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8 12 JULY 2017 United Voices is the official publication of North Dakota United, 301 N 4th Street, Bismarck, ND 58501. Contact Us 701.223.0450 Postmaster, send address changes to: North Dakota United 301 N 4th Street Bismarck, ND 58501

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Kelly Hagen Director of Communications Tom Gerhardt Director of Public Affairs Image Printing Design/Publisher



Today, our state and nation are facing turning points of their own. On the state level, the economic prosperity that we have enjoyed over the course of the past several years has slowed considerably. This economic downturn has put a terrible strain on the resources that the state has to fund K-12 and higher education, as well as the vital public services that North Dakotans deserve and have come to expect.

This is no ordinary hair salon, you see. This is Mrs. Medalen’s classroom at Sunnyside Elementary School in Minot. Medalen is a Title I Reading and Math teacher at Sunnyside, and a member of North Dakota United. Also, she is the “shop owner” of Books & Braids.


Complete wrap-up of all the bills that passed and failed during the 2017 Legislative Assembly, which most affected the interests of public education and public services in the state of North Dakota.


Dickinson State University professor Debora Dragseth was elected President of the statewide faculty organization, the Council of College Faculties in May by the current members of CCF. She began her duties on June 1, 2017. Dragseth said, “As a member of the Council, I was encouraged to take on a leadership role by the other state-wide members.”


This spring, Jeff Schumacher and his students are hard at work, here, on a community project called Little Free Pantries. The pantries look a lot like the Little Free Libraries you may have seen around town the past few years. In this case, Schumacher’s students are building six pantries to spread throughout Bismarck to provide food for those in need.


It’s interesting how some of the same arguments keep coming up, year after year after year,” said Mark Halvorson, the curator of collections research in the Museum Division of the State Historical Society and a North Dakota United member. Halvorson regularly speaks with legislators and other state leaders about the role of historical collections in state government, and the value of knowing where we have been in determining where we are going.


Elections will be held for 12 slots on the North Dakota United (NDU) Board of Directors during the NDU Delegate Assembly in April 2018. This is your opportunity to serve as a leader for the state’s foremost champion of public education and public services.

ND United Voices

President’s Post


NDU should follow the sage guidance of John F. Kennedy


ithout much fanfare, what would have been President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday passed on May 29, 2017. As every student of history knows, JFK was the youngest elected president when Americans voted him into office in 1960. His death at the hands of an assassin on Nov. 22, 1963, marked a turning point in America’s history.

By Nick Archuleta NDU President

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

Today, our state and nation are facing turning points of their own. On the state level, the economic prosperity that we have enjoyed over the course of the past several years has slowed considerably. This economic downturn has put a terrible strain on the resources that the state has to fund K-12 and higher education, as well as the vital public services that North Dakotans deserve and have come to expect. These two circumstances now conspire to create a situation that puts North Dakota United in a very interesting position. As the only organization in the state that represents public employees, including teachers, education support professionals and higher education faculty and staff, NDU must stand to protect the interests of all of our members. It was while reflecting on our challenges and the life and times of JFK that I recalled two things he said that have stuck with me over the years. While JFK is probably best remembered for having said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” another notable Kennedy quote is this: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” In those two eloquent expressions, JFK is compelling us to think differently about the future. He is saying that what has worked in the past may not work at all in the future. President Kennedy is also saying that maintaining the status quo is not an option to ensuring a bright future. Those are not just thoughtful reflections of a respected man; they are a guidepost to how ND United must approach its important work in the years ahead. Some time ago, I approached the NDU Board of Directors with information about our organization and where I thought we should be heading as an organization. After much discussion, the Board adopted three strategic goals around which we would focus our efforts: increase membership; increase the activation rate of our members; and increase the size of our government relations footprint. By and large, we have been successful in achieving increases in each of those areas, and it showed at the 65th Legislative Assembly. Although we were not able to get the funding we know higher education and public employees deserve, we were able to work with legislators to diminish some of the truly awful things that were proposed by various legislators, while being proactive in other areas. On the K-12 side, our success in passing Measure 2 meant that K-12 schools were held even in their funding and did not have to suffer the 15 percent to 20 percent budget cuts that higher education and many state agencies had to endure. Looking ahead, ND United is laser-focused on aspiring to embody Kennedy’s vision of engaging the future with a new prospective. We are investing in organizing potential members, listening to our current members and engaging members earlier in their careers. We are dedicated to making sure our communications, professional relations, government relations, and member services shops work together toward common goals. We continue to build relationships on both sides of the political aisle knowing that the next legislative session is potentially more fraught than the one just ended. We are all about you, the members of ND United. Working together we will make a brighter future for our members and our state. Thank you for your membership and for all you do to make our state a great place to live and work.


Lily walks into the hair salon, and sits down in the chair. “Ok, ma’am. Please have a seat in the salon. How are you today?” the hair stylist, Sara Medalen, asks her. “Good,” Lily says. “Should we braid your whole hair today?” Medalen asks. “Yeah!” Lily replies, with excitement in her little voice. “OK, you know the drill with this. What do you have to do? Cover them up,” Lily is told, and she immediately covers up her eyes before a mist of product is sprayed onto her hair. “Tell me if I’m hurting you,” Medalen says. “Do you want to read?” “Sure,” Lily replies, and starts to read a book out loud to her stylist/reading teacher. “‘And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.’ “When I leave home to walk to school, “Dad always says to me, “Marco! Keep your eyelids up. “And see what you can see.” 4

ND United Voices

‘BOOKS & BRAIDS’ MAKES BIG IMPRESSION Minot educator connects reading with personal touch By Kelly Hagen,


his is no ordinary hair salon, you see. This is Mrs. Medalen’s classroom at Sunnyside Elementary School in Minot. Medalen is a Title I Reading and Math teacher at Sunnyside, and a member of North Dakota United. Also, she is the “shop owner” of Books & Braids. During the spring semester of school this year, Medalen has been combing and braiding students’ hair in the hour before classes start most days, while the students read books out loud. She is able to help relax the children while they embark on the very important task of reading, she can coach them, ask them questions and encourage them, and plus they are getting a top-notch hairstyle to go with the lesson. “I thought about it one day,” Medalen said. “If girls come to school with their hair messed up, I like to kind of help them. And I don’t ever want any parents to think that I think their kid’s hair is messy. But one girl always had her hair braided so nice for school, and her mom was gone for a week, and she came to school and she had total tornado hair. She was the only one who came to me that day in a group of three or four, so I said, ‘Oh, do you want me to braid your hair for you?’” A couple months later, the same girl showed up alone for the early morning 21st Century Community Learning Center (CLC) Program, and Medalen again offered to braid her hair. “And I said, ‘You read while I braid.’ Medalen told her. “While I was braiding her hair, I just thought of how soothing it was for me, too, and how much she loved it. So, then the wheels started turning, and I just came up with Books & Braids.” Setting up her idea was simple enough. She just needed a sign and permission. “It was so easy to implement,” Medalen said. “I didn’t have to do anything except talk to the CLC person, the morning, because I wanted to do it before school hours, not during school, to just talk to him about what he thought about it. And then I just made a little sign-up sheet for the girls, and I try to make it different from me being their teacher during the day.” Medalen had a sign made for her salon by the sister of her son’s girlfriend. “I told her what I was doing, and she said, ‘Oh! I want to make a sign!’ It was just one of those teeny, little, easy kinds of concepts I came up with that took off like crazy.” After doing Books & Braids for about two months, her friend, Kelly Boswell, posted a picture of Medalen at work on her Facebook page, with a description of what it was. “The student checks in at the salon and then reads to Sara while she combs and braids the child’s hair,” the caption reads. “The child walks away with a brand new comb, a fancy new hairstyle, and some personal attention from a loving adult. What a beautiful, low-stakes way to invite readers to read! And, better yet — there’s no silly stopwatches or unwanted stress. Just books and braids…” The initial post was made on Tuesday, April 11, and at the end of May, that Facebook post has been liked more than 42,000 times, shared 19,000 times and has gotten 2,100 comments.

