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May 29, 2020 
In this Issue….VEBA Vote, School Board Connection, MLK Labor, Your Ideas Needed, PD4U, Summer Work-Apply Now, Resources on Public TV

Dear HEA Members,

Over 275 union leaders and WEA staff members were with Governor Inslee on Wednesday afternoon along with several Dept of Health staff.  His administration remains committed to using the best science available to guide decisions around the opening of the state, including our schools.  So while officials appear to express a strong interest in returning students to school, they also recognize the need to protect the health of staff, students, and families.  Their plan is to produce clear, practical steps that can be flexibly applied based on contingencies faced around the state.  State guidance will likely be provided around transportation, physical distancing, grouping, use of space, cleaning, hand/face washing, face coverings, training including the use of classroom routines designed to reduce transmission, as well as monitoring and the isolation of students or staff who are ill. A 130+ person statewide planning group is at work now through OSPI.

In response, WEA President Delaney has assembled the Chairs of the WEA committees to develop our own responses/recommendations.  As Chair of the WEA Health and Safety Committee, I am relying on the information you have shared over the last 10 weeks to inform the WEA response.  Ideas will also come from Human and Civil Rights, Curriculum and Instruction, Small and Rural Locals, as well as Paraeducators, Higher Ed, ESAs and dedicated WEA staff members.

This pandemic has made it clear that our work is essential to society, not just for extraordinary learning benefits, but also for the health and well-being of our students, our communities, and our future. The pandemic has also highlighted the stark inequities faced by our families of color when it comes to staying safe while accessing adequate food, healthcare, housing, jobs, and very clearly—education. 

Please watch for upcoming union actions in response to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the many men and women of color who have been killed at the hands of the state.  Much, much more is needed to create a country where people of color can breathe freely.  Here is a short article shared with me by Delbert Richardson, curator of the Unspoken Truths American History Museum.  While most of the points were not new, the ideas were a good reminder to me of how I can do better in groups where I lead or participate. Maybe you will find it helpful as well. We will be taking this up at the HEA Rep. Council meeting on Monday, so please know more information will be coming.

Thank you all for your continued dedication to your students.  Please be patient and stay healthy during this time. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me or your executive board with questions or feedback.

You are appreciated,


PS  Our annual HEA Retiree Social had been scheduled for May 21st to honor our retirees and those “separating from service.”  We are putting together a special EFocus issue dedicated to them.  If you would like to email a bio, brief remarks or a story about your time in Highline or about a colleague who is leaving, please email those to me by June 12th.  Pictures with captions are also welcome.

PPS The transfer application remains open. Please note, however, that a vacancy a displaced teacher would be qualified for will not be allowed for transfer.  We continue to have 15 members in the displacement pool.

Annual VEBA Vote.  Speaking of retirees, an information session will be zoomed on Thursday, June 4 at 2:00 prior to the annual retiree cash out vote and the vote to buy-back excess sick leave for those with over 180 days. Ballots will be emailed to those eligible to vote on June 4 and are due on June 11th at midnight.

School Board Connection.  The next HPS School Board meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 6PM. This link takes you to the meeting notice and agenda, typically posted by noon the Friday before.  If you wish to have your public comment read into the record at the meeting, your statement must be emailed to HPS by noon on June 3.   You may wish to address your remarks to:  Dear School Board Directors or Dear School Board Directors and Dr. Enfield.  Then sign and include your position in the community or the district at the conclusion.

MLK Labor Council Report.  Last winter, the HEA Rep Council elected Joe Thomas and Ryan Reilly as our delegates on the King County Labor Council with Leslie Sokolik (RUC WEAPAC Chair) an alternate. This month the council passed several resolutions, including supporting legislation to support the USPS, and a resolution to work with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance to prevent the spread of misinformation and racism in the midst of COVID. We also approved a resolution urging the Seattle City Council and Mayor to support Uber/Lyft/etc. workers with paid leave.  Recently HEA donated community outreach funds to Labor Supports Labor: Meals for Healthcare Workers. With our labor partners we helped put laid-off Unite HERE 8 members back to work by providing healthy meals to our hard working frontline workers in healthcare facilities in King County. On May 28, Katie Utesch and Jeb Binns worked together to deliver 100 meals to medical and non-medical workers at Highline Medical Center. 

