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    • Librarians Play Pivotal Role In Keeping Students on Track, Helping Avoid the ‘Summer Slide’

      Students may not need a coat when they leave school today for summer break, but they will need book jackets.

      And it’s librarians who are making sure they have them.

      All throughout the state, stacks of books have been given to students this week to take home for summer reading. And — as the theme of diversity established by Read Across America this year continues to take root — at least some of the book jackets provided to students will depict kids who may have different faces than their own.

      Susan Kowalski, a member of East Syracuse Minoa United Teachers, is a librarian at Pine Hills who spent the last week of school sending notices out to students that books can be checked out of the school library for the entire summer. Access will also be offered to kids who attend a four-week academic summer camp at the school.

      Kowalski visited classrooms last week to let teens know about activities at local libraries ranging from reading challenges to cooking, robotics, recording studios, and arts & crafts. Public librarians also came to the district to meet students in person at the elementary level.

      Meanwhile, at L.P. Quinn Elementary School in Tupper Lake, kids are sent home with a brown bag full of books for summer, which kids decorate and then fill with 10 books each from a spread in the library. The “LPQers,” a parent-teacher group, organizes the book exchange by having parents send in used books ahead of time, which are then sorted by grade level.

      “In addition, the reading intervention teachers got a Donors Choose grant and purchased hundreds of books and book sacks,” said Margaret O’Leary, a reading intervention teacher at L.P. Quinn and a member of Tupper Lake United Teachers. (Photo: On the last day of school in Tupper Lake, twins Lucy (left) and Gabby Frenette visited reading intervention teacher Margaret O’Leary.)

      Expanding Students Worlds

      Thanks to a grant from NYSUT and American Federation of Teachers/First Book Inc., Kowalski received 400 books as part of the national “Read Across America” program. The books focused on diversity, providing an opportunity for students to learn about people with different cultures, abilities, histories, religion, and more.

      “We can get used to the books we’ve taught for years,” she said. “This is what librarians are doing to open people’s eyes to diversity and to empower choice.”

      Other events Kowalski coordinated this year to get students intrigued about books included taking a busload of kids to the Teen Book Festival at Nazareth College in May, which spotlighted 35 authors of young adult books and included a parade, food trucks and speakers.

      “It’s like a rock concert!” Kowalski said.

      Like many librarians, she will be delving into books herself this summer as part of her ongoing professional development, including a Leadership Institute sponsored by the New York State School Library Association focused on learning about the new national learning standards for librarians.

      In the Capital District, summer recess won’t be enough to keep the doors to the library closed in North Colonie.

      “My library is open for the majority of the summer because of summer school,” said Nicole Weimer, in the center of photo at right, North Colonie Teachers Association member and school librarian. “Students have the opportunity to use the library’s resources for their school work and to check out books for pleasure reading.”

      Weimer works the first two weeks of summer in her home district, and colleague Kelly Wetherbee works the rest. Weimer then works for Capital Region BOCES as their regional summer school librarian for Schoharie County.

      And, in what’s become a summer tradition, North Colonie librarians organized a day during which a librarian from the local public library comes in to promote summer reading programs. The district also hosts a summer reading program in which students choose a book to read from a list maintained by the English department.

      “I email our summer reading list to the BOCES Overdrive account manager so they can do their best to obtain eBook and audio book copies of the summer reading books to help improve access,” Weimer said. “Overdrive is an amazing tool to help students who can’t physically get to a library. It’s a digital world and more students each year are choosing to read and listen to books on their mobile devices.”

      Inspiring Readers Through Other Means

      And don’t put it beyond librarians to offer rewards for reading.

      Some students, for example, are enticed to read with the promise of a September school ice cream party and a chance to meet local authors at events set up by librarians. Other librarians collect books all year from students, parents, and the community, and then make sure each student leaves school in June with books they can own and read. Hicksville, for instance, sets up the books in the cafeteria so students can choose their summer reading.

      Then, of course, there are the time-honored bookmobiles. In Buffalo and Erie County, librarians from the unionized Librarians Association drive and staff a tricked out, colorful bookmobile that provides Wi-Fi, laptops, a pop-out awning for outdoor programming and disabilities-compliant access.

