Issuu on Google+

May 2010

In My Classroom Loft elevates reading lessons Page 4

volume 2 | issue 6

W

Collaboration is the key

e know that learning doesn’t stop when the bell rings at the end of the school day. Just ask Fond du Lac educator Michelle Paulson (page 2), who visits her students’ homes during a mapping exercise and coordinates schedules with parents so she can read a bedtime story to her second-grade students at night. We know that sitting in a classroom isn’t enough for today’s students. Take it from Milwaukee’s Tony Wacker and Adams-Friendship’s Erica Ringelspaugh (page 6). The two high school teachers participate in an online exchange program run by their former college professor, which ends with teens in the two schools meeting

With buttons and bake sales, WEAC members are Moving Education Forward.

insideandonline

up during the semester and learning about their cultural differences and similarities. We know it takes community participation in our schools to make education the best it can be for students. School staff across the state showed just that this spring by engaging their communities in dialogue on Moving Education Forward (page 7). Local association members wore buttons, gave away baked goods and brought attention to the serious need for school funding reform in Wisconsin. We know we can’t do this alone. Reaching out into the community as special education teacher Heather Eisenman does gives students valuable life lessons and skills they can use for the rest of their lives (page 2). With community support (and a few hundred volunteers), amazing things can happen in schools, as Student WEA’s Outreach to Teach event showed in bringing “dream” renovations to Pardeeville this year, the district administrator said (page 7). We know we need to be active in reform discussions at the state and national levels. Educators joined in the effort to create an education reform proposal that gives the state superintendent intervention authority

in chronically low-performing school districts (page 3). With that cooperation, the people in the classroom have a voice in

Student WEA volunteers spent a weekend painting walls and making repairs at two schools in Pardeeville.

how reform will be handled. Educators were also at the table for the next round of our state’s Race to the Top application (page 5). Discussions also continue between many stakeholders of public schools – WEAC, state officials, civic groups and others – in a Family/School/Community Engagement Summit set for May 22. In short, collaboration is the key. The stories shared here show how when we all work together for our public schools, everyone benefits. ■

Salad as lesson in life skills

Celebrating the Small Steps

Start reading your junk mail!

Summer discounts are heating up

Racine teacher creates fun food program for students

2010 Representative Assembly sets the course

Bob Moeller explains new credit card fees and scams

Get discounts on water park, museum tickets this summer

Page 2 www.weac.org/spotlight

Pages 8-9 www.weac.org/ra2010

Page 11 www.weac.org/dollars

Page 12 www.weac.org


Teacher asks: ‘Got your jammies on?’ It’s no secret educators spend hours outside of their contract time on their jobs. It could be a coach donating time to afterschool sports, a teacher grading assignments, or someone attending a district or parent meeting. It just so happens Michelle Paulson’s activity is reading. Paulson, a teacher at Fond du Lac’s Roberts Elementary School, spends most nights calling up her second-grade students on a schedule and reading them a good-night story. No stranger to her classroom’s parents anyway (she drives to each student’s home during a mapping exercise), she contacts each student’s parents every year – to make sure all were included – and asks if she can share her love of reading with their kids. “It’s just a simple note: ‘I love to read, and to share this with your kid I’d love to read them a bedtime story,’” said Paulson, adding that parents thank her for the extra effort. ■ For more on Paulson’s bedtime stories, visit www.weac.org/spotlight.

Mary Bell, President Guy Costello, Vice President Betsy Kippers, Secretary-Treasurer Dan Burkhalter, Executive Director Kim Haas, Public Relations Director Bill Hurley, Editor Matthew Call, Assistant Editor Laura DeVries, Graphic Design Specialist Contributing writer: Bob Moeller

2

Member Spotlight Heather Eisenman Special education teacher Wadewitz Elementary School, Racine

Life skills are important for any student, but they are especially critical for those with cognitive disabilities - or the ones Heather Eisenman says “learn a little differently than others.” And for those learners, “Lettuce Toss a Salad” is one of the most important lessons Eisenman imparts on her elementary school students. Three years ago Eisenman – a special education teacher at Wadewitz Elementary School in Racine – created “Lettuce Toss a Salad,” a program run every other week that has her 11 students from first through fifth grade making lunch for teachers and community members. But “making” just doesn't do it justice. “Monday the order forms are passed out to the staff. Tuesday and Wednesday we collect the forms and money. Wednesday the grocery list is written from the amount of each ingredient and money we have collected. Thursday we go shopping. Friday we chop all the ingredients,”

