Life and Transition Center in Grafton do great work, day in and day out, with little or no recognition. These employees are dedicated to serving the residents of these institutions who have no other place to go often have been forgotten. Even though many jobs at these facilities are low-paying, and the environment and stress that we ask them to work under is difficult, the employees are proud of their work and make sure the residents receive the best care possible. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), our national affiliate, has a program called Everyday Heroes that recognizes the great work members in the five constituencies (Public Employees, Higher Education, Nurses, School Support Personnel, and K-12 Teachers) do every day on the job and in their communities as volunteers. This year, the Grafton chapter of the North Dakota Public Employees local submitted their colleague Matt Collette to be recognized as an Everyday Hero. Matt, an employee at the Life and Transition Center, works with the residents of the facility, teaching them life skills with the goal of transitioning the residents to living on their own. Matt is not only dedicated to his work, but he also is a volunteer with the North Dakota Special Olympics as a soccer coach. His team has won the gold medal the last two years, and one player from his team has been selected to play on Team North Dakota this summer at the 2014 USA National Games. Matt has been selected as a semi-finalist in the public employee division of the AFT Everyday Hero contest. From March 24 through April 20, AFT members will be able to vote among a list of national semifinalists in this contest, and the seven highest votegetters will be honored at the AFT National Convention in Los Angeles this July. I encourage every North Dakota United member to join me in recognizing all of the great Work that Matters our members do for the citizens of our state by going online at www. and voting for Matt as the AFT Public Employee Everyday Hero.



Cat-A-Van Tour was a whimsical time for students and North Dakota United By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications Director


n Feb. 24, North Dakota United (NDU) President Nick Archuleta jumped in his ‘Cat Mobile’ along with the Cat in the Hat (played by Pam Kjonaas and the author) and traveled 1,717 miles across the state of North Dakota celebrating “Read Across North Dakota.” Archuleta and his “Cat Mobile” visited 32 first grade classrooms giving away books, bookmarkers and stickers to every first grade child in the schools listed at the end of this article.

We ordered over 1,400 books appropriate for first graders

and had a Seussical time giving them to students.”

“We ordered over 1,400 books appropriate for first graders,” said Archuleta, “and had a Seussical time giving them to students!” Archuleta also read the Dr. Seuss book, “Cat in the Hat” to 32 schools– sometimes more than once in a school. However, you couldn’t call what Archuleta did just reading. He joyfully interacted with each and every student by asking questions and telling each and every first grader how important it was to learn to read. “You each must have someone at home to read to,” said Archuleta, “a younger brother, an older brother, a younger sister, an older sister, a mother, a father, a cat, a dog, a frog!” I had the privilege of being the Cat for most of the tour, it was sad to see the journey come to an end. The hugs I received from the students (some of them never wanting to let go), the high fives, and the smiles and laughter from the first graders as President Archuleta entertained them will remain in my heart for a very long time. The nation’s largest reading party, NEA’s Read Across America Day, actually happens each year on March 2, Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. This year the big celebration was on March 3. On that day President Archuleta and his “Cat Mobile” visited Jeannette Myhre and Dorothy Moses in Bismarck along with Mary Stark Elementary in Mandan. For many students and educators, the star of “Read Across America” is still Dr. Seuss. His whimsical books and colorful characters lie at the heart of many fun-filled celebrations and reading challenges. Dr. Seuss would have turned 110 this year, and as millions of students and educators share their love of books, they’ll also tip their red-and-white stovepipe hat to the reading pioneer. The ‘Cat-a-Van’ tour was made possible through a unique partnership between the National Education Association (NEA) and Renaissance Dental. ND United was the lucky recipient of a $10,000 grant for this project. “We decided to use the majority of the money for books for first graders, because reading is so important at that age,” said Archuleta. “The other items were donated by NEA and Renaissance Dental.” Read Across America offers posters, tips and resources on oral health and reading at readacross. Students could also take a reading and brushing oath during Read Across America events. “NEA’s Read Across America is offering a new tablet and mobile app, connecting educators with the Read Across America literacy calendar and program resources,” said Archuleta. “It is NEA’s way to help members promote reading all year long. So, let’s all celebrate reading all year long by picking up a book and reading to someone, even if it’s your dog or cat!”


ND United Voices

Mary Stark Elementary in Mandan had a display of Dr. Seuss books.

NDU Communications Director Linda Harsche and President Nick Archuleta beside the “Cat Mobile.”

February 24

February 27

February 25

February 28

Fort Yates, Cannon Ball, Carson, Glen Ullin, Hebron and Dickinson (Roosevelt) Underwood, White Shield, New Town, Stanley, Berthold and Minot (Belair)

February 26

Dunseith, Belcourt, Rolla, Langdon, Cavalier, and Grand Forks Lewis & Clark (NDU member Audrey Haskell read to students, because the Cat-AVan ran into bad weather.)

Lakota, Fort Totten, New Rockford, Carrington, and Jamestown/Louis L’Amour LaMoure, Lisbon, Enderlin, Kindred, and Fargo/Jefferson

March 3 (Read Across America Day)

Bismarck/Dorothy Moses and Jeanette Myhre Mandan/Mary Stark Elementary



ND United Voices




’ve had the opportunity to meet with several of our North Dakota United locals across the state and talk about building better communications systems on the local level, and it’s been great to sit down with NDU members and begin to build relationships with all of you, in-person. Thank you for inviting me, and I will continue to do this. However, if I might have a moment of your time, I’d like to share responses I would give to some of the most common questions and reactions I’ve heard during my visits.

“Should our local have social media?”

By Kelly Hagen UniServ DirectorField Communications

YES. As of the start of this year, there were 1.3 BILLION people using Facebook worldwide. Of that number, 48 percent – or approximately 624 million people – are logged into Facebook daily. According to metrics released by Facebook in 2013, 128 million Americans log into Facebook at least once daily. That’s 40 percent of the total population of America that is visiting this site daily.

Let’s just say that 40 percent of your members are logging into Facebook daily. If you have a Facebook page or group set up for your local, you have the potential of reaching up to 40 percent of your members with just one click of your keyboard or mouse or whatever it is you use to click. Communication is a big part of what we do, as union locals and as North Dakota United. Unions are people. We’re working people who group together to gain strength, to learn from one another, to increase public awareness of who we are and what we do. And what ties all our people together? Communication. Lots and lots of communication. Social media is a proven communications tool. Through it, you can better communicate externally, and put a public face on your local, build alliances and spread awareness. And you can also increase your communication internally. You can tie together those 40 percent of your members who

No one can tell people what you do and what you provide like you can. You’re in the classrooms, on campus, in your workplaces. You know the terrain; you hear the

stories. You need to speak for yourselves.”


ND United Voices

are on Facebook daily into a group. You control who is allowed into this group by invitation, so you make certain it’s only your members who are allowed into these groups. And every member of the group is able to post information, thoughts, links, pictures or anything in the group for discussion. With a Facebook group, you can start an open conversation within your membership, and you can keep them constantly up-to-date on what your organization is doing. You need social media. It does too much, increases your capacity to communicate too much, for you to just ignore it.

“Will you do it for us?”

No. And yes. I’ll need to explain this. I say no because I, and the rest of the staff of NDU, cannot operate your social media site for you. Maybe that sounds mean. I don’t mean for it to sound mean. You shouldn’t want me to, and I’ll explain why. Think of your local as a business. Most of the Pages on Facebook, or organizations with Twitter accounts, are businesses, and they post to social media to sell their product. Rice Krispies uses their social media to tell you how great Rice Krispies are and, hey, wouldn’t you like to have a bowl of cereal about now? So, what is your product? What are you selling? You are selling your profession. You are selling the work you do. Your local’s prime directive is to advertise to your communities, to school boards, to elected officials, to the world the importance of what you do. Your social media can be your mouthpiece to achieving your goals and selling your product. But that mouthpiece needs to be authentic. No one can tell people what you do and what you provide like you can. You’re in the classrooms, on campus, in your workplaces. You know the terrain; you hear the stories. You need to speak for yourselves. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t help. We have the knowledge and resources to help you get your social media accounts set up and maintained regularly. That’s why we’re here, so call on us.

“I don’t like technology.”