      And just for the record, summer reading isn’t only something students will be taking part in.

      “I am an avid reader and keep up to date with my profession by reading journals such as Book Links, Book List, School Library Connections, YALSA Journal, etc.” said Weimer, who’s also in a book club that focuses on young adult books. “Being a millennial, I also follow many popular publishers/literary professionals on social media and read what they are posting.”

      RESOURCES:

      Summer Reading from NYS http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/summer/

      NYLA-SSL https://www.nyla.org/max/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=136&MenuKey=ssl

      School Library Systems (provides prof development and HUGE resource for consortium purchasing) http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/slssap/slslinks.htm

      We need Diverse Books https://diversebooks.org/about-wndb/

      The National Educators Association, a national affiliate of NYSUT, has compiled information on summer reading at http://www.nea.org/grants/67128.htm.

      To learn about free books for the classroom, visit

      http://www.nea.org/grants/finding-free-books.htm.

      American Federation of Teachers

      Sign up for First Book, Inc.

      One of our partners, Storyline Online, features famous actors reading stories. For instance, Karan Brar of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films reads The Kiss That Missed, and Betty White reads Harry the Dirty Dog. Which actors do your students admire? Take advantage of these performers’ appeal to demonstrate that reading is cool. Each video comes with a home activity sheet.

    • Remember APPR betrayal when you vote this fall

      Late in April, the state Assembly introduced and quickly passed a bill that would restore local control and collective bargaining in teacher evaluations and fix the state’s flawed, test-driven APPR law.

      About the same time, the Senate introduced S.8301, identical to the Assembly’s bill.

      Soon, 87 percent of senators — on both sides of the aisle — signed on to “co-sponsor” the bill, and it looked like it would sail through. The governor waited with pen in hand.

      At 1:48 a.m. today, weeks after S.8301 was introduced, the 2018 legislative session fizzled to a close; Senate GOP conference leader John Flanagan never allowed his members to vote on it. Earlier in the day, he asked them to vote on — and they passed, 35 to 25 — a different APPR bill that was encumbered by hundreds of millions in gifts to charter school operators, whose backers donate to the GOP leadership. Everyone knew it was a deal breaker — Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called it a “cyanide” pill — but dozens of the senators who professed to support S.8301 broke their promise and voted with Flanagan’s tainted, dead-on-arrival substitute. The bill also included provisions to reduce curriculum oversight for private, religious Yeshiva schools.

      “Faced with a slam-dunk opportunity to roll back the test-and-punish era by passing legislation sponsored by 55 of the 63 senators, Sen. Flanagan, his caucus and five Democrats chose to betray the state's teachers,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.

      “For what? To steer more than $375 million from public schools in the suburbs and upstate to charter schools in New York City.

      “Make no mistake,” Pallotta said, “New York teachers, parents and public school students will remember which senators voted against their public schools when we head to the polls this September and again in November.”

      NYSUT had mounted an aggressive grassroots and lobbying effort over several weeks to get S.8301 passed with “no strings attached.” The union launched online advocacy blasts, a major press event that drew senators from both sides of the aisle and protests at the district offices of senators all over the state. The union also held high-visibility actions at the Capitol, including balloons delivered to GOP lawmakers, musical groups marching and playing as time ran out, and a free ice cream event on the last day of session.

      Some asked why the Flanagan bill was unacceptable. Could the union make a deal accepting charter language or watered down oversight of Yeshivas?

      Pallotta explained: “We firmly believe that there should be a moratorium on the authorization of any new charter schools until the state enacts critically needed reforms to make charter management operators more transparent and accountable to taxpayers and the public.”

      And, “NYSUT strongly objects to taking the oversight of SED out of the secular curriculum that Yeshivas, or any religious school for that matter, provide,” he added. 

      Now this issue becomes a major focus of the political campaigns that will burn through the summer, through primaries in September and up until the general election in November.

      Most recently in the campaign to defeat the constitutional convention referendum last fall, the statewide union has been impressively effective at the ballot box.

      “We will remember,” Pallotta said.

    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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