“It’s so cool,” Medalen said. “Because I came home — I do a kindergarten program after school on Tuesdays — so Tuesday I got home, and my son said, ‘Mom! Get down here! You’ve gone viral!’ I was shocked.” Medalen has really appreciated all the positive attention Books & Braids has received, and she hopes that by spreading the word on her idea will inspire other educators to try innovative ideas like hers. “I think that’s what we need,” she said. “I think teachers need to get back to finding what’s unique about them, and what they can do. Then they can bring their own personal touch in, and go on their own strengths. I just think that brings joy in your day, if you can do that.” She credits her administrator, Cindy Cook, with making Sunnyside a more inventive environment for teaching and learning. “I love my job,” Medalen said. “I tell my own kids at home, I just pray that they can get a job that I love as much as I do. This is my 26th year of teaching. I love coming to work every day. And I honestly think part of it is my administrator, too. She just makes this a great place to work.” Sunnyside has the highest poverty rate among its students in the city of Minot. So the faculty and staff there face severe challenges in reaching these children who face so many difficulties outside of school. “We are always trying, and our teachers work so hard,” Medalen said. “And she just really took a lot of pressure off the table a few years ago, and said, ‘Don’t worry about what the tests say. Let’s worry about how we make people feel. Let’s worry about what we’re doing every day with these kids to make them feel, and then hopefully some of that will come.’” Medalen hopes that her story will continue to gain ground online and, hopefully, arrive in the ears of the producers for the “Ellen DeGeneres Show”on TV. “I was just dreaming last night and thinking, oh my gosh, what if that actually happened?” she said. “And how great for this school and these kids? Like I said, we’re the highest poverty school in Minot, so something like that would just be, like, wow! What a boost!” The most important thing she’d like to accomplish, though, is to inspire others to read to children. She gets choked up when she talks about the possibilities. “I don’t want to cry about it, but I just kept thinking about how one person can make a difference,” she said. “I definitely don’t want to say, oh, this is mine. I came up with this idea; this is what I do. I want anybody to … if they can just even make a difference for one kid. All those people — oh I get teary again — but all those people, if they can make a difference for one kid, it’s worth it.” 5

Public Service Perspectives


Public employees need to start organizing now for next legislative session The 2017 legislative session ended with state and higher education employees not receiving a raise. Through lobbying efforts, NDU was able to discourage the Legislature from passing a premium payment for health insurance, but the state shifted $11 million of health care costs to employees through additional out-of-pocket expenses. So, where do we go from here to turn things around as a state, a union of professionals, and public employees? In looking back to 2003 and 2004, the last time the Legislature did not appropriate money for salary increases, the state fell way behind the market and struggled to recruit and retain staff. Employee morale became very low as employees did not feel valued for the work they did. After hearing the results of a public employee morale survey, the Governor and the Legislature heard the call, and many legislative friends of state employees from both side of the aisle pushed legislation that would work to close the 10 percent to 20 percent compensation gap with private sector. Through our intense lobbying and activism, the Legislature appropriated salary increases of 26 percent over the next six years, which did move salaries closer to market.

By Gary Feist Vice President of Public Employees

So, where do we go from here to turn things around as a state, a union of professionals, and public employees?”

Over the next two years, wages in the private sector will increase between 2 percent and 3 percent, causing the state to lose much of the ground it has made up in trying to be competitive with the private sector. If the economy sees a significant turnaround in the next two years, wages may grow by more than 3 percent, and the state will once again find it extremely difficult to recruit and retain staff while dealing with significant retirements, as more than 20 percent of employees are currently eligible to retire. NDU and its lobbying staff did a great job during the 2017 session, but with revenue down due to a slower economy and tax cuts passed over the last eight years, which I covered in the last issue of United Voices, the Governor and the Legislature did not have state employee salaries as one of its priorities. Over the next two years, NDU members and all state employees have a role to pay to make the services we provide and the employees who provide the quality services a priority. State employees must be politically active by talking to legislators and their family and friends about the services they provide. Several weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I joined seven other NDU advocates on a door-to-door campaign, to talk to state employees about their issues at work and what they thought of the 2017 legislative session. After listening to our members and potential members about their issues, we asked them to join NDU and be an active member. Organizing and mobilizing state employees will strengthen our voice. We can’t wait until 2019 to grow and become more active, we need to do it over the next six months by continuing to have one-on-one conversations with our co-workers, either at work or at their homes, on their front steps, by going door to door. You may be saying to yourself: People don’t want ME to come to their home to talk about NDU. From my experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Members and potential members appreciate other state employees taking the time to listen to their issues and experiences as a state employee. NDU needs more advocates out talking to and energizing our members and potential members to be successful during the 2019 legislative session. If we call you to participate in a one-on-one conversation campaign, please say yes and you will have the opportunity to meet and listen to other outstanding state employees serving the state of North Dakota. If you’re already convinced that this is something you’d like to do, give the NDU office a call at 701-223-0450 or send an e-mail to Through your activism, our issues will be the priority during the 2019 legislative session.


ND United Voices


Education Perspectives

The answer is simple: I can’t do it alone

As a member of the Wishek Education Association, I am part of a group that promotes community programs. Through the NDU Public Relations Grant and the WEA jeans fund, we have been able to support many projects in our district, such as the Missoula Children’s Theatre, Imagination Library, the baseball youth program, the swimming pool project and many more programs. Pooling resources enhances the impact made to support activities for our students.

By Karen Christensen Vice President of Education

Why am I a North Dakota United member? The answer is simple: I have support. TeachForward members are working together to ensure our schools are building highly effective teachers who have an interest in improving their communities through education. As a TeachForward member, I have the ability to be involved in professional development and leadership opportunities and build a network of colleagues to guide me through the school year.

Why am I a North Dakota United Member? The answer is simple: I am a professional.



House Bill 1324 K-12 Policy Bill Position: Supported Outcome: Signed by Governor HB 1324 is the K-12 policy bill for schools in North Dakota. Thanks to the passage of Measure 2 in the fall of 2016, lawmakers repeatedly said they were able to hold K-12 funding even ($2.3 billion budget) during the upcoming biennium. The per-pupil payment remains the same at $9646. It also includes yearly audits for REAs, keeps in-lieu-of-tax payment the same (there is a study) and provides millions for transportation.



House Bill 1361 Limitation on Property Tax Increases Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed Senate, 0-46 This bill was introduced by Rep. Al Carlson and attempted to cap property tax assessments at 3 percent each year unless it goes to a public vote. At its initial hearing, school superintendents lined up to testify against it along with NDU President Nick Archuleta. Schools were removed from the bill and it was amended multiple times before ultimately being killed in the Senate. Senate Bill 2180 Intent to Refuse Federal Education Funding Tied to Federal Mandates Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed Senate, 3-43 SB 2180 was a misguided attempt to refuse federal funding for local school districts. What the bill sponsor didn’t know was that school districts can already refuse federal funding but still must follow federal mandates. We testified against this bill, citing the loss of revenue to school districts that would have to be made up by taxpayers. Senate Bill 2194 Payment for Early Childhood Education Programs Position: Supported Outcome: Failed Senate, 9-35 This bill would have provided state payments for schools that offered ECE (Pre-K) programs at $94 million over the upcoming biennium from the general fund and $94 million from school districts. The formula provided payment at .5 per student. The bill did not require Pre-K programs be implemented in districts that do not offer them. The state has never funded ECE programs, and the bill was quickly killed in the Senate.


House Bill 1023 PERS Budget Bill Position: For budget, against policy amendments Outcome: Policy amendments vetoed by Governor This is the budget bill for PERS. However, throughout the session a number of policy amendments were added to it by House Majority Leader Al Carlson. The most significant amendment was a proposed mandatory rebid on health insurance in two years. Carlson also proposed a new legislative committee dealing with health care coverage. 8

ND United Voices

The House and Senate came to a last-minute agreement on the bill which appeared to be a big win for Carlson. However, Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed the sections dealing with the rebid and health care committee. The bottom line for public employees is that your health insurance won’t change in the next two years outside of increases in co-pays and deductibles. Senate Bill 2030 Statutory Reference to North Dakota United Position: Supported Outcome: Passed Senate, 46-0 SB 2030 began as a clean-up bill to update language in Century Code from “North Dakota Education Association” to “North Dakota United.” President Nick Archuleta testified in support of this bill, which could have removed an NDU member from the Board of Directors of the Teacher Fund for Retirement (TFFR). We are happy to report, the language has been updated and we have maintained our membership on the TFFR board.


