2009 CONVENTION Attend WEAC’s premier professional development WEAC Convention event
VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 1
go to weac.org to register and view the complete program!
S ★ Keynote Speaker Pedro Antonio Noguera ★ “An Evening of Discovery” at Discovery World ★ Closing Session featuring The Capitol Steps ★ Flu Shots ★ Blood Drive ★ Door Prizes
After a busy summer, welcome
Back to School g in a new TV July 21: Starrin announcement public service
Campaign highlights teachers’ commitment As educators across the state prepare to welcome their students back for another year, they recognize one important fact: they can’t do it alone. WEAC believes schools are the heart of our communities – and given the tough times our communities are facing, it’s going to take all of us working together to maintain our tradition of great public schools. A new public service campaign running in late August and early September reinforces that message, through the voice of our members. Announcements rolling out across the state tell documentary-style stories of educators’ views on the importance of community involvement. To see all of the announcements and a behind-the-scenes video of their production, visit www.weac.org/ backtoschool. ■
ing governor July 20: Watch me bill sign new prep ti
Aug. 6: A professi onal class for new teac development hers
fter a busy summer, school is starting up again. We asked WEAC President Mary Bell to help us put into perspective some critical issues that happened during the last few months, and what lies ahead:
MORE INSIDE ■W orking throughout the summer on bettering education, page 3. ■ T op tips for new teachers, from a 7th-year educator, page 6.
With school just starting up, what advice do you have for starting the year off right? I’d first like to welcome all of our members back if they’ve been off on a summer break. Some of our members work year-round and so this isn’t starting off the year – they’ve already begun. But for those that are and have been on a break, welcome back – we hope that your batteries are recharged. Starting off in the fall is always exciting for kids and it’s exciting for teaching staff and for education support professionals as well. It is a chance to build your team, to get things in place so
ol July 29: Getting the scho er est ready for next sem
■ E ducators get summertime pep talk at New Teacher Academy, page 7. ■ Prep time: A better voice in helping students, page 8. ■ ‘Save Our Schools’ postcard leads to call from Arne Duncan, page 9.
that you have the most successful year with and for your students that you can. Partnering with parents, partnering with our communities, partnering with our administrative and school board
continued on page 8
Books and business
Making strong ‘Connections’
NEA RA delegate election begins
Frank, objective financial advice
Beloit teacher brings up foreclosures, credit in class.
Here's a new publication you can give to students' parents.
Nominations are due December 1.
Bob Moeller is here to give you personal money help.
Page 2 www.weac.org/spotlight
Page 2 www.weac.org/community
Page 5 www.weac.org/members
Page 11 www.weac.org/dollars
Making ‘Connections’ with families Community outreach is an important part of WEAC’s mission, and “Classroom Connections” is one way to reach out and be a resource for parents. The inaugural issue of the yearly publication is a bridge between families and educators that you can use in parent-teacher conferences to provide useful information about children’s education. Produced with input from your colleagues, the 16-page, color print and Web publication covers topics such as homework and Internet safety tips that parents can use with their school-age children. Also stocked with reading tips and advice on spotting substance use, “Classroom Connections” covers issues for all age ranges of public school students. Contact your UniServ director for copies of “Classroom Connections.” You can also view it online in the Parents & Community section of the WEAC Web site, www.weac.org. Don’t forget to download the helpful school directory also located on the same page. ■ 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, Public Relations Specialist Laura DeVries, Graphic Design Specialist Contributing writers: Lisa A. Dennis, Bob Moeller 2
Member Spotlight Todd Greco Business education teacher Beloit Entering his fourth year
When it comes to calculus or the Roman Empire, some high school teachers are presented with the perennial question from students: “How am I ever going to use this?” For Beloit business education instructor Todd Greco, the question was, “Why did my friend’s family lose their house?” Greco, who has been teaching business education at Beloit Memorial High School for the last three years, has been bringing lessons of credit card debt, home mortgages and banking collapses into his classes to keep up with the news of the day and students’ questions of how a new recession hit their community. Beloit has one of the highest unemployment rates in not only Wisconsin but the nation. “Given our local situation, the issue of home foreclosures has been very popular with my students. They want to understand ‘how’ and ‘why’ these things happened and what steps they can take to avoid problems
they have seen their own families face,” Greco says. “The students are seeing how topics covered in class are being lived out in their own homes.” Greco’s class ranges from how to set up a personal budget to subprime mortgages, and he takes his cue from students on where to take discussions. “Academically speaking, I let the students take me where they want to go and if they have an interest in a specific topic I try to let them run with it,” Greco says. “And without a doubt the last half of the last school year, the questions they asked regarding the housing issues were very pointed and direct in an effort to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ this happened.” ■ Read the full Spotlight profile at www.weac.org/spotlight. If you’d like to shine a spotlight on one of your colleagues, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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WEAC Web site