Eisenman said. “They have to read order forms, make change, and say appropriate greetings to each customer. They love the entire experience.” Eisenman, a board member of the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, wants to start her students off on the right foot with respect to learning skills they can use for the rest of their lives. The “Lettuce” program encompasses a wide range of tasks over a broad range of skill levels. Budgeting, planning, working with food, interacting with people and many other activities are involved with the program, with older students helping the younger ones learn what to do. “It makes them excited about school,” Eisenman said. If you’d like to shine a spotlight on one of your colleagues, e-mail us at inprint@weac.org. ■ Read the full profile at www.weac.org/spotlight.

WEAC in Print (ISSN#1531-6831)

e-mail: inprint@weac.org

All materials in this periodical may be

is published by the Wisconsin Education

reproduced by members for distribution to

Association Council, an affiliate of the

students or by WEAC affiliate associations

National Education Association, as a service

for their own publications. WEAC dues

to members of its affiliates. WEAC in Print is

include $6.27 for a subscription to WEAC

published in September, October, November,

In Print. Periodical postage paid at Madison

December, February, March, May and June.

WI and additional mailing offices.

Copyrighted 2010 by WEAC, 33 Nob Hill

Postmaster: Send address corrections

Rd., PO Box 8003, Madison, WI, 53708-8003,

to WEAC In Print, P.O. Box 8003,

608-276-7711 or 1-800-362-8034.

Madison, WI, 53708

May 2010

|

WEACinPrint


At the Capitol

Educators rally behind reform WEAC joined Governor Jim Doyle last month as he signed into law an education reform bill designed to increase student learning in the classroom using a consistent and rigorous curriculum and meaningful collaboration between school leaders and staff. The law was the result of a For more on the collaborative approach to school reform reform bill, visit to turn around struggling schools. While www.weac.org/news. the proposed legislation would impact only Milwaukee Public Schools currently, the measure provides a framework for struggling schools everywhere in Wisconsin. The legislation includes a number of reforms that Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and WEAC have sought: professional development and support for teachers and administrators, comprehensive wrap-around services for students and families, strategic parent outreach and education programs, and opportunities for the community and educators to be involved in the decisions that impact the schools. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when communities, parents, educators and elected leaders work together on behalf of children,” WEAC President Mary Bell said. ■

Be a part of your union’s critical decisions Want to be a part of the critical decisions that guide your union’s actions on legislative policy, resolution changes, elections and other aspects of union business? WEAC is accepting nominations for membership in committees charged with doing those tasks and a lot more. Visit www.weac.org/members for a nomination form to be a part of these committees (nominations forms are due by July 9): • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Constitution, Bylaws & Standing Rules Credentials & Elections Education Support Professional Exceptional Education Human Relations Instruction & Professional Development Legislative Minority Affairs Political Action Committee Public Relations Resolutions Review Board Scholarship Review WTCS

O n l i n e e x t r a s | Get more from WEAC in Print on the Web 1,000 Facebook fan 'likes' and going strong

Celebrating educators with inspiring stories

The WEAC Facebook page reached and surpassed 1,000 fans (now called “likes”) recently, and of course there’s still room for you to join in. Visit www.facebook.com/myweac to join our page. You’ll find news and alerts on union activities and education-related topics. You can also join in discussions among your colleagues across the state.

Did you receive a thank-you for Teacher Appreciation Week? Dozens of educators across the state were recognized at www.myteacherisgreat. org, where parents, students and other community members celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week this month by honoring an educator who inspired them.

Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with your peers and union activists. Join and a be a fan today! ■

Visit www.myteacherisgreat.org to read the stories of how you or your colleagues are making a difference in students’ lives every day. ■

What is your favorite social media tool? Do you update Facebook constantly? Get all your news from Twitter? Comment on your favorite blog? Join in our newest poll and let us know. Register your opinion at www.weac.org/multimedia. ■

www.weac.org

|

May 2010

3


Taking reading to new heights

In My classroom

4

Have a comment? Know of a classroom or project you’d like to see featured in WEAC in Print? Visit www.weac.org/classroom for more.

