"Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!"
Blurb: Believe it or not, the fight for public education continues! Several LI teacher union locals and parent Opt Out groups have coordinated a series of pickets and rallies outside the offices of Senators who voted "Yes" on Governor Cuomo's teacher-bashing budget. Senator Tom Croci, called out by screaming picketers at the NY State office building in Hauppauge, responded with a (pathetic) video explanation of his vote. Mepham reps have been participating at each event, while Mike Dolber has come out of retirement (figuratively, of course) to lead the charge. We'd like your help in making the next picket at Senator Flanagan's office a "humdinger!"
The picket is on Friday, May 1, from 3:30 to 5:30 at 260 Middle Country Road, Smithtown, NY.
Delivering our pearson petition
Friday morning, I flew to London to deliver our petition to Pearson’s board of directors at their annual shareholder meeting and make sure they understand that spying on students is simply not ok.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues from British teachers’ unions, social justice advocates and, most important, parents, we made our voices heard—in the room, outside the building and online.
It’s clear that we got their attention. But we’ll need to keep up the pressure to win this fight.
Watch the video from inside the shareholder meeting and share the petition demanding that Pearson stop spying on students and open its “test security” practices to full public review with your friends.
When I spoke, I asked Pearson for three clear things:
1. Stop spying on what kids say on social media, and immediately disclose the contract language and methods it uses for “test security.”
2. Stop lobbying for more high-stakes testing in the United States and abroad, and end campaign contributions to politicians who advocate for more testing.
3. Stop investing in so-called low-cost private schools in the developing world—schools that exploit the world’s poorest families and often cost more than 30 percent of a family’s income for just one child’s tuition.
When Pearson’s CEO responded, he spoke of the company’s desire to have a positive social impact. While he disputed the characterization that Pearson was spying, he said he understood the need to ensure teachers had time to implement new standards before being judged and that tests must be accurate and fair—and not used excessively. Certainly, that doesn’t go far enough, but it’s clear Pearson can no longer completely ignore our concerns.
But as my students at Clara Barton High School used to say, you can’t just talk the talk—you have to walk the walk. And step one for Pearson is to stop monitoring our kids, to disclose its contracts and to show us how its “test security” practices work.
I hope you’ll watch the video and share the petition.
Pearson must be held accountable for more than just shareholder value—it must take responsibility for the people whose lives are affected by its products and policies.
It won’t be an easy fight or a short one, but if we stand together, I believe we can hold Pearson accountable.
Possible Team Up 4 Community Grant
Joe Netto, MAP Psychologist asked us to forward this to everyone. Please vote for Bellmore-Merrick to win the L.I.Spring Sports Heroes Video Challenge. See below:
I wanted to share this link with you from Team Up 4 Community, a local nonprofit run (in part) by former New York Islander Steve Webb. They award grants to organizations and clubs that focus on athletics. This year they have nominated the One Voice, One Message 5K Run/Walk for one of three grants, and they put together a short YouTube clip that pulled together our pictures of the event.
The contest is essentially a voter contest. When you click on the link and scroll down you’ll see the list of nominees. To vote for Bellmore-Merrick, you’ll need to include an email address and then click on the vote button. The polls are open untilApril 30, so if you’d like to share this information out to your building teachers you should do so as early as possible.
Here is the link: http://teamup4community.org/li-spring-sports-heroes-video-challenge-open
Let me know if you have any trouble viewing the page, or if you have any other questions.
Account Executive; Syntax
(631) 589.4000 ext. 124
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New York State Education Department (NYSED) is currently accepting public comment on developing new teacher evaluation standards. It represents the first opportunity to provide your input directly and specifically to NYSED, which you can send by email to: Eval2015@nysed.gov.
Teacher evaluation should be determined by our local boards of education in collaboration with the collective bargaining unit representing the teachers. New York State's Taylor law gives bargaining units the right to collectively bargain evaluation procedures. This law and the rights it affords employees should be honored. Guidelines from NYSED are fine, but they should not prescribe a one-size-fits-all teacher evaluation system for the entire state. Teachers should be evaluated by what they do in their classrooms. Test scores should not be used to evaluate teachers.
