Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Degrees Not Debt!

At current levels, student debt isn't just a burden; it's becoming a barrier to the American Dream. Current federal programs to ease student debt burden include both income driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs for those who work in public service, including teaching. As the U.S. becomes more diverse and income inequality grows, public service shouldn't only be a career option for those who can afford it. You shouldn't need to have millions in your pockets to fuel the public service in your heart.

Income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness programs ensure that all Americans can be teachers or social workers or police officers. One-fourth of the workforce may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), but many qualified borrowers are often not aware of their debt repayment options;  this is why NEA has launched Degrees Not Debt to support students, educators, education support professionals, their families and communities.

With so many NSEA members fresh out of college, school debt and loan forgiveness are hot topics.  The NEA’s Degrees Not Debt emphasis can help you!  

·         Degrees Not Debt: 

Reduce Your Student Loan Debt

Monday, October 13, 2014

Represent NSEA at WEA-Rep Assembly

WEA Representative Assembly 
April 23-25, 2015 
Bellevue, Washington 

Nominations are now open for NSEA delegates to the WEA's annual Representative Assembly. Acting as a delegate is a great way to get involved, to learn more about how WEA operates, and to help shape WEA's direction.  Click here for the delegate nomination form.

WEA-RA is the annual gathering of representatives from WEA affiliates around the state to decide on policy, positions, and the business of WEA. It's a great way to see the "big picture" of what happens within WEA. No previous experience is needed.

This year's RA will be held in Bellevue from Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25, 2015. NSEA will pay your expenses, including release time, carpool mileage and parking, and meals. NSEA has budgeted to send 11 delegates to WEA-RA this year.

Complete the nomination form (due to NSEA by Friday, November 14) for consideration. Elections will be held in December.

Contact Lydia King at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Elementary October Conferences Are Coming

October Parent Conferences are the same format as last year, as in the contract, Article 18.8.2: “ …. to ….enhance the teachers’ understanding of the students’ needs, interests, and learning styles and establishing a partnership with parents or guardians. Teachers may elect to use student-led conferences.”

There is no requirement for any kind of “goal-setting.” However, informally setting a joint goal or two with the family might be a good way to “establish a partnership.” More info below.

There is no requirement or expectation of sharing any assessment data at this conference.

In our current contract (no change from last year), NSEA and the NSD Administration agree: 

18.8.2: Elementary parent-teacher conferences shall be held in the afternoons for four half-days of instruction in early October and two half-days of instruction in early February. October conferences shall be offered to the families of all students. The purpose of these conferences is to enhance the teachers’ understanding of the students’ needs, interests, and learning styles and establishing a partnership with parents or guardians. Teachers may elect to use student-led conferences. The February conferences shall be initiated for students selected by the teacher as being most likely to benefit from an additional conference. 

NSEA and the District bargaining teams agreed that (1) teacher knowledge about the student (needs, interests, and learning style) and (2) a relationship and partnership with the family and are both essential keys to each student’s success in our classes.

We agreed to replace the old system of conferences because those conferences were organized around different principles: The teacher was the “expert” informing the parent about their child by providing them with data. Information about the child from the parents was not the central purpose of the old conferences. It often did not result in a partnership, and in many cases teachers felt that they had to spend a great deal of time preparing a defendable data “case” to present to the parents, who might dispute any “negative” information about the student.

Thus, conferences take place early in the school year, and they are not about sharing data. They have been uncoupled from the report cards so that the sharing of data is not the central focus. However, to the extent that you have data (and in most cases, elementary teachers will have student work, IRRs, and a math benchmark score), you can use them if you wish. There is no need or requirement to prepare a presentation on data, as it is not the purpose of the conference. Use any data you have as you wish. Having it available so you can discuss it would be prudent.

The purpose of the October conference is to build the relationship, a partnership with the parent to help the student succeed and reach their maximum potential for the school year.

As for “goal-setting,” this is one way to create such a partnership, and it is one option for you to use if you wish. It is not an expectation. Examples? You know what the learning goals are for the year. You might pick one, and make it a goal. It might be “to learn the multiplication table.” If the parent is concerned that the student dislikes school, it might be a goal around liking school more. If the student is having difficulty making friends, perhaps a goal around building friendships. If the student comes unprepared for class, perhaps a goal around limiting TV or computers, and doing homework would be useful. You might think in terms of a joint goal, to create the partnership to help the student.