Your online social hub You told us you wanted more from the WEAC Web site, and we are giving it to you. Over the summer, we brought in WEAC members representing every sector of our membership to conduct usability testing of the dynamic new weac.org, which was launched in February based on your initial input from earlier surveys and focus groups. As a result, we added resources and fine-tuned existing features. We are transforming weac.org from a Web site to an online social networking and collaboration community. The site is now a hub where members share information, express their opinions, and participate in discussions. It incorporates the resources of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Google and more. As of early September, we have six prominent blogs: Daily News, Dollars & Sense, the new Tech College Blog, the new National Board Blog, Connecting Leaders & Staff, and the Editor’s Blog. Soon, we plan to launch more blogs for various sectors of membership, all of which are designed to generate conversation. We have also added opportunities for you to comment on most of the news and information items posted to the site. Just scroll down to the bottom of an item and tell us what’s on your mind. You can also express your opinion on our online quick polls. They are sprinkled throughout the site but the most prominent one is on the Home Page. It is worth noting that our National Board Blog was started after you voted for it in one of our polls.
Other key features include RSS Feeds, which allow you to automatically pull selected information from the site into your own personalized Web page, and more videos and podcasts (check out the Multimedia & Social Networking section). We are working on upgrading our search engine and adding valuable resources and collaboration tools to our Landing Pages for Teachers, ESP, Parents & Community, WEACRetired, New & Future Educators, WTCS (technical colleges), and Elected Union Leaders & Staff. We have even added a feature that allows you to expand the text size on most pages (look for it on the left side of the page). And we continue to provide our popular features of Today’s News from around the Web, the Educators’ Bulletin Board, and the Share Your Photos section. Spend some time looking through the site this fall, and you will discover valuable resources and services. And if you don’t find what you need, or have suggestions, please let us know by commenting on the site or by e-mailing Editor Bill Hurley at email@example.com. ■
John Blumer of the Monticello School District gets a school building wing ready for the next school year.
Back to school? Some hardly left “What did you do this summer?” It’s a question asked of many students returning to class, often with answers pertaining to camps or trips. But for teachers and other school staff, a lot of time spent in the summer is still focused on students. Whether it be writing curriculum, going over the past semester or staying current on licensing requirements, many educational workers don’t stop working when school stops for summer. Just ask any school custodian. Greg Titus, head custodian/buildings and grounds manager for the Monticello School District, spent the summer months just as he had for the past six years: in school. Every summer he oversees the dismantling, cleaning and reassembly of every classroom in the Monticello school building that houses elementary, middle and high school students. “I don’t ask anybody here to do anything I wouldn’t do,” Titus said this summer as he walked through a gym getting new paint, a scorer’s table getting repaired, bathrooms getting upgraded and floors being varnished. “I’ve had people ask me, ‘Do you work during the summer’ and I say ‘Oh yeah.’ We do a lot here during the summer. I wish I could do more, actually.” ■ To read more about teacher work during the summer, visit www.weac.org/ backtoschool. 3
Deadline is Oct. 1 for Bierbrauer bargaining award nominations The nomination deadline is October 1 for the 2009 Paul Bierbrauer Commemorative Award to recognize sustained excellence or innovation in bargaining. The nominee may be a member, a bargaining team or a staff person. The award must be related to bargaining activity, and nominations should show evidence of: • Communication with members. • Community outreach. • The process to achieve bargaining goals.
• Resources used during the bargain. Letters of recommendation from other negotiators, officers and members also will be considered. The award seeks to recognize both teacher and ESP bargainers. The award was created in 1993 in memory of Paul Bierbrauer, who served for many years as a UniServ director in southwestern Wisconsin. Bierbrauer embraced tough bargaining with creative proposals and problem solving. For a nomination form and more information about the Bierbrauer Award, visit www.weac.org/ bargain. ■
WEAC-PAC rebate requests information WEAC members who wish to request a rebate of the portion of WEAC dues designated for political activity must do so between September 1 and October 30, or within 60 days of becoming a member. The refundable Political Action Committee dues are $19.99 for full-time teachers, $10 for half-time teachers and full-time education support professionals, and $5 for half-time ESP. Individual requests should be made in writing to WEAC President Mary Bell, P.O. Box 8003, Madison WI 53708. To facilitate processing, please print your name as it appears on your membership form and include your membership ID number that appears on your WEAC Membership Card. Only individual written request letters will be honored; e-mail is not acceptable.
