Protected: Understanding and Verifying your Salary for 2014-15

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Voices from Wisconsin: We Should Listen, Learn & Act

In 2011, the lives of Wisconsin teachers changed overnight. Wisconsin is not alone. Attacks on collective bargaining rights have taken place in Indiana and Ohio, too, as have attacks on tenure, retirement and other important issues. In Wisconsin, contracts were replaced with highly restrictive policy handbooks. We can make sure it doesn’t happen here. We can start by being engaged in this year’s election.  We should listen. We can learn from Wisconsin.

Protected: Contract Ratification Results

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Protected: Tentative Agreement: Contract Changes & Highlights (updated w/ FAQ)

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Welcome Back: It’s Time to Define, Lead and Own Our Profession.

Thank you John for the introduction as well as your commitment to this district.

As many of you are involved and engaged and have hopefully been watching the updates on our website, you likely know that Tuesday night we reached a tentative agreement with the board. This Monday the Bargaining Committee and the Executive Committee will be meeting to review and discuss the final document. At that time we will discuss the best method for sharing the details of the agreement with you prior to a ratification meeting. We will also discuss and plan our timeline for ratification. As soon as those decisions are made, we will communicate them with all of you!

This year has been an especially challenging year for bargaining. It was made even more challenging as we have had a large amount of turnover on the District’s bargaining team due to changes in Administration. As you will hear from the bargaining committee moving forward, we are confident that amidst the challenges, we are bringing to you an agreement that we strongly support and will be encouraging you to strongly support. Please continue to stay involved and engaged as we work towards ratification and get a new agreement in place at the start of the school year.

Having referenced the video updates, I would like to acknowledge what some of you may already know … formal public speaking has never been one of my true gifts. For those of you that have been watching the bargaining updates either on the UFEA website, ufea.org or the UFEA Facebook page, that won’t surprise you. I have a tendency to make unusual facial expressions or affect a strange pitch and timber in my speech. It is quite different from my usual laidback spoken manner, so I have been working a little on this. Again, to see the progress, check out the UFEA page. (Maybe even like the facebook page today from your smartphone, if you have a minute.)

This is a moment I have been eager for and anticipating for quite some time. Yet, because of my self-awareness, I have to admit that this moment also felt as though it were approaching with a sense of impending doom. I know that this moment, right now, may be the one moment ALL YEAR when we are all in the same room together UNITED and I will be able to speak to you. However, mixed with my fear of messing up such an important moment is an underlying and overwhelming sense of pride.

That pride comes from being one part of this great organization full of great people.

I am proud to be a member of the National Education Association, a member of the Illinois Education Association, a member of the Unit Five Education Association.

Every day, WE make a difference. You make a difference. I couldn’t be more proud to be one of you. And I couldn’t be more proud to have the privilege of representing you and advocating for you.

Earlier this spring and again later this summer I had the opportunity to listen to outgoing NEA President Dennis Van Roekel speak. Seriously, you should read some of his speeches. He’s almost as eloquent as me.

He encouraged all educators to “Define, lead, and own this profession” and I’ll let you in on a little secret, here in the Unit Five Education Association, we do.

Here is how I know:

This is the first school year all teachers are being evaluated using the new evaluation system.

The system for evaluation is based on Enhancing Professional Practice, a Framework for Teaching, a delightful text written by Charlotte Danielson. As many of you are aware, this system involves forms, meetings, and countless hours of self-reflection. You know, that stuff we do already, so no big deal, right?

Speaking of forms, some of you may be familiar with Form A. You may have spent some time filling in domains one and four. Agonizing about how to best present yourself, providing evidence, maybe even tossing in a few ARTIFACTS that you are especially proud of and feel demonstrate your excellence.

You have undoubtedly spent a meeting or two reflecting on the evidence that your evaluator recorded and provided to you. You probably were explaining why some thing she or he observed demonstrated you were excellent.

Reflecting, explaining, clarifying and all the while growing to enhance your practice to better serve the students of the Unit Five school district.

Part of this time and effort may be due to personal pride, but part of this pressure may also be due to a quote from that book many of you are familiar with.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I have sat in a meeting and heard the words of this book misquoted.

I would like to briefly read a fragment from Charlotte’s book, “Excellence-level performance is a good place to visit, but don’t expect to live there”. Have you heard that before?

Now I would like to read the entire sentence.

Charlotte writes, and I quote, “As SOME educators have phrased it, ‘Excellence-level performance is a good place to visit, but don’t expect to live there’”. End quote.

Do you hear that subtle difference? “SOME educators have phrased it”. Charlotte didn’t say using her framework (which, by the way, was always intended as a tool to encourage reflection and growth and was never intended to be used as an evaluation tool) would automatically lead to more proficient teachers and less excellent ones.

She did not say we cannot live in excellence.

She said that SOME educators said not to expect to live in excellence.

AND, Let. Me. Tell. You, THOSE educators are NOT UFEA educators and clearly weren’t familiar with us.

We DEFINE this profession because OUR practice is excellent.