House Bill 1168 Restrict Compensation and Travel Reimbursement for Public Employees for Attendance at Legislative Meetings Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed House, 5-86 HB 1168 was a bill introduced by Rep. Rick Becker to restrict compensation and travel reimbursement for public employees to attend legislative hearings and meetings. The bill never gained any traction and drew the ire of public employees, and overwhelmingly failed in the House. House Bill 1246 Employee Discrimination Bill Position: Supported Outcome: Passed House, 65-25, failed Senate, 8-39 HB 1246, introduced by Rep. George Keiser, called for a streamlining the grievance process by allowing an employee to bypass his or her supervisor and go to the Department of Labor and Human Rights or the Federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The employee also would have had the right to waive the employer’s and division’s grievance processes, and take the case to district court. House Bill 1386 Prohibition of Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation. Position: Support Outcome: Failed House, 22-69 HB 1386 sought to add sexual orientation to the reasons for which people cannot be discriminated against, in employment and in housing. NDU always sides with equality and fairness, and against discrimination of any kind, especially in employment. Senate Bill 2343 Prohibition on Using Campaign Funds for Personal Use Position: Supported Outcome: Signed by Governor This bill increases requirements for campaign donations and expenditures, which increases transparency on all candidates running for political office.


House Bill 1273 Weapons at Public Gatherings Position: Opposed Outcome: Amended & signed by Governor HB 1273 is a gun bill involving public gatherings. It was amended and passed the Senate floor, 40-7. The amendments included exclusions to public gatherings including an athletic or sporting event, a school, a church, and a publicly owned or operated building. House Bill 1310 Guns in Schools Position: Opposed Outcome: Passed House, 73-19, failed Senate, 18-27 HB 1310 would have provided a pilot program for first armed responders at up to 10 schools in North Dakota. NDU opposed the bill on a variety of fronts including the fact that no schools testified in support of the bill in either House or Senate committee. Several schools testified against the bill during its initial hearing in the House. Secondly, our polling showed the majority of our members opposed the idea. Thirdly, while NDU does support highly trained School Resource Officers (SRO’s) or retired law enforcement in schools, we do not support anyone else with limited training carrying concealed in our schools.


House Bill 1401 Provide for collective bargaining for Law Enforcement Officers and Paid Full-Time Firefighters Position: Supported Outcome: Failed House, 19-75 HB 1401 would have provided collective-bargaining rights for law-enforcement officers and full-time firefighters. The parties would negotiate in good faith regarding the terms and conditions of employment, employer-employee relations. Law enforcement and full-time firefighters would not have been able to strike under the agreement. House Bill 1436 PERS Governance Changes Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed Senate, 0-47 This was a delayed bill introduced right before Crossover that attempted to move PERS to a self-insured program from a self-funded program. The bill also mandated for the health insurance contract to be rebid every two years. Senate Bill 2037 Teacher Loan Forgiveness Position: Supported Outcome: Signed by Governor This is a significant teacher loan forgiveness bill that merged SB 2243 into SB 2037 to come out with a product that will incentivize new teachers to work in rural school districts, fill critical need positions in both rural and non-rural districts and help to make sure our students have a teacher in their classroom. 9

Senate Bill 2037 cont... The program will help erase student loan debt for new teachers. In fact, an educator filling a critical need area in a remote school district for a maximum of four years could earn $24,000 of loan forgiveness. On the other end of the spectrum, filling a critical need position in a non-rural school district over the same four-year period could equate to a maximum of $12,000 in loan forgiveness.


House Bill 1429 Loosening Home Education Standards Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed House, 28-63 HB 1429 was an attempt to loosen standards for parents who homeschool their children. If a child received a test score below the 30th percentile nationally (the current cutoff is 50 percent), the parent would have had to have been monitored for an additional school year until the child’s test score rose above the 30th percentile.

House Bill 1264 Non-Resident Tuition Rates Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed House, 38-53 HB 1264 would have set tuition rates for non-resident students at a higher, fixed rate. For instance, the bill called for at least 115 percent of the resident tuition rate for nonresident students from the state of Minnesota. We believe with tight budgets across the University System, passing this bill would make it more difficult to enroll.

House Bill 1432 Duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed House, (A) 27-62, (B) 10-78 HB 1432 was introduced as an anti-Common Core bill that would limit the power of the Supt. of Public Instruction, erase new standards written for North Dakota students by more than 70 North Dakota educators over the last two years, and replace those with over a decade old standard from Massachusetts. In an attempt to get part of the bill passed, the sponsor split it in two on the House floor. Both sections failed.

House Bill 1265 Number of Non-Resident Students Admitted Under Reciprocity Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed House, 26-65 HB 1265 would have set limits on the number of non-resident students admitted to the North Dakota University System by percentage through the year 2025-26, based on the number or resident students admitted. Again, we believe this bill would have limited out-of-state student enrollment in the North Dakota University System, and with tight budgets we believe that is a mistake.

Senate Bill 2186 Education Innovation Position: Supported Outcome: Signed by Governor Burgum SB 2186 allows local school districts to submit plans, approved by local school boards, to the Department of Public Instruction for waivers to allow for innovation in the classroom. It’s worth noting the plan would also need support from parents, community members, teachers and staff.

House Bill 1382 Establishment of Education Savings Accounts/Vouchers Position: Opposed Outcome: Failed Senate, 14-32 HB 1382 would have used public tax dollars for non-public education. NDU President Nick Archuleta testified vehemently against this cookie-cutter bill crafted outside of North Dakota. Ultimately, the House Education Committee turned this bill into a study, and it died in the Senate. House Bill 1428 Relating to Home Education Standards Position: Opposed Outcome: Signed by Governor Burgum This bill allowed students to opt out of standardized achievement tests if the parent had a philosophical, moral, or religious objection. It added that if the parent was licensed to teach by ESPB, had a B.A. degree or met or exceeded the cutoff score of a national teacher exam the student could also opt out.


The bill, which is a pilot program, has unanimous support from education associations, the Department of Public Instruction and multiple school districts, who are waiting to submit plans for approval. SB 2186 will allow locals to customize learning, and then measure and report successes. Senate Bill 2250 Early Childhood Education Programs Position: Support Outcome: Passed Senate, 45-0 SB 2250 provides early childhood education to children throughout the state. NDU testified in support of this bill, with President Archuleta saying, “research overwhelmingly indicates that young learners who experience early childhood education are far more likely to experience long-lasting success throughout their academic careers. That success leads to the likelihood that the student will graduate college, work, or military ready.” And while NDU continues to support universal Pre-K, and recognize there was another bill out there, we believe 2250 is the vehicle to move this vital service.

ND United Voices


Professional Growth Institute in Medora draws 100+ members North Dakota United hosted our first-ever Professional Growth Institute on June 5-7, 2017, in Medora. The Institute was an overwhelming success for our association, bringing over 100 of our members into the Badlands for an opportunity to receive high-quality, relevant trainings in professional development. The theme for this year’s Institute was “Great Work, Great Career,” and offered enrichment courses for all educators and public employees in attendance. Keynote speaker Jennifer Colosimo presented on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People series, and Ryan Taylor closed out the event with “The Art of the Story.” Participants were also able to attend the Medora Musical and a Pitchfork Dinner. Visit the ND United Professional Development website at to see all of the upcoming seminars and trainings that are available to you, as a member of NDU.

President Nick Archuleta addresses the crowd.

Keynote speaker Ryan Taylor talked about “The Art of the Story.”

Members attended the Medora Musical.


Deborah Dragseth, President of Council of College Faculties.


Dickinson professor to serve as president of Council of College Faculties By Kelly Hagen,

There is a clear and present need to protect and improve shared governance. As professional educators, university faculty should be engaged in everything from designing curriculum to hiring priorities to budget decisions.” Deb Dragseth

Dickinson State University professor Debora Dragseth was elected President of the statewide faculty organization, the Council of College Faculties, in May by the current members of CCF. She began her duties on June 1, 2017. Dragseth said, “As a member of the Council, I was encouraged to take on a leadership role by the other state-wide members.” Dragseth has been involved in faculty governance throughout her 27-year career at Dickinson State University. She has served three terms as DSU’s Faculty Senate President. The Council of College Faculties (CCF) consists of elected faculty representatives from the 11 North Dakota University System (NDUS) campuses. CCF identifies and addresses the shared concerns of the 4,000 North Dakota University System faculty. CCF also assists the North Dakota University System and the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) in their duty to improve higher education in harmony with the people of North Dakota. The foremost purpose of CCF is to foster quality teaching and learning. According to Dragseth, “CCF allows our faculty to provide a strong, positive, united voice.” Dragseth has been a member of North Dakota United since she began teaching business administration at Dickinson State University in 1989. “Faculty unions are not simply about salary issues,” Dragseth said. “There is a clear and present need to protect and improve shared governance. As professional educators, university faculty should be engaged in everything from designing curriculum to hiring priorities to budget decisions.” Dragseth is a tenured professor of business at Dickinson State University, former Director of Dickinson State University’s Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program and former Chair of the Department of Business and Management. She is an active speaker on the topics of leadership, outmigration and Generation Y, leadership and outmigration. Dragseth has an MBA from the University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska.