There are, of course, those people among our membership who aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, who don’t have accounts set up in any social media, who don’t like to use computers outside of their jobs. And I, nor North Dakota United, would ever presume to tell you that you have to use social media or any one specific mode of communication. Communication is best done through an “all of the above” approach. No one communications tool can reach 100 percent of your local’s members. Social media is just one arrow in your quiver. If you want to get a message to all your members, you need to do as many different avenues of communication as you can. That means talking one-on-one, holding meetings, calling members on the phone, knocking on doors, visiting them at their work sites, mailing postcards or letters or newsletters or magazines (don’t look now, but you’re reading a magazine), e-mailing, text messaging and/or using social media. I’m telling you that social media is one of the more powerful arrows at your disposal. Even if you, personally, don’t want to be the one who handles the responsibility of social media for your local, you can and should be involved in finding the members who will do it, and encouraging them to do so. “How do I get involved?” Talk to your local leadership first. If you feel your local needs a stronger Internet presence, tell them. If you’re someone who is interested in creating and maintaining a social media page for your local, volunteer to do that. Tell your local leaders you want to get involved. And then contact North Dakota United at 1-800-369-6332 or comments@ We are your resource for answering questions and assisting you. We will come to your community and meet with you directly, if you ask. We want to hear from you. That’s what communications is all about.


POLITICS AND FLIPPED CLASSROOMS Teacher Ed students take in Professional Development By Jen Heid, UTTC Teacher Education Administrative Assistant Embrace politics and consider flipping your classroom. Those ideas were offered Jan. 30 during professional development sessions hosted by the United Tribes Teacher Education Department. The gathering was open to the campus and attended largely by pre-service teaching students and faculty in the college’s Jack Barden Center and Education Building. The event featured a talk about challenges for the new generation of educators by the National Education Association’s Student Association president, David Tjaden. Tjaden pointed out that many leaders in American public life who have the most influence over education were not teachers. People who have never set foot in a classroom as a teacher have power over the policies that affect teachers,” said Tjaden, who earned an undergraduate degree in social studies teaching at the University of Iowa. Tjaden attends many meetings and does lots of public speaking in his role representing 60,000 future educators nationwide. He says he finds it curious that more classroom teachers aren’t involved in decision-making. “Look at medicine,” he said. “We would never imagine the policies that affect doctors to be set by people with no experience as doctors.” Tjaden said he hopes that more teachers will be on the “front-lines” in making public policy that affects classrooms.

NEA Student President David Tjaden University of Iowa

“Whether we like it or not, politics and policies and money affect everything that happens to us in the classroom,” he said. “In this day and age, being a great educator for our generation also means being a great leader and standing up for our profession.” Tjaden said the student leadership programs of the NEA are designed to address that need. In North Dakota about 650 college students belong to the association, he said. “I had never really thought of the politics in education,” said Alicia Cuny, a UTTC Elementary Education student from Pine Ridge, S.D. “This is a career that the government has a say in, but few of the politicians or important people have ever been teachers themselves.” Cuny says she believes that policy-makers should be required to have some experience in the classroom before creating school policies.


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Julia Koble, head of the science department at Minot High School-Central Campus, described “flipped classrooms.” The teaching model allows students to watch lectures at home. Class time is used for activities and concept engagement. A former North Dakota Teacher of the Year, Koble uses the flipped classroom model in her science classes. She says one of the benefits is the potential to increase student engagement in higher level thinking in the classroom. Koble also uses other methods, such as recording herself explaining content at a SmartBoard and creating YouTube videos (vodcasts). Course materials are transferred to Edmodo, where they are accessible to students and families. It’s important that you, as the teacher, explain to your students. It serves to build relationships, Koble said.

ND United Student President Patricia Lopez Mayville State University

Benefits of the flipped method include a higher level of engagement with students. Students can learn at their own pace by watching the videos anytime and anywhere. An unexpected benefit is that parents also watch the videos. “A mom told me she loves my vodcasts because she gets to learn, too.” Koble said.


Professional development has been a long standing tradition at United Tribes and is valued for students, faculty and staff to receive training and education that contribute to personal development and career advancement. “The need for high quality professional development is essential to an institutions’ capacity to survive and thrive,” says Lisa Azure, UTTC Teacher Education director. “It’s also a time for the institutional community to come together and make sure all of the students and employees are familiar with institutional functions, operations, assessment systems - to get us all on the same page.” UTTC Elementary Education Coordinator Leah Hamann sees professional development as an opportunity for the students to take in training alongside their instructors and support staff. “Students benefit greatly when there are sessions that contribute to their personal, spiritual and professional interests,” Hamann says. Alicia Cuny thought the information at these sessions was very beneficial. “I feel like I have a better foundation and understanding of how the education system works and what I need to do as a pre-service teacher,” Cuny said. The event also featured a welcome talk by ND United President Nick Archuleta, remarks by Patricia Lopez, ND United Student President from Mayville State University, and a panel discussion about the experiences of young professionals in their first-year as teachers. United Tribes provides all campus professional development events at least twice annually. Different departments or programs may have their own more often, depending on need and budgets. The college’s Teacher Education department has conducted specific professional development sessions with preservice teachers since the spring of 2007. A panel of young professionals talked about their first-year teaching experiences. For more information contact Lisa Azure 701-255-3285 x 1407, Photos: DENNIS J. NEUMANN United Tribes News

At left, ND United President Nick Archuleta gave a welcome talk.


APRIL 12, 2014

NDU DELEGATE ASSEMBLY WILL MAKE HISTORY Special guests invited; award winners will be honored ot since February of 2013 have delegates of the two predecessor organizations that formed North Dakota United gathered together in one place, to set the course of what has become the largest professional organization of public employees and educators in the state of North Dakota. On that historic day, over a year ago, both assemblies voted overwhelmingly to approve merger and combine forces, to form a more perfect union and create North Dakota United.

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On April 12, 2014, delegates of this new union will make history once again by assembling together in Mandan for the North Dakota United Inaugural Delegate Assembly. “This is a historic moment for every member of North Dakota United, and for every single citizen of our state who we serve every day, in classrooms, on college campuses, on the roads, in the Capitol and in public institutions across North Dakota,” said NDU President Nick Archuleta. “Delegate Assembly is our governing body. It is democracy in action. Delegates are elected proportionally to membership within the locals that make up our union, and these delegates come together to vote on the most important business items of North Dakota United. They steer the ship. We are a member-driven organization, and Delegate Assembly is every member’s opportunity to take the wheel and steer their organization in the direction that best represents their wishes, and the wishes of their colleagues.” The Delegate Assembly will be held at the Seven Seas Hotel, 2611 Old Red Trail, in Mandan on April 12. The night before this historic assembly, NDU members are invited to gather on Friday evening, April 11, starting at 7:00 p.m. for the annual “Celebration of Excellence,” where NDU will honor the winners of the NDU Foundation’s scholarships and grants, as well as past Teachers of the Year and candidates, Public Employees of the Year, ESPs of the Year, Milken Awardees, National Board Certified Teachers, and Presidential Awardees. President Archuleta will welcome the attendees, and hors d’oeuvres will be served. A social is scheduled following the Celebration of Excellence for everyone in attendance and for delegates traveling to Bismarck the evening of April 11. On Saturday, Delegate Assembly will officially commence. The 2014-15 budget will be discussed and voted on, and New Business Items will be brought forth for our delegates to discuss and deliberate. All of the items that our delegates decide on at Delegate Assembly will be shared with all NDU members through our website,, and inside future editions of our magazine, United Voices. Delegate Assembly is also the venue at which we will select delegates to attend the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly, which is scheduled June 30 through July 6 in Denver. Local associations are allocated one delegate for each 150 active and educational support NEA members or major fraction thereof, and locals with fewer than 76 members may cluster to form delegate units. Also, ND United’s affirmative action plan commits the organization to elect two minority delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly each year. The historical significance of this first Delegate Assembly of our members in North Dakota is being recognized by the attendance of two very special guests. President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten and National Education Association Vice President Lily Eskelsen García have accepted invitations to attend the NDU DA, and will address our members and meet with delegates throughout the day. Eskelsen García is a sixth-grade teacher from Utah and Vice President of the over 3 million-member National Education Association which represents teachers; education support professionals; students and retired. She began her career in education as a school lunch lady, became a kindergarten aide and was encouraged by the teacher to go to college and become a teacher herself. She worked her way through the University of Utah on scholarships, student loans, and as a starving folk singer, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology. After teaching only nine years, Eskelsen Garcia was named Utah Teacher of the Year for her work as an elementary teacher. She worked with homeless children and gifted children; as a mentor for student teachers; and as a peer assistance team leader in the suburbs of Salt Lake City where she taught at Orchard Elementary School.