T

hird-grade teacher Mary Herricks’ classroom is kind of like a little democracy. With her students having the chance to choose from different learning activities throughout the day to deciding where to go to do them, Herricks is careful to let her students have a share in ownership of the classroom. “All the literacy choices in my room are based on student input,” said Herricks, a teacher at Emmeline Cook Elementary School in Oshkosh. “The students take ownership in the classroom.” One of the room’s most popular attractions – a custom-made loft in the back corner of the room – necessitates that students compromise and take part in scheduling. With a capacity of four students at a time, mostly everyone in class does get a chance to climb into the loft on any given day, but many will have to wait for their turn – a process Herricks’ students have adjusted well to, she said. And on some days, sacrifices have to be made, especially if another grade comes in for “buddy reading” (seen here with first-graders and third-graders reading to each other). On those days some students will miss their chance to read in the loft, donating it to visitors. “My students are great about making decisions that benefit all,” said Herricks, who has been teaching for 34 years.

The wood reading loft was built nearly 30 years ago Mary Herricks when Herricks Third-grade teacher, Oshkosh adapted the idea from a platform she saw in another classroom. The structure gives students a sense of independence, she said, and solidifies their assigned reading activity. “I have always enjoyed having a special place where my students could develop a love for reading,” Herricks said. When it was built in the 1980s, a parent of a student in Herricks’ class constructed it right into the room. The structure created several spots into which students can relax and get a sense of privacy for their individual reading times or other activities. Underneath the loft now holds a rack for puppets and CD players with audiobooks for students’ “listening to read” lessons. “It is so very important to me to have my students love to read as this is a lifelong skill and the loft certainly nurtures this love,” Herricks said. ■

May 2010

|

WEACinPrint


Share Your Photos

To share photos of activities in your local association or school district, please e-mail photo files to InPrint@weac.org. w w w. w e a c . o r g / s h a r e p h o t o s

Race to the Top: Phase 2 Wisconsin is again vying for education stimulus money through the federal Race to the Top program – and this time around educators are at the table in improving quality in classrooms across the state. The Race to the Top will award up to $3.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to states. Wisconsin is eligible for up to $250 million. The state’s phase two application was developed with the input of educators. The application includes research-based school improvement strategies and honors the local collective bargaining process.

Fond du Lac fourth-graders not only got to cheer the Brewers during a free trip to Miller Park for what turned out to be an extra innings ballgame, they got a lesson in meteorology as well. Terri Schlack (far right) and her Roberts Elementary School students were the winners of WEAC’s Weather Day contest, held in conjunction with the Milwaukee Brewers. Schlack was one of 73 entrants into the contest. During Weather Day at Miller Park, students enjoyed a special meteorology lesson and Science Fair. They also got to stick around and watch the Brewers take on the Pirates. Watch for this contest again next spring at www.weac.org! ■

While the state’s first application was not successful, its second effort includes feedback from educators and other stakeholders. The application for phase two funding aims to bring about meaningful reform in our schools, with the commitment and support of Wisconsin’s educators. Giving educators a voice in strengthening their schools will benefit students and ultimately strengthen the state’s application. The state circulated its application to local school leaders this month for review and endorsement. ■ For more on Race to the Top, visit www.weac.org/racetothetop.

Educators voice support for jobs bill WEAC’s NEA directors joined other educators across the country in voicing their support for – and urging passage of – the federal Local Jobs for America Act.

During the third St. Baldrick’s Day event, members of Mosinee and area communities, students, and school district employees committed to shaving their heads as a way to show support to children with cancer who typically lose their hair while undergoing treatment. Petitioning family and friends for donations in an attempt to raise money, volunteers underwent the razor and were shaved bald. The money raised is used for childhood cancer research. ■

www.weac.org

|

May 2010

The Local Jobs for America Act includes $23 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to create/save public sector jobs, including 250,000 education jobs. Additionally, the bill would make available as much as $15 billion directly to local governments to create/save education jobs. To find our more about the jobs bill, visit www.weac.org/news. ■ 5