ND United Voices

CCF and NDU have many, if not all, the same goals, which is one of the reasons that, as a long-time NDU member, Dragseth is optimistic that her engagement in NDU and CCF will be complementary. Issues that CCF has recently been challenged with include changes to leave and tenure. “The tenure change was difficult,” Dragseth said. “The Council of College Faculties clearly voiced the deep concerns of all 11 campuses earlier this year to oppose North Dakota State Board of Higher Education policy changes, which significantly shortens the time between notification and termination for faculty employees in good standing who are fired in times of financial downturn. This new policy runs counter to the standard for public institutions across the country. Many of the institutions expressed concerns that this weakens the ability to recruit the best instructors and researchers to North Dakota.” Dragseth also noted that she was happy to see NDU take an active role in these issues as well. “This spring, NDU President Nick Archuleta testified to the Board of Higher Education in a very powerful and meaningful way right alongside the faculty in our attempts to keep tenure policies intact.” The relationship between CCF and the Board of Higher Education has traditionally been a positive one, in Dragseth’s opinion. CCF has a voice in several key areas: the newly elected CCF faculty advisor to the State Board of Higher Education is Birgit Pruess from North Dakota State University. Betsy Bannier from Lake Region State College is the new Vice President of CCF and faculty representative on Academic Affairs Council. DeVera Bowles from Minot State University is serving a second term as Secretary of the Council, and Gina Kelly from North Dakota State University is continuing her role

as Treasurer/Parliamentarian as well as faculty representative on the Student Affairs Council. “Budget issues are clearly a concern for all state employees right now,” Dragseth said. “Although I personally feel that several of the policy changes that the Board made this spring were not in the best interest of the faculty or students, both the Board and CCF have similar missions, visions and core values. “Faculty are the foundation of the University System,” said Dragseth. “Faculty on all eleven campuses should demand open, honest, forthright and mutually respectful dialog from all of the stakeholders in higher education including their campus administrators, the Board of Higher Education and the North Dakota Legislature. Open dialog and decision-making is a bedrock belief of NDU; therefore, I would encourage faculty who are not yet members to strongly consider joining NDU.” A union member since 1989, Dragseth reflected, “I can’t think of a single time when my union didn’t have my back either on personal, work-related issues or on more global issues such as pay and benefits.” Dragseth has been given Dickinson State University’s highest faculty award, the Distinguished Teacher of the Year. Debora was the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year for 2008. In 2015, she was named Innovative Teacher of the Year. She has also been named the student-elected Outstanding Faculty. 13

Jeff Schumacher is a teacher at the Bismarck Career Academy.


Bismarck instructor helps build a big idea for providing food to the needy By Tom Gerhardt,

The classroom smells like fresh-cut wood and sounds like a pit stop at a NASCAR race. It’s the shop at the Bismarck Career Academy that teacher, and North Dakota United member, Jeff Schumacher calls home. This spring Schumacher and his students are hard at work, here, on a community project called Little Free Pantries. The pantries look a lot like the Little Free Libraries you may have seen around town the past few years. In this case, Schumacher’s students are building six pantries to spread throughout Bismarck to provide food for those in need. It’s an idea that Schumacher has embraced since he was first asked. “It’s our community of Bismarck, reaching out to low-income families and giving them something that — if they don’t have money in their pockets — we’ve got some food for you still,” Schumacher said. Former Jeannette Myhre teacher Kim Dockter came up with the idea years ago but followed through after a conversation with a former student recently released from prison. “I had been working with her through the process of transition, and she called and said, ‘Kim, I’m hungry. And I’ve never been hungry in my life; I’ve always had food.’ I asked her 14

ND United Voices

about the local food shelves, and she said she didn’t have a car to take public transportation. That’s when I pulled the idea back off the shelf,” Dockter said. Dockter said her connection to the public-school system as a former teacher, and the support of longtime NDU member and Jeannette Myhre social worker, Chris Hall, led her to move forward with the project and ask students at the Career Academy to construct the pantries. “We needed some boxes built and I thought, when I worked there, I had always really valued connecting the kids to the community. And so I thought maybe we could both take advantage of this and learn something and get this kicked off for our community,” Dockter said. Schumacher and his students began researching designs in April. He said it was a great fit because his students learned real-world skills while working for a greater cause. “They use many different types of machines and tools to put it together. And, you know, we talk about the different types of materials that we have to deal with and what we’re using there, air guns and using air-nailers and gluing everything together, and putting on shingles, and we actually show them this is how shingles are put on. Many of these kids haven’t done that before,” Schumacher said.

him. He says, as a Pre-Engineering Instructor, his department always looks at what it can do for the community. Plus, he says it’s rewarding to see kids complete a project from design to installation. “You know, five years from now they may look back at it and say, hey, that is the pantry box and we built it, and it does mean something. It is something I’m a part of, and I was able to grow within the community as an individual. Five years later, they’re an older person saying that was an important thing that we actually did for the community,” Schumacher said. Schumacher has been a teacher for over 20 years and says he’s been a proud NDU member his whole career. He says he thinks it’s important in whatever he does, from teaching to officiating, to be a part of the group. “I’m a part of a national refereeing group, I’m part of a North Dakota coaches group and NDU. So, I think any group I’m going to be involved with, anything I’m going to do, I need to be involved with them. If I’m a home builder, I want to be a part of the Homebuilders Association,” says Schumacher. Dockter is looking for places to host the pantries and says she’s open to churches, businesses or organizations who can help out. For more information about the Little Free Pantries project, you can contact Kim Dockter at

Schumacher says the Little Free Pantries are a point of pride for


Rep. Cynthia Schreiber-Beck, bottom row far left, and Se, Erin Oban, bottom row far right, were key players in getting the teacher innovation bill passed.


Senator excited to see educators reach kids where they are, take them even further By Sen. Erin Oban

Though the North Dakota Legislature only meets 80 days (or slightly fewer) every two years, many policy changes are years in the making. SB 2186, more often called the “education innovation bill,” is a perfect example. After years of meeting with teachers and administrators, Superintendent Kirsten Baesler heard an overwhelming theme from school districts of all sizes across the state: the desire to let teachers teach with greater freedom and flexibility, respecting the different styles and needs of their students. We all know – or at least we do if we’re paying any attention – countless teachers who lead the way in innovative teaching practices that engage and prepare their students for the future. But they’ve done so within certain constraints of state law. In an effort to take North Dakota kids’ K-12 educational experience to an even greater place, Superintendent Baesler invited a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce the education innovation bill in response to that very basic but bold request from school leaders. THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX As one of the co-sponsors of SB 2186, here’s my take on how it might work for schools with the leadership both inside and outside their school to make this a reality … 16

Upon receiving support from their community and with a vote of approval from their school board, school leaders can submit a plan to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) that describes what new or more innovative practices the entire school or part of the school wants to employ in the delivery of education. The plan can be accepted as is, amended if necessary, or rejected. As a part of that plan, the Superintendent now has the authority to waive state educational requirements, such as seat time or when, where, and how learning happens, that may inhibit or restrict those more innovative practices and educational experiences that can enhance learning. INNOVATION AT ALL LEVELS Each applying school’s plan can and probably will look different from the next. For one, it might be spearheaded by an administrator interested in school-wide changes. For some, it may come at the request of a team of teachers who want to incorporate subject areas and content standards together through, for example, semester-long projects with their students. For others, maybe a teacher wants to collaborate with a local business owner to oversee learning outside of the classroom or school day through an internship or work experience. For others still, perhaps a teacher wants to become more of a “facilitator” of learning, creating a more personalized approach where individual students freely move from one lesson to the next as they demonstrate proficiency. ND United Voices

Regardless of what the plan looks like or how extensive or widespread it is used, none of those practices looks “traditional” in the way our state laws sometimes still dictate. Now that SB 2186 is law, we’ve created more room for teachers and administrators and school districts to reach kids where they are and take them even further than imagined. And that’s exciting!

because they’re great “lobbyists” (or even because my husband works for you). I do it because I’ve shared your values long before being elected. And as a senator for thousands of families impacted each day by the quality of our schools, I feel a strong obligation to make what is great about our schools even better whenever the opportunity arises.

