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    • SRP leaders tasked with ‘growing the union through advocacy and engagement’

      Red and gold was a popular color combination on the tags at the 38th annual School-Related Professionals Leadership Conference in Saratoga Springs this weekend. “We have 76 first-time attendees,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee, referencing the first-timer tags. “That's tremendous. Last year, we asked you to ‘be the union’” and she highlighted the many ways SRPs stepped up. That included the SRP-led Fight for 15, to secure a living wage for New Yorkers, including many NYSUT members.

      Magee said this year's focus is to grow the union, “through our advocacy and engagement.” Magee said she was gratified to see so many first-timers making the commitment to educate themselves on the issues that are important as they represent members in their locals.

      First-timer Andre Mathis, co-president of the Union-Endicott School District Office Personnel Association and a registrar for his district, said he wanted to learn more about getting his local members more involved in the union.

      Jacquie Wieand, a senior clerk typist and member of the Lancaster Association of Paraprofessionals, said she was looking forward to learning how to better engage members.

      Teaching assistant Jeff Turner of the Buffalo Educational Support Team said he attended the weekend conference because his local president, SRP Advisory Committee Chairperson Joanne Sweat, asked him to attend. Turner is a building rep for his local.

      Growing the union through advocacy and engagement was a theme echoed by the NYSUT officers and other speakers.

      In her keynote address to SRP leaders, Kristina Schwarzkopf of the Toledo Federation of Teachers and recipient of the 2016 American Federation of Teachers Albert Shanker Pioneer Award said when union members come together, "we can change the world." She created a successful campaign to turn many of her union’s fare-share (agency fee, in New York) payers into union members. She said she hopes to make her mark through her union activism and invited SRP leaders to do the same.

      Schwarzkopf said it is critical that SPRs have a seat at the table and shared her “secret” to motivating members to want to be at that table. “I listen to them,” she said simply. “I listen to what is important to them and connect it with the power of the union.”

      Photo Gallery

      38th Annual NYSUT School-Related Professionals Leadership Conference

      In his plenary session presentation, “The Politics of Union Busting,” AFT Deputy Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives Edward Muir detailed the many threats currently facing labor unions. These threats are funded by wealthy extremists, who can raise $9 million in one evening of fundraising, to be used in anti-union campaigns.

      For every $1 that unions spend on political issues, businesses spend $15.

      While unionists may not be able to outspend anti-union forces, unionists can be individual ambassadors of truth. Muir encouraged SRP leaders to participate in one-one one conversations that share the truth about the way unions benefit all workers.

      The truth, Muir said, is born out in research. Unions create safer workplaces, make the workplace better and are the conduit for safe sharing of information. Unions improve the economic conditions of working families. Unions set market standards across the economy. That means that, when unions are present, non-union workers wages rise too. "If unions had the same bargaining power as they did in 1979, non-union workers would have $2.1 billion more than they do now,” he said.

      Meanwhile, Magee stressed the critical importance of voting on Nov. 8. "If you want a leader who is prepared, professional, if you care about who sits on the Supreme Court, you know how to vote," she said. NYSUT and its national affiliate, s the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

      NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale said that, as soon as the presidential election is over, NYSUT activists need to focus on defeating the proposed State Constitutional Convention. NYSUT has a toolkit available to leaders, which shows why a constitutional convention would be a bad idea for New Yorkers and for New York State. “In 2017, that will be our focus,” said Pecorale.

      NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta told SRP leaders: “We’ve made some important legislative gains for the union this year thanks to your efforts.” He underscored the importance of SRPs in the Fight for $15 campaign. NYSUT was awarded the AFT’s Dorothea Bell Political Action Award for the Fight for $15 Lobby Day at the New York State Capitol.

      Pallotta thanked SRPs for their continued generous contribution to VOTE-COPE, the union’s voluntary political action fund.

      Also at their conference, SRPs honored the 2016 SRP of the Year, Sandie Carner-Shafran, who is a NYSUT SRP At-Large Director, Executive Committee member and a member of the Saratoga-Adirondack BOCES Employees Association. Carner-Shafran said she accepted the award "on behalf of all of us." She also encouraged leaders to submit members’ names for the SRP of the Year award. Deadline for submitted nominations is Jan. 13.

