The official publication of the Vermont-National Education Association - Vol. 72, No. 5 -January 2006
Barre Teachers Say No to
Uncompromising School Boards Photo by Karen Baron.
BARRE — Teachers were prepared for the
picket line on Friday morning, December 9, when
they learned mediation between their negotiators
and the school boards the night before had failed to
resolve a months-long bargaining stalemate. The
school boards had continued their practice of mak-
ing no compromises
BEA strike headquarters in the historic Old
Labor Hall buzzed with activity by 7:00 a.m. and,
along with home grown picket signs, signs left over
from the Colchester Education Association strike
in October were available. Meals were organized
by Culinary Arts teacher Mark Sinclair. Official
“greeters” welcomed all strikers and supporters, of-
fering food, soliciting volunteers, and providing ori-
entation to the upcoming tasks. Free childcare for
strikers was in place at a local church, organized by
Strike Headquarters Coordinator Amy Lester. Strike
Committees formed and got to work on media, com-
munity outreach, a website, paraeducator support,
and “On the Line” newsletter production.
Despite heavy snow and subzero temperatures,
Barre teachers walked picket lines, the largest cir-
cling City Hall Park. Visitors from other unions
began showing up immediately — NEA members
from Montpelier, Barre Town, Twinfield, and Wash-
ington West Associations, as well as AFL-CIO
members from the Barre Firefighters Union, and
more. Amy Lester issued thanks early on from the
Headquarters to everyone for “their kind support,
words of encouragement and picketing help.” The
mechanics of the strike were perfect.
But Chief Negotiator Ric Nudell encouraged
BEA members to settle in and get ready for what
could be a long haul. Their strike, Barre’s second
and Vermont’s 22nd, was the third strike in less than
a year by a Vermont-NEA affiliate. There were other
issues in dispute in all three of the latest strikes, but
school district demands that teachers pay a larger
percentage of health insurance premium costs were
at the center of the May strike in Orleans, the Octo-
ber strike in Colchester, and the December strike in
Barre. It took four days of picketing in Barre for the
parties to agree to a mediation session for Monday,
BEA members braved the elements on day one of their strike, picketing at City Hall Park.
December 19. Teachers planned a weekend of es-
calated activity to build pressure for a settlement. “The BEA will suspend all picketing and schools on Monday to provide grief counseling,
Then, tragedy struck early on Saturday morn- leafleting activities in light of the tragedy involving though regular classes did not resume day.
ing, December 17. Four Barre children — ages 12, the death of four Barre children and a parent in an Teachers and the school boards settled the con-
9, 8, and 6 — and their mother died in a house fire. early Saturday morning fire. The suspension includes tract that night, at the scheduled mediation. Teach-
BEA suspended strike activity. President Ed Stout activities Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.” ers returned to work on Tuesday. — LBH
issued a statement and appeared on televison news BEA sent elementary school teachers and coun- Settlement details had not been released as this
to make the announcement: selors into both Barre Elementary and Middle newspaper went to press.
U.S. Postage PAID
Permit No. 30
Striking for Affordable Campaign for Health Care Burlington, Vermont
Health Care ......................... 2 Security ............................... 6
Windham Southwest Paras Become a Health Care
Vote to Organize ................. 3 Hero ..................................... 6
Professional Issues Voice Of Teachers & ESP ... 7
Conference ......................... 3 NEA Director’s Report ....... 7
New Teacher Conference ... 3 Nominate for Teaching
Funding VSTRS .................. 4 Excellence Award ............... 8
Vermont-NEA Striking for Affordable Health Care
Photo by Karen Baron
Question: What can motivate
teachers enough to walk a strike picket
Published monthly except July by line for hours in snow and when the
Vermont-NEA, Inc. thermometer registers minus ten de-
10 Wheelock Street grees?
Montpelier, VT 05602-3737 Answer: Belief in a cause, a
Telephone: (802) 223-6375 cause larger than just self-interest.
FAX: (802) 223-1253
That was exactly the case for the
teachers of the Barre Education As-
sociation in December. Although there
President was a distinct lack of School Board
Angelo J. Dorta
respect for teachers and Board fail-
Joel D. Cook ure to fully engage in compromise
Communications Director endgame bargaining to achieve a
Laurie B. Huse settlement, the issue of health insur-
Subscription Price: $6.00 per year. ance costs again was the substantive
Vermont-NEA assumes no responsibility for make-or-break issue that caused the
claims arising in connection with products or
services advertised in Vermont-NEA TODAY. third Vermont teacher strike of 2005.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS And Barre teachers were fully aware
Vice President that their colleagues in Central Ver-
Thomas J. Gallagher mont and around the state also had a
Secretary Treasurer huge stake in the strike’s outcome on
Jeff Isham health insurance.
Joyce Sullivan Barre teachers already were pay-
Addison-Rutland, Area 1 ing 12% of their health insurance pre-
Rose Wenzel miums or 3% of their pay, whichever
Addison Rutland, Area 2 was less, in 2004-05. Approximately
Diane Alberts 100 of Barre’s 170 teachers choose to
Central Vermont, Area 1
Cindy Bubrouski pay the cap amount, which especially
Central Vermont, Area 2 helps lowest-paid teachers similar to
Terri Vest the taxpayer income-sensitivity pro-
Chittenden, Area 1 vision in Vermont’s education fund-
Mary Ann Barnes ing law. A Barre teacher earning
Chittenden, Area 2
Richard Wise $40,000 pays $1,200 annually using
Chittenden, Area 3 the cap, plus the $100 prescription
Brian Walsh drug deductible per family member
Northeast Kingdom, Area 1 and the office visit co-pays under the
Lydia Alexander Vermont Education Health Initiative
Northeast Kingdom, Area 2
Martha Allen (VEHI) “dual option” plan.