SHARED VALUES Helping shepherd this bill through the Senate on its path to becoming law was such a pleasure. As a fellow NDU member and former teacher, I don’t just follow NDU’s staff and mission

With SB 2186, the opportunity arose. I can’t wait to see what the real professionals, the leaders in education all across North Dakota, do with it.

House rose above challenges to encourage learner-focused programs By Rep. Cynthia Schreiber-Beck

Senate Bill 2186 – the Innovative Learning Bill – was important

legislation for school districts across North Dakota. From my perspective, this bill provides the opportunity for districts to design innovative education programs that focus on students and student success. This bill is not a legislative mandate, but a tool for districts to utilize. LOCAL CONTROL The language in 2186 allows the governing body of a school (public or private), with input from students, parents, teachers, administrators and the local community, the opportunity to design an innovative education program that must: •• Improve the delivery of education; •• Improve the administration of education; •• Provide an increased educational opportunity for students; or •• Improve the academic success of students If the proposal submitted by the school district or school meets the above requirements, and progress can be measured, a waiver of a current statute in 8 Chapters of Title 15.1 (Elementary and Secondary Education) or Chapter 15-20.1 (Career and Technical Education) may need to occur. Because it is not known what innovative programs may be designed, it is impossible to know what statutes, if any, may need to be waived in order for innovative learning to be incorporated. It is the responsibility of the school district to apply for the waiver of the statute(s) necessary to implement the innovative learning plan. If all requirements are met, the superintendent of public instruction may provide the waiver to the school or school district. STUDENT/LEARNER FOCUSED Innovative education in K-12 education is not a new concept. Many states have incorporated innovative education, as have many North Dakota educators. Additionally, students who are home-schooled and those students with an IEP, are afforded innovative educational opportunities. Innovative education programs focus on the learner. Jennifer Groff,

educational engineer and co-founder of the Center for Curriculum Redesign, defines the seven essential principles of innovative learning: learners have to be at the center of what happens in the classroom; learning is a social practice and can’t happen alone; emotions are an integral part of learning; learners are different; students need to be stretched, but not too much; assessment should be for learning, not of learning; and learning needs to be connected across disciplines. Innovative learning focuses on student-centered instruction followed by mastery of the content, then utilization of the skills and finally assessment when ready. As a former speech and language pathologist, I utilized those same steps, which were key to my students successfully completing program objectives and goals. LEGISLATIVE OBSTACLES From the perspective of a second-session representative, it was challenging for the House to pass an educational bill that would allow statutes to be waived without direct legislative oversight. Additionally, a majority of representatives would have experienced, and succeeded in, a traditional educational environment. As with any legislation, it was essential to provide data as to the importance of SB 2186, but also to outline the mechanics of the bill as related to the oversight and reporting requirements of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Communication from constituents regarding the significance of SB 2186 was also critical, and I appreciated the support garnered by the education community. MOVING FORWARD Education is the backbone of the economy. A workforce that can adapt to an ever-changing workplace and work pace with innovative ideas, maintains and grows the viability and vitality of North Dakota. All citizens share in the responsibility to provide students the opportunity to experience success in the educational arena, and educators shoulder a greater share of that responsibility. The goal from my legislative perspective should be to allow educators the flexibility to be innovative for the benefit of students. 17

Member Profile


NDU member Mark Halvorson is ‘walking encyclopedia’ of North Dakota knowledge By Kelly Hagen,

It’s said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This can be said of all of us as individuals, but it’s even more true of large groups of us, as communities, as states and societies. Therein lies the inherent value of state agencies such as the State Historical Society of North Dakota, which is charged with preserving and protecting the history of our state and region, and presenting it for public display at historic sites and museums across North Dakota. From the State Historical Society and its public employees, we can learn how our state and its people came to be where we are today, and we can avoid the pratfalls of the past, when they repeat themselves. “It’s interesting how some of the same arguments keep coming up, year after year after year,” said Mark Halvorson, the curator of collections research in the Museum Division of the State Historical Society and North Dakota United member. Halvorson regularly speaks with legislators and other state leaders about the role of historical collections in state government, and the value of knowing where we have been in determining where we are going. “We work with the Legislature, and we understand that it’s tough to ask anybody to vote for a tax increase,” Halvorson said. “But at the same time, we try to work with the legislators and help them to understand what the role of government is, what we do. ‘What does your agency do in my district?’ And so we have the facts sheets out: In this county, we provided this many school tours, we had this many traveling exhibits, this many objects have come in from that county.” 18

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When you understand the history of our state, you can better react to the challenges that come up. And there aren’t many people who understand the history of our state in more detailed of a fashion than Mark Halvorson, who has been described as a “walking encyclopedia.” Just while calling him on the telephone to set up a time to interview him for this article, I received more historical information about the railroads, Norwegian immigrants to our state and my hometown of Wilton than I could think to write down.

Halvorson’s family connections are the reason he came back to his home state after getting his master’s degree in history from Montana State University and working for the state of South Dakota for several years. “When I came back in 1990, I took a pay cut to come here,” he said. “But I came because I had family members; my mom and dad needed help. My dad had a stroke, so I was the one member of the family who could change their place of employment and move. And luckily there was one position open in the agency.”

“There are important things to remember in North Dakota history,” Halvorson said. “Agriculture is cyclical. It’s boom and bust; land values rise and they fall. They rise and they fall. That’s been happening since the 1870s, and people getting overextended? Happened in the 1870s, happened in the 1890s, happened in the 1920s, happened in the ’30s, happened again in the ’80s, which happened to coincide with the young farmers going bankrupt just at the second North Dakota oil boom started to hit the skids.”

Heritage and civic pride are very important traits to Halvorson. He proudly showed me his membership card from the North Dakota Public Employees Association, which he first joined five months after he started working at the Historical Society in 1990, and talked about growing up in a Farmers Union family, who believed in cooperatives. “I ask people, ‘Do you support your local farmers market?’ ‘Do you support your local food co-op?’ ‘Do you buy Dakota Maid flour?’” he said. “Because remember we’re the only state who has a state-owned mill and elevator, and the only state that has a state bank. I went to college, and my student loan was through the Bank of North Dakota. When I bought my house, it was on a mortgage from North Dakota Housing Finance Authority, which got their money from the Bank of North Dakota. Support local.”

Halvorson’s interest in history is rooted in his own personal history. He grew up on a farm near Rugby, and said that he first dreamed of growing up to be an engineer on the Great Northern Railway. However, a family trip to the museum in Bismarck at the age of six was what first started him on his current career path. “We came down to Bismarck. We went to the Capitol building, then we went to the museum. And that’s when I decided I wanted to work in the museum.” He is careful to delineate his passion area as being in the history of people, and not geography. “I don’t like rocks,” he said, with a laugh. “Rock is good for one thing: throwing it in a rock pile or putting it into a rock crusher and turning it into gravel. I’m not interested in rocks or fossils. For me, it was the family connection. Listening to stories told by relatives about when Grandma and Grandpa came over from the Old Country. “It was the connection of, where do I fit in the world? Why am I and my sister the only blondes in the family? Because we took after Dad; everyone else was dark-haired, brown-eyed. My sister and I were both blonde-haired, blue-eyed. So my German grandfather didn’t like me, because I was a little Norsky. And my Norwegian grandfather didn’t like me because I was a little Catholic. My folks had a mixed marriage in ’46. One of the first mixed marriages, right after the war – Norwegian Lutheran boy married a German-Russian Catholic girl. And that was a big deal in January of ’46 – huge deal.”

He’s also proud to say he was a charter member of North Dakota United. “When the choice came a couple of years ago to merge with the North Dakota Education Association to form North Dakota United, I was at that meeting,” he said. “I was a firm believer in creating North Dakota United, because it would give us the power of two organizations that would represent public employees, whether they’re here, at the State Hospital, or whether they’re teachers. These are people who perhaps aren’t recognized, whether by the general population or other state agencies, or the North Dakota legislators, and I feel it’s important that everyone should be a member.” And he is equally proud of the service he provides to his home state, while also being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. “I pointed this out the last couple of sessions, when they’ve asked about money that goes toward exhibits,” he said. “We still use cases that we, the people of North Dakota, purchased new in 1905. I think we’ve done pretty well with that nickel. It’s 112 years later, and we’re still using them.”


Supporters watch Williston Education Association negotiators bargain with their school board.