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The historical significance of this first Delegate Assembly of our members in North Dakota is being recognized by the attendance of two very special guests. President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten and

National Education Association Vice President Lily Eskelsen García have accepted invitations to attend the NDU DA, and will address our members and meet with delegates throughout the day.”

Today, she is one of the highest-ranking labor leaders in the country and one of its most influential Hispanic educators. Weingarten is president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal government employees; and early childhood educators. The AFT champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities. The AFT and its members advance these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through members’ work. Prior to her election as AFT president in 2008, Weingarten served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education. Weingarten spearheaded the development by the AFT and British partner TES Connect of Share My Lesson, the United States’ largest free collection of educational resources created by teachers, for teachers, with an emphasis on resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

For even more information about Weingarten and Eskelsen Garcia, please see the special interviews they both did with NDU, in advance of their visits to our state for DA, in this issue of United Voices. North Dakota United has also extended invitations to a number of other state leaders and elected officials to attend our Delegate Assembly and speak with our members about the issues that affect us all, as public employees and educators, and as citizens and taxpayers in the state of North Dakota. Delegates may have other surprise guests throughout the day, but as United Voices went to press, commitments were not finalized. Recognizing the importance of participation at the state delegate assembly, NDU will provide the following expense assistance to locals/ chapters: the IRS standard business mileage rate for one car per local, one-half of the cost of a double room at the DA hotel, if necessary, for each delegate and $25 for each registered delegate.  In addition, NDU will be responsible for breakfast and lunch on the day of the assembly. Vouchers will be available for these expenses when you register. The 2014 North Dakota United Inaugural Delegate Assembly will truly be history in the making for our organization and the whole state. We hope to see as many of you as possible in Mandan, to be a part of it.




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Q&A WITH LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA Vice President of the National Education Association By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


ily Eskelsen García, vice president of National Education Association, will be a distinguished guest at the Inaugural North Dakota United Delegate Assembly, on April 12 at the Seven Seas Hotel in Mandan. Representing the NEA, she will be on hand to meet face-to-face with delegates of our state’s membership, and to recognize the historical significance of our merger and the creation of North Dakota United. In advance of her arrival in North Dakota, we asked her several questions about her participation in Delegate Assembly this year, and what we, as members of both NEA and NDU, should know about the importance of our membership and participation in our union.

Q: Have you ever traveled to North Dakota before?

Lily Eskelsen García

The first time I was invited to North Dakota was in 1997 to the Bismarck Summer Leadership when I was a newbie on the NEA Executive Committee. I spoke at the Grand Forks State IPD conference, and the last time was when the Fargo Education Association invited me to speak at their state Stand for Education event. Every time I’ve come to North Dakota, I’ve been surrounded by incredible leaders who care deeply about their students and are profoundly proud of their colleagues and the work of the Association in making the world better for educators and the students and the families they serve.

Q: How important is it, in your view, for the members of our association across the state to gather together in one place for Delegate Assembly?

State delegate assemblies are vital to our work. In every state, there is important time set aside for activists to meet; network; share ideas and make decisions about the direction of their union. We are truly a member-led union. We don’t hire people to make these decisions for us. We show up and we take charge of our own professions.

programs. What advice would you have for the members of North Dakota United, in our first year, for how to blend so many different voices into one unified contingent?

We have always seen diversity as our strength. We have evolved in this thinking. It wasn’t always so. Since our inception, our state and local affiliates have led the way in becoming more and more welcoming; more and more inclusive. We represent elementary and secondary teachers and now, we welcome our Education Support Professionals. More states are pursuing higher education organizing from community colleges to research universities. More states are pursing preschool organizing – public and private. Our job categories and work assignments are very different. But we are united in our cause, our mission and our vision: That every blessed student deserves a whole and quality education and deserves the best professionals possible preparing them to be successful in a diverse and interdependent world.

Q: Finally, what is the message that you

would most like to deliver personally to our elected delegates that will be in attendance at Delegate Assembly on April 12, and to our 10,000 members across the state of North Dakota?

Our work matters. Our work changes lives. Our work is the foundation of our economy, our politics, our communities and our ability to live in a society that is just and wise. When you shortchange education and educators, you shortchange the future. It’s why we fight so hard for what we need to do our jobs. It’s why we will do whatever it takes to succeed.

Q: Do you see the merger of our two organizations in North Dakota as being a big moment on the national level and in the history of NEA?

With the North Dakota merger we now have five merged NEA-AFT states. Of course, this is significant. It shows that unity can work. Specifically in North Dakota, it shows that states don’t have to be in crisis or trying to avoid bloody representation wars to see an opportunity to strengthen their union through merger.

Q: NEA represents over three million members at all levels of education – from pre-school to university graduate


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Q&A WITH RANDI WEINGARTEN President of the American Federation of Teachers By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


andi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is scheduled to join us as a distinguished guest at the Inaugural North Dakota United Delegate Assembly, on April 12 at the Seven Seas Hotel in Mandan. This will be Weingarten’s first visit to our state, and she brings with her the wellwishes of the 1.5 million members of AFT. Weingarten was kind enough to answer a few questions we had for her about her planned visit to our Delegate Assembly, and what the merger of our two organizations to form North Dakota United has meant in a broader scope within the ranks of AFT.

Q: Have you ever traveled to North Dakota before?

No, but I am looking forward to my first visit.

Q: How important is it, in your view, for the members of our association across the state to gather together in one place for Delegate Assembly?

Randi Weingarten

Coming together in these meetings is important for so many reasons. First, it shows we are not alone. Second, the solidarity and fellowship lifts us to develop relationships vital to growing our movement and creating an environment where we’re able to strategize, problem solve and be solution-driven about our work create a better life for our families and communities.

Q: Do you see the merger of our two organizations in North Dakota as being a big moment on the national level and in the history of AFT?

Yes. When the merger occurred I called it a historic moment that brings together employees who serve the public in many ways – from great public schools to safe roads to quality health programs – that are the foundation of North Dakota’s quality of life. You are the lifeblood of this state.

You have a more united and effective voice in your efforts to deliver public services, which is good news for North Dakotans, who rely on these services every day. The merger also strengthened the labor movement in North Dakota – which also strengthens our national labor movement and our ability to fight on behalf of all working people.

diversity. What binds us together is our commitment each and every day to make a difference in the lives of others and in our communities, whether that’s educating our children, keeping our families healthy or keeping our roads and drinking water safe. We are a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. And we do that through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. To help us do that work, we need to not only fight back against threats and attacks on our work and the services we provide, but fight forward with solutions that unite all of our members and the community around our shared values. We need to be focusing on being solution-driven as part of the fight, fighting on behalf of all of our members, and those we serve then help solidify the bonds of one unified union. Q: Finally, what is the message that you would most like to deliver personally to our elected delegates that will be in attendance at Delegate Assembly on April 12, and to more than 10,000 members across the state of North Dakota?

I am so grateful to the work you do every day – for the people we represent and the people we serve. As a union we are committed to reclaiming the promise of America – to ensuring that if you work hard you can support a family, that we have access to quality healthcare and a secure retirement, that our kids get a great public education and can afford college, and we have safe, vibrant neighborhoods. By both fighting back and fighting forward – focusing on quality services and the work we do each day and by being solutiondriven, we can change the conversation in our nation, build a new majority and reclaim the promise of America – for our children, our families and our communities.

Q: AFT has been able to represent K-12 educators, higher education staff and faculty, and public employees together nationally. What advice would you have for the members of North Dakota United, in our first year, for how to blend so many different voices into one unified contingent?