Southern Vermont, Area 1 Barre Education Association ne-
Susan Rusten gotiators didn’t simply dig in their
Southern Vermont, Area 2 heels and refuse to increase members’
Jay Burnell health insurance contributions.
Southern Vermont, Area 3
Dennis Ladd Rather, they publicly offered to boost
Northwestern Vermont, Area 1 the salary-based cap to 5% and to in-
Bonnie Tuscany crease their premium contribution to
Northwestern Vermont, Area 2 just below the top prevailing 15% re-
Ann Lavery gional comparable by the end of a new
Upper Valley, Area 1
Cherrie Torrey agreement.
Upper Valley, Area 2 The School Board, however, in-
Lisa Champagne sisted on immediate elimination of the
STAFF cap and a full 20% premium contri-
Attorneys bution. During nearly 8 hours of ne-
James “Jeff” Fannon gotiations the night before the strike, On Monday, December 12, Barre teachers, with Vermont-NEA President
Donna M. Watts the Board never made a single com- Angelo J. Dorta in their midst, marched around City Hall Park.
UniServ Field Staff promise offer. Essentially, Barre
Norman P. Bartlett teachers had to strike to protect the necessary prevention and early treat- to accept high deductible plans and
David R. Boulanger ment health care services. HSAs. Three-fourths of Vermonters
Jerry Carruba affordability of health care for its
Suzanne B. Dirmaier members. But the contract battle fought in are worried about individuals and
Joyce E. Foster The effort to continually shift in- Barre is only one part of an intensify- families having to pay more for health
Sean Leach creasing insurance costs directly to ing, broader statewide campaign to care. Over 80% agree it’s very impor-
Robert Raskevitz employees and their families now is achieve high quality and affordable tant for everyone to have affordable
Organizers the most widespread employer tactic health care for all Vermonters, not just health care. Two-thirds believe that
Ellen David Friedman for coping with the financial burden for educators. Barre teachers knew the same comprehensive plan of
Thomas J. Walters
of providing health care coverage. this fact. They acted accordingly and health benefits should be available to
Sherry Gile Right behind cost-shifting is the push bravely to acknowledge their own lo- every adult and child.
Benefit Programs for higher deductible insurance plans cal role and the important roles of These survey results indicate the
Mark L. Hage and “health savings accounts” other labor unions, businesses, non- existence of an indisputable, full-
Administrative Assistants (HSAs). Regardless of the mecha- profit organizations, faith-based/child blown health care crisis. The percent-
Ellie McAndrew nism, employers reap some savings welfare/low income/retiree advocacy age increase in health care costs now
Sheree O. Parker groups, and average citizens in the outstrips wage gains by three, four, or
and lower health insurance costs only
for one year, since these options don’t struggle. five times each year. Most Vermont-
Membership/Accounting address fundamental medical prac- A recent survey by AARP Ver- ers are paying more for their health
Teri Leo Drury tices and insurance company deci- mont reveals that teachers and ESPs care coverage annually, while addi-
Business Manager sions that fuel excessive expenses and are not alone in their concern over tional workers either can’t afford
Claude C. Janus only discourage appropriate access to persistent cost-shifting and pressure Continued on page 3...
Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 2 Januar y 2006
Register Online for Vermont-NEA’s Windham
Professional Issues Conference Paraeducators
MONTPELIER -- Go to the Ver- it affects your everyday work as a
mont-NEA website -- www.vtnea.org paraprofessional.
Vote YES to
-- to reserve a spot at Vermont-NEA’s Has made a New Year ’s Vermont-NEA
first-ever Professional Issues Confer- Resolution to acquire new strategies
ence on January 20. You must mail in to use in communicating more effec- Paraeducators in the
your registration fee separately and in tively in difficult situations. Windham Southwest Supervisory
advance (we’re still working on online Wants to look at all the fac- Union voted 30-1 on November
credit card payment), but you can re- ets of diversity. 2 to be represented by Vermont-
serve a space by filling out and sub- Has heard the term RtI float- NEA. The ESP in this district had
mitting the online form. Your check ing around but aren’t sure what is has tried at least twice in the past 10
confirms your registration. to do with what you do every day. years to establish their own union,
The Conference will be held on “If you answered ‘yes’ or ‘possi- but the third time proved the
January 20 at the Sheraton Hotel in bly’ to any of these questions, I would charm!
South Burlington. You should attend strongly encourage you to ‘open-the- According to Vermont-NEA
if you are you a Vermont-NEA mem- door’ to new knowledge by attending Organizer Ellen David Friedman,
ber who: Vermont-NEA’s Professional Issues local teacher president David
Wants to know more about Conference,” advises Professional Kolkebeck and Vermont-NEA
how adults learn. Programs Director Sherry Gile. “Start Board member Sue Rusten, who
Wants to start the new year the 2006 New Year by getting actively lives in the Washington South-
with some inspiration. involved in your Association’s profes- west district, were terrific sup-
Has a desire to understand the sional development offering.” porters of the organizing effort.
definition of good teaching and what Wants to know more about The fee for the conference is $150 But the biggest star was local para
it looks like in practice. the reauthorization of IDEA and how for non-members, $25 for members. and lead organizer Sherry Adams.