There is no expectation by the administration or anyone that the goals be written on a form and signed. There is no expectation that the goals be detailed, data-linked, or anything else. There is no expectation for goal setting at all. We suggest asking the parent (or student) how they feel the school year is going so far, and let the conversation develop. You don’t need to come to the conference with a pre-determined goal or goals. Your purpose is to learn about the student, and build a relationship with the parent that will help the student succeed. If the conversation results in a joint goal or two, that will help build this relationship.

 If the information in this email conflicts with information that your school administrator has provided you, please let us know.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Plan Now for a Retirement Seminar

Save The Date!
Registration for 2014-2015 Retirement Seminars starts Monday, September 15!

The WEA-Cascade Council will again be sponsoring retirement seminars for our members in 2014-2015. These seminars are designed for union members who are planning for retirement, and are presented by qualified WEA-Retired representatives.
Registration for this year's seminars will open at 9:00am on Monday, September 15. An email with links to the registration form will be sent to your home email on Monday, September 15. Complete information will also be available on the Cascade Council website at
The seminars run from 5:00pm-8:00pm on Friday and 8:00am-4:00pm on Saturday. Seminars will be held at the Cascade Council Office in Bothell on the following dates:

Friday, October 24
Saturday, October 25

Friday, January 16
Saturday, January 17

Friday, February 6
Saturday, February 7

Space is limited and registration is required. These seminars are extremely popular and space will fill up fast. Register early to secure your spot!    
If you have any questions regarding the retirement seminars, please contact Chenoa Gray-Brewer at

**Please Note:  No registrations will be accepted by phone or email.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leadership Opportunity: NSEA Grade Level/Content Area Group Lead Facilitators

Through our discussions with you and your Building Reps last year, we heard that you value time and interaction with your colleagues.  You want time to come together and talk about both your professional successes and challenges.   You want to learn from each other.  You want to set the agenda.  In response to this, NSEA is creating grade level or content area groups that will meet periodically during the school year.

We are excited for NSEA to take a new direction with the creation of grade level/content area groups this year.  Each group will need a facilitator and that is the purpose of this email.  Would you consider being a grade level or content area facilitator this year?

NSEA is seeking a lead facilitator for each of the following grade level/content area groups for the 2014-2015 school year.  Leads will be responsible for facilitating regular group meetings throughout the school year, communication to and among group members, and communicating with NSEA leadership.  Leads will receive an annual stipend of $300 from NSEA in June, 2015.

Grade Level/Content Area Groups (NOTE: The groups may include the following; other groups may be identified as the year unfolds. Contact NSEA if a group is missing from this list.)

Pre-K and K
1st Grade
2nd Grade
3rd Grade
4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade
Elementary Special Ed
Secondary Special Ed
English/Language Arts
Social Studies
World Language
Cohort B
National Board

Lead colleagues in identifying and meeting professional needs
Regular time for collaboration to discuss teaching and learning strategies, share what works, identify needs, share successes, and develop a deeper understanding around initiatives like Common Core, teacher evaluation, and curriculum changes as needed
Inform and advise NSEA and the NSD Administration of needs and successes

Attend two annual meetings with NSEA leadership after school (one in the fall; one at the end of the school year)
Facilitate at least 3 group meetings
Communicate meeting logistics with group members and NSEA
Facilitate communication among group members outside of meetings

Selection Process
If interested, submit your name, the grade level/content area group for which you would like to be considered as a lead, and the reason why you want to be a lead (500 words or less) to Lydia King ( by Tuesday, September 30, 2014.
Names will be submitted to the NSEA Exec Board meeting on October 6, 2014 for consideration.  The Exec Board’s recommendations will be submitted to the NSEA Rep Council on October 13, 2014 for final approval.
Candidates will be told their status by October 20, 2014.

Thank you for your interest.  Even if you do not want to be a lead facilitator, we hope you will attend your grade level/content area’s group meetings this year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Join Us August 26th!

All NSEA members are invited to celebrate New Year's In August! 

Please join NSEA and your colleagues from across the district to celebrate the start of the 14-15 school year! 

Live music from The Unoriginals (featuring NSEA members Jim McCausland and Jim Park)

 No Host Bar. Try a handcrafted Triplehorn ale! Complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages provided by NSEA. 

When: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 
            From 4:00 to 6:00 pm 

Where: Triplehorn Brewing Co. 19510 144th Ave NE, Ste. E-6 
             Woodinville, WA 98072

Your RSVP to Lydia King is appreciated (but not required!)