School districts avoided cuts, but face uncertain futures By Jane Rupprecht,

State budget forecasts and the downturn in oil and agriculture set up low expectations for this round of negotiations in North Dakota. Due to the passage of Measure 2, K-12 schools were able to avoid cuts in state funding. Other public entities suffered cuts, but public schools got a reprieve. Nonetheless, the outlook has not been optimistic. Mandan Education Association was at the bargaining table this year.

Many of the locals in the state are still at the table, but so far most of the settlements in salary have been between 2 percent and 7 percent increases. Because Measure 2 allowed more access to the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund, the per-pupil amount will remain at $9,646 for the next two years. Of that amount, districts contribute the equivalent of 60 mills and 75 percent to 100 percent of local in-lieu taxes. The state contribution makes up the difference. Districts where enrollment is declining or stagnant could see a reduction in the formula, but districts that are growing will see some increase of dollars in the General Fund for teaching and learning. In addition, districts can levy additional mills that provide income outside of the formula for the General Fund. In some larger districts, such as Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck, school boards have proposed salary freezes — no step increases for years of experience. As of the time United Voices went to print, Williston, Fargo and Grand Forks had declared impasses. Many locals are struggling to maintain the integrity of their current schedules by standing firm that current step and lane movements must occur. The average starting salary in the state for the 2016-17 school year is $38,055, which was an increase of about 4 percent over the previous year. The average salary in North Dakota has increased at around the


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Mandan Education Association members and supporters observe negotiations there.

rate of 3 percent consistently in the last few years. This year, many agreements are raising the starting salary to get closer to the $40,000 benchmark as the teacher shortage becomes more and more severe, especially in rural schools and hard-to-fill subject areas. School safety has become a public issue in districts across the state. In Fargo and Bismarck, teams have proposed Safe Workplace language: “Teachers have a right to a safe working environment, including the right to be free from threats of violence. Teachers may report unsafe conditions and expect action and written notification of such action within 15 days. A teacher may report assaults to police authorities without retaliation, reprisal, discipline or penalty. A teacher may request a conference regarding a student presenting potential, actual or immediate threat to the teacher.” The issue isn’t just about teacher and staff safety; concerns about the safety of students are paramount. As we see increases in violent outbursts in our schools, districts and teachers need to be able to work together to create safe environments for all school personnel and students. The Safe Workplace language is also a point of contention in the Fargo impasse. Locals are focusing their efforts on professional issues and contract language. Paid parental leave is on the table in several districts. Sargent Central at Forman was able to negotiate 12 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave. Other locals are looking at increasing sick leave and maternity/paternity/adoption benefits for new educators. College debt and childcare expenses create huge financial burdens on our new educators, and in this bargaining season, we are seeing that locals and districts are trying to address these issues. Teachers have always expressed frustration when their teaching assignment changes right at the beginning of the school year

Minot Education Association supporters packed the room to watch their negotiations

making it very difficult to be prepared for those first weeks. Many locals are going to the table and looking for a specific timeline for notice. Warwick was able to negotiate a three-week timeline with $500 compensation if an assignment is changed. Teachers realize that student numbers may be uncertain until school starts again in the fall. But they want as much notice as possible so that they are prepared when those students walk through the door on the first day. Elementary preparation time is also on the table in many locals. Many agreements already guarantee secondary prep time, which is easier to do because days are structured in defined periods, but elementary teachers often find themselves lacking time during the day for planning or responding to student learning. Guaranteeing that elementary teachers have adequate time for professional preparation has become a priority for many locals. It is one of the issues on the table in the Grand Forks impasse. Last year, there were no impasses in the state. This year will be different, but the issues are less about differences in salary and benefit proposals, and more about the maintenance of existing salary schedules and benefits along with professional issues. NDU provides support for locals in the area of impasses and bargaining assistance, both with staff consultation and research. On our website,, members can go to the tab “Your Work” and scroll to “Teachers” and then to “Bargaining Research” to see the data collections for this year. Also under “Teachers” is the link to “Negotiated Agreements,” where members can find all the current agreements. Locals can also contact NDU staff for on-site assistance and help with strategy, by calling 701-223-0450 or send an e-mail to 21



Kirsten Aafedt, of Grand Forks; Kayla Alexander Bennett, of Jamestown; Helbling, of Mandan; Levi Lemer, of Mackenzie Hokesvig, of Northwood; Drake; Kaitlyn Nelson, of Grafton; and Abigail Moberg, of Dickinson; and Sydney Tiffany Towne, of Bismarck, have been Trottier, of Bismarck, have been awarded awarded an NDU Education Scholarship an NDU Member/Dependent Scholarship from the North Dakota United Foundation from the North Dakota United Foundation for the 2017-18 year. NDU Education for the 2017-18 year. NDU Member/ Scholarships are awarded to a student Dependent Scholarships are awarded to a member of NDU, including student NEA/ member, including student members or AFT members in other states, who are dependents of an NDU member, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in pursuing post-secondary education in any Aafedt education. Bennett field of study, including vocational, Kirsten Aafedt will receive a cash award of $1,000 to pursue her associate or bachelor degree programs. degree in elementary and middle level education at the University Alexander Bennett, the son of Amy and Scott, will receive a cash of North Dakota. Aafedt is a student member of the University of award of $750 for his freshman year of study. Bennett plans to pursue North Dakota’s Student Education Association, Alpha Chi Omega a degree in chemical engineering and German from the University of Sorority and many honor societies. She also volunteers for events North Dakota. He has been studying German for the last five years at the Community Violence Intervention Center and worked as an through Jamestown High School and the University of North Dakota. elementary and middle school production instructor. He is active in choir, a member of the National Honors Society and started his own recycling pick-up business. Kayla Helbling will receive a total cash award of $1,500, as she Mackenzie Holkesvig, the daughter of Wendy and Jason, will receive a cash award of $750 for her freshman year of Architecture study at North Dakota State University. Holkesvig is an honor student and member of the North Dakota Academic All-State Bronze Team. She is active in her church as a worship assistant and vacation bible school teacher. She also writes for the local and school newspaper, is a teacher’s aide for Northwood Public School’s afterschool program and the Northwood Public Library.


Abigail Moberg, the daughter of Susan and Kevin, will receive a cash award of $1,000 for her first year of study in Biology at Dickinson State University. Moberg is a National Honor Society member and has served as chairperson for two years. She is active in her church and has taught Sunday school, served in various leadership positions and sings in the church choir. Other activities include Sons of Norway lodge musician and is a member of Leadership Dickinson.


Sydney Trottier, the daughter of Dan and Kolette, will receive a cash award of $1,000 for her freshman year of special education study at the University of Mary. Trottier is a senior at Century High School where she is Student Council President, editor of the school paper, captain of the dance team, and member of the National Honor Society. She also finds time to volunteer at St. Alexius Medical Center, the Bismarck Cancer Center and works as a marketing assistant at Brea Boutique.


was also awarded the Cindy and Gary Rath Education Scholarship. Helbling graduated from Bismarck State College and is majoring in Elementary Education at Dickinson State University. She is active in Dickinson State’s Student Education Association, an honor student and recently performed with shadow puppets for kindergarten and second grade students at a local elementary school. Levi Lemer, the son of Candy and Mitch, will receive a cash award of $500 for his junior year at Mayville State University. Lemer is pursuing a degree in history/chemistry education with a minor in coaching. He is a member of several honor societies, choir and a recipient of Mayville State’s Larson Leadership award.


Kaitlyn Nelson, the daughter of Rebecca and Brent, will receive a cash award of $1,000 for her sophomore year at Mayville State University. Nelson is pursuing her degree in elementary education with a minor in early childhood education. She was an advanced level skater with the Park River Skating Club, has been very active in 4-H, and is involved in Mayville State’s Newman Club, Theater and the MSU Student Education Association. Tiffany Towne will receive a $500 cash award to pursue a degree in Elementary Education from Dickinson State University. Towne is a member of several honor societies, a volunteer for Junior Achievement, Central Dakota Humane Society, and Special Olympics. She also serves as the secretary of the DSU Student Education Association.


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Braeton Erhardt, of Center; and Kayla Helbling, of Mandan, have been awarded the Cindy and Gary Rath Education Scholarship from the North Dakota United Foundation for the 2017-18 year. Cindy and Gary Rath Education Scholarship is available to a student member of North Dakota United, or a North Dakota resident who is a student NEA/AFT member in a other states who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in education. A Erhardt preference is given to a student attending Dickinson State University or Valley City State University. Braeton Erhardt will receive a cash award of $250. Erhardt is a senior at Dickinson State University, where she is studying secondary mathematics education and working on her middle school endorsement. She has been involved in the DSU Student Education Association and has held the offices of secretary/treasurer and president. She also tutors high school students and substitute teaches.