Sherry says she and another
Sherrie, named Sherrie Lind,
Vermont-NEA Presents 2nd Annual pulled off the election together.
“Of course, the 30 who voted
Conference for New Teachers were key,” she says. “They stuck
with me even though I was con-
stantly hounding them.”
MONTPELIER -- Hotel in South Burlington. Partici- Teachers and Touching The new group is comprised
Vermont-NEA’s sec- pants will choose two of these five OR one full-day workshop: of five units and 40 paras at
ond annual New half-day workshops: "I Can Do It!" Deerfield Valley Elementary,
Teacher Conference Classroom Management Read workshop descriptions Whitingham Elementary, Twin
will be held February Strategies online at www.vtnea.org. Valley Middle School, Twin Val-
3 at the Doubletree Communicating Effectively The non-refundable registration ley High School. “We hope with
with Parents fee for the conference is $150 for non- this election we will have a more
Legal and Ethi- members, $25 for members. unified relationship with the teach-
cal Issues Workshops will be filled on a ers,” explains Sherry, adding: “I
Vermont’s Re-li- first-come, first served basis. am sure each para has his or her
censing Process: Develop- The registration deadline is Janu- list of what is most important.”
ing an Individual Plan ary 25, 2006. Sherry says she worked hard
to get a union so that she and her
Striking for Affordable Health Care, continued... fellow ESP would have the right
to sit at the bargaining table as
health insurance with adequate ben- for health care reform. The principles our citizenry, and they require ener- equals and ask for better wages
efits any longer or actually must drop focus on comprehensive improvement getic and committed advocacy part- and benefits. “We would like a
their insurance policies altogether due of the entire health care system, not ners to fulfill them. That’s why Ver- contract that doesn’t say they can
to unaffordability. Personal bankrupt- piecemeal change. They envision high mont-NEA has been working in close let us go without any warning,”
cies caused by medical debt, at least quality and affordable health care as partnership since late summer with she says. “Most of us struggle to
in part, are on the rise, and the num- a basic right of citizenship, not as a AARP, AFL-CIO, Vermont State Em- stay at our jobs because we like
ber of employers even willing to of- service available only to the wealthier ployees Association, Vermont Busi- what we do, but we really can not
fer health care insurance at all is con- and privileged segments of society. nesses for Social Responsibility, Ver- afford to keep our jobs!!”
stantly declining. They preserve the importance of safe mont Low Income Advocacy Coun- Now, negotiations for a first-
A picket sign held aloft by a strik- and timely health care services under cil, Vermont Children’s Forum, Ver- ever contract for Washington
ing communications worker last fall the guidance of known and trusted mont Interfaith Alliance, and others. West ESP can begin.
on a national news broadcast best physicians. Together, labor unions, progressive or-
summed up the problem for me: The principles don’t demand em- ganizations, and community allies can
“Health care is not a contract issue,” ployment as a necessary precondition, win health care security for all, just as Advice from
it read. “It’s a national crisis.”
Association members must do all
but instead offer health care to the un-
employed and to retirees, as well.
we won the 40-hour workweek, paid
annual vacations, minimum wage,
we can to help ensure that Barre teach- Adequacy, affordability, and child labor laws, family medical emer- Newsletter
ers will be the last members forced to sustainability are the measures for fi- gency leave, and Social Security for
The Barre Education Asso-
strike for affordable health care and nancing a better health care system in the larger society.
ciation negotiations/strike news-
to bring health care security perma- which providers of health services During long hours of strike pick-
letter offers this good advice for
nently into the lives of every Ver- implement best medical practices, re- eting in Barre, we continually passed
monter. That mission only can be ac- ceive fair and equitable payments, and a prominent rainbow-colored banner
Breathe in through your nose
complished in a broad coalition of always try to improve overall quality. hanging outside the Universalist
to the count of four, hold four
diverse organizations and individual Provider accountability through high Church. It spelled out a comforting
counts, breathe out through your
activists. The old adage, “No one wins professional standards and ongoing message: “Affirming the worth and
nose to the count of six, hold for
alone,” especially applies to this par- evaluations of medical practice and dignity of every person.” Yes, I
one count, repeat — you will feel
ticular challenge. through effective public oversight are thought to myself, that’s exactly what
Vermont-NEA already has staked deemed essential, too. Barre teachers and their supporters are
out principles to guide its advocacy These are the right principles for doing. -- Angelo J. Dorta, President
Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 3 Januar y 2006
Commission Makes Funding
Recommendations for VSTRS
MONTPELIER — In the run up to the 2004 elections in Vermont, your Association made
funding of the Vermont State Teachers Retirement System one of five issues on which it would
base its recommendations of candidates. Here is how we described the issue then: Joel D. Cook, Executive Director, Vermont-NEA
Vermont faces major challenges to the well being of two of its three pension programs for Mark Hage, Benefit Programs Dir., Vermont-NEA
public employees.… The State has increasingly and alarmingly under-funded the program Jeb Spaulding, State Treasurer (Commission Chair)
for retired teachers…. The under-funding of the teachers program did not happen overnight Joseph Mackey, Teacher and VSTRS Chair
and cannot be corrected overnight. It has resulted in taxpayers now having to pay annually Senator James C. Condos of Chittenden County
many millions for interest alone and is now a problem of huge proportion…. Vermont-NEA Senator Diane Snelling of Chittenden County
supports the creation and implementation of a comprehensive long-range plan through which Representative Kevin J. Endres of Milton
the State of Vermont can…gradually and appropriately reestablish the fiscal integrity of the Representative Anne H. Mook of Bennington
teacher pension program…. Richard H. Cate, Commissioner of Education
As a result of our advocacy, the Legislature created the Commission on Funding the Ver-
Michael Deweese, Superintendent, Chittenden
mont State Teachers’ Retirement System, to which both Mark Hage, our member benefits direc- Central Supervisory Union
tor, and I were appointed. The full commission of 13 met half a dozen times and produced its John A. Nelson, Executive Director, Vermont
report in late November. We reprint here the full executive summary, along with the full report’s School Boards’ Association
first segment, which responds quite well to the question, “Do We Need a Retirement Plan for James B. Reardon, Commissioner of Finance &
Vermont Teachers?” Management
We will keep our members informed as the governor and legislature consider the John Simson, member appointed by the Governor
commission’s recommendations. —Joel D. Cook, Executive Director
Report of the Commission on Funding the Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System
Recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly
The 2005 General Assembly created the Commission on Funding the Ver- Using the actuarial methodology used by most states, the VSTRS funded
mont State Teachers’ Retirement System (VSTRS) to make recommendations ratio declined from 92.3% in 2001 to 81.1% in 2005.