• Collaborative efforts WEAC will issue rebates around November in working within the 30 and send a list of individuals receiving coordinated bargaining rebates to local presidents. Fair share fee payers 10-ST-126 2009) council. Home Financing Wisconsin 8x5.5” PDFx1a (For September automatically get a rebate and need not request it. ■
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www.neamb.com/hf 1.To qualify for the $200 reward, you must close on any purchase or refinance loan, secured by a first mortgage or deed of trust with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. The reward will be redeemable for gift card(s) of your choice from a list of over 150 participating merchants.This promotion and other benefits through The NEA Home Financing Program® cannot be combined with the benefits of The Relocation Mortgage Program® or any other program or promotion.The $200 reward is not available for assumption or modification loans, loans originated through brokers, joint ventures or other third parties, home equity loans or home equity lines of credit.This promotion is valid for new purchase or refinance mortgage loan applications taken through The NEA Home Financing Program via toll-free number or website provided above, subject to whether the promotion is still available. Contact your mortgage consultant for additional details, including its current availability, terms and conditions.The $200 reward is administered by Hallmark Insights, which is not affiliated with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and is subject to change or may be withdrawn at any time without notice. A current merchant list can be obtained by calling 1-800-765-4438 or by going to www.hallmarkinsights.com/corp/redeem/html. Merchants are subject to change without notice. Please examine the gift cards for terms and conditions regarding their use. Information in this material is accurate as of the date of printing and is subject to change without notice. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. © 2008 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Equal Housing Lender. 4/09-7/09 HF560909
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
SPACE ODYSSEY Since Eryca Card, fifth-grade teacher at Jackson Elementary School in Elkhorn, was in fifth grade herself she dreamed of going to Space Camp and becoming an astronaut. For two summers running now that dream has come true, with consecutive trips to Space Camp where she took part in simulated missions and other activities she is eager to share with students.
Daniel Weidner of United Northeast Educators took these pictures of a contingent of members from WEAC’s Leadership Team, including Board of Directors members and NEA directors, who flocked to Madison for a health care rally this summer. The rally, held by Organizing for America in conjunction with other events across the state, invited participants to call for health care reform guaranteeing equal access to all. ■
Scott Ellingson of Hudson and Pat Schmidt of Wautoma attended the national NEA Republican Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., this summer, meeting with Congressman Tom Petri. WEAC members Betty Altenburg of Gateway Technical College and Kristi La Croix of Kenosha also attended the leadership conference. ■
“This experience was the best professional development I have ever experienced and is available to educators in Wisconsin,” Card said. ■ For more about Eryca Card's experience at Space Camp, visit www.weac.org/sharephotos.
NEA RA delegate election begins WEAC is now initiating the election process for state delegates to the 2010 and 2011 NEA Representative Assemblies. Nomination forms for state delegates are due to the WEAC executive director’s office no later than December 1. Forms are available online at www.weac. org/members, through your UniServ office, or through the executive director’s office by calling 800-362-8034 ext. 219. The forms must be postmarked to the executive director’s office no later than December 1. Those postmarked after that date will not be accepted. New this year, candidate qualifications will be posted online at www.weac.org/members in late January for voters to see during the election. Ballots will be issued in January and will be due back to the executive director’s office by March 1. The election results will be announced by March 15. ■ 5
Top tips for new teachers A 7th-year educator offers advice for new colleagues By Lisa A. Dennis The first year of a teacher’s career is filled with opportunity, excitement and, sometimes, crippling fear. Little prepares you for that first day, when 30 sets of eyes rest on you and you alone. Most often, that first year is about survival: learn the ropes, figure out how to make it all work. Beyond the possibilities and exhilaration, however, lies a disturbing statistic: half of new teachers will abandon the profession before completing five years on the job. The problem seems to be that we feel alone, often isolated from our fellow instructors and inundated with administrative tasks. We find ourselves doing two jobs at once: being a teacher and learning to teach. According to Tom McGinnity, executive director of Milwaukee Teacher Education Center, it comes down to the simple fact that teachers “either feel supported or they don’t. Too often, they don’t. Then, day in and day out, they and the kids aren’t being successful. These teachers need a lifeline.” So how does anyone make it to year six? How do we beat the odds and see our hard work reflected in higher achieving students? Follow these bits of advice from someone who has seriously contemplated the exit but found renewed enthusiasm in personal integrity and collaboration: 6
Maintain an identity No matter your position, this much is true: a teacher with any chance for survival in education enters the profession with a passion for teaching. When I teach, I try to present a whole human being, not just an academic device. Yes I am an educator, first and foremost, but I also love dance and photography. I have favorite novels and authors. I read poetry for fun. As a high school English teacher, some of these passions seem obvious. But dig a bit deeper and I also bake a mean cheesecake, play classic Nintendo, and proudly love a Beagle named Scout. Freshmen rightly assume my love for “Romeo and Juliet” is genuine, but I catch and hold their attention when I compare Romeo’s love life to an overbeaten egg. Metaphorically speaking, if Romeo keeps it up, his cheesecake will be cracked.
