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    • LAP 2018: Social justice is union work

      The statewide union’s social justice priorities took center stage during a Thursday morning presentation at NYSUT’s Local Action Project. NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale introduced the session, terming social justice “an area where you can make real connections with your members” since the issues often have an impact in the local community.

      “I encourage you to incorporate social justice activities into your LAP work,” Pecorale said.

      Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT executive vice president and chair of the NYSUT Women’s Committee, discussed the group’s year-one goals and agenda for the months ahead as it prepares for its second committee meeting in November. “We hosted a committee booth at the 2018 NYSUT RA and highlighted the stories of inspiring NYSUT women using our “Herstory” article template,” said DiBrango.

      A mentoring toolkit for younger members and sexual harassment resources for women and men are also in the works, she said.

      “We plan to add up to four more priorities for year two,” said DiBrango. “One will be a resolution workshop to help us develop future RA resolutions focused on women’s issues.”

      DiBrango also detailed NYSUT efforts to combat the growing teacher shortage, particularly with regard to teachers of color. “All students benefit from having culturally diverse teachers,” said DiBrango, who noted NYSUT has forged connections among higher education and K-12 members to work toward solutions to the issue.

      Current state assessments exacerbate the problem by labeling students as failures as early as 8 years old due to flawed benchmarks. “If you’re a student of color who is continually labeled a failure, why would you ever consider a career in education,” she asked. “Why would you want to return to a place that continually tells you you’re not good enough?”

      DiBrango detailed NYSUT’s advocacy on behalf of assessment reform, including reaching out to State Education Department officials and the Regents, convening three student committees to discuss the importance of educator diversity in the classroom and creating local “grow-your-own” programs to nurture students and school-related professionals interested in the teaching field.

      After airing a video about the well-heeled, conservative billionaires behind the Janus decision — ranging from the Koch brothers to the Heritage Foundation — Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, declared: “We stand between those billionaires and the working people.”

      “Some say that unions should focus only on our bread-and-butter issues, but there is a bigger world out there,” he continued. “We must also do the work that unions have always done — fight for those who are less powerful.”

      For the NYSUT Civil and Human Rights Committee, which Abraham chairs, those issues include combatting poverty; fighting for equality, racial justice and LBGTQ rights; defending the union movement; speaking out against unfair immigration policies; and raising awareness about important environmental issues, such as the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

      Abraham noted that the current national climate stacks the deck in favor of the powerful, whose aim is to increase their wealth at the expense of those who can’t fight back. “But just like we did with the constitutional convention (in November), we will fight back,” he said. “Because when we do, we win.”

      A centerpiece of that work is forging coalitions with like-minded groups, including the Poor People’s Campaign and the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition. Rebecca Garrard, president of the Webutuck Teachers Association and a member of the NYSUT Civil and Human Rights Committee, discussed her experiences as a protester with the Poor People’s Campaign during the group’s six weeks of nationwide activism that began in late May.

      “I was arrested four times for civil disobedience in six weeks,” Garrard said, explaining that the work is important because, without it, she sees no path to upward and social mobility for many of her students. “It’s the beginning of the fight to ensure that everyone has the right to live.”

      .@garrar26 testifies to the power of collective action and civil disobedianece in the fight for social justice @nysut #LAP2018 #PPC #poorpeoplescampaign @AFTunion pic.twitter.com/SqkBgBOOMT

      — Greg McCrea (@CNYTeacher) July 19, 2018

      Abraham also discussed his committee’s work on behalf of hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, noting that NYSUT has raised $140,000 in relief support through the union’s Disaster Relief Fund.

      Abraham was part of an AFT delegation that traveled to Puerto Rico to visit local schools, speak with teachers about the challenges they still face and help assemble care closets filled with basic hygiene products. Other committee members staged local fundraisers, ranging from penny drops to community-wide happy hours.

      Abraham encouraged members to start a social justice committee in their locals. “Start small and set achievable goals — such as providing mentoring for students of color,” he said. “You just need a coalition of the willing.”

      NYSUT’s LAP is a three-year program that teaches union members proven strategies to increase member participation and build community support.

    • Teachers take their turn as STEM students at SEMI Foundation summer program

      Talk about hands-on learning. This wasn’t just hands-on — it was shoes off, too, as educators methodically moved around a “human calculator” mat that looked like a giant game of Twister to learn how a computer works with binary logic.

      “This is absolutely amazing,” said Maryvale Teachers Association’s Adam Smith, a high school technology teacher in western New York who asked if he could borrow the mat for the school year. “I can’t wait to try this out with my students.”

      Smith was one of about 40 educators who attended an intensive two-day SEMI High Tech U-Teacher Edition program this week at NYSUT headquarters in Albany. Since its inception 11 years ago, the SEMI Foundation summer program has reached more than 600 teachers, offering fun and interactive activities to expose teachers to the world of nanotechnology, microchips and semiconductors.

      Aside from the human calculator, participants worked in teams on their hands and knees to use medieval statapult technology to launch Koosh balls and hacky sacks to learn about quality control in modern-day chipmaking.

      Modules on everything from coding to chemistry were taught by industry professionals in the area, as well as higher education faculty. A highlight was a field trip to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute for a behind-the-scenes tour.

