NSEA UNIVERSITY: Organizing, bargaining and student behavior learnings at conference

For the first time, NSEA University was held in Kearney, Neb. President Jenni Benson welcomed members on July 17 to kick off three days of professional learning. The conference, held at the Younes Conference Center, featured guest speakers and breakout sessions on collective bargaining strategies, cyber security, school safety and EHA benefits.

Helping Students in Poverty

Keynote speaker Dr. Donna Beegle told attendees that growing up, she didn’t believe that education was for her or for people like her. She grew up not knowing the words her teachers used.

“I said ‘ain’t’ in almost every other sentence and did not know when to say ‘gone’ or ‘went,’ ‘seen’ or ‘saw,’” she explained.  

Beegle dropped out during her freshman year of high school. She wouldn’t earn her GED until the age of 26.

“When I tell people, ‘At 15, I never knew a soul who benefited from education,' people will say to me, 'but you knew your teachers,’” she said. “Communication theory says, ‘To be in a room with someone is not to know them. To know someone, you must identify with them.’”

Students and families who live in the crisis of poverty communicate and relate differently than their middle-class peers and educators, Beegle explained. She gave members ways in which they can better communicate to build stronger relationships with their students living in poverty as well as their families.

Home on the Range

NSEA members and their guests were treated to a social outing and dinner at the Archway. See photos from The Archway’s family-friendly historical exhibits on page 13.

Support Our Schools

National Education Association Executive Committee member Robert Rodriguez, a special education teacher and longtime activist, praised NSEA members for their work gathering signatures for the Support Our Schools Nebraska petition drive to repeal LB753, a voucher scheme passed by the 2023 Legislature. During his address, he encouraged educators to keep fighting for their students, communities, and public education for all. On July 18, NSEA U attendees gathered in Holdrege to collect petition signatures.  In late August, Save Our Schools Nebraska submitted petitions with more than 100,000 signatures to the Secretary of State to put the issue to a vote of the people.