Collaborate, collaborate A successful young teacher is rarely alone. One of the most rewarding aspects of growing into the profession is the ability to turn yourself into a mentor. Whether this be in an official capacity or not, share your wisdom with those around you. Years two through five can often be just as challenging as the first, but you have learned. With an open door, you not only invite students in to offer assistance, but you also start to build a reputation as someone willing to help your colleagues, both novice and professional.
“Teaching is the only standalone profession left,” says Hanna Doerr, program manager for the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. “Every other profession relies on teamwork to accomplish its goals. New teachers come into the profession and see that they are alone, so instead of waiting it out until retirement, they leave in order to pursue a career that reflects the collaborative world in which we live.” If you find you have become a singleton, Doerr suggests advocating for yourself. Work within your school to develop or support existing programs that use collaboration as a tool for teacher success at any level.
Make meaningful friendships My father was a teacher for 39 years. During that time, he learned countless lessons to pass on to the future of the profession. Some pearls, such as avoid the mimeograph when wearing white, may be obsolete. However, as is the case with many careers, some advice is timeless – such as no matter the place, no matter the time, knowing who your friends should be is tantamount to finding a golden ticket.
In your first year, if you were lucky, someone wisely told you to make friends with the janitors, the secretaries and the cafeteria workers. This adage holds true for the entirety of your career. My advice? Make these relationships sincere. Realize that in order for a school to run, cliché or not, everyone must work together. Take the time to get to know the people who work in your building, to recognize just how much work goes into keeping the building functional. Without these people, your work would be impossible. An understanding of that fact, and some sincere appreciation, will take you far. Your own job will be made that much easier as a result.
Include your students Even with the success that can be found through a collaborative environment, teachers often feel that something is missing within their own classrooms. An often overlooked and undervalued resource within our schools is the student body itself. McGinnity, of Milwaukee Teacher Education Center, suggests that teachers are most effective when they “stop playing adult games and remember what our kids need.” At MTEC, and countless teacher resource centers across the county, teachers are being reminded that their commitment to the students is tantamount to their success. In order to improve both our professionalism and rapport with students, McGinnity suggests honoring, respecting and inviting our students into the process of improving learning. We as young teachers need the focal point to rest solely on improving the learning that goes on in our classrooms. What better place to find out what our students need than from their own imaginative minds? Lisa A. Dennis is a teacher at Franklin High School. ■ For more professional development tips from Lisa, visit www.weac.org/new.
Back to school Educators get summertime pep talk at New Teacher Academy Melissa Germain is entering her second year teaching high school English at Saint Croix Falls, and her fourth year overall as a teacher, but she feels like a rookie. “I still feel new – plain and simple,” Germain said during a break from seminars at Marshall teachers Jessie Kosinski and Aaron Roemhild work on a lesson during the New Teacher Academy. the third annual New Teacher Academy held at UW-Baraboo/Sauk County. Germain, one of more than 80 attendees to the two-day summer conference, said she signed up to listen to experts on teaching and to talk to other educators. And she found a wealth of knowledge, as well as kinship. “You’re always a new teacher,” said Sally Antoine, answering Germain and saying she feels the same way as she enters the Baraboo School District for the first time even after teaching for seven years. “You never learn it all.” The New Teacher Academy is a program organized by the Baraboo School District, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County and UW-Platteville. It provides help and advice to experienced teachers looking for innovative ideas, novice teachers looking for a bridge to their new profession, and those yet to lock down a teaching job for the next school year. It offers tricks, tips and tools to engage students and get motivated for the school year. For Germain, attending a talk by Paul Gasser – a marriage and family therapist in Tomah and an instructor for UW-Platteville – was a way to look at her classroom in new ways. How can she get better at handling disruptive students? How can she adjust her personality to best reach her students? “That challenge is sort of fun for me,” Germain said, detailing some tips she plans to bring into her classroom. “I can’t wait to see what tricks I can do for classroom management.” Those offering advice included Jackie Drummer, a South Milwaukee Education Association member. Drummer encouraged the teachers attending the academy to engage students on their level. “Did you ever notice the word ‘encourage’ has the word ‘courage’ in it?” Drummer asked. “When you encourage someone you give them courage to take the next step.” ■
To read more about the New Teacher Academy, visit www.weac.org/new.