for funding an adequate, sustainable, and actuarially sound retirement benefit Using the actuarial methodology used by most states, the VSTRS un-
plan for Vermont teachers to the Governor and the General Assembly by No- funded liability increased from $93.8 million in 2001 to $315.1 million in 2005.
vember 15, 2005.
For FY 2006, Vermont appropriated $24.4 million, less than half of the
The reason for the Commission is the fact that the VSTRS is underfunded actuarially required contribution of $56.6 million.
and has been increasingly so for well over a decade. To address the serious
The problem of underfunding compounds itself. Underfunding in one
resulting liability, the Commission makes a group of recommendations to be
year means lost investment returns in future years, resulting in ever larger re-
quired contributions, which will become increasingly difficult to reach.
If these recommendations are adopted and implemented together, the State
Relative to other public pension systems, the overall level of benefits
would cut the difference between this year’s appropriated amount and what is
for VSTRS is low or modest at best.
required for FY 2007 by more than 60%, from a difference of almost $35 mil-
lion to less than $13 million. Unless the State changes course soon, Vermont may not be able to
catch up with actuarially required contributions without taking draconian mea-
In order to make the implementation of those recommendations useful for
sures, and may jeopardize its favorable credit rating.
state policy, however, the State will need to faithfully appropriate the actuari-
ally required amount each year going forward. If a long-term commitment to A new accounting standard adopted last year for all public retirement
funding is not achieved, then the result may be viewed as little more than put- systems by the Government Accounting Standards Board, and effective in FY
ting additional “debt” on the State’s credit card, with no real plan to pay. 2008, will require disclosure in financial statements of future funding liabili-
ties for other post-employment benefits (OPEBs), primarily, health insurance
The formal recommendations affect the way the appropriation for VSTRS
for retirees, as well as accrual of costs for such benefits. For VSTRS, the
is determined and stem from ideas brought forth by the VSTRS Board of Trust-
additional initial annual expense to be recorded has been estimated at a $31
ees, the Treasurer’s Office and expert consultants. The Commission also con-
million annual obligation. This estimate was made under the assumption that
sidered a series of options for the State to consider for increasing its appropria-
the benefits will be pre-funded in an actuarially adequate manner; if not, the
tion. While it did not consider its charge to include actually determining from
expenses will have to be computed using assumptions that will cause it to be
what sources the state should seek the additional revenue needed, the Commis-
substantially higher. The Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System will
sion did consider a variety of funding options, and its conclusions are provided
be required to record an added estimated $25 million in annual expense for
OPEB obligations under the new standard (assuming pre-funding). All public-
The Commission offers this set of recommendations with optimism that by sector retirement systems with OPEB obligations will be required to accrue
providing the means to bring the VSTRS appropriation level realistically within such expenses.
reach, the state will from now on make fully funding this important public
pension program a strict priority to address each year.
Make no change in benefits at this time because current benefits are
The Commission here presents its key findings and recommendations.
modest by comparison with similar plans and because any realistic changes to
Key Findings the benefit structure would not provide significant immediate savings.
Chronic underfunding by the State, more conservative actuarial assump- Adopt the Entry Age Normal (EAN) actuarial methodology because
tions, and demographic trends have added considerably to the VSTRS’ doing so provides a more accurate picture of the plan’s funded status and is
underfunded status, while greatly increasing the actuarially required annual consistent with most public retirement plans.
contribution from the State.
Reamortize the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) over 30 years be-
The actuarial methodology used by VSTRS under Vermont law is rarely cause, while this will increase plan costs over that period, it will reduce the
used by other public pension plans. The unfunded liability calculated under State’s required annual contribution substantially.
this method does not reflect the actual experience of the plan, nor does it cause
Increase the assumed rate of investment return by .25% because doing
underfunding to be reflected in the “funded ratio” or “unfunded accrued liabil-
so reflects the beneficial effects of Vermont’s new unified pension fund invest-
ity,” which are often used to measure and compare the financial health of pen-
sion plans. Continued...
Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 4 Januar y 2006
Create separate appropriations for normal and UAL costs because do- Sell selected state assets.
ing so will make plan costs associated with underfunding distinct from costs Utilize pension obligation bonds for some or all of unfunded liability.
associated with paying benefits.
Do We Need a Retirement Plan for Vermont Teachers?