On the same page Reading project brings Milwaukee, Adams-Friendship together

T

he Adams-Friendship and Milwaukee districts are less than three hours apart. But for some teenagers in either community, the other might as well be a world away. Some of the students in Erica Ringelspaugh’s Adams-Friendship High School class have never been farther away than Wisconsin Dells. Some of Tony Wacker’s students at Milwaukee Vincent High School class haven’t been out of Milwaukee. But the two teachers’ students come together – online and at the end of the semester – every year to talk culture, literature and diversity in what began as a professor’s research project and now serves as a program to broaden the minds of students and student teachers. In the spring semester of the past four years, Ringelspaugh and Wacker have facilitated in their schools a program called Literature Circles Diversity Collaboration Project. Students in Wacker’s Milwaukee classes – where the school is about 90 percent black – and Ringelspaugh’s Adams-Friendship classes – where the school is more than 90 percent white – delve into a selection of books to begin discussions about race and other topics. “Some of my students have never been out of Adams County,” Ringelspaugh said. To break down stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas – it’s really interesting to watch.” “Some of my students said, ‘Wow you snowmobile to school,’” Wacker added. “But then they find out they’re on Facebook, and it’s OK. This gives the students the opportunity to see the similarities they have and give them exposure to things they might not have seen before. It’s striking how similar they are. Over spring break, they both didn’t want to do any work.”

Common connection What the two teachers have in common is what made the connection for the program

6

Students play an ice-breaking name game in which they try to guess the character’s name taped to their back.

“To break down stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas – it’s really interesting to watch.” Erica Ringelspaugh, English teacher, Adams-Friendship

to begin. Wacker was at a conference with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point professor Barbara Dixson – his instructor when he was studying to be an English teacher – when the two heard about a literature circles program on a small scale. Thinking about another one of her former students now in Adams-Friendship and how different in culture her class was from Wacker’s Milwaukee class, Dixson created the

collaboration project as a grant program while she was a teaching scholar. The program has since received funding from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and Dixson is looking for underwriting for a fifth year. Pre-service teachers from Dixson’s Stevens Point classes work up a lesson plan and start the program online (they meet the students in Friendship or Milwaukee during the course). From then on, the pre-service teachers post discussion questions online for high school students of both communities to answer. Students are encouraged to respond to each others’ posts and they are graded by the pre-service teachers in consultation with Ringelspaugh and Wacker.

Meeting face to face On April 30, both school classes met with the pre-service teachers at the Stevens Point campus, where they toured the grounds and gave a final presentation. Dixson said the visit to UW-Stevens Point is a boost for some

May 2010

|

WEACinPrint


students who might not have thought about attending college. “That’s a big piece for the high school students, because they may not be from a place where they know people going to college,” she said. Meeting their online counterparts in person – and exchanging e-mail addresses and phone numbers – is a significant piece of the project as the students are familiar with the experiences and viewpoints of their peers, but have never been in the same room.

What it takes to Move Education Forward Educators have taken a crucial step in Moving Education Forward. Virtually every district in the state is dealing with budget issues, so to put a spotlight on the need for school funding reform educators are using this spring to start a discussion of what we want our schools to be and where we go from here. In Onalaska, educators organized a booth at the Coulee Parenting Connection Family Fun Fair. Allison Pratt, a teacher at Onalaska’s Eagle Bluff Elementary School and co-president of the Onalaska Education Association, said now is the time to start a dialogue about the effects years of diminishing resources have had on schools.

Tony Wacker and Erica Ringelspaugh bring together their classes after spring semester to talk literature and cultural similarities.

“At the beginning they’re a little uncomfortable and shy and at the end they’re friending everybody on Facebook,” Wacker said. “The really fun part is they’ve been talking with each other and they know names and personalities but they haven’t met in person,” Ringelspaugh added. The program now centers on books such as “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, “Fallen Angels” by Walter Dean Myers, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, and “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. The books selected are meant to bring diversity to the narrative and spur discussions among the students. Wacker said a long-term goal of the project includes adding a school in a Native American setting, for instance, and broadening the cultural references of the books and discussions. “It really is for me, and for Erica, why we got into teaching,” Wacker said. ■

www.weac.org

|

May 2010

“At the end of the day, it made my heart so full to be able to talk to people about school issues important to my students and their families,” Pratt said. “This is a critical time. We have to be out there fixing things for our kids.” Educators across the state are also writing postcards with anecdotes of

what’s happening in their schools. And they’re talking with community members. There is much to be done to raise awareness of school funding reform, and educators this spring are truly Moving Education Forward. ■ For more on Moving Education Forward, visit www.weac.org/ schoolfunding.