continued from page 1
colleagues in each district is a critical part of building the right support network for our kids and making sure that things happen in the classroom that are really going to make a difference. We as WEAC – the state organization – certainly stand to help you with questions and concerns that you have because it is our job to help make you successful as well. Over the summer, the state passed a new budget – what does it mean for students and educators? With the budget deficit that Wisconsin was looking at from the start of this budget in January – and the worsening picture as the spring developed and we moved into June – we were very concerned that deep cuts to education would result in damage to programs, lack of availability of those programs for the students and damage to the possibilities for our kids. The result of our efforts and the hard work of the
Legislature was that the cuts to education were not as deep as we originally believed they might be. But there in fact are some pretty severe cuts, and so it immediately became clear that the work we’ve been doing on school funding reform is even more important, more time sensitive than we thought it might be, and that moving to school funding reform discussions in the fall is going to be critical. What a lack of money in the system has done is simply make the flaws in the school funding formula even clearer – and there are some districts that are looking at double-digit decreases in their budgets, and that is going to be very damaging for those schools. We’re interested in working together to meet those challenges, but some financial crises are very, very difficult to work through. Can you give us an overview of some of the recent changes to Wisconsin laws that affect educators? The collective bargaining reforms that were part of the state budget have been very important to educators. Not because there’s going to be a lot more money – we know that given the economy in Wisconsin our local districts are in some cases in
dire straits economically – but a fairness at the bargaining table is something that we’ve been seeking for the last 16 years. So restoring collective bargaining fairness was a critical issue there. The other measures under collective bargaining – to improve efficiency, to make sure that educators have a chance to talk about things that matter at the bargaining table – those are going to be really important moving forward. In addition, the state budget provided resolution of an equity issue as regards the retirement for education support professionals – the people that work alongside education professionals in the classroom in many roles that support students and support student achievement – and the historical inequity in how they were treated under the retirement system has finally been corrected. Outside the budget, the good news in the summer was the passage of a law on preparation time as a mandatory subject of bargaining. Returning to a fair bargaining table, this is an issue that is critical to teacher quality and to the improvement of student achievement, because preparation time is all focused on what we do for students to improve student learning. With appropriate preparation time,
Prep time: A better voice in helping students In any profession, time to prepare is critical for success, and now a new law gives educators across the state a better say in determining their own time for preparation. “When teachers and education support professionals have adequate time to thoroughly prepare lessons for their classes, students reap the benefits,” WEAC President Mary Bell said. The law, which will go into effect in 2011, recognizes the importance that proper preparation time has in a child’s education. “The ability of educators to tailor lessons to best meet the needs of their individual students is an essential part of the educational process,” Bell said. The law will require staff and school boards to talk about the appropriate amount of preparation time in their local schools as part of the bargaining process. “It’s always a positive conversation when we talk about what will improve a child’s education,” Bell said. “It’s time well spent.”