Multiple Ways to Share Your Knowledge and Ideas: 
Community Mapping.  This Monday your Executive Board will start a journey with the HEA Representative Council to discover, uncover, and reveal the community where we work and our students live.  Our journey continues with building reps returning to each school and asking you to join a 30-minute community map quest.  While adjustments have been made to conduct a virtual quest, we are confident that the information gathered will allow us to build mutual understanding and stronger relationships with our community…so please join the journey.

Educator Surveys. This WEA survey will help inform our task force and additional WEA planning. Our goal is to ensure our values and beliefs are not just reflected in re-opening plans, but built in to them so that we can improve upon the teaching and learning experiences moving forward. A HPS survey customized for students, parents/guardians, and educators will also be released soon. It’s quick and to the point so please “take 5” to complete it.  HR and HEA are in the planning stages of a survey to gather feedback on working conditions and collect your experiences while teaching remotely.

Reimagining School. On June 9th, Dr. Enfield and I are co-hosting four listening sessions to gather your ideas for reimagining how we might “do school” differently.  Both HPS leaders and HEA members share an interest in capturing how your experiences during this time might help us reimagine and begin to create a more equitable school system where all students thrive.  An open-ended process has been planned for breakout groups so we hope you will sign up once registration is pushed out.

Outstanding WEA PD.  Remember, your HEA membership ensures you are pre-authorized for 100% tuition reimbursement for all WEA courses.  Just register online, pay, attend and then send your receipt after attendance to Portia Robinson
•    WEA PD offerings are updated weekly.  Bookmark this site and stay up to date with all clockhour offerings.
•    WEA Summer Learning Institutes are back! 
•    Check out the WEA Special Education Support Center (SESC) and Inclusionary Practices Project (IPP)  .  Register for online courses and submit receipts to HEA for reimbursement after completion. 

Free Professional Learning.  The Center for Learning in Practice at the Carey Institute for Global Good has just opened registration for their Refugee Educator Academy online course: Refugee Educator Foundations of Practice. Teachers, counselors, paraeducators, and other school staff including administrators are welcome. The course runs from June 20 - September 30 and coaching continues through March, 2021. For questions, email Julie Kasper, Program Manager. This free 30-clock hour professional learning opportunity is  designed for K-12 teachers of students of refugee backgrounds. Register here.
Summer Employment for Washington Educators:  CSTP recently received funding to develop quick-response online supports and resources for teachers in Washington. Phase 1 of the project creates an Ask-A-Teacher Help Desk and an online Learning Management Systems (LMS) Resource Guide. Applicants can apply for one or both positions.  Successful candidates will have expertise and experience in one or more of the following learning management systems:  Google Classroom, Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Schoology, Seesaw.  Applications are   found on their website and will remain open until all positions are filled.
Educational Programs and Resources.  Through a partnership with OSPI and former State Superintendent Terry Bergeson, Washington’s local public television stations are sharing resources to support distance learning during this pandemic emergency. These resources do not require students to have access to the internet!

Educational television programs are being broadcast for students in grades 6 – 12 from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm daily everywhere in Washington on the WORLD Channel. Many of these programs have supporting resources online for educators such as curriculum and discussion guides. You can access your local public television station and schedule of programs on OSPI’s website and then select your local public TV station.

Public sponsors are interested in hearing teacher perspectives on the materials, resources and communications of this free and available information. A focus group of interested educators will be convened at 5pm on Wednesday, June 3 to provide feedback. Please sign-up if you are interested in participating in the focus group.   If you’re unavailable to participate but would still like to provide feedback, you can access OSPI’s feedback link.