Excellence DEFINES us as UFEA educators. Excellence is, in fact, NOT a place that we visit.

Nope, it is a place we live.

As UFEA educators we at times travel between Excellent and Proficient. But, we moved in to excellent and built some subdivisions there. Excellence is how we DEFINE our work and our profession. We may still have homes in satisfactory and we work together, in UNITY, to IMPROVE our practice because we are LEADERS. Leaders of students. LEADERS of teachers. And leaders in the community.

Now, before you question the veracity of my previous statement, let me share some data with you.

  • In the 2010-11 year, 100% of teachers were rated Satisfactory or Excellent,
  • and again in 2011-12, the first year of partial implementation of the new evaluation system.
  • In 2012-13 we did dip … to 99%.

While I am still waiting for the data from this past year from the Unit Office, I highly doubt it has changed drastically.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the teachers of the Unit Five Education Association are Excellent.

We DEFINE this profession. We LEAD this profession.

As Dennis reminds us, we must “define, lead, and own this profession”. It is time to OWN it.

I am certain that in your spare time this summer you may have seen some political commercials, maybe you read an editorial, maybe you even attended a political rally or perhaps watched a video on Facebook.

I am certain you are aware that our state is in the midst of a tumultuous and uncertain search for a governor.

OK, let me restate that, as OWNERS we have a governor. But as OWNERS we may be experiencing a little “buyer’s remorse”.

We have not exactly been satisfied with the underfunding of our public schools, pension raiding, or general lack of respect that we are currently afforded as educators and LEADERS.

While we cannot lay all of this burden on our current leadership in Springfield or even D.C., they are certainly part of the problem.

That being said, we cannot afford to sit back and not TAKE ownership of our government.

If we are going to own this profession, we have to speak up. We have a choice … we can sit back and take what is given to us, or we can stand up for ourselves and our students and speak up for what we value.

And we shouldn’t kid ourselves.

The consequences of quietly going about our work, and not standing up or speaking out won’t be positive.

If we choose to keep our voices silent when it comes to the very decisions that impact our profession, we could soon find our collective voice silenced as well.

That’s right, we could find ourselves in the same situation so many of our brothers and sisters around us have, facing the loss of our right to collectively bargain.

Through collective bargaining we help define our employment, so that we can more effectively lead our students.

Through collective bargaining we define the salary schedule that not only is our livelihood but so often is what provides us with the income to buy supplies that are missing from our classrooms, fill our personal classroom libraries with books, and create an environment that is both inviting and student centered.

We have worked too hard to lose this fight.

This November we must OWN our profession, OWN our involvement in this election and OWN our voice in our government because we know that we have to “Vote or die!”

Yeah I just did that, I quoted P. Diddy.

In 2006, P. Diddy’s “Vote or die!” campaign helped to awaken a new voice in American politics.

Now it is time for us to raise our voices and DEFINE, LEAD, and OWN. In November, we must “Vote or die!”.

I am not trying to influence your vote through a political speech, (but if you would like to talk after this I would be happy to share some facts) but rather encourage you to exercise your right as a citizen, to vote in your own self-interest, to speak up and DEFINE this profession, to stand up and LEAD this profession, and to take control and OWN this profession by going to your polling station and casting your vote for PUBLIC education.

The last gubernatorial election was won by an average of three, yes three, votes per polling station. Your one vote for PUBLIC education counts.

This year too much is at stake for our system of FREE PUBLIC education to sit back and not take OWNERSHIP.

We DEFINE. We LEAD. And now WE MUST OWN it.

Before I relinquish this podium, which for the last two years as vice president I have worried about, and for the last three months of summer as president I have agonized about, I would be remiss to step down without thanking a number of individuals.

I would like to thank the board and the administration for sharing this exciting day with us through a clause in our COLLECTIVELY BARGAINED contract. Thank you.

Now, would the following people please stand and remain standing for a moment because I would like to recognize and thank:

  • Vice President- Lindsey Dickinson
  • Treasurer Extraordinaire- Dean Brown
  • And Secretary without Compare- Tracey Freeman

Additionally, members of the bargaining committee who spent countless hours this spring and throughout the summer negotiating the contract:

  • Monique Hall
  • Donna Matlock
  • Kathy Berburich
  • Dan Sallow
  • Julie Hagler
  • Tyler McWhortter

And, actually, let’s thank:

  • Any members who have negotiated a contract.
  • Any members of the Executive Committee.
  • Any members who have served on the Executive Committee.
  • Any members who are building representatives or have served as building representatives.
  • Any members who DEFINE and LEAD their profession as mentioned above.
  • Any members who are preparing to define and lead their profession.
  • Any members who are ready TO OWN their profession.

Thank you for standing together. For speaking out together. For the awesome privilege of being your voice, your representative, your advocate.

Thank you for defining excellence in the work you do, for leading with excellence each and every day, and for sticking together as we stand up, speak up and own our profession.

This is a great place to work, and a great place to learn because each and every one of you does great work.

Thank you.