Enact stronger statutory language to ensure that future appropriations
The Commission believes that teachers are the foundation of our education
match the actuarial recommendation.
system — a resource integral to the long-term viability of the Vermont economy.
Fully fund both normal and UAL costs beginning in FY 2007 because Retirement security is an important piece of the employment package as indi-
doing so is necessary both to justify implementing other recommendations and viduals make life decisions about their careers. Without a competitive retire-
to preserve the fiscal integrity of the VSTRS. ment plan, schools will not be able to compete for high quality teachers.
Potential Funding Options Pension benefits are essentially IOUs to employees that accumulate while
Implementation of the Key Recommendations would reduce the actuary’s they are working and that are cashed in at the time of retirement. These ben-
formal recommendation for FY 2007 by $21 million (from $59.2 million to efits are also a partnership, since employees make ongoing contributions to the
$38.2 million), shrinking the gap between the recommendation and the FY plan with the expectation that the employer will meet its obligations.
2006 appropriation ($24.4 million) by more than 60%. A Medicare Part D As a first step, the Commission agreed to define concisely what Vermont
reimbursement to the VSTRS, as discussed later in this report, will reduce the should expect from a retirement plan for teachers. After several presentations
gap by another $1.2 million. The remaining gap of approximately $13 million and considerable discussion, the Commission agreed on a set of guiding prin-
is left to be filled by the Governor and the Legislature. ciples, as follows:
Closing that gap — and keeping it closed — is the critical element in achiev- What Do We Want From Our Retirement Benefit Plan?
ing the goal of an adequate, sustainable, and actuarially sound retirement ben-
Recruitment - The benefit plan should act as an incentive for recruit-
efit plan for Vermont teachers.
ing high quality education professionals. The plan must be competitive with
To assist the Governor and Legislature in finding ways to close the gap, the those in other states and within Vermont
Commission considered a range of funding options in more or less detail. The
Retention - The benefit plan should act as an incentive for retaining
Commission gave its unanimous support to finding some of the funds needed
high quality education professionals and maintaining a stable workforce. The
through normal revenue growth in the general fund. Other options, discussed
plan should also be compatible with changing workforce and demographic
in greater detail in the body of this report, received either majority or minimal
Commission support as set out below.
Reward - The benefit plan should provide a solid foundation for re-
tirement security following a career in teaching.
Reallocation of existing resources in the budget to fund the actuarially
Sustainability - The cost of the benefit plan should be sustainable and
predictable over the long term.
One-time reduction of the general fund transfer to the education fund,
A 2004 study completed for the Pension Research Council, The Wharton
in order to increase the base appropriation for the VSTRS pension obligation.
School, University of Pennsylvania, concluded that defined benefit plans pro-
Increase in personal income or other tax sources. vide significant economic benefit to the broad community:
Minimal support: “As consumers, retired pension participants spend their benefits on a
Fund all or part of the need through the Education Fund. range of goods and services. These expenditures increase economic demand
Increase employee contributions for future normal costs. and promote employment, generating additional economic activity, which
begets additional demand and employment. Setting aside all other benefits
Require local school districts to share the costs of future pension li-
to employers and employees of DB plans, contributions to public pension
abilities with the State.
plans may be among the best investments a state or local government can
Phase-in increases over a defined period, if necessary. make.”
Vermont-NEA Member Jennifer
Harper Is Honored as 2006 Representa te of Thanks to
Vermont Teacher of the Year is Brooks
MONTPELIER – Jennifer 1999, and considers her completion &
Harper, fourth-grade teacher at of the Vermont Mathematics Initiative ncent Illuz
Cavendish Town Elementary School, to be one of her greatest career accom- There are
has been named 2006 Vermont plishments. Recently Harper received t say “Tha en this org
As the leg nk you” q anization
Teacher of the Year. the Presidential Award for Excellence islative ses uite out lo simply
sion open ud to pub
restate to s in Montp lic officials
As Teacher of the Year, Harper in Mathematics and Science Teaching. two comm elier, we w .
the mann ittee chair ant to
will travel statewide and nationally In addition to her work with stu- er and, fra s our profo
nkly, spee un
visiting schools and working with dents, Harper also serves as an edu- us get the
agency fee d with wh d thanks for
spring. Th for teache ich they h
teachers. In addition, she is Vermont’s cation leader to the field, teaching a e bill start r contracts elped
ed in the bill enacte
candidate for the National Teacher of graduate math course to educators in Francis Bro House, so d last
oks (D. M I will start
the Year award. southern Vermont. She also volunteers eral Affair ontpelier) there.