Student WEA’s Outreach to Teach effort results in ‘dream’ renovations The annual Student WEA Outreach to Teach effort brought 200 college students to two schools in Pardeeville in April to transform the buildings with murals, stairway ramps and a cosmetic facelift. “All these little projects that we can’t get done or we have to do ourselves or that keep getting cut, all of a sudden can get done,” said Lisa Weatherbee, a teacher at Pardeeville’s Marcellon Elementary School. “It’s things like this we would dream about doing, and we now we have them done,” added Pardeeville Area School District Administrator Gus Knitt.

“It just takes a lot of teamwork and a lot of cooperation,” said Erin Flanagan, Student WEA State Secretary. To see a video of the Outreach to Teach effort, visit www.weac.org/video. ■ 7


Representative Assembly celebrates members’ Small Steps...Big Difference in Washington, D.C. – that health care is a critical component of education.

T

he 2010 WEAC Representative Assembly held last month in Green Bay celebrated the Smalls Steps … Big Difference made by WEAC members by highlighting the work of educators across the state to improve their schools and their professions. “I do believe in the power of small steps to turn the tide – small steps to reposition our union of educators around the quality we demand, from ourselves, our students and our schools,” WEAC President Mary Bell said to delegates. “This requires small steps not from a few but from Mary Bell was elected many, all in the to a second term as same direction. WEAC president. Our actions at the local level are creating rich layers, a foundation from which our state and federal actions can be built and sustained.” Bell, along with Vice President Guy Costello and Secretary/Treasurer Betsy Kippers, highlighted some of the many stories of WEAC members who have worked to engage community members or pass statewide laws benefitting our schools.

“Congress listened to our members and our coalition allies and historic health care reform legislation was passed that will make life better for our members and our students,” Costello said.

Elections In elections held at the 2010 Betsy Kippers is RA, WEAC WEAC's new vice President Bell president. was elected to a second term; she ran unopposed. In a contested race, Secretary/Treasurer Kippers was elected to vice president over Shelly Moore. This summer Kippers will succeed Costello, who did not run for reelection. Additionally, Britt Hall was elected NEA Director (Seat #3), and Laura Vernon (NEA Director Seat #2) and Brad Lutes (Alternate NEA Director) were re-elected.

Constitution/Resolutions changes Delegates to the RA approved three Constitution/Bylaw amendments. Two amendments specify how officer vacancies are handled. Under one amendment approved by delegates, a vacancy in the office of vice president or secretary/treasurer shall be filled within 60 days by a majority vote of the total

membership of the board of directors; at the next annual meeting of the Representative Assembly, a vice president or secretary/ treasurer shall be elected to complete the unexpired term. The second officer vacancy amendment states that if an NEA director is unable to complete his or her term, the alternate NEA director shall fill the vacancy for the balance of the term. The third amendment change sets WEAC in line with the NEA over an individual who is a member of a negotiating team representing a school board or representing a board of trustees of a higher education institution. That person shall have his or her membership suspended if requested by a governing body of an Association affiliate in the school district or higher education institution where the individual is serving on the negotiating team. For more on the Constitution/Bylaw amendments, visit www.weac.org/members. For a list of changes made to WEAC Resolutions, see them online at www.weac. org/resolutions.

Dues RA delegates also approved the WEAC 2010-2012 biennial budget. The budget includes the following annual dues increases: $4 for teachers, $2 for education support professionals in year one; $8 for teachers, $4 for ESP increase in year two. ■ For more on the RA, visit www.weac.org/ra2010.

“After all, at the core of our union’s strength is the work conducted at the grassroots level by our members,” Kippers said. “Many members of our union are also doing their part to further a quality agenda for our union, focusing on making our profession the best it can be.”

Heather Rasmussen, Kristin Gesteland and Andy Gesteland of Three Rivers United Educators attend the 2010 WEAC Representative Assembly.