Planning can make a significant difference in student learning from elementary through high school. Planning time built into the school day allows educators to share strategies that work in their classrooms, design standards-based units, and determine the best approaches for particular classes and students based on assessment results. “It’s simple,” Bell said. “Educators who are the most successful in the classroom have time to plan and organize lessons for students. Prep time is an important part of a school’s success.” Marcia Modaff, a physical education and health teacher in Dodgeland, said teacher prep time gives educators more time to devote to students. It allows teachers to take extra time after a class to go over lessons with a student or get students caught up after an absence. “It’s all about what’s best for the students,” she added. “To do a good job in the classroom, you need adequate time in the building to prepare.” ■
teachers can be much more effective and we can focus on the needs of our students and on having the content ready and the strategies ready to really intervene when they need our help. I’ve heard a lot about President Obama’s “Race to the Top” grants – where does Wisconsin fit in? WEAC of course wants Wisconsin to be eligible for “Race to the Top” money. The grants that may be coming from the Department of Education could be very important in school improvement and student achievement in Wisconsin, so we will support legislative reforms if they offer fair and comprehensive solutions that lead to better outcomes. But we’re very concerned, because the use of student data in teacher evaluation is a very complex issue. How we do it matters a great deal. We’ve spoken on the subject of student test scores, saying that a single test score is not a measure of what students know and are able to do. As multiple measures are going to be very critical for evaluating student performance, so they will for any system that would try to evaluate teachers using student data. We need holistic approaches that use multiple levels of assessment, multiple kinds of assessment – a comprehensive approach that shows how the use of student data is important, how the use of student data for teacher evaluation is going to be used to improve student achievement. It really has to be part of an entire system, not an isolated idea. The quality of educators across the state of Wisconsin makes us confident that local by local, district by district, we’re going to be able to have those conversations and really focus on what we do – in teacher preparation, in teacher licensure, and in teacher evaluation – that's what matters for kids and student achievement. ■
To listen to more questions and answers with Mary Bell, visit www.weac.org/ backtoschool.
‘Save Our Schools’ postcard leads to call from Arne Duncan When faced with even more cuts in their school budgets, some Eau Claire teachers met the problem by thinking that one person could make a difference – which came true with a call from the U.S. secretary of education. Teachers, support staff, school district administration and community members spent an hour after work every day during the last 10 days of school writing anecdotes of what they saw in the classroom. The postcard effort, named “Save Our Schools,” led to some high visibility when teacher Chris Hambuch-Boyle presented one to Education Secretary Arne Duncan during the NEA Representative Assembly in San Diego this summer. Hambuch-Boyle put her cell phone number on one of the cards she presented to Duncan, and he later dialed her up (on August 14). “The screen on my phone said ‘restricted number’ and he just said, ‘Hi Chris, this is Arnie Duncan.’ I almost died,” said Hambuch-Boyle, vice president of Eau Claire Association of Educators. Duncan and Hambuch-Boyle talked about Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle’s efforts on school funding reform and National Board Certification. HambuchBoyle then followed up with an e-mail to Duncan about school funding woes in Eau Claire. “It shows what one postcard can do,” she added. The “Save Our Schools” initiative created 300 postcards, with tales of increased class sizes and laid-off peers.
“Eau Claire is in a very tough situation,” Hambuch-Boyle said, detailing the $30 million in cuts the district has faced in the last six years. “We came to the conclusion that if we wanted to have an influence, we had to connect with our legislators.” “A lot of (the postcards) had to do with the massive cuts we’ve had here in Eau Claire,” Hambuch-Boyle added. “We can continue to cut, but until we fix school funding, the problem will always be there.” Ron Martin, president of Eau Claire Association of Educators, said the campaign’s organizers wanted a “proactive” and “positive” approach to reform school funding. “Our state legislators needed to hear from us,” Martin said. “This is our cry for help. We’re asking, ‘Help us. We’re sinking. We’re the Titanic. We need a life jacket.’” Based on that “sinking” feeling, the effort was coined “Save Our Schools,” and a logo was designed to invoke a life jacket. Martin said the postcard-writers wanted to be proactive and positive, finding a solution to school funding and advocating for it. “Kids are not going to have the same opportunities kids before them had,” Martin said. “This is happening because the school funding formula is broken.” Hambuch-Boyle said the postcardwriting will continue this year, with a focus on sending them to residents in the Eau Claire area. “We won’t let it die,” she said. ■
Quality health care
In retirement, don’t forget that you’re still eligible for
One of the biggest concerns for retirees is access to quality health insurance coverage. While nearly everyone becomes eligible for Medicare at age 65, many people also purchase a secondary plan to help cover the costs not covered by Medicare. But how do you know which secondary plan will provide your best coverage? One option is WEA-MedPlus, a secondary group plan the WEA Trust offers to Medicareeligible employees and their spouses.
Previously, WEA-MedPlus was not available for many retired WEAC members. However, recent changes to the eligibility criteria have opened up Trust coverage to many more retirees. Whether you previously had a Trust health plan or not, you now have access to WEA-MedPlus. Transitioning to Medicare is a time of change and uncertainty, but WEA-MedPlus makes that transition easier. It includes a $1 million lifetime maximum, premium rates based on the medical costs where members live, and an automatic claims filing service. That means you can choose to have your Medicare Parts A and B claims sent directly to the Trust for processing, and the Trust will follow through as the secondary insurer. For complete eligibility details and to learn when to apply for coverage, call the Trust at 800-279-4000. You can also find more information online at www.weatrust.com.