Focusing on what binds us together and acknowledging and celebrating the


Member Profile

It’s kind of like me against the world. You’re fighting Mother Nature, basically, and you’re trying to keep the road open so the public can get


‘ME AGAINST THE WORLD’ Mike Stebbins keeps roads clear every winter for 28 years By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


inters can be particularly brutal in the state of North Dakota. While big cities in the South of the U.S. shut completely down this year after snowfalls of 1-2 inches, the residents of North Dakota are quite used to carrying on with business as usual in the midst of any treachery these winter months can throw at us. Ice, snow, blizzards, frigid wind chills, sub-zero temperatures and frozen terrain are rarely enough to stop, or even slow down, the people of our state. Why is this? Because of our pioneer spirit and the practice that comes facing these yearly threats, certainly. But it is also because of the professional contributions of men and women like Mike Stebbins. Stebbins is the Transportation Services Supervisor of the four-man crew based out of Underwood. It’s their job to take care of the roads year-round, taking care of guard rail repair, shoulder repairs, traffic signs, weed and tree control, removing dead animals and keeping the public safe. “The highway is my work zone!” Stebbins states, with great pride. It’s during the winter, though, that Stebbins gets behind the wheel of his tandem truck, plowing snow and sanding ice along his route, covering 50 lane miles along Highway 83, from Highway 200 between Riverdale and Wilton, across the dam to Turtle Lake, and north of 20

Washburn on Highway 280, working from the early hours of the morning until late into the night. “When a storm is coming, the night before, we’re looking at our computers, and we make the decision whether to come in early or not,” Stebbins says. “And if we come in early, then my day starts probably about 3:00 or 3:30. I’m usually at my shop at about quarter after 4, and I look on the computer and see what’s going on. We get our trucks ready. By about quarter to 5 or so, we’re on the road. “We start plowing, and we basically plow until we have lunch. And you just keep doing circles and pushing the snow off the road and helping people that get stuck or are broke down along the roadway and make sure they’re safe. We do that until it gets to be dark, and then we work our way off the road. And then I’m checking the computer during the day to see how the storm is going, and then making the decision – if the storm’s going to be staying – if we come back in early the next morning to do it all over again.” Hazardous conditions are right at the center of his job description. The dangers include the challenge of keeping his rig in between the ditches, driving directly into blinding snowfall, avoiding traffic and semi trucks that could demolish his machinery, facing headfirst the adverse winter conditions that he is charged with ND United Voices

ND DOT worker and NDU member Mike Stebbins poses in his shop

protecting the public from. He regularly faces the risk of serious physical injury, lost time and even death. In particularly onerous winters, like the one we are suffering now, Stebbins says that he have only 10 to 12 days off, collecting over 400 hours of overtime. “Whenever there’s trouble,” he says, “that phone will start ringing. If a storm comes in, or an ice storm comes in the middle of the night and the people are starting to hit the ditches, I’ve been called out at about 2:00 in the morning, and that’s when you start your day. “You drink a lot of coffee,” he says with a smile. Stebbins first started working for the state in 1988, and has been on the job for almost 26 years. For him, being a public servant is a family tradition. “My dad worked this job; my grandfather was a McLean County sheriff. So it’s kind of in our blood to work for the public.” Clean roads, clear of debris, sanded and plowed during the worst winter conditions, are a quality service that North Dakotans expect, and deserve. And these services can only come from quality workers like Stebbins and his crew. They take pride in working hard, sacrificing their time and effort, and endangering themselves, in the name of the community. In return, though, Stebbins’ salary still lags behind his market value, considering his level of experience and supervisory title. “Being a DOT guy here, I could go to the oil fields and triple my money,” he said. Stebbins is proud of the service he provides. “If I wasn’t on the

road at 4:30, a lot of people wouldn’t get around as easily as they can now,” he says. “Around my area here, we’re very appreciated. And basically, the power plant, we make sure the people who work up at the power plant here at Coal Creek, and the mine, we get them to their jobs so they can furnish the power, wherever that’s going to.” As a member of the North Dakota United executive board, Stebbins is doing his part to power the labor movement in our state. He organizes his fellow public employees, and speaks with them in one loud, unified voice to spread the message that our state’s workers are being stretched too thin by the expanded responsibilities brought on by the oil boom and increasing population. And he hopes to keep the jobs like his inside the public sector, as a public service provided by the state, for the people, and not contracted out to a private firm that would do a lesser job for a higher price. “I don’t think they could get a contractor to do what we do in the wintertime,” Stebbins says. “Nobody in their right mind is going to get out of bed at 3:00 in the morning to go push snow.” Whether or not this means that Stebbins and his co-workers are in their right minds or not is up for debate, but Stebbins maintains he does what he does not for lack of sense, but for an abundance of pride in doing the job right. “I like the plowing of the snow,” he says. “It’s kind of like me against the world. You’re fighting Mother Nature, basically, and you’re trying to keep the road open so the public can get through. I thoroughly enjoy my job.” 21

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TOGETHER IN LEARNING NDU hosts first-ever Higher Education Conference By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


n its first year of operation, North Dakota United will encounter a whole lot of firsts. With firsttime meetings, first-time events, first-time conferences, our members are able to meet each other for the first time, experience things in a new way and push the boundaries of what our organization can provide for its members. One of the biggest first-evers of this first year of operation was the North Dakota United Higher Education Conference. From before the merger took place on Sept. 1, 2013, our staff and our members were working together to plan out a new concept: a full-day conference dedicated to the big subjects in higher education, and offered to anyone who works, in faculty or staff, at any of our public universities in the state of North Dakota. “One exciting part of our merger is that North Dakota United has the ability to provide professional development opportunities like this to our public university faculty and staff,” said Nick Archuleta, President of ND United. The Higher Education Conference is a unique occasion for public education professionals from all the campuses across the state to gather in one place in order to participate in a learning opportunity for all.” On Jan. 25, 2014, ND United proudly kicked off this new event at the Ramada Plaza & Suites in Fargo. Nearly 100 participants were registered for this event, which featured big names in higher education as speakers, who shared important lessons on what our universities and their workers can and will do to step up to the building demand of offering post-secondary education to students in North Dakota. President Archuleta started the day’s proceedings with a welcome to everyone in attendance. He talked about the importance of our public universities to the future well-being of our state. These universities, he said, are preparing the leaders of tomorrow right now, and the men and women who work very hard as part of the University System, in the classrooms and in every building on every campus, are making a gigantic contribution to our state and all its citizens. And North Dakota United, by organizing employees throughout the University System and providing them with the added resources our organization can give to its members, will play a transformative role in the coming years. The keynote speaker of the conference was Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen, of the North Dakota University System. His presentation, “NDUS Into the Future,” as well as the rest of the PowerPoints used at the conference, can be found on our website at

In his speech, Skogen spoke repeatedly to the hurdles “of biblical proportions” that we all face in the field of education. He spotlighted a few of the challenges he sees as being particularly pressing, such

The Higher Education Conference is a unique occasion for public education professionals from all the campuses across the state to gather in one place in order to participate in a learning opportunity for all.”


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as the rapidly moving changes and advancements in technology and the increased accessibility to information through the Internet. “For the first time in history,” he said, “every student has immediate access to nearly all the information we’ve collected in the history of this world.” “We have to begin with the fact that higher education is not an ivory tower,” he told the audience. “We have to broke out of the traditional mode of thinking for higher education. Business cannot continue as usual.” Growing populations in North Dakota will stretch our system, he said, and challenge us all to change our line of thinking. He said one challenge in North Dakota that he sees is that our state is still suffering from “PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) from the Great Depression.” We can get past these challenges, he feels, by increasing collaboration, by continuing to innovate and by always paying attention to what we are doing, analyzing practices and determining the best course to the future. Next up to speak was Dan Leingang, the geomatics, engineering and math department chair for Bismarck State College, whose presentation was titled “Engineering North Dakota Educational Connections: Building a Structure of Understanding.”

Maury Koffman of NEA spoke on adjunct professors.

