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    • TAKE A LOOK AT TEACHING: Black and Puerto Rican Caucus panel highlights teacher recruitment and diversity

      Increasing teacher recruitment and diversity was the focus of “Seizing the Opportunity to Diversify New York’s Teacher Workforce,” a four-member panel discussion between educators, administrators and audience members at the 2019 conference of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators in Albany in February.

      Participants stressed the importance of students having diverse classroom teachers, something that all agreed inspires students of color to greater achievement.

      “A more diverse teaching force enhances both our community and our students,” said Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman, who moderated the forum.

      Establishing grow-your-own programs in high school to nurture potential educators, providing better mentoring and support for new teachers and increasing pay, were offered as possible solutions.

      “We’re talking about a power structure,” said high school social studies teacher Jessica Elliott, a member of Syracuse Teachers Association. She noted that as a student, she only had one teacher of color throughout her school career. She entered the field to change that.

      “Young people need to see a reflection of power that looks like them,” she said.

      Richard Haynes, director of school support for the New York City Department of Education, agreed. He noted that male teachers of color, in particular, could have a significant impact on student success, sometimes being the difference between a student who decides to graduate from high school rather than drop out.

      take a look at teaching

      United Federation of Teachers vice president Sterling Roberson noted the importance of strong high school pipeline programs, explaining that in the 1980s, he entered the teaching field through a five-year, UFT-backed internship program.

      “They knew there was a looming crisis so they created a pathway for young candidates like me to enter the field,” he said, adding that the program provided pay and mentoring support. “Many of those candidates are still in the profession.”

      All the panelists considered teacher mentoring important not only to recruit diverse candidates into the field, but to keep them in the classroom. Elliott said that simple things like having another educator of color to talk to, or hang out with, can make a difference.

      “If folks are uncomfortable because they’re the only black face in the building, it makes it hard,” she said.

      Albany City School District superintendent Kaweeda Adams suggested compiling a directory of local resources such as churches, social venues and community organizations to help newcomers acclimate to the community. “We need to recognize that it’s not just about the job,” she said.

      Low pay is a significant roadblock to recruitment and retention. Adams noted that some educators leave the field because they can’t afford to live in the community they teach in, or are lured away by higher paying jobs. “Starting people out with a competitive salary is a big challenge,” she said.

      Despite the hurdles, Elliott said she remains committed to the teaching profession.

      “It’s bigger than me,” she said. “It’s the idea of pulling those along with you as you climb. It’s a difficult profession, but when you love what you do, it’s easy.”

      Twitter Moments

      Caucus Weekend 2019
    • Albany teacher travels to El Paso for 'Teach-In for Freedom'

      For Zeovadis Tavarez-Polanco, a fifth-grade bilingual teacher in Albany, speaking out for refugee and immigrant children is a human rights issue — not a political one.

      Tavarez-Polanco, a member of Albany Public School TA, will be joining teachers from across the country this weekend for a "Teach-In for Freedom" in El Paso. The Teachers Against Child Detention group’s aim is to draw attention to the plight of thousands of migrant children being held in detention by the U.S. government and to call for their release.

      “The emotional and mental damage for these children is irreparable. It’s nothing short of child abuse,” Tavarez-Polanco said. “They’re being mistreated and traumatized and they did absolutely nothing wrong to deserve this. It’s criminal.”

      Teachers Against Child Detention is an alliance of teachers and other advocates led by Mandy Manning, the National Teacher of the Year, who teaches newly arrived refugee and immigrant students in Washington state.

      The teach-in will feature 10-minute mini lessons and talks by educators from every state and from Juarez, Mexico. Participants will learn about history of immigration to the U.S.; how to teach about immigration to students and communities; and the ill effects of detention on children and families. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten will also speak at the protest.

      The Sunday event will start at 9 a.m. El Paso time and runs until 7 p.m. at San Jacinto Plaza, which is only a few miles from the border. It will be broadcast on Facebook.

      TACD is calling for President Trump and the U.S. Congress to immediately and responsibly release all immigrant children held in federal custody for more than 20 days in violation of the Flores consent decree and close all detention centers housing immigrant children. TACD’s goals are to help bring an end to the child detention centers, the separation of families and changing the conversation around immigration in the U.S.

      The Trump administration began enforcing a “zero- tolerance” immigration policy earlier last year, separating migrant children from their parents when they tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and placing thousands of children in federal detention centers. The administration reversed the policy in June after public outcry and a federal judge ordered all separated children to be reunited with a parent. But the deadline for that order has long passed and many children still remain in federal custody.

      Tavarez-Polanco called it unconscionable that the federal government did not keep better track of the children and their families. “When you’re pulling newborn babies from their mother, you should certainly have controls in place so you can reunite the children back with their families,” she said. “The organization and safety controls are more effective when you pick up your child at Chuck E. Cheese!”

      AFT is sponsoring Tavarez-Polanco’s trip after NYSUT recommended her due to her personal journey, work and activism in defending the rights of immigrant students and their families. As a longtime teacher at Albany’s bilingual Delaware Community School, Tavarez-Polanco has many students whose families are new to the country. Aside from the support she provides every day as a fifth-grade teacher, Tavarez-Polanco has also served as a go-between for families in the community navigating medical and legal difficulties. She has also volunteered as a translator for detainees in the Albany County Jail.

      For Tavarez-Polanco, the ongoing advocacy is personal. Both her mother and father came to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic and she knows well how hard it can be for English language learners to succeed.

      “I saw first-hand the discrimination of being a Spanish-speaking youngster, but my mom just kept telling us to work hard and study,” said Tavarez-Polanco. She’s proud to say she and all five of her siblings became “ successful and productive” citizens. Tavarez-Polanco earned her bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Albany and decided to become a teacher after working as a teaching assistant in Albany schools.

      “When I first heard what was happening to these children, I can’t describe the hurt that was in my heart,” Tavarez-Polanco said. “Their parents’ sin was just trying to get them a better life. How do you explain that to an 8-year old? Mommy came here looking for a better life and that’s why you haven’t seen me in three months. Or that’s why you’re sleeping on the floor in this detention center.”

      Taverez-Polanco intends to keep speaking out until there are no more children being separated from their families, or placed in detention centers. “This never should have happened in the first place and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said. “Kids should never be political pawns.”

    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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