Eligibility requirements To be eligible for WEA-MedPlus, you need to meet the following criteria: ❑ 65 years of age or older. ❑ Retired from full-time employment. ❑E nrolled in Medicare Parts A and B with Medicare as your primary insurer. In addition to the criteria above, the subscriber must meet ONE of the following: ❑H ave been a WEAC member or WEA Trust health plan member at some time in the 10 years prior to your WEA-MedPlus application. ❑B e a WEAC-Retired member at the time of application for coverage. ❑B e a WEA Trust health plan subscriber at the time of application.
This article is for informational purposes only. ■
Wisconsin Retirement System gets cuffed by the Bear market Retirement accounts invested in stock took a big hit when the market tanked last year. The WRS – the pension plan for state workers, including Wisconsin public school employees – was no exception. For the first time in history, WRS retirees saw reductions in their Core annuities. And the pain isn’t over yet. Find out what the impact is, and why the Employee Trust Funds board has recommended phasing out the Variable Fund, by reading the full story online at www.weabenefits.com/wrs. ■
Want to know more about health care and reform efforts? Watch for next month's WEAC in Print, which will bring details of the health care reform movement and what it will mean for you. In the meantime, check out WEAC’s resource page on health care reform, www.weac.org/ healthcare, for the latest information.
O U R PA RT N E R S Let us provide a map to your retirement destination. Retirement Income Analysis Clear answers, unbiased advice Fee-based, no product sales or commissions For those within 10 years of retirement Investment advisory services offered through WEA Financial Advisors, Inc.
er d’s and oth Watch Arpa ir e stories in th members’ m weatrust.co entirety at
“With the Trust, there’s an established relationship where they have delivered on their promise.” ARPAD HORVATH Union Negotiator, Sevastopol September 2009
Bob says: Smart savers start early By Bob Moeller – WEAC Member Benefits Take control of your personal finances
Frank, objective financial advice Robert Moeller is a Certified Financial Planner who is employed by WEAC to serve members’ financial planning needs. This service is at no cost to you. Bob has no products to sell you. He makes no commissions on the advice he shares with you. His commitment is to improving the financial well-being of WEAC members and their families and he tells it like it is! Listed below you will find the dates and locations where Bob will be providing financial planning seminars this fall. These seminars are designed to help you manage your financial life and achieve financial independence by: • Determining where you are financially. • Learning to control your financial life. • Getting smart with debt and credit scores. • Estimating your retirement income needs. • Estimating your Wisconsin Retirement System and Social Security benefits. • Understanding your retirement options. • Avoiding rip-offs in your tax-sheltered annuity . • Understanding mutual fund investing. • Realizing the importance of estate planning (even if you’re young).
Knowing the best insurances to buy and which ones to avoid. Watch your home mail for the WEAC flier announcing the next seminar in your UniServ. Individual member appointments are also available. It is recommended that you attend a seminar first as you will benefit more from an individual meeting after having the opportunity to consider this information and relate it to your specific needs. To schedule an appointment, contact Diana Buchholz in the Member Benefits Office at 800-362-8034 ext. 253. If you have questions or you prefer to contact Bob in writing, mail your inquiries to Bob Moeller at WEAC, P.O. Box 8003, Madison WI 53708-8003, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you are beginning a new career in education, have several years service under the Wisconsin Retirement System, or are nearing retirement, don’t let this year go by without taking advantage of these valuable financial planning services available to you as a WEAC member. Bob will help you get ahead and stay ahead. Bob’s columns appear on this page of WEAC InPrint and his blog is available online at www.weac.org/dollars. ■ •
Many members have told me they encourage younger members to attend my seminars and get started building their financial savvy and wealth. But when you’re young it seems impossible to plan investment strategy. You just don’t have a lot of leftover money. I meet with members who can’t afford to retire and other members who have substantial wealth. The difference almost always is that the wealthier members paid attention to finances and kept away from bad deals. I have frequently said that if I could get young beginning members to just follow a few principles of money management, I could guarantee they would be wealthy when they retire. These are not complicated strategies but simple principles. The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) idea works very well here. I cover a lot of financial principles and ideas in my seminars, but in a simple, straight-forward way. They are not centered on retirement, but rather on financial smarts. I particularly encourage younger members to attend. If you get bored thinking about your money, just get up and walk out. See below for a list of upcoming seminars. ■ Leave a comment at the Dollars & Sense blog at www.weac.org/dollars.