s Commit chairs the
State Board members visited her time to serve as a member of the political p tee, consis House Ge
arties. Befo ting of 8 le n-
mittee, he re we were gislators fr
Harper’s school for a ceremony that Stepping Stones Preschool Board. had helpe done in Re om 3
included remarks by Harper, 2005 “It is my belief that students who port. Quit d assure th p. Brooks’
e unexpect e bill’s un com-
Vermont Teacher of the Year Karen learn through experience will retain ed! animous
After pass sup-
Heath, Education Commissioner Ri- the material longer and understand it sure as th ing the Ho
e leg use, the bil
l faced som
chard Cate and State Board Chair Tom better than if it is just presented to Senator Vin islature neared ad e time pre
cent Illuzz journmen s-
James. The entire student body was them,” said Harper. “I work hard to up to the p i (R. Essex- t. This is w
late. In fa Caledonia hen
present as well. Representatives from provide an environment that enables mittee tak ct, the day ) really ste
e up the b aft pped
Hannaford Bros. Co. presented students to make mistakes and learn might com ill, I asked er he first had his co
e him when m-
Harper with a $3,000 grant for class- from their mistakes without being in- ready vote to a committee vote he though
d it out.” U . His resp
room materials. Barre Waldner from timidated.” nheard of! onse: “We
So, the next al-
SMART Board ™ was also on hand “Outstanding teachers like Jenni- lator reall time you
y makes a wonder if
to present Harper with SMART Board fer act as role models for teachers ny differen contacting
images of ce, please your leg
™ equipment and software for her throughout the state. She recognized lic officials
tive Brook call to min is-
who respo s and Sen d the
classroom. her own need to gain more knowledge and, well nded to y ator Illuzz
, just pla our Associa i: pub-
Harper, a graduate of Castleton about math instruction strategies and tance to u in quickly tion expert
State College with her master’s degree now she helps her students achieve s. about an ly
issue of im
in education from UVM, has taught success by applying these strategies,” por-
in Vermont for 13 years. She has been said Richard Cate, Commissioner of
a mathematics Network Leader since Education.
Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 5 Januar y 2006
HEALTH CARE REFORM
A large coalition of labor unions and citizen advocacy groups dedicated to
universal health care reform has emerged. They are:
The Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security
By Mark L. Hage cal aid to support Peter’s efforts and dog groups that formed in August 2004 3. What Vermont spends on health
When the 2006 legislative session that of VCHCS. to build a broad consensus on health care must be adequate, sustainable
kicks off in January, health care re- VCHCS is not proposing or ad- care reform. and paid for by spreading the cost fairly
form will be, as it was last year, the vocating for a particular solution to These are the five health care re- across the population.
number one public policy issue. Ver- the health care crisis at this time. Its form standards VCHCS believes must 4. Individual health care costs must
mont-NEA will continue to play a cen- reform standards were inspired in be met to solve the health care not exceed anyone’s ability to pay, and
tral role in this debate, just as it did large measure by the six principles of affordability crisis: no one must pay more because he or
last year, to protect the comprehen- Coalition 21, an alliance of labor 1. Health care must be available and she is sick.
sive insurance benefits most of our unions (including Vermont-NEA), affordable to each Vermonter from 5. We must always seek ways to
members enjoy and to make progress businesses, health providers, insur- birth to death. improve the safety and quality of
toward achieving a comprehensive, ance companies, legislators, public 2. There must be no discrimination health care.
fairly financed health care system that policy advocates, and citizen watch- or barriers to affordable health care. There has never been a coalition
is affordable to all Vermonters. of this sort organized in Vermont de-
We have our work cut out for us. voted to health care reform. It is a
To date, these organizations have committed to or
The good news is that we are not long-term and huge endeavor, requir-
alone. expressed interest in joining the Campaign for Health ing a deep commitment by all parties.
Last summer, Vermont-NEA ini- Care Security: We’ll keep you updated on its plans
tiated a dialogue about health care Vermont-NEA and activities.
reform with other labor unions and AARP of Vermont Coalition 21
citizen advocacy groups. By mid No- Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility Speaking of Coalition 21, this
vember, a large coalition had emerged Vermont State Employees’ Association unique and influential group is still
dedicated to universal health care re- AFL-CIO meeting and working toward helping
form. It has taken the name The Ver- AFSCME Vermont achieve affordable health
mont Campaign for Health Care The Vermont Workers’ Center care for all its citizens. The group’s
Security. membership has changed somewhat
United Electrical Workers
We estimate, conservatively, that since last year, but most of its origi-
VCHCS represents at this early stage United Nurses Alliance nal members continue to participate.
nearly 200,000 Vermonters. The Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association C21’s principles have informed the
Campaign is also drawing critical sup- United Professions of Vermont/AFT goals of VCHCS.
port from America’s Agenda: Health ALANA Among other activities in 2006,
Care for All, an organization started NOFA Vermont C21 will analyze and comment pub-
by several unions to help labor groups Vermont Interfaith Alliance licly on major reform proposals, from
at the state level advance health care Bi-State Primary Care Association the governor’s initiatives to bills pro-
reform. Community of Vermont Elders posed in the legislature to proposals
The other good news is that coming from different advocacy or-
Vermont Children’s Forum
VCHCS has just hired a half-time or- ganizations with a major stake in the
ganizer. Vermont-NEA secured a gen- Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health health care reform debate. C21 will
erous grant from NEA in Washington, Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights study each proposal to see if it meets
D.C., to hire Peter Sterling, a seasoned Vermont Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations the test of its six landmark principles
Vermont organizer, to implement the Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council and to assess if its implementation will
work of the Campaign. Peter was Vermont Health Care for All achieve or at least move the state sig-
hired for the period November 2005 Vermont Public Interest Research Group nificantly in the direction of afford-
through January 2007. He will be Vermont Alliance for Retired Americans able health care reform.
working out of the Vermont-NEA of- National Association of Social Workers Mark Hage is Vermont-NEA’s Direc-
fice. Other organizations are also do- tor of Benefit Programs. He repre-
nating money, staff time and logisti- sents the Association on C21.
Become a Health Care Hero
The struggle for health care reform in Vermont will require our Association to raise awareness of the problems
associated with rising health care costs and to organize for reforms that will make health care affordable for
Vermont-NEA is now recruiting “Health Care Heroes,” member volunteers from around the state who are
willing to work with Mark Hage, the Association’s Director of Benefit Programs, and the new Vermont Campaign
for Health Care Security to organize and rally support for health care reform in their communities and workplaces.