At the center of Leingang’s presentation was the concept of vertical alignment, which intends to fill the gaps that may exist in between K-12 teaching and higher education standards, and better prepare students making the transition between these two systems. Maury Koffman, of the National Education Association (NEA) Executive Committee, was a special guest at the conference, and delivered a stirring presentation on the current use of NTT, adjunct and contingent faculty in higher education across the U.S. The trends, nationwide, are showing a steady increase in the number of part-time and full-time non-tenure track educators being hired at universities, and a decline in the hiring of full-time tenure track professors. This is being done, obviously, to decrease the pay and benefits our public universities need to pay out to its faculty, and to increase productivity and revenue generation for the institutions. “Colleges and universities are relying on part-time faculty members while failing to support them adequately,” Koffman said, and he demonstrated that part-time faculty see little, if any, wage premium based on their credentials, their compensation lags behind professionals in other fields with the same credentials, and there is a limited career ladder provided for higher wages after several years of work.

ND United President Nick Archuleta welcomes attendee to the conference.

Stuart Savelkoul, the assistant executive director of political advocacy for NDU, addressed legislative issues in higher education. While the economy is improving nationwide, the gains are almost all going to the rich. This means that investments into our public universities are shrinking. And the time is now for our members, and for the majority of the public, to stand up for our American education system and reinvigorate the promise we make to our students. Finally, attorney Leo Wilking, who has represented several of our members in employment issues at our public universities in North Dakota, talked about those experiences. He made recommendations concerning the Standing Committee on Faculty Rights (SCoFR) hearings, and using that opportunity to take your case in front of your peers on staff and faculty at your university, in order to better represent yourself and protect your rights. The closing panel discussion of all our day’s speakers was cancelled as a vicious winter storm was moving into the Red River Valley. Despite this first-ever conference being unfortunately held in the middle of two different winter storms, attendance and participation were outstanding.

NDSU Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen was the keynote speaker of the conference.

Based on the feedback and reaction we received to the first NDU Higher Education Conference, we can all feel safe in assuming that this will certainly not be the last.


NDU President Nick Achuleta opens the Public Employee Conference in Fargo.


New local prepared at statewide gathering of public employees By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


ithin the structure of North Dakota United, public employees are a large constituency among our membership. Their job titles and responsibilities vary widely, but they share between them a responsibility for doing the hard work, and providing the best possible returns to the state of North Dakota, in the essential services they provide to the citizens of North Dakota. They are absolutely essential to the well-being of our entire state, and to the strength of our organization at North Dakota United. On March 8, at the Ramada Plaza & Suites in Fargo, public employees from across the state gathered in order to discuss the important topics pertaining to the work that they do each day for the citizens of our state, and to set the foundation for their own statewide local within the federation of North Dakota United. This new local, North Dakota Public Employees, needed to discuss and ratify a constitution and bylaws for their organization, in order to become officially chartered as a local by North Dakota United and our two national organizations, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).


The conference began at 9 a.m. with a business meeting, to establish the boundaries of this new local, and to publicly discuss the bylaws as they had been drafted. Members were able to freely discuss the provisions of their guiding document. Provisions were made in the bylaws to allow members from the public universities across the state to form their own locals, if their members so choose, and break away from the statewide local for public workers. After the vote was taken to ratify the bylaws, NDU President Nick Archuleta welcomed this new local into the structure of North Dakota United. “Strong locals and chapters, working together with other regional locals on matters of mutual interest will make a strong and vital and respected North Dakota United,” Archuleta said. “NDU needs strong locals and chapters to help each other achieve their desired outcomes. Working together to attain our goals at the local, regional and state levels is what will make NDU strong and develop leadership for our organization.”

ND United Voices

The first guest speaker of the day was Darryl Alexander, the Director of the Health, Safety and Well-Being Department of the American Federation of Teachers. Her presentation centered on “Bullying in the Workplace,” a problem all too many Americans face on the job that is only seriously addressed now, through union assistance in drafting anti-bullying legislation and contract language in collective bargaining at worksites. “The goal (of anti-bullying efforts) Darryl Alexander is not to have prohibition of Director of the Health, Safety and bullying,” Alexander said, Well-Being Department of the “but to restore respect and American Federation of Teachers dignity at work. We want to give workers that sense of entitlement again. They are entitled to fair treatment at their jobs.” Alexander reported that a recent survey showed that over 35 percent of the American workforce reported being bullied at work. That number equals approximately 53.5 million Americans, or roughly the combined populations of the Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. In a prevalence study of U.S. workers, 41.4% of respondents reported experiencing psychological aggression at work in the past year, representing 47 million U.S. workers. The research found that 13%, or nearly 15 million workers, reported experiencing psychological aggression on a weekly basis. Alexander’s presentation included a number of tactics that an individual can take to stand up to a workplace bully, and also pointed to policies that has been passed in two counties – Fulton County, Ga., and Hennepin County, Minn., – that directly target and combat bullying in the workplace. To view Alexander’s “Bullying in the Workplace” presentation materials, as well as the materials from all of the conference’s speakers, can be found online at During lunch, Stuart Savelkoul, the NDU assistant executive director of political advocacy, updated our public workers in attendance on the current state of politics in the state. Savelkoul pointed to instances in the past where ND United’s two predecessor organizations worked together, such as in their mutual support of Rep. Lois Delmore of Grand Forks in her re-election campaign. Their combined Stuart Savelkoul efforts on Delmore’s NDU Assistant Executive behalf ultimately made the Director of Political Advocacy difference in returning her to the Capitol for the 2011 Session, just in time to be the deciding vote in the House to save the defined-benefit retirement plan from North Dakota Public Employee Retirement System for public workers.

Sam Lieberman, Associate Director of the Legal Department of AFT, next spoke on “Employees’ Rights in a Non-Collective Bargaining State.” In his presentation, Lieberman went through labor law in the state of North Dakota. While our public employees do not have collective bargaining rights afforded to them, nowhere in the law does it state that public workers are forbidden Sam Lieberman from collective bargaining Associate Director of the with their agency. However, Legal Department of AFT a 1983 decision from the N.D. Supreme Court found that public employees have no implied authority to enter into collective bargaining agreements, and such agreements are unenforceable. Public employees do have some rights expressly written into state law, including the N.D. Public Employees Relations Act, which allows employee organizations to represent public workers and protects their right to join, permits payroll deduction of dues to the organization, gives some whistleblower provisions and grants a right to representation. These are rights that need to be protected in our state, Lieberman said. The conference finished out with an update on the retirement plan and health benefits for public workers by Sparb Collins, executive director of NDPERS. Collins showed that the fund for the main defined-benefit retirement plan administered by NDPERS has corrected course from the market crash of the Great Recession several years ago, and is on path to returning to being 100-percent funded, thanks to increased contributions to the system from employer and employee over the last three years. However, the last session of the Legislature failed to provide increased contributions to the fund in the fourth and final year, which will slow down the curve toward fully funded status. Legislative action in the next session may be necessary to speed up that recovery, and increase contributions by 1 percent by the state and 1 percent from the employee. If that action is not taken, NDPERS has two other options for finishing the task of filling the fund. One would be to implement similar corrections as the Teachers Fund for Retirement was allowed to do in order to shore up their own depleted fund, which would be able to return NDPERS’s fund to being fully funded in a timeframe about 10 years slower than increasing contributions would. Or NDPERS could do nothing, and hope that good market returns would be enough to get the fund back to 100%. The fund expects an 8% return annually, and has averaged that rate of return over the last several decades. For the current year, they have enjoyed a 12% return.

The goal (of anti-bullying efforts) is not to have prohibition of bullying,” Alexander said, “but to

restore respect and dignity at work.”

Sparb Collins Executive Director of NDPERS

At the end of Collins’ presentation, the 2014 ND United Public Employee Conference officially closed the book on this first-ever occasion. With a local in place, with rules of governance and leaders to chart the path forward for all public workers, North Dakota Public Employees can point to a brighter future for all its members, and for all the public workers who provide the essential services for the people of our great state.


