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    • Ashes, debris and snow: When teachers lose their home in fire, their union colleagues help

      BOCES career and tech teacher John Winch was leaving a union meeting on Wednesday, on his way to coach basketball, when he got one of those phone calls. One of the ones no one ever wants to get.

      His house was on fire.

      Before the sun set, the house he shares with his wife Teresa, also an area teacher, was destroyed by persistent flames from what Winch said was a cooking fire. The blaze kept more than a dozen fire departments on the scene until 11 p.m. on a frigid night in rural, small-town Granville in Washington County.

      The Winch family lost everything: every photo, saucepan, chair, mattress, article of clothing and shoe. The home site is ashes, debris, and snow.

      Just as the area fire departments responded quickly in calls to action, so have the Winchs’ colleagues.

      “His union brothers and sisters are surrounding the family,” said Ruth Shippee, president of the 424-member Saratoga-Adirondack BOCES Employees Association.

      A former student of Teresa’s has already set up a Go Fund Me page.

      “It’s nice to have extended family,” said Winch this morning, taking a phone call while he was at the insurance office filling out paperwork. “It’s a lot to digest.”

      Winch, a member of the SABEA, and Teresa, a member of the Granville Teachers Association, have three grown children. A daughter, who graduated last week from the College of Saint Rose, has been back living with them, in addition to his mother-in-law. Everyone is safe.

      The same night as the fire, family had a place to stay in a temporary home about 15 minutes away in Vermont, offered by the owners of the local Telescope Furniture. Community residents provided the family pajamas and stocked the refrigerator, Shippee said.

      The next morning, despite having just watched his family’s home burn to the ground, Winch still managed to stop in at his Washington-Saratoga-Warren- Hamilton-Essex BOCES classroom to make sure the substitute teacher had the quiz he was going to give that day.

      His colleagues had already started passing the hat. Shippee said colleagues raised more than $2,000 in one day at one BOCES center. Union building reps are collecting money and gift cards for the family.

      Shippee made sure Winch, a union building rep, knew about the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund, which provides money to those hit by disasters such as this one.

      “Everyone was saying: We’re standing together,” said Shippee. “We are shining bright.”

      Winch teaches sports engine equipment and is a volunteer coach. The Winch’s daughter is going on to earn her master’s degree so she can become a teacher, he said. Winch’s father, Gerry, was also a teacher who worked for BOCES – and he stopped in to thank the teachers for supporting his son and daughter-in-law.

      “We’re going to rebuild, “ Winch said. “It’s a family property and has a lot of sentimental value.”

    • BOCES union leaders voice concerns on staff shortages and increased violence

      Concerned with the violent conditions in too many BOCES classrooms, union leaders say a critical shortage of staff is exacerbating an already challenging learning environment in which problems only seem to be increasing.

      “We’re losing staff and we’re burning out our good staff,” said Tracie Clark, president of Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Federation of Teachers. “We had 100 new staff this year.”

      There were knowing nods around the room, as about 30 local union leaders gathered last weekend for NYSUT’s BOCES Leadership Council. One upstate leader noted their staff has already had 10 serious injuries — more than they usually experience in an entire school year.

      Leaders of BOCES around the state reported an uptick in staff injuries and tremendous difficulty hiring— and keeping — teaching assistants and aides. Leaders also expressed frustration that their BOCES administrators accept students with disabilities who need 1:1 supervision before the necessary staff person is hired.

      “It’s just expected we’ll fill in the gaps when a classroom is out of compliance,” said one BOCES leader. “It’s a huge frustration.”

      Local leaders shared ideas on contract language that could help. For example, Douglas Andreotti of United Staff Association of Putnam and Northern Westchester BOCES said the union pushed for a plan on how to appropriately move staff around when staffers call in sick. The union also successfully advocated for raising the pay for substitute staffers. Some BOCES have won contract provisions that ensure injured staffers out on worker’s compensation do not lose pay. Another leader explained how he has successfully filed a grievance to force the district to provide bite guards and protective gloves.

      United BOCES TA President John Dedrick said his Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming BOCES is having good success with a new model that increased the number of counselors to work with teachers. He said component districts are willing to pay higher tuition costs for students who need acute mental health services.

      NYSUT’s David Rothfuss, an expert on special education services, urged leaders to pay close attention to documentation — filing incident reports, keeping copies of communication with administration and parents, and participating in district-wide school safety teams. He said the State Education Department has expressed a willingness to meet on ongoing BOCES concerns.

      NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango discussed the union’s “Take a Look at Teaching” initiative and urged BOCES leaders to consider hosting a roundtable event to explore ways to recruit and retain high-need special education and Career and Technical Education staffers.

      NYSUT Legislative Representative Jackie Paredes said the union is advocating for a workplace violence safety bill, along with a host of other BOCES issues. She also encouraged leaders to be a part of the BOCES Lobby Day on Feb. 27.

      “It’s a one-of-a-kind lobby day, because our members are there side by side with administrators, parents and students,” she said. “Legislators are going to remember you, your students and your stories.”

      “It makes a real impression to have the students with you,” said Jim Beck of BOCES Educators of Eastern Suffolk. “It changes the whole dynamic and works wonders with the legislators.”

    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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