Education Update ~ NYS Education Department taking public comment on new teacher evaluation standards ~ Click on the link below.
Attached, please see NYSUT's Position Statement on Recommended Changes to APPR and letter to Merryl Tisch.
NYSUT Position Statement on APPR Changes
TO: Local Presidents, RC Presidents,
PAC, and VOTE/COPE
FROM: Matt Jacobs, Regional Staff Dir.
Jeff Friedman, Regional
DATE: April 22, 2015
RE: Press Conference to Oppose
Senator Martins' APPR Bill____
With more than 80,000 students opting out of the Math and ELA state tests on Long Island and more than 200,000 statewide, Albany is desperate to find an easy way out of the hole they’ve dug themselves. The introduction by Sen. Martins of Senate Bill S-4709, entitled “Annual professional performance review plans submitted by the highest performing ten percent of school districts,” is not the solution parents, educators and community members demand.
This bill divides our children and school districts into two classes – those that get a free pass and those required to double down on the onerous and misguided system of test and punish. Sen. Martins’ cynical, self-serving approach will only serve to further widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
We emphatically disagree with the approach taken by this “reparative” measure. Those most privileged, high wealth districts, situated in areas that give the most in campaign contributions, will be permitted to give their children the rich, well-rounded, high quality education all children deserve. But in the low wealth, high needs, disadvantaged areas of the state, school districts will be forced to impose still more cuts to instructional programs in order to devote more time to high-stakes testing and the endless hours of test prep that go along with it. As a consequence, districts with the greatest need will have a more difficult time than ever attracting the best teachers. If education is supposed to be the great equalizer this bill takes us in the wrong direction.
We are one Long Island and one New York. All our children matter regardless of where they live. We stand firm in declaring high stakes testing damages all children and we are not fooled by Sen. Martins’ transparent attempt to divide us in order to curry favor with donors.
We will voice our opposition to this bill at a press conference on the steps of Nassau County Legislative Building 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola, NY 11501 on Tuesday, April 28th at 4:30 PM
We will be joined by community members and allies from NYSAPE, NYCC, AQE and LIPC. Please encourage your members to attend.
Remembering Josh Shapiro
I hope that you are able to support our fellow BMUST member, Lisa Shapiro, Special Ed teacher at Merrick Avenue M.S.,
and her two young children. We all share the pain of the loss of their husband/father and will do all we can to help them during this difficult time.
Click here to support Remembering Josh Shapiro by Lauren Beinert
Thank you for your support.
Dear BMUST Members,
The Robbie Levine Foundation was founded to honor the memory of Robbie Levine, a happy, healthy nine-year-old boy whose life revolved around his family, his friends and baseball. Robbie died suddenly on September 27, 2005 when his heart stopped while he was running the bases during a Little League team practice.
A healthy fourth grader, Robbie had experienced a dizzy spell during practice several months earlier, but testing by a pediatric cardiologist did not detect any health problems. When Robbie collapsed on the ball field, no defibrillator was available on the scene and, although his father, Dr. Craig Levine, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Robbie could not be revived.
In the wake of this unimaginable tragedy in their lives, Robbie's parents, Jill and Dr. Craig Levine, created the Robbie Levine Foundation to ensure that no other parent, on the ball field or anywhere else, should have to undergo the horror that they have faced.
JOIN US ON SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015
8:30am Fun Run • 8:50am 1 Mile Run • 9:15am 5K Race
Robbie's Run Application
LAKESIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, MERRICK, NY
PLEASE RETURN ROBBIE'S RUN FORM (attached) WITH YOUR CHECK TO:
BRUCE REED/JFK HS
BMUST Public Relations
Talking Truth to Legislators
TO: Local Presidents, RC Pres., & PAC
FROM: Matt Jacobs, Regional Staff Dir.