      “NYSUT is proud to sponsor this program — it’s exciting to so many members from different districts, grade levels and subject areas,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango. “NYSUT has always been and will continue to be a staunch supporter of professional development opportunities.”

      2018 SEMI High Tech U

      DiBrango noted that, not only will participants learn practical applications of science technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they can use in the classroom, they can also earn 14 Continuing Teacher & Leader Education (CTLE) state-required hours from NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust.

      Janine Sargalis and Stefanie Scram, both kindergarten teachers and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Teachers Association members, said the course was highly recommended by their school’s librarian.

      “It really makes me think differently about things like vocabulary and teaching patterns to build the foundational level for our students,” Sargalis said. “And, as a kindergarten teacher, it’s great to learn more about how to make learning even more engaging.”

      “These hands-on activities are perfect with the Next Generation Learning Standards,” said Sandra Wilkins, a Saranac Teachers Association member and middle school special education teacher for math and science. “And coming from the North Country, this is such a great opportunity to network with colleagues from all over the state.”

      “This is the best professional development I’ve had in my 11 years of teaching,” added Johnstown Teachers Association’s Barbara Van Der Werken. As a family and consumer science teacher, she said the course would help her expand her career exploration curriculum when it comes to STEM opportunities.

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need

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    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing anti-public education agenda that attacks teachers and hurts students.

    Rather than provide what all kids need, the governor is pushing a Billionaires' Agenda that would decimate the state's public schools. His "my-way-or-the-highway" budget would:

    • hold school aid increases hostage;
    • woefully underfund the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
    • more than double the weight of standardized tests;
    • make permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on school communities;
    • eliminate funding for teacher training;
    • launch a back-door voucher plan that would siphon funding away from schools most in need;
    • underfund public higher education by tying funding to campus "performance" rather than enrollment;
    • smooth the way for the privatization of SUNY's five hospitals;
    • destroy prep programs for future teachers;
    • and fail to fully address the student debt crisis.

    Simply put, Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget - which serves the interests of his billionaire backers - is an attack on public education that fails to address what all students need.

    Things you can do right now to fight back.

    Every NYSUT member is needed to defend public education and the teaching profession from Gov. Cuomo's Billionaires' Agenda.

    Tell the governor to stop scapegoating... stop teacher bashing and focus on what #AllKidsNeed.

    Here's your to-do list.

    Take action on this week's campaigns.

    The latest actions will always be right here in the No. 1 spot.

    Call your state senator. Now.

    • Stop what you're doing and call your state senator with this message: stand up to the Governor's "Bigfoot" tactics and defend our outstanding New York public schools!
    • You can look up the number at the NYSUT Member Action Center.

    Sign up for MAC text alerts!

    Take 10 seconds and sign up for MAC text alerts on your phone!

    Here's how: Text the word "NYSUT" to the contact number 38470.

    Sign the petitions.

    Call out the governor.

    • Invite the governor to visit your class to learn what #AllKidsNeed. Tweet out an invite directly at him and be sure to include his Twitter handle @NYGovCuomo and the hashtag #InviteCuomo if you want your tweet to be seen and heard.
    • Not on Twitter? See step 8.

    Get connected to the MAC.

    • BY TEXT. Get real-time text messages about urgent news and actions by texting the word NYSUT to the number 38470.
    • BY EMAIL. Subscribe to the NYSUT Member Action Center email alerts for updates on this campaign. If you're registered via email as a NYSUT MAC e-activist you'll also be the first to know about upcoming rallies, protests and more.
    • BY APP. Download the NYSUT MAC App for your iPhone or for your Android phone. Be sure notifications are enabled to receive alerts on new action items.

    Get connected on Facebook.

    Get connected on Twitter.

    • Join Twitter and follow @NYSUT to be part of the social media army.
    • Once a day (or as often as possible) tweet your thoughts on what #AllKidsNeed - more science labs, music and art classes, school libraries, smaller class sizes and more. We're reminding the governor to focus on what matters! Follow the conversation in real-time for some great examples from parents and educators.

    Share the poster.

    Wear the button.

    Take part in community forums.

    • Keep an eye on nysut.org/allkidsneed for information on upcoming NYSUT-sponsored Community Forums to Save Public Education in every region of the state.

    Talk it up.

    • Get the conversation going - online and offline. Read "Where We Stand" and use it to craft social media messages, send letters to the editor, and brief friends and colleagues.
    • Circulate and share print materials and videos.

    Support "Take Action Tuesday."

    • Mark your calendar to support NYSUT's "Take Action Tuesday" every week. Be on the lookout for updates.

    Learn more at www.nysut.org/allkidsneed.

     

    Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 March 2015 16:10)

     

    Member Alert Program

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    There are so many member benefits, that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
    The NYSUT Member Benefits MAP (Member Alert Program) email blast service keeps you informed through a brief email message every three weeks.
    You can join MAP on the NYSUT website, at http://www.nysut.org/49.htm

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:58)

     

    Nysut Action Center Mobile App

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    NYSUT action center now has an app for smartphones that makes it very easy to take action. It is available in the app store for free.



    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:38)

     
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