COMMON CORE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP HELD Participants finish credit from Fall Conference By Linda Harsche, NDU Communications Director


he North Dakota United Common Core Standards and Assessment Follow-Up was held Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Bismarck Ramada Hotel. This workshop was required for those who took the 2013 Common Core Conference for credit during the Common Core Conference last fall. ND United President Nick Archuleta welcomed those in attendance. He said that teachers nationally support Common Core. “It’s a positive that North Dakota has control over the testing,” he said. “We believe testing should be used to inform instruction not to hold students back or to penalize teachers or principals. Definitely, there are some challenges ahead, but the promise of Common Core is the best we have out there right now.” LeAnn Nelson, ND United Director of Teaching and Learning, said, “Curriculum in the state has been and will continue to be a local choice even with the Common Core Standards. Also, resources will eventually be available on a curriculum exchange website to help with implementing the Common Core Standards.” Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Director of Academic Standards Ryan Townsend shared results of a recent North Dakota Common Core State Standards teacher survey conducted by the DPI. “The survey, with 2,000 teachers responding, was overwhelmingly positive in regards to the Common Core Standards,” said Townsend. ND United President Nick Archuleta addresses Common Core participants.

“Only 15 percent said they disagreed with this statement, ‘I believe the new North Dakota State Standards (NDSS) in English language arts (ELA) and math (Common Core) will help ME to improve student learning for the majority of students I serve,’” said Townsend. DPI Standards and Achievement Assistant Director Rob Bauer provided an update on the state’s movement toward implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the formation of a State Leadership Team (SLT) and organization of State Network of Educators (SNEs). He also provided participants with a website where they could field test and get further information on Smarter Balanced – resources. N.D. Director of Special Education Gerry Teevens provided information about the role of special education in the Common Core State Standards and the alternate assessment.

A group participates in a planning exercise to implement Common Core Standards in North Dakota.


The workshop ended with a whole group discussion and a planning exercise for implementing Common Core Standards in North Dakota.

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Teaching & Learning

KEEPING AN EYE ON TEACHER EVALUATIONS NDU offering web resource for creating your own evaluation system By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


n November of 2012, the state of North Dakota developed the Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Support Systems (TPESS) Subcommittee. This subcommittee has been drafting guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation systems. The guidelines are almost complete and will be rolled out late this spring or in the fall.

as preservice programs have had to align to InTASC standards for accreditation for many years.

North Dakota United, and the National Education Association, recognize the need to change the U.S. educational system in order to support effective teaching and improve student leadership. And so, our hope is to provide guidance and perspectives from the point of view of our teachers in order to fairly develop a fair and principled evaluation system in our state.

A. The Learner and Learning Standard 1: Learner Development Standard 2: Learning Differences Standard 3: Learning Environments B. Content Knowledge Standard 4: Content Knowledge Standard 5: Application of Content C. Instructional Practice Standard 6: Assessment Standard 7: Planning for Instruction Standard 8: Instructional Strategies D. Professional Responsibility Standard 9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice Standard 10: Leadership and Collaboration

For the North Dakota Teacher Evaluation Guidelines, the timeline began during the 2011-12 school year, when development of these new guidelines began. This spring, the state guidelines will be approved, and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) is set to develop research-based guidance to aid local school districts to incorporate student growth and achievement data, and will develop an online application process sometime in April. These guidelines will continue to be developed through a process of NDDPI reviewing local teacher evaluation models from April to October of 2014, and in summer 2014-15, DPI will provide training on evaluation models. Full implementation is scheduled for the 2015-16 school year. Each school district’s evaluation model will have to align with Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) standards. These standards should be familiar to our state’s educators

There are ten professional teaching standards that are grouped among four general categories. Professional Teaching Standards

Also, the district’s evaluation model must specify four differentiated performance levels to record the summative evaluation of each teacher. Those four levels that the state has chosen are: Level 1: NonProficient; Level 2: Developing Proficiency; Level 3: Proficient; and Level 4: Exemplary. A district may select its own four categories, however. These new guidelines also will require measures of student growth and achievement, through student testing. The North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA) is required, and other tests may include AP exams, the ACT, pre and posttests, MAP, WorkKeys and other district-determined standardized measures.


It is the belief of NDU and NEA that using student test scores is not an accurate gauge of the effectiveness of our teachers. Many factors go into our students’ ability to learn, both inside and outside of school, which are all outside of an educator’s control. Unless a test takes these factors into account, and is shown to be developmentally appropriate, valid and reliable for measuring both the student learning and the teacher’s performance, our organizations believe these tests should only be used to give non-evaluative formative feedback, and should not be used as justification for high-stakes decisions, such as termination. Supervisory observation data is also required inside the evaluation guidelines by the state. These can include student learning objectives, student-, parent- and teacher-perception data, selfassessment instruments, videos and more. The emphasis/weight on each supervisory observation measure is to be determined collaboratively at the local level. Evaluation of teachers in untested subjects and grades would be required to include evaluations of student growth and achievement as chosen by individual districts. However, the N.D. Teacher Evaluation Guidelines do not dictate the weight for any given measure a district chooses; it is the district’s choice how it will use measures to determine performance levels. Districts can look to other commercial models for teacher evaluation frameworks. Those include Marzano, Danielson, Marshall, McREL and others. Or districts can develop their own models locally. The only requirement is that they align to the InTASC standards. To assist you in developing your own teacher-evaluation system, North Dakota United has developed its own online resource. We invite all of our NDU members to visit our new MyNDU web portal at


This site is password-protected. However, you need to cancel out of the first window that pops up, which is labeled “Authentication Required.” This will open a Login window. The login is: demo. The password is: asdf. And click on the Login button. At the left of the screen, click on “Courses,” and select “My Courses.” The screen pictured should pop up, and you will find “Creating an Effective Teacher Evaluation System” available under Current Courses. Click on Open, and you have access to seven modules that lead you through the process of creating your own teacher evaluation system. Creating an Effective Teacher Evaluation System Course Module 1 - What is the Purpose of an Effective Teacher Evaluation System? Module 2 - ND State Guidelines for Teacher Evaluation Module 3 - Defining Effective Teaching and Learning Module 4 - Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC): Model Core Teaching Standards Module 5 - Teacher Evaluation Frameworks: Danielson, Marshall, Marzano, McREL Module 6 - Understanding Multiple Measures of Effective Teaching & Student Learning Module 7 - Putting It All Together This article is the first in a series about the new teacher evaluation guidelines. In the next issue of United Voices, we will take a closer look at commercial models available for teacher evaluation frameworks.

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Teacher Evaluation




C S/




Teacher Evaluation frameworks/contract language There are several comprehensive teacher evaluation frameworks that integrate multiple aspects of evaluation and education reform. These frameworks incorporate multiple indicators that provide educators with clear and actionable feedback in three areas: indicators of a teacher’s professional practice, indicators of a teacher’s contribution to school or district success, and indicators of a teacher’s contribution to student learning and growth. These frameworks are frequently mentioned in research studies and policy reports, and they are viewed as innovative approaches to reforming teacher evaluation. Many states and districts are adapting these frameworks to align with state policies that mandate the inclusion of evidence of student growth and learning.

the teacher is poised, alert, and dynamic) which raises questions about validity.

Danielson framework: Charlotte Danielson’s framework, developed in 1995, has been adopted by many states and districts as a formative instrument to help teachers improve their practice. This approach involves more than simply observing classroom practice; it also takes into account dialogue between principal and educator as another artifact to use in assessing teaching effectiveness. It has been the subject of extensive research, and many variations have been implemented across the nation. Danielson’s framework has a clear but complex rubric for observation, which means that it requires multiple classroom visits as well as evidence provided through teacher/student artifacts.

McREL Evaluation System: The Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory, founded in 1966, began developing teacher and principal research-based evaluation systems in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and North Carolina Association of Educators. The evaluation system, which emphasizes professional growth, is designed to promote effective leadership, highquality teaching, and student learning. It uses teacher self-assessment, presentation of artifacts, and classroom demonstrations that are all aligned to professional teaching standards. Its teacher leadership standards include teachers leading in their classrooms and schools, as well as taking on leadership roles in the profession at large.

Marzano framework: Robert Marzano’s Causal Teacher Evaluation Framework includes walkthroughs, informal and formal observations that require a significant amount of administrator time. Marzano, who has long promoted the importance of formative assessment, has just begun using his formative tools in a summative way and translating formative information into a summative calculation. There is little research that addresses the validity and reliability of using formative-designed assessments for summative purposes.