Costello said the work of WEAC members to put a face on the need for health care reform showed others across the state – and especially our elected officials 8

May 2010

|

WEACinPrint


Action centers on school funding, staff safety, correctional facilities A

t the 2010 WEAC Representative Assembly, delegates approved the following new business items:

School funding reform: With school funding being WEAC’s number one priority, we need to be clear and direct about what we stand for as an organization. We have struggled with an antiquated school funding formula for too long. Though our members do great things with the resources they are given, and in most cases supplement those resources with their own money, too many schools are struggling to exist rather than to excel. When schools struggle, kids struggle … and soon thereafter families and communities are impacted. We are at a dangerous crossroads. We can either keep doing what we have been doing for the past 15 years, knowing the results have led us to this crisis, or we can lead the way to a better school funding formula. Waiting for a “potentially advantageous time” won’t work. We’ve tried that. Waiting for the economy to improve won’t work. The situation has worsened during good times and bad. Tweaking, adjusting, and changing the present school-funding system won’t work. The situation is too dire. Every day, week, and school year we wait will only make the situation worse. It is time to do something different! Therefore, WEAC will:

School staff safety: WEAC leadership and staff will gather and analyze data in order to investigate and develop a variety of strategies, including legislative strategies, to enforce members’ right to be free of injury or the threat of injury caused by students. Juvenile correctional facilities: WEAC shall oppose the closure of the Ethan Allen School and Lincoln Hills School, Wisconsin’s only state-run juvenile correctional facilities for delinquent boys. WEAC shall advocate for a fair review process for the Ethan Allen and Lincoln Hills schools Mary Joas, a teacher at Ethan whereby WEAC, Council 1 Allen School, a state juvenile and AFSCME Council 24 shall correctional facility for young be afforded the opportunity to men, talks at the RA about fully participate on the review plans for her worksite. committee with opportunity for input given to facility staff. WEAC shall advocate for a review process with the primary aim of identifying ways to improve school programs for the youth incarcerated in the facilities.

By September 30, Professional development definition: With the 2010, help organize and impending reauthorization of ESEA the WEAC coordinate a statewide recommends endorsing the National Staff Development grassroots action Council’s (NSDC) definition of Professional among educators, Development. school board members, Private charter schools: The WEAC shall oppose parents, students, private management of charter schools. The WEAC and reform advocates Members of Milwaukee Teachers’ Education shall collect and publish information about private that dramatically Association register their vote with other management companies and make it available on the demonstrates the need delegates during the RA. WEAC website and other publications. for school funding reform that guarantees Power plant: We Energies has applied to put a 50 every child in Wisconsin the opportunity for an excellent public megawatt power plant across the street from Rothschild Elementary education; School. The WEAC should oppose the construction of this facility to protect the children across the street. By November 15, 2010, publicly unveil a school funding formula that is comprehensive and addresses the needs that were demonstrated in the action taken by September 30, 2010; By February 1, 2011, take the political steps necessary to make sure the WEAC-supported, comprehensive school-funding reform plan is introduced into the Legislature; and, At the 2011 WEAC Representative Assembly, WEAC will provide a written document along with a verbal presentation about the progress the organization has made on this priority and this New Business Item.

www.weac.org

|

May 2010

Hortonville: The WEAC shall not consider the affiliation of the Hortonville local or its potential membership until all of the original strikebreakers are no longer employed in the teacher’s bargaining unit by the Hortonville School District. The WEAC will not merge or formally affiliate with any organization that represents those strikebreakers still employed by the Hortonville School District. However, this does not prohibit the organizations from working on joint projects or purchasing services from one another provided that such are not related to this issue. This policy is to be reviewed annually by the Representative Assembly. ■ 9


Boost your financial knowledge T

he average twelfth-grader nationwide scored an all-time low of 48% on the 2008 National JumpStart survey which tests their financial knowledge, but the issue of financial illiteracy is also apparent outside the classroom. Half of U.S. adults received a failing grade for their knowledge of basic economic concepts, according to a similar survey conducted by the National Council on Economic Education.

We’ve got work to do In the aftermath of the financial crisis, there is heightened awareness of our financial shortcomings as individuals and collectively as a nation. Most Americans have felt the pinch. But, is it enough to move us to action, and if so, what can we do to make a difference?

Small steps, big difference Improving our understanding of financial concepts and money management skills affects more than our individual bottom line. Dave Mancl, director of the Wisconsin Office of Financial Literacy, believes that every individual decision impacts everyone, and financial literacy is key to alleviating large-scale economic woes. “We are all making financial decisions every day. If we can incrementally improve these decisions in aggregate, it will improve society as a whole,” he said. Those incremental changes begin with you.