DATE: April 10, 2015
RE: Talking Truth to Legislators_________
Apparently the legislators who voted yes on the budget bill feel they are being wrongly attacked by our members. They pretend to feel wounded and misunderstood. They feign frustration, indignation and bafflement at our inability to understand that they actually did something wonderful for us.
As our members pay visits to legislators demanding to know why they voted yes, they should be prepared to be handed a bunch of half-truths designed to make their vote for the budget bill appear to be a courageous and principled act in support of teachers, children and public education. Please share the following information with any members who are planning to contact their legislators.
Legislators will argue that they succeeded in removing or mitigating the worst aspects of the governor’s reform plan. In truth, the changes they made were cosmetic at best. Here are some examples how legislators will attempt to justify their vote and what members can say in response:
1. “The governor wanted the state test scores to count 50% but we said no to 50%. Instead, we took that decision out of the hands of the politicians and put it into the hands of ‘education experts,’ the Board of Regents and SED.” While it is correct to say that the law does NOT mandate that the state growth measure must count as 50% of a teacher’s APPR rating, there are two basic problems with this statement:
a) Only about half of the Regents have had actual experience as public educators. The rest have no claim to be considered education experts. More importantly, Chancellor Tisch still controls a majority of the Regents and, as we know, Tisch agrees with Cuomo on just about everything.
b) Even if the Regents strongly disagree with the changes imposed by the new law, there’s not much they can do about it because they can’t change the law. Although the law technically gives the Regents and the Commissioner the authority to determine how much weight the state growth measure will have, this has been rendered meaningless by the provision in the law that any teacher who gets an ineffective state growth score CANNOT receive an overall rating of effective or better. So, whether the state growth measure counts 1% or 50%, an ineffective state growth measure really counts 100%.
2. “The legislature preserved local control by maintaining the right to collectively bargain portions of the APPR plan.”This one is almost too silly to deserve an answer.
a) While the old APPR law really did allow 80% of the plan (or much of the 80%) to be collectively bargained, the new law limits collective bargaining to exactly two minor portions of the APPR plan. You can bargain whether or not to have a second state test score as part of the overall rating (but the second test must be chosen from a list of tests approved by SED) and you can bargain who the outside observer will be. In other words, pick your poison. Everything else about the APPR is mandated by law or regulation.
b) The new law removes almost all control over teacher evaluations and tenure from superintendents and boards of education by dictating which teachers may or may not receive tenure, forbidding districts to consider anything other than state growth scores and observations in evaluating teachers, and mandating that districts must bring charges against teachers who receive three consecutive ineffective ratings, no matter how highly they regard those teachers.
c) Rather than providing more resources and training to help low-performing schools improve, the new law mandates that such schools be placed in receivership. This means that the outside receiver gets to call the shots, not the superintendent or the elected board of education. The receiver can fire up to 50% of the teachers, abrogate the collective bargaining agreement and disregard any or all district policies.
3. “If we didn’t meet the April 1st budget deadline, the state constitution would have allowed the governor to force us to choose between accepting his proposal in its entirety and shutting down the government.” The governor is a bully but he’s not an idiot. Surely he remembers how well Newt Gingrich’s forced shutdown of the federal government went in 1994. Forcing a government shutdown would have sent his already sagging poll numbers plummeting through the floor. Cuomo’s enormous political vanity very much wanted a fifth consecutive on-time budget, but if the legislature had had the courage to stand up for what was right, he would have been forced to sit down and bargain a real compromise.
4. “The new law preserves tenure and due process rights for teachers.” Technically, tenure and due process have not been abolished altogether, but they have been so contorted as to be almost unrecognizable and meaningless. Two consecutive ineffective ratings are considered presumptive evidence of incompetence and a teacher who is brought up on 3020-a charges after receiving two consecutive ineffective ratings must prove herself/himself competent. How exactly does one do that before an impartial hearing officer who has no firsthand knowledge of that teacher’s performance? And the only permissible defense for a teacher who has been mandatorily brought up on charges after receiving a third consecutive ineffective rating is to prove fraud or mistaken identity. This is a form of due process Vladimir Putin would feel right at home with!