Free Financial Seminars With Bob Moeller, WEAC Member Benefits Specialist
Pre-registration is required
When you Refinance an AUTO LOAN !
Sept. 24: Burlington, 888-225-7583
Oct. 22: Platteville, 800-346-7932
Example: refinance a $20,000 car loan and earn $200 - and enjoy WEA’s low rates!
Sept. 29: La Crosse, 800-753-0987
Oct. 27: Rice Lake, 800-472-6711
Oct. 1: Madison, 608-257-0491
Oct. 28: Menomonie, 800-472-6801
Oct. 6: Appleton, 920-731-1369
Nov. 4: Janesville, 800-354-1843
Oct. 8: Mosinee, 800-472-0010
Nov. 5: Milwaukee, 414-259-1990
Oct. 13: Kenosha, 800-236-2127
Nov. 10 & 12: Brookfield, 800-354-7816
Oct. 15: West Bend, 800-924-1017
Nov. 17: Madison, 800-728-2287
Oct. 20: Green Bay, 800-472-5582
Nov. 19: Portage, 800-845-6745
800-457-1142 . weacu.com *Membership eligibility required. Offer available for limited time only and loan must remain open for 90 days. 1% Cash Back incentive is valid only for refinances of autos from other institutions. Maximum reward $250 per member. Approval subject to normal credit standards.
Attend WEAC’s premier professional development event
Sage speakers Pedro Antonio Noguera, Ph.D, an urban sociologist whose research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in urban environments, is the Convention’s keynote speaker. Noguera, who has advised schools across the Keynote speaker country, is the Peter Agnew Pedro Noguera Professor in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development and in the Department of Sociology at New York University. Noguera has published more than 150 research articles and reports on topics such as urban school reform, conditions that promote student achievement, youth violence, the potential impact of school choice and vouchers on urban public schools, and race and ethnic relations in American society.
Switching from sociology to the martial arts, speaker (and second-degree black belt) Judy Ringer will be at the Convention talking about using the mind/body principles of aikido in communication and conflict resolution. Ringer’s interactive talk is sure to give you a new way to be energized about teaching.
Creative classes and fun The Convention’s courses cover the gamut of topics for today’s educators. The event has resources for those enrolled in the ESP Certificate Program as well as those with questions on teacher licensure. From creating healthy classroom relationships to nutrition lessons for young learners, the Convention offers a wide range of sessions for educators. There will be three different sessions on SMART Boards, building off one of the Convention’s most popular topics. Other sessions include strategies for National Board Certification and using nature as a classroom, as well as personal finance courses about saving for retirement and how the Wisconsin Retirement System works. The Convention closes with a performance from comedy troupe The Capitol Steps, whose skits and music parodies of current events include “Obama Mia!” and “Help Me, Honda.” The closing session is co-sponsored by WEA Trust Member Benefits, and members attending the closing session can participate in a drawing for great prizes.
33 Nob Hill Road, P.O. Box 8003 Madison, WI 53708-8003 800-362-8034 www.weac.org
WEAC’s premier professional development opportunity for educators is just around the corner, kicking off next month in Milwaukee. The 2009 WEAC Convention is October 29-30 at the Midwest Airlines Center. It is the state’s largest exhibition of resources and materials designed just for you, with the latest research and innovation on display.
Register today For more information about how to register for the 2009 WEAC Convention, visit www. weac.org. ■
O N L I N E E X T R A S | Get more from WEAC in Print on the Web
Video: School funding Five minutes are all you’ll need to learn how revenue controls threaten to undermine our great schools’ ability to provide a quality education. Watch the animated breakdown at www.weac.org/video. ■
Join hands for schools rather than point fingers In a column, WEAC President Mary Bell talks about recent collective bargaining changes, pointing out facts and dispelling myths about contract negotiations. “Recent changes in Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law have restored fairness to the process of teacher contract negotiations. Unfortunately, the changes have also opened the door to misconceptions and finger pointing. There is more fear than information out there,” Bell writes. Read more at www.weac.org/releases. ■
Members press for reform WEAC members trek to D.C. to join a health care reform rally and tell members of Congress now is the time for change. Visit www.weac.org/healthcare for more. ■
What do you think the impact to schools will be this year from the H1N1 virus? Force many schools to close? Blow over and have virtually no impact? Let us know what you think by voting in our online poll at www.weac.org/multimedia.