Marshall framework: Kim Marshall’s approach is broader; it includes supervision and evaluation and involves teachers in improving the performance of all students. Some districts are using this framework despite the fact that validity and reliability issues persist. Marshall provides no guidelines for training evaluators on his model, which could explain, in part, why reliability ratings are low. In addition, Marshall’s summative rubrics use language that can be interpreted in many ways (e.g., the teacher uses silky-smooth transitions,

National Education Association



NDU President Nick Archuleta speaks on the campus of NDSU to members about their local perspective.


Members able to carve out local niches within state fed By Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications


A union local gives staff and faculty an opportunity to jointly

address problems they have in common and to provide support around the issues unique to each group. A union local represents the true meaning of shared governance.”

orth Dakota United is a large organization, certainly, committed to the substantial task of advocating for workers across a gigantic swath of geographical terrain. That task includes involvement within a lot of different issues, at a lot of different workplaces in a lot of different towns, involving a lot of different workers with a lot of different job titles. It can be a large task to wrap your head around all that North Dakota United is and all that North Dakota United does. That is why our union is best understood when broken down into smaller pieces. ND United is best classified as a statewide federation of local unions. In almost every community in our state there are locals, chartered and recognized as affiliates of ND United, as well as our two national organizations, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). By concentrating members together into subsections, based on their shared locations, these locals are able to focus in on the issues that affect them specifically, and rally around the causes that are most near to them. “Establishing a local raises the profile of that location within our organization,” said Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United. “More importantly, it encourages our members to seek positions of leadership. Locals help strengthen North


Dakota United by giving voice to their members. If we are to be strong, we must grow our organization from the ground up, not from the top down.” After the merger that created North Dakota United, the chapters that made up the one statewide local that constituted the North Dakota Public Employees Association (NDPEA) were able to become their own locals within the structure of NDU, and join the more than 140 locals that came into the organization from the North Dakota Education Association (NDEA). The two chapters that jumped first at the opportunity to establish their own locals in NDU were those from the campuses of the University of North Dakota (UND) and North Dakota State University (NDSU). These two universities are the two largest in the state, and both contain large numbers of NDU members, and vocal, passionate leaders on campus, who can lead their own member organizations on campus and better organize their workers. At UND, their local has adopted its own constitution, chosen officers and selected its own name: UND United. Their local president, Richard Aregood, said that the opportunity to claim their own independence as a local and better serve its members on the campus of UND has been widely embraced by members ever since the option was first offered to them. “It’s well-accepted,” Aregood said, “because

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I think that people who teach, whether they teach on the K-12, primary level or in the universities, have gotten over the illusion that they should pretend to be a professional association and not a union. We are a union, and a local union has certain rights that do not devolve on an informal group of people, just milling about.”

operating independently,” Greenwood said, “but also to create a formal relationship with state and national affiliates. It creates a louder voice for these members within the organization, which is something higher ed members have expressed they would like to have.”

“This UND local, when it’s approved – which should be pretty soon – will be exclusively concerned with UND issues, with salary, working conditions, protections of jobs and all that sort of things, at the University of North Dakota and nowhere else. That will be our role.”

The last step for recognition of UND United and NDSU United as locals is for their local presidents to send an official letter, their constitution and list of officers to Archuleta, as president of NDU, which he will take to the NDU Board of Directors. After the board approves their charter, it is sent onto both AFT and NEA for approval. “I am happy to announce,” Archuleta said, “NDSU and UND will become brand new locals when their charters are granted on April 11. I want to thank the good people of UND and NDSU for their hard work, and also the NDU staff that helped bring it all together.”

Likewise, the local at NDSU has also approved a constitution, selected a slate of leaders and adopted its own name: NDSU United. For Amy Phillips, an active member of NDSU United and key proponent of its formation, forming their own local will assist them all across the board in organizing and establishing their presence within NDU and at NDSU. “Through regular campus meetings, members develop relationships with individuals across campus – people they normally never see or would never get to know,” Phillips said. “A union local gives staff and faculty an opportunity to jointly address problems they have in common and to provide support around the issues unique to each group. “A union local represents the true meaning of shared governance.” ND United has provided these two new locals with any resources they need to help them along in their formative stages. “Our dedicated and professional staff can help set up meetings of members, either at the worksite or elsewhere,” Archuleta said. “We can help in the writing of the local constitution and bylaws. In addition, we can make sure that our locals get the support they need from NDU. No local will ever be alone.” NDU UniServ Director Geoff Greenwood has worked the past several years as a project organizer in Fargo and Grand Forks, and has been instrumental in helping out at both NDSU and UND in forming the foundations for their locals. He said the enthusiasm he’s seen among members in creating these new local unions has been affirming to reaching the goals of our organization. “Members are excited to create their own local and to begin

Discussions have also begun on the campuses of Dickinson State University (DSU), Valley City State University (VCSU) and Minot State University (MSU) about forming their own locals, and the decision to form a local is left completely up to the members at a university or in a shared geographical area. If it is the will of membership in one place to form their own local, then NDU will assist in any possible way to assist them in doing so. “If we are to grow and become the transformational group I know we can be, it is essential that we do so by creating strong locals,” Archuleta said. “Regional public employee chapters and local, higher education chapters and locals, and K-12 education locals need to work together to decide who will represent their interests in the Legislature. They need to work together to decide who will set the agenda for the education of their kids and grandkids and public services for all of us.” And one last piece of advice Archuleta gives to any of our members as they carve out their own niche within ND United: “Be bold, and help NDU be the best advocate for great public schools and great public service!”


The Public Record


Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler serves as the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of North Dakota. She was elected into that post in November of 2012.

Previous to serving as Superintendent, Baesler worked for Bismarck Public Schools for 22 years in various roles, including instructional assistant to students with intellectual disabilities, a teacher, library media specialist and vice principal. She was elected to the Mandan Public Schools Board in 2004 and was serving as board president up until the time she successfully won her office at DPI. Baesler’s time at the helm of the Department of Public Instruction has been busy. She has been instrumental in rolling out the new Common Core Standards in North Dakota, and is currently active in reshaping the accreditation system. She recently spoke with United Voices for this issue’s The Public Record, a Q&A feature with public figures, who play an important role in the careers of public educators and workers. For the full interview, visit our website at www. Q: What is your vision for education in North Dakota? A: It’s important for us to have well-rounded students in education that are ready for their life beyond high school. That starts with early learning, and it continues long past their formal education. When I think of education, I don’t just think of formal education, K-12 or higher education. I think of creating a culture in North Dakota where we understand that learning begins early on, and continues through adulthood, where we have a seamless system of education.

I would also like for us in North Dakota to understand and value all types of education and all types of vocations and professions. We, as a state and nation, really value people who pursue the professional degrees of law and medicine and accounting. But there are also important professions and vocations in the technical area – our electricians, our plumbers, our mechanics, our computer programmers. By 2018, nearly 80 percent of our jobs in North Dakota will require some sort of college certificate. It’s important for us to prepare our students for that world.

When I first started on the school board, over a decade ago now, when I was able to give those students a high school diploma, at that point those students were still pretty able – with that high school diploma – to be assured of a middle-class income and lifestyle. Fast forward to 2014, that high school diploma won’t necessarily guarantee that they will be able to enter and stay in a middle-class lifestyle for them and their future families. It should be our vision to make sure that all of our kids are graduating from high school ready to succeed in their next steps.

Kirsten Baesler Superintendent of Public Instruction

We work to develop opportunities for our educators

from across the state to work together. We provide information that they feel would be helpful. And we always keep an open door.”


Q: Educators are implementing the Common Core Standards statewide. How do you feel these new standards will help North Dakota students? A: When I started in education 24 years ago, as a media specialist and as a librarian, the biggest challenge that I had was helping my students find enough information about the item that they needed to research or the report they were about to do. When I left the classroom and the hallways of the school district, finding enough information wasn’t the problem. The biggest challenge that I had was to help our students become critical thinkers and really evaluate the multitude of information they were receiving, and look for evidence that the information was the true and factual data that they needed for their report.