      The 225 conference attendees came from 57 locals from all over New York State to participate in 22 professional development workshops, including eight that were new this year.

      srp leadership conference
      This year's book donation drive netted 388 K-6-level books for the Brushton-Moira Support Staff Association, accepted by its president, Cheryl Rockhill. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

      SRPs’ generosity shone through in many ways this year:

      • They collected three bins of toiletries, earmarked for troops overseas.
      • The book donation drive netted 388 K-6-level books for the Brushton-Moira Support Staff Association, accepted by its president, Cheryl Rockhill.
      • Raffle tickets sold throughout the weekend earned a $2,585.00, which SRP Advisory Chair Sweat presented to NYSUT for the Disaster Relief Fund.

      Shout out to our School-Related Professionals for another great leadership conference. Solidarity, indeed! #BeTheUnion pic.twitter.com/S5zZlx7jcB

      — NYSUT (@nysut) October 24, 2016

      VOTE-COPE awards were presented to 16 locals: BOCES Educators of Eastern Suffolk, Cherry Valley Springfield Teachers Association, Guilderland Central Teachers Association, Henricks Teachers Association, New Rochelle FUSE, Newburgh Teachers Association, North Babylon Teachers Association, Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers and School Related Personnel, Sachem Central Teachers Association, Saratoga Warren Counties BOCES Association, Somers School Related Personnel, United Federation of Teachers, Western Sullivan United Teachers and School Related Personnel, Half Hollow Hills Teachers Association, Hempstead Teaching Assistants Association and Sewanhaka Federation of Teachers.

    • Regents grant 'safety net' for teacher certification exams no one has taken

      The State Education Department plans to introduce a new set of teacher certification exams that teacher education students can skip altogether, if they choose to take the existing set of exams instead.

      The state now says teacher education students do not have to first fail the new certification exam before they can use this so-called “safety net.” It is the first time SED has granted a safety net for a new exam before any teacher preparation student has taken it.

      “This pre-emptive action — to grant a safety net for exams no one has yet taken — raises the question of how ready these exams are for use by teacher preparation students,” said NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino, who oversees higher education policy for the union.

      The Board of Regents, which approved the plan at its Oct. 18 meeting, said the new “safety net” would “help take some of the financial pressure off of students,” and “allow time for teacher education programs to adapt their coursework.”

      This latest “safety net” applies to the 14 new content specialty tests that will be released in November as part of the state’s overhaul of the teacher certification exams. The content specialty tests evaluate a future teacher’s competency in areas of specialization, such as languages, chemistry or mathematics, and are one of four certification tests future teachers must pass in order to be licensed in New York State. There are 41 content specialty tests; 19 have already been revised and introduced.

      In January, the Regents approved a safety net that applied only for the first 19 content specialty exams that have already been released, following an outcry by students and teacher education faculty that some teacher education programs did not have the time to revise their curricula to include the material covered in the new exams. Depending on the type of content specialty test, the earlier safety net allowed students to either take the older exam only if they failed the new one, or submit transcripts and other proof attesting they had demonstrated competency in the material.

      The newest safety net expires June 30, 2019. Because students do not have to fail the new exam before they can utilize the safety net, they will likely pay only one registration fee.

      The new safety net option also applies to students who still need to take any of the 19 previously revised content specialty tests. The safety net in those cases expires in June 2017.

      In the three years since SED began introducing the revised teacher certification exams, the Regents have approved some kind of substitute path to certification for all four of the new exams. The new certification exams were designed by and are being administered by Pearson, Inc., the global educational testing company.

      NYSUT, UUP, the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY and other critics of the new path to certification process note that if the exams are so problematic the state has to keep offering safety nets, then maybe the entire process needs to be evaluated. No systematic evaluation of the new package of exams has taken place since they were introduced in 2014.

      A number of the Regents have expressed the same concern, and last spring, the Regents directed SED to revive a dormant statewide task force on one of the other certification exams, the educative Teacher Performance Assessment. That task force, which includes several NYSUT members, is still meeting.

      “We support rigorous assessments of future teachers, but the current certification system needs to be fixed,” said UUP Vice President Jamie Dangler, a member of the statewide task force. “Pearson should be adequately field-testing new exams.”

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need







    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




    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




    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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