Education is key The best way to improve your financial condition is to give your financial literacy grade a boost. Take advantage of learning opportunities – such as the free financial seminars offered by WEA Trust Member Benefits – to build money management skills, learn the fundamentals of investing, understand the Wisconsin Retirement System, and plan for retirement. Go to weabenefits.com/calendar for opportunities to: • Attend a live financial seminar in your area. • Participate in a live online seminar from anywhere you can access the internet

Pass it on Want to learn new and innovative approaches to teaching personal finance to others? Check out the summer courses offered by the National Institute for Financial and Economic Literacy. This is a program of the Wisconsin Office of Financial Literacy and is hosted by Edgewood College in Madison. Earn graduate credit (optional) and take away materials, resources, and curriculum that can be implemented easily, right away. Go to www.wdfi.org and look under QuickLinks or call 608-663-4243 for more information. ■

Expanded financial planning services In addition to our popular Retirement Income Analysis program, WEA Trust Member Benefits will soon be offering new financial planning services to address the changing needs of members at various points in their careers and lives. Newer Members No-fee one-hour consultation: This service will assist WEAC members with understanding and determining appropriate asset allocation, evaluating pre- and post-tax savings, and calculating savings goals. Mid-Career Portfolio Analysis: A fee-based service for members who want a comprehensive evaluation of their current investment portfolio. Mid-to-late Career Retirement Income Projection: A feebased service which is a slimmed-down version of the Retirement Income Analysis (appropriate for members who are 11-20 years from retirement). Pre-Retirement Retirement Income Analysis: A highly focused, fee-based retirement planning service suitable for those within 10 years of retirement. Watch for more information at weabenefits.com and in future issues of your$ and WEAC in Print or call 1-800-2794030, select option 1, and Ext. 6730 or 2753. All investment advisory services are offered through WEA Financial Advisors, Inc. ■

O U R PA RT N E R S

CHECK IT OUT at weabenefits.com

• Minimize your property damage risk this spring. • Learn to avoid common financial pitfalls. Online • Should you buy AND LTC insurance? in p rint! …and more. 10

Watch Linda’ s and other m embers’ stories in thei r entirety at w

eatrust.com

“The Trust, I truly feel, saved my life by allowing me the opportunity to have the best medical care.” Linda Dallman-Repp First grade teacher Merton School District May 2010

|

WEACinPrint


cancel existing cards without a reason such as a fee being charged.

By Bob Moeller – WEAC Member Benefits Take control of your personal finances

Start reading your junk mail!

I

used to check the postage on my mail before deciding if I should open it. If the postage is presorted STANDARD, it usually contains advertising or worthless info. But with the new credit card law, I am paying more attention. Presorted standard postage can be used by a company so long as there is no personal information inside. So, a credit card company can send out general information to millions of people so long as there is no personal account information inside. So, I got an envelope from Citibank, with a note on it saying this contained news on my Citibank card. I happened to open it even though it did not have first class postage. There was a general notice to everyone similar to me that Citibank was going to post a $60 charge on my card. The reason? Lack of use. This is the kind of thing you’ll be seeing under the new card law. I called Citibank and told them to cancel the card. It required a lot of bluntness on my part before they finally said they would cancel. Rather, they tried to make me understand that all I had to do was charge $2,400 on the card in the next year and the charge would be removed. No thank you. Not long ago, USA Today reported that Bank of America was experimenting with

“The days of easy to get and easy to transfer 0% credit cards are over.” some of their credit cards by charging a fee to anyone who paid off the balance in full. Other ways to rip you off are being considered, such as charging you for paper statements, or charging you if you call in for information on your account. Does canceling a card hurt your credit score? One of the most important factors in your credit score is the degree to which you use your available credit. For example, if you have five cards with a total credit limit of $10,000, and you are using two of them for a total debt of $2,000, you are using 20% of your credit limit. That’s a higher percentage than you would like, but not too bad. Now if you cancel one of the other cards with a limit of $2,000, you now have a total credit limit of $8,000 and you are using 25% of it. As long as your usage is a small percentage of your limit, your score won’t be hurt too much. Ideal percent usage is about 10%. So, in principle, you don’t