Mariah Sondrol of Bismarck, has been awarded the Mary Cripps Special Education Scholarship from the North Dakota United Foundation for the 2017-18 year. Sondrol will receive a cash award of $ 900 to pursue her Master of Special Education Strategy degree from the University of Mary. The Mary Cripps Special Education Scholarship is awarded annually to either an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing initial or advanced training in special education.


Sharon Klein, of Elgin; Robert Lukens, of Northwood; Crystal Michels, of Des Lacs; Joshua Tomarschy, of Taylor; and Missy Miedema, of Grand Forks, have been awarded the Ron & Ann Anstrom Scholarship for English, Math or Science Instructors from the North Dakota United Foundation for the 2017-18 year. The Ron & Ann Anstrom Scholarship Program is intended to assist individual English, math or science instructors to improve their qualifications by attending summer school or engaging in graduate level courses during the regular academic year, online courses or extension courses that are part of a graduate program. Sharon Klein will receive a cash award of $1,100 for her Master of Education degree in English. Klein currently teaches 11-12 English and Spanish I at Elgin/New Leipzig High School. She also teaches German and Spanish over the Great Western Network Interactive Television Consortium and has served as an English Adjunct Lecturer for Bismarck State College. By obtaining her Master’s Degree in English Education at Valley City State University this will enable her to continue to teach dual credit college level courses to high school students.


Robert Lukens will receive a cash award of $ 2,000 for his Master of Science in Education degree. Lukens currently teaches 1st grade in Northwood, and is in his fifth year of teaching in an elementary school. He is close to completing his master’s degree from Montana State University. He plans to become a board-certified teacher in science focusing on ages 11-15 and participate in the Northwood Robotics team. He and his wife have a new son.

Crystal Michels will receive a cash award of $1,150 for her Master of Arts degree in English from Bowling Green State University. Michels has been an educator for five years. She began teaching in rural schools where she learned to teach a BILL OBAN SPECIAL EDUCATION multitude of students with a variety of skill SCHOLARSHIP levels. She is currently the department chair Sarah Stoltz, of Bismarck, has been at Minot High School Central Campus awarded the Bill Oban Special Education where she teaches tenth grade English, Scholarship from the North Dakota United speech and media journalism classes. Her Foundation for the 2017-18 year. Stoltz, the Michels favorite area of English is teaching writing. daughter of Susan and Matthew, will She is also the advisor for the school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance, receive a cash award of $750 for her junior where she has learned that all students need to feel accepted and able. year of elementary and special education study. The Bill Oban Special Education Joshua Tormaschy will receive a cash award of $ 5,000 to pursue his Scholarship is awarded annually to an Master of Arts degree in Mathematics 5-12 from Western Governor’s outstanding undergraduate student who is University. Tormaschy has been teaching mathematics at South Heart preparing for a career in special education. High School for the past nine years where he teaches various math Stoltz Stoltz has been on the University of Mary’s classes and dual-credit courses through Bismarck State College to high to entering the teaching profession, Tormaschy Dean’s list for five consecutive semesters, is a tutor at St. Mary’s Grade school seniors. Prior th served in the 75 Ranger Regiment Special Troops Company in the School, a caregiver at Noah’s Ark Daycare and a coach at Light of Army. He and his wife live on the family farm and have two children. Christ Catholic Schools. Sondrol works as a special education teacher at Simle Middle School in Bismarck. As an undergraduate student she earned three degrees (early childhood education, elementary education and special education) in three and a half year!


Missy Miedema will receive a cash award of $1,150 to take graduate-level classes to become a dual-credit Composition teacher. Miedema is an English teacher at Grand Forks Central High School. The Anstrom Scholarship will enable her to meet the requirements to teach these advanced classes.


Holly Fiechtner, of Fargo; and Steven Henry Lau, of Mandan; have been awarded the Joseph A. Westby Leadership Award from the North Dakota United Foundation for the 2017-18 year. The Joseph A. Westby Leadership Award was created by former North Dakota Education Association Executive Director Joe Westby, who recognized the need to encourage members and staff to pursue leadership training. Holly Fiechtner will receive a cash award of $900. Fiechtner is a Fargo educator who teaches seventh grade language arts at Ben Franklin Middle School. She is enrolled in the North Dakota State University’s Educational Leadership program. Fiechtner participates in the Language Arts Audit Committee, is a Team Leader, Course Captain and is a member of the MTSS Steering Committee member.



Missy Miedema; Lisa Dullum, of West Fargo: and Mary McNally, of Minot, have been awarded an NDU Member Grant. The ND United Member Grant Program is designed to assist individual members or a group of members improve their skills through continued education research or the development of materials, techniques or activities to improve public service or public education in North Dakota. Missy Miedema will receive a cash award of $450 to attend the NDCTE conference this summer, along with a colleague, where they will learn to teach students to read nonfiction critically. They will pass on what they learn to the Grand Forks Public Schools English Language Arts Advisory Committee and engage in a book study of Diving Deep into Nonfiction, Grades 6-12: Transferable Tools for Reading ANY Nonfiction Text by Jeffrey Wilhelm. Mr. Wilhelm will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Lisa Dullum will receive a cash award of $500 to attend a professional development seminar for music education. Dullum has taught music education for 17 years in West Fargo and currently serves as one of the West Fargo Elementary Music Team Leaders. She has worked diligently to align music curriculum, pacing guide and standards to the new NAFME Music Standards. This professional development opportunity that is geared to music education will help her prepare for changes in possible North Dakota music standard changes.

Fiechtner Steven Henry Lau will receive a cash award of $900. Lau teaches at Mandan Middle School, and is pursuing a Master of Education at North Dakota State University and the Teacher Leader Academy. He enjoys coaching students in sports and academics. His goal is to become principal or athletic director. He currently coaches football, basketball and is the history club advisor and part of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Lau Determination), a new initiative in Mandan to produce college-ready students. This summer, he will be leading a student trip to Washington, D.C. and New York.

Mary McNally will receive a cash award of $1,187 to gain Level II Orff through NDSU this summer. McNally currently teaches at Edison Elementary School in Minot. Orff teachers help students become independent musicians by incorporating literature, poetry, speech, song, art, drama, movement, dance, culture, art, and drumming in their classes. McNally is active in a community folk dance group both as a teacher and dancer. She also volunteers her time in the community directing and organizing DoReMi Choir, a children’s choir that meets before school twice a week.


ND United Voices

Communications Corner


By Kelly Hagen Director of Communications

We want to tell the public about the work you do Stories about Sara Medalen, who runs a hair salon in her classroom, and combs and braids children’s hair while they read books. Stories about Mark Halvorson, the “human encyclopedia” who has been helping to find pieces of our I don’t have guitars. What I do have is an announcement. About public services. This is a public services announcement! (No guitars.) history and display them at the Heritage Center and historical spaces all across our state. Stories about Jeff Schumacher, a shop teacher, The public overwhelmingly supports you. Public employees, higher helping to build Tiny Free Food Pantries to set up across Bismarck education faculty and staff, teachers and school support staff. They and help feed the hungry. love you; we know that. What they don’t know is what you are all These are all members of North Dakota United. They’re public doing each day for them. employees and teachers. They work in higher education. They drive But do you know which sort of people really don’t know what you school buses. They monitor air and water quality. They care for our do at your jobs, on their behalf ? Policy makers. And they’re the ones most vulnerable. They teach kids. They are you, and you are NDU. who control the purse strings. Legislators decide on funding levels to school districts and state agencies and universities. Very few of them So, what’s your story? have ever walked a day in your shoes. School boards decide on your If you’re doing something a little different on the job, and getting working conditions, salary and benefits. Rarely do they know much great results, call on us and we’ll help you to promote the work about the issues you face every day in the classroom. you do. Or maybe you have a story you want to tell, yourself. We welcome your voices and your stories, no matter how you wish to So, what do we do? Well, considering this is Communications share them. Call our office at 701-223-0450, and ask to speak to Corner, it’s a pretty safe bet I’m going to tell you to communicate communications. Or e-mail us at or about it. Send a message through social media We are embarking on an ambitious campaign at North Dakota on our Facebook or Twitter pages, @ndunited. Smoke signals, United, titled: “Working for North Dakota.” What is it? Glad I carrier pigeons, snail mail, telegrams, etc. Just get our attention, and asked. We want to tell your stories to the public, who elects all of the we’d love to come talk to you about what you do. policy makers. We want them to know who you are. We want them to know what you do. Most importantly, we want them to know all It’s time, now. We need to start telling the communities around us what we are all doing for them, so that they can better understand of the great work you do for them and for their kids. Consider it a who we are as people, as public workers, and as an association. We’re public services announcement. excited for the challenge. You can see some of our efforts in this magazine, as well as online Let’s do it! With guitars! at, under the News tab, or at our Medium blog, One of my favorite songs by The Clash starts off with Joe Strummer bellowing, “This is a public service announcement! With guitars!”