Mark and the Campaign will provide you with training, resources and guidance, and keep you updated regu-
larly on legislative developments. They will use your time selectively and wisely, and focus it on educating people
and building support for reform where you live and work.
You don’t have to be an expert on health care or insurance to volunteer. You just need to care about making
high-quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone, and you have to be willing to give some of your
time to make it happen.
Reforming our health care system is one of the greatest challenges of our lives. We can’t do it without you.
Become a Health Care Hero today!
To volunteer or learn more about this organizing project, contact Mark Hage:
email@example.com or 1-800-649-6375
Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 6 Januar y 2006
V.O.T.E. – Vermont-NEA’s formal
Voice Of Teachers and ESP Association
By Tom Walters Now it is time for the legislature to mendations to our members which
Across Vermont, Association adopt and implement it. It will take candidates to support.
members are thinking about the many the unified voice of our membership Second, Engage Legislators
Committee meets in Montpelier
education and labor issues facing the to help. The second is to help educate leg-
legislature come January. They are be- We have created a proposal to es- islators about Association positions on January 15
ginning to think about how to affect tablish a freestanding self-regulating issues before the Legislature. That Vermont-NEA candidate pe-
who will be elected to public office board of professional educators, mir- role involves engaging legislators in titions due
next fall. roring what virtually every other li- discussions – orally and/or in writing January 16
We Need Your Voice censed occupation already has. The – about matters under consideration, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
V.O.T.E. – Vermont-NEA’s Voice supportive voice of Vermont-NEA in concert with those who represent Deadline for February issue
of Teachers and ESP – is the formal members in the ear of their legisla- the Association in the State House. of Vermont-NEA Today
program through which our member- tors can help make this proposal into The work of V.O.T.E. is coordi-
ship communicates with legislators, law. nated by members arrayed by Senate January 20
especially in their own communities. There are dozens of important is- Districts. They form interview teams Vermont-NEA Professional
As you probably know, the up- sues affecting education policy and to meet with candidates in the late Issues Conference at the Sheraton
coming legislative session will take funding, labor, health, retirement, and summer. They also are the primary Conference Center in South Bur-
up many important education and em- other areas that come up every year legislation link between the Associa- lington
ployee issues. Your Association is at in the State House. It is always im- tion in the State House and the Asso- January 20-22
the forefront of the debate over health portant to have the Association’s voice ciation in legislative districts. NEA New England Leader-
care, as we try to help the state, to be clear and articulate in that build- So, when one of your colleagues ship Conference in Philadelphia
through legislation, extend to all citi- ing. It is equally important for that approaches you to become part of February 1
zens the kind of access to health care voice to be just as clearly echoed in Vermont-NEA V.O.T.E., we hope you Deadline for Vermont-NEA
we’ve been able, through negotia- our legislators’ home districts. To that will enthusiastically say “yes.” A Human & Civil Rights Award
tions, to obtain over the decades for end, Vermont-NEA has a V.O.T.E. number of Senate District Coordina- nominations
most of our members. We’ve had an First, Educate Candidates tors are already in place, but there is Deadline for Vermont-NEA/
unusual number of strikes this year, Association members who par- always room for more, and there is Maida F. Townsend Scholarship
but each one has been yet another ticipate in V.O.T.E. have two impor- certainly always room for members applications
symptom of the deepening problem tant educational roles. locally to forge a link between the
health care is as its costs continue to The first is to help educate candi- Association and legislators. February 2
escalate. dates for public office about issues of Please consider adding your voice Vermont-NEA Committee
Vermont-NEA has helped oversee importance to education and educa- to V.O.T.E., by contacting me, Tom Reports due
the development of a long-range plan tors. That role involves engaging can- Walters, Organizer, at Vermont-NEA: February 3
to address the chronic under-funding didates in discussions locally about 1-800-649-6375, ext. 118, or Vermont-NEA New Teacher
of the Teachers’ Retirement System. the issues and culminates in recom- firstname.lastname@example.org. Conference at the Doubletree
Hotel in South Burlington
NEA Director’s Report February 4
Vermont-NEA Board meets
Commitment to Membership and
Joyce Passes the Hat
Leadership Affirmed Our NEA Director, Joyce Sul-
livan of Brattleboro, doesn’t miss
By Joyce Sullivan ask Congress to adopt the Employee us in an advocacy role rather than a a trick. In Washington for the
The NEA Board of Directors met Free Choice Act. Although the peti- reactive position. Hearings related to NEA Board meeting on Decem-
in Washington, D.C. on December 9 tion was not accepted, the camarade- some initial language have occurred ber 9, she passed the hat among
and 10. I’ve summarized some high- rie and solidarity among these union- with the Board and will continue with her fellow directors and collected
lights of that meeting: ized workers was inspirational and re- leaders who attend the regional con- $500 for striking Barre teachers.