The days of easy to get and easy to transfer 0% credit cards are over. Now there is a fee for everything. I suggest you maintain just a few cards hopefully with high credit limits. You should use them occasionally just to keep them active. I use one or two just once a month to fill up my car. I, of course, pay off in full every month. My one main Rewards Card is used for most of my charges. I pay that off every month also. By the way, do credit card companies make money when you use the card and pay your bill in full every month? When I pose this question in my seminars a fair amount of the audience thinks yes, and a fair amount thinks no. Indeed, the average business pays an interchange rate of about 1.8% of every charge. Huge companies like McDonalds might pay less; small restaurants might have a higher rate. In return, of course, the business gets quick credit in its bank account and doesn’t have to worry about if you’ll pay or not. Most businesses consider their interchange charge way too high. 7-Eleven paid $160 million in 2008, its third-largest expense after labor and electric. So do your friendly local restaurant a favor and pay cash. The credit card deals are changing. Some of it good for you, some bad. Be careful and read your mail. This article is for informational purposes only. ■ Leave a comment at the Dollars & Sense blog at www.weac.org/dollars.

$199 MILLION

in statewide credit union member savings!*

t Union Join WEA Credie savings: and get in on th

better rates lower and fewer fees exclusively for WEAC members and their families

800-457-1142 . weacu.com *Membership eligibility required. Source: preceding 12 months ending September 2009 on products that beat banks on pricing. Credit Union National Association, Economics & Statistic Department.

www.weac.org

|

May 2010

11


Summer discounts are heating up Summer discounts are back for WEAC members, with savings on museum, water park and concert tickets. Being a member means saving on:

Noah’s Ark

All-day, unlimited passes for $26 (normally sold for $38.33) are available at www.noahsarkwaterpark.com by entering in the code weacap11 to activate the WEAC discount. For a chance at four free tickets to Noah’s Ark, enter our contest at www.weac.org/summerfun. The deadline for this contest is June 4.

You can save on tickets to Noah’s Ark Water Park by using the WEAC online discount code weacap11 at www.noahsarkwaterpark.com. You can also enter for a chance to win tickets by visiting www.weac.org.

American Players Theatre The Spring Green performers are bringing back discounts for educators this summer, with 50 to 60 percent off select shows as well as other deals. To order tickets and see show dates, visit www.weac.org/summerfun for a printable order form. Tickets also can be ordered by phone with a $10 handling fee.

Summerfest The World’s Largest Music Festival rocks out in Milwaukee June 24 to July 4, and you can score discount tickets through the WEAC Savers’ Club. Log into the Savers’ Club at www.weac. org to find discounted tickets on Summerfest. This year headliners include Sheryl Crow, Weird Al Yankovic, The Moody Blues, Joan Jett, Counting Crows and Danny Gokey.

Museums and attractions With buy-one-get-one deals on tickets for attractions such as the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee, the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien and the Hancock Observatory in Chicago, the WEAC Savers’ Club can save you a lot of money on trips this summer. You’ll also find discounted tickets for Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill. Log into the Savers’ Club page, enter in a city name and select “recreation” as a category to find museum and amusement park discounts as well as deals on other activities. ■

33 Nob Hill Road, P.O. Box 8003 Madison, WI 53708-8003 800-362-8034 www.weac.org

Not only can you enter for a chance to win free passes to the Wisconsin Dells water park, you can buy tickets at a discount by being a WEAC member.

Use the WEAC Savers’ Club to find more deals To find discounts closer to home, the Savers’ Club offers a convenient zip code search, localizing coupons and online codes for businesses in your community. Enter the WEAC Savers’ Club at www.weac.org today and see what discounts you can find. ■

No-cost individual financial planning appointments are available this summer. To book an appointment with Bob Moeller, WEAC’s member benefits specialist, call Diana Buchholz at 608-276-7711 or 800-362-8034, extension 253. Appointments are available throughout the summer in Madison and on the following dates at: June 17............................ Brookfield

July 8................................ La Crosse

July 29............................. West Bend

June 23............................. Brookfield

July 13............................... Appleton

August 4........................... Green Bay

June 24..................................Racine

July 15........................... Fond du Lac

August 5........................... Green Bay

June 28............................. Brookfield

July 22................................ Mosinee

August 10............................ Kenosha

July 7............................ Menomonie

July 28............................ Sheboygan

August 12.......................... Brookfield


WEACinPrint May 2010