NDU President Nick Archuleta

NDPERS Director Sparb Collins


NDU members meet in Bismarck, Grand Forks to chart course of our organization For the first time in our history, North Dakota United held two Regional Delegate Assemblies this year. The first was held April 21-22 in Grand Forks at the Hilton Garden Inn, and the West Regional Delegate Assembly was hosted in Bismarck at the Radisson Hotel on April 28-29.  Our Delegate Assemblies chart the course for North Dakota United. Our members voted on this year’s business items, and on state delegates to the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly in Boston this summer. This is your opportunity to play a leading role in your association! Additionally, the NDU Bargaining Conferences were held in conjunction with the NDU Regional Delegate Assemblies. The Bargaining Conference is designed to inform and prepare local associations with collective-bargaining rights on the many different aspects of negotiations. The conference included sessions to help you and your members negotiate the best possible agreement, with topics such as School Finance, State Budgets for Public Employees and Higher Education, Contract Language, Table Strategies and Professional Issues.  26

ND United Voices

State Sen Ray Holmberg addresses the group in Grand Forks.

Executive Director Chad Oban delivers some remarks to the crowd in Bismarck.

President Archuleta helps to hand out materials to attendees in Bismarck.

NDU Director of Public Affairs Tom Gerhardt, left, and President Archuleta wrapped up the legislative session in Bismarck.

Vice President of Public Employees Gary Feist speaks on the budget in Grand Forks.























Elections to be held for all NDU Board of Directors spots in 2018 Elections will be held for 12 slots on the North Dakota United (NDU) Board of Directors during the NDU Delegate Assembly in April 2018. This is your opportunity to serve as a leader for the state’s foremost champion of public education and public services. Our Board of Directors meets regularly, and governs over the association, in the best interest of our members. It’s an important responsibility, and any member of NDU in good standing is eligible to run. The slots open on the NDU Board of Directors include: •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• ••

Northeast Region Northwest Region Southwest Region Southeast Region K-12 District (Less than 600 students) K-12 District (More than 600 students) Public Employee Education Support Professional Higher Education Support Professional Higher Education (two-year institution) Higher Education (four-year institution) Ethnic Director

The student and retired positions are elected by their respective groups. All new board members take office July 15, 2018. Petitions for these positions must be filed by Feb. 15, 2018, with 50 signatures from active members in good standing. The student and retired positions are elected by their constituencies. However, all positions will be voted on at the 2018 Delegate Assembly. Please contact Ellie Sharbono to request petitions. Election for president, two vice presidents and NEA director will be held at the Delegate Assembly in 2019. 28

ND United Voices


U can help make the difference The North Dakota Legislature just wrapped up a very difficult session.

•• Drastic budget cuts •• Threats of increased health insurance costs •• A myriad of wrong-headed policies that would affect our workplaces and our ability to serve our kids and North Dakotans We did have some wins worth celebrating, such as passing Measure 2 in the fall, which prevented even more draconian cuts, securing our fully employer paid health insurance premiums for state workers and higher education, and keeping firearms out of our schools and public buildings. Despite these victories, a startling fact remains: The 2019 session will be even worse for all of us if we don’t stand up today for a Legislature that will fight for quality public education and services. Like it or not, we all have political jobs. Elected officials are our ultimate bosses and decide our pay, benefits, and working conditions.  We can’t change that fact, but we can decide to get off the sidelines and help choose who’s calling the shots about our job.  To do that, we need to run effective, non-partisan campaigns that focus on the issues that matter and that takes money. That’s why we are asking you to consider contributing today to the United Political Action Committee (UPAC). UPAC is our issue-based, member-driven political program to ensure that our voices are heard. Plain and simple, UPAC helps elect pro-public education and service candidates and holds them accountable. By pooling our resources together, we will have an even more effective voice in Bismarck and will be able to educate voters about the critical decisions elected officials make about our schools and public services every single day.  Your contribution of just $5 per month, or whatever you can afford, will guarantee that, together, we have the resources we need to elect folks who will stand up for our kids, our schools, our services, and hold them accountable if they stand in the way of progress for our communities. Please fill-out and mail back the form below to do your part to make sure public education and services are at the table and not on the menu in Bismarck!

NDU Member Contribution – United Political Action Committee (UPAC) Complete and mail with your check today to: UPAC, 301 N 4th St., Bismarck, ND 58501-4020.

Name (please print): _________________________________________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Occupation: ________________________________________Name of Employer: _______________________________________ Membership ID #: _______________________ Local Association:___________________________________________________ Email Address: _____________________________________________________________________________________________ The United Political Action Committee (United PAC) collect voluntary contributions from Association members which are used for political purposes, including, but not limited to, making contributions to and expenditures on behalf of supporters of public education and public services, who are candidates for state and local office. Only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents may contribute to these funds. Contributions to these funds are voluntary; making a contribution is neither a condition of employment nor membership in the Association, and members have the right to refuse to contribute without suffering any reprisal. A member may contribute more or less than the suggested amount, or may contribute nothing at all, without it affecting his or her membership status, rights, or benefits in NEA, AFT, NDU, or any of their affiliates. Contributions to these funds are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in a calendar year.

Signature: ______________________________________________________________

Date: ___________________________ 29



Grandpa Daughter



NEA members are entitled to Complimentary life insurance. Have you named your beneficiary? If you’re an eligible NEA member,* you’re covered. You have NEA Complimentary Life Insurance issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America (Prudential). It’s active right now and you don’t have to take a nickel out of your pocket to keep it active. But you will want to take a minute or so to name your beneficiary. Or reconfirm the choice you already made. Making your choice can speed up benefit payments to loved ones who need them.


Don’t wait! Name your beneficiary today and get this FREE tote bag from NEA Members Insurance Trust. Go to or call 1-855-NEA-LIFE and mention offer code: TOTEBAG (632-5433)


*Visit us online or call for eligibility requirements. NEA Members Insurance Trust is a registered trademark of the NEA Members Insurance Trust. NEA Complimentary Life Insurance coverage is issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ. 0289584-00001-00

ND United Voices DT370617



Why are we involved with working with our ND Legislature and Congress? By Nancy Peterson NDU-Retired President

On a weekly radio show in Wisconsin recently, Rep. Paul Ryan said he is in opposition to President Trump over the Medicare issue. He wants to privatize it and will focus his attention on this issue soon. (National Legislative Retiree Network)

• 71 percent of unmarried rely on Social Security for over 50 percent of their monthly income. (National Legislative Retiree Network)

• 77 percent of today’s workers say they are worried about Social Security going bankrupt. (TransAmerica Survey, March, 2017)

• N.D. Legislature looked to make changes to the makeup of the PERS Board. • NDU members will not receive raises in their income due to action for the next two years.

• N.D. Legislature wanted to end the PERS health insurance contract with Sanford and reissue bids for new insurance without doing the preliminary work to make this a legal process.

• N.D. Legislature made it legal for anyone to carry a gun without having a gun safety class, background check and be 18 years old. For these reasons and many more, we as members of NDU must remain active and make sure our earned rights and privileges remain. Please consider joining NDU-R before the Sept. 1 dues increase takes effect. Our organization is only as strong as our membership. Join now and save yourself some money in the future! Hope everyone has a great summer, and I look forward to seeing you in the future.

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 $49 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 $409 for Lifetime Retired. _____ Expected Date of Retirement ___________ (month/year) _______ I wish to pay one payment of $49 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. 3 No. 4  

The summer edition of North Dakota United's official magazine, United Voices, features the story of Sara Medalen of Minot. She is a Title 1...

United Voices, Vol. 3 No. 4  

The summer edition of North Dakota United's official magazine, United Voices, features the story of Sara Medalen of Minot. She is a Title 1...