These common standards, these educational standards in English and math, will help our educators really narrow in on what our students should know and be able to do in education, rather than having this broad smattering, a mile wide and only an inch deep. Now our educators, our math and English teachers, our social studies teachers, our science teachers, can now go more deeply into the content and not only teach our students the content, but how to apply it. For example, in mathematics, the new standards in mathematics not only require our students to understand how to calculate perimeter and circumference, but to take it to the next step. Now that you know how to find

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circumference and perimeter, what are you going to do with it? They have to demonstrate their ability to apply that to a real-life problem. That will allow our students to not just skim the surface, to fill in a multiple-choice question, but to demonstrate they can use the answer in real life. Q: Common Core Standards have been getting a lot of negative attention lately. What is DPI doing to abate the negativity? A: Communicating with information; communicating with evidence, and reaching out to our partners that are actually implementing this – the superintendents, the principals, the teachers within those buildings, enlisting their assistance in communicating what the new standards really are, and what they are not; providing the opportunity for people to ask us questions; and us providing them information in return. I think it’s working. In education, I was told early on by a good family friend that there are two things that can make reasonable and rational people get a little irrational, and that’s anything having to do with their money and anything having to do with their children. In a public school system supported by tax dollars, you have both of those issues.

People are interested in their children’s education – or their grandchildren’s, or their niece’s or their nephew’s education, or the education of the little girl or boy they see playing down the street in their neighborhood. They’re interested in that, and I want to encourage that. They have questions and they have concerns. They’ll hear a piece of information, and when they come to us and ask us about this or that that they may have read, when we inform them that this system is still made up of local decisions made by locally elected school board members and local teachers, along with their local principals and superintendents, they feel assure it’s still operating in the way that we in North Dakota like to operate it. When we talk about, “How will these Common Core Standards help our students?” one of the things I think is often forgotten is – the students that I first taught when I began in education 24 years ago, and my colleagues who started earlier – our students in North Dakota were pretty homogeneous. They had grown up in the community and their parents had grown up in that community and there wasn’t a lot of movement. It’s a different world now. Our students are moving to North Dakota from states all over our country. When that happens, we don’t have a common set of standards or expectations; there is some knowledge that can fall through the cracks.

There is no other area of our country that doesn’t have standards. Imagine if in North Dakota a red octagonal-shaped sign meant “Stop” in North Dakota, but suddenly you travel to South Dakota and it means “Go.” How does that help our students? These standard sets of expectations are necessary for our nation.

I am a complete advocate for local control, having been a locally elected school board member. I don’t ever want to relinquish that responsibility to anyone at a state level or a national level, that local responsibility to make decisions. But by that same token, we are one nation, and we need to prepare our students in North Dakota to go to any college in the nation, or any college in the world for that matter.

Q: What is the new accreditation system in North Dakota? How is this different than the old accreditation system? How do you envision the new accreditation system improving schools? A: This is new to some, but it’s not entirely new. It’s the former North Central Accreditation system. It’s now known as AdvancED. Many of our school districts in North Dakota were already participating in the AdvancED accreditation. It was important for those school districts to undergo this. It’s a rigorous, intense accreditation process. It was important for those school districts to say, we’re approved by the state of North Dakota and we’re accredited by AdvancED.

A school improvement process is one of the six criteria that is necessary for a school to participate in order for them to be approved as a public school and receive state funding. The Department of Public Instruction offered a paper-and-pencil process that could be submitted as an option if the school couldn’t afford AdvancED accreditation. It was purely a checklist. Are you doing this? Did you do this? It really didn’t provide an opportunity to reflect and take a look at the wide scope of what a good school system looks like. A good school system that is involved in a school improvement process looks at student engagement, community engagement. It looks at governance practices, time spent on curriculum, resources. It is a very comprehensive process.

During the 2013 Legislature, we asked for and were provided with money to have all of our school districts participate and become accredited by the AdvancED school accreditation process. So our schools have begun the transition into that during this school year, and all of our schools will be AdvancED accredited.

This requires more of a continuous process of self-reflection,

rather than something they fill out once a year. It’s more comprehensive. I don’t know if it’s more difficult. It’s probably simpler to complete electronically, than using paper and pencil. It is more valuable because they have the data that they are constantly looking at. It will look more in-depth at all of the processes that are occurring in a school and how those processes contribute to the ultimate goal of what public education is, and that is academic

student achievement.

Q: Describe how important it is for the Department of Public Instruction, the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, the North Dakota School Boards Association, and the regional education associations to have a good working relationship with North Dakota United. How is the DPI helping to build those relationships? A: It’s critically important for our students in North Dakota to have all of the partners you mentioned working for student success. They all have a long history of having our students’ needs first on their priority list. The DPI is continuing to build these relationships. We have regular communications with our educational partners. We invite them to our meetings, and we invite them to be part of every one of our committees that require the input of our public and our educators from the field. We work to develop opportunities for our educators from across the state to work together. We provide

information that they feel would be helpful. And we always keep an open door. 33

UNITED VOICES Serving the public every step of the way!


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Attend the 2014 ND United Delegate Assembly By ND United Retired President Gloria Lokken and Vice President Nancy Peterson

Let’s work together to accomplish the goals of NDU and NDU-Retired. There is always strength in numbers-join us now!”

Can you believe we will celebrate the first anniversary of North Dakota United with the first NDU Delegate Assembly? The ND United Delegate Assembly (DA) will be held on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the Seven Seas in Mandan. It is an opportunity for retired members to see our organization in action and meet our national leaders. It is an opportunity to be part of moving NDU forward. So we’d like to give you some information about the opportunities you’ll have attending the DA.

Assembly. Please contact or call 1-800-369-6332 to request becoming a delegate to the NDU Delegate Assembly.

Of course, the ND United has been busy doing the business of its members. With this in mind, we want to give members a heads up on some major changes that will be happening at this year’s Delegate Assembly or DA (formerly the Representative Assembly or RA).

Fifth, we must invite our retired members of NDPEA to engage in our program. To accomplish this, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed including: obtaining a list of members with valid email addresses, establishing dues, and membership on the council to name a few.

One change is that elections will now be held at the Delegate Assembly. No ballots will be mailed out for active or retired members. Voting takes place at the DA. This procedure follows the NEA-RA elections. But, this will be a BIG change for our membership.

Sixth, we have name changes. We no longer have a Representative Assembly it is now the Delegate Assembly. The NDEA-Retired Board is now the ND United-Retired Council. The names have changed, but our goals remain the same and have been enhanced. We will still monitor the retirement accounts and meetings and work with our leadership team to address issues on our pension funds that appear in bills before the North Dakota Legislature. We will also be there to support our current active members in any way we can. We will assist the Student Council as they devise programs in our local communities because they are the future of our organization. And, we will work in the political arena where we are a valued and respected voice.

Second, this year NDU-Retired will be voting for Secretary and the Northeast Position. Barb Hinnenkamp of Grand Forks is a candidate for the Northeast position and Konnie Wightman of Mandan is a candidate for secretary. Retired members who would like to be a candidate for either the Northeast position or the secretary position on this Council are asked to contact Ellie. by March 21, 2014. Third, we (NDU-R) can have 10 delegates at the Delegate

Fourth, NDU-Retired are represented at the NEA-RA this summer in Denver. As a Board Member of ND United, representing NDU-Retired, Gloria Lokken is our designated delegate to the NEA RA.

Let’s work together to accomplish the goals of NDU and NDURetired. There is always strength in numbers–join us now!

YES, SIGN ME UP NOW IN NDU/NEA/AFT-RETIRED Complete and mail with your check today, to NDU-Retired, 301 N 4th St, Bismarck, ND 58501-4020 Name: _______________________________________Social Security Number: __________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________________________ City: _________________________________________ State: ______________ Zip: ______________ Phone: ______________________________E-mail:_________________________________________ Local Association: ____________________________Signature_______________________Date______ _______ I wish to join as Annual Retired and pay $52 per year. Mail this form and your check to NDU, 301 N 4th Street, Bismarck, ND 58501-4020. (NDU membership year is from Sept. 1 to August 31.) _______ I wish to pay a one-time payment of $412 for Lifetime Retired. Expected Date of Retirement ___________ (month/year) _______ I wish to pay one payment of $52 and have 9 (nine) electronic transfers of $40 from my bank account for Lifetime Retired.






















North Dakota United 301 N 4th St Bismarck, ND 58501-4020


ND United Voices

United Voices, Vol. 1, No. 5  

The April 2014 issue of United Voices, the official publication of North Dakota United, previews the inaugural NDU Delegate Assembly.