March with Other Unions affirmed my commitment to member- ferences. Angelo delivered the donations to
Angelo and I participated in a ship and leadership in NEA. Sending you all best wishes for the BEA strike headquarters.
march along with other unions to pro- Hurricane Relief a relaxing December break and an
mote the vision that Worker’s Rights We have raised 1.3 million dol- enjoyable holiday season.
are Human Rights. A gathering of lars as a national organization. NEA – Joyce Sullivan Run for Vermont-NEA
NEA staff, officers, Board members, has received twenty thousand requests Board and NEA RA
affiliate presidents and other officers for assistance. Despite the amount of Delegate
marched from the NEA building to the money raised, it’s not enough to cover Petitions with 25 member sig-
AFL-CIO for a rally that included the requests, so we continue to natures are due January 15 for
AFT members, AFL-CIO members, fundraise. Board member Guy Stanley members wishing to run for 3-
airline pilots, Jobs for Justice and a from Tennessee challenged us to con- year terms representing their area
number of other unions. tribute one dollar per member as his on the Vermont-NEA Board or for
Our NEA President, Reg Weaver, local Association did. one of 15 Vermont delegate posi-
rocked the house with a rousing NEA is approaching other orga- tions for the NEA Representative
speech, which confirmed our belief nizations that might be willing to help Assembly in July. Retired mem-
that the right to organize is a human meet the needs of our members bers can call Angelo to get on the
right. throughout the devastated areas. ballot for retired delegate.
At the end of the 45-minute rally, Members may still contribute money These Board seats are up for
we walked from the NEA building to to the hurricane relief efforts through re-election: Chittenden, Area 3;
the White House to deliver a petition the NEA web site. Central Vermont, Area 1; and
to President Bush, which was not ac- ESEA Addison-Rutland, Area 2 .
cepted. The petition asked President The Elementary and Secondary The NEA Director position is
Bush to re-establish the U.S. as a Education Act is up for reauthoriza- Joyce Sullivan of Brattleboro is up for election, as well. Petitions
leader in protecting human rights – tion. President Weaver appointed a Vermont’s representative on the NEA to be placed on the ballot require
including the freedom of citizens committee to work on language that Board of Directors. She can be 100 signatures.
around the world to form unions – and we would like to see. This positions reached at Jas3@sover.net
Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 7 Januar y 2006
“The Mountain Review” Nominate soon for the Vermont Award
for Teaching Excellence
Seeks Student Manuscripts Each year, Vermont-NEA honors Any active teacher or Education
The Mountain Review is an an- 4. Limit poetry to 60 lines maximum one of its active members in order to Support Professional (ESP) member
nual publication of writing and art by and prose to 900 words maximum. celebrate teaching excellence, public of Vermont-NEA who is not currently
Vermont students, K-12, sponsored by education, and our dedicated school serving as a statewide officer or as a
5. Include a title. workforce. The Vermont-NEA Award Board Director is eligible to apply for
the Vermont Council of Teachers of
6. Edit carefully. for Teaching Excellence, which car- this award. Any active Vermont-NEA
English Language Arts. VCTELA in-
vites teachers to select and submit 7. Include the author’s name, grade, ries with it a $1,000 cash prize, rec- teacher or ESP member, or any NEA-
quality pieces of student work for pos- school, teacher, date and word or line ognizes, rewards, and promotes excel- Retired/NEA-Student member from
sible publication starting now. count at the end of each entry. lence in public school teaching and Vermont may submit a nomination.
Manuscripts may be submitted at underscores high standards of service All nomination materials must be sub-
8. Include a parent/guardian
any time during the school year, as to students and to the teaching pro- mitted in hard copy and must be re-
permission form or note indicating the
long as VCTELA receives them by fession. The winner represents Ver- ceived at the Vermont-NEA office by
student has permission to submit this
June 10. Please do not send antholo- mont in the national competition for 5:00 PM. February 15, 2006.
writing for possible publication.
gies or class sets of a particular as- the NEA Foundation Award for Teach- For more information, go to
VCTELA suggests you keep cop- ing Excellence, which pays the win- www.vtnea.org or email
signment. Also, VCTELA asks that ies of manuscripts for yourself be-
teachers review carefully each piece ner $25,000. email@example.com.
cause none will be returned. In Octo-
submitted for possible plagiarism. ber they will announce those who will
To qualify for publication, all en- be published by sending letters to
New Leadership for the NEA
tries must meet these requirements: them and their teachers at their school Valuebuilder Program in Vermont
1. TYPE all entries in a plain, read- address. Vermont-NEA and NEA-Member vices. He has an MBA from the Uni-
able print, such as Times New Roman. If you have any questions, feel Benefits are pleased to announce that versity of Rochester and prior experi-
2. Send each entry in hard copy to free to call Mountain Review editors Rob Elmes will represent the NEA ence in finance and business succes-
Wayland Cole at: Wayland Cole or Katie Lenox at (802) Valuebuilder 403(b) Program for sion planning.
658-1570. Email Wayland at: members in Vermont. Rob has over The Valuebuilder Program is now
Colchester High School
firstname.lastname@example.org 23 years of experience helping teach- the only retirement program endorsed
PO Box 900, Laker Lane
or Katie at: ers and ESP plan for retirement, most by the NEA in Vermont. We are ex-
Colchester, VT 05446
email@example.com. recently at VALIC. cited not only with the quality of the
Please also submit a copy elec- Aaron Cavazos serves as student Joining Rob in offering the Valuebuilder Program, but also with
tronically, either by disk or email to editor for The Mountain Review. Valuebuilder program is his partner, the experience and professionalism
firstname.lastname@example.org Send orders for copies of The Greg Norris. Greg is a Certified Fi- that Greg, Rob and their team will
3. Double space prose. Single space Mountain Review to Katie Lenox at nancial Planner (CFP) with over 25 bring to our members. Rob and Greg
poetry. Colchester High School. years of experience in financial ser- can be reached at 1-800-634-1965.
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Ver mont-NEA TODAY
ermont-NEA ODA 8 Januar y 2006