Don’t Sit This One Out

This election season is certainly generating some strong feelings – including a feeling expressed by many that they’re so fed up, they’re not even going to vote this year. But if you’re one of those people who is thinking about sitting this election out, we have two words for you:


We’ve pointed this out before, but it bears repeating: one of the biggest reasons we’re in this mess (APPR, Tax Cap, Common Core, etc.etc.) is that our elected officials do not take us seriously. And one reason for that is that we don’t fully flex our strength at the ballot box. Not enough of us vote.

Journalists always make reference to the “powerful” teachers union, with the implication that this supposed power comes from huge piles of cash we throw at politicians. But that’s just wrong. Whatever power we have comes not from money (we are far outspent by charter schools and other special interests), but from our numbers. Teachers make up a sizable chunk of the population and our voices deserve to be heard – that is the very definition of democracy. But if we don’t ALL vote then we are not only losing power, we are shirking our responsibility to ourselves, our students, and to public education as an institution.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th. Please make sure you vote. And to truly make the most of this election, here are some things you can do:

NYSUT is asking all members to take a pledge to vote. If you know your NYSUT Member number or have a NYSUT login, please use this link to take the pledge. If you don’t have a NYSUT login or don’t know your member number, you can take the pledge by using this link.

If anyone in your family is over 18 but is not yet registered to vote, it’s not too late; the deadline is October 14th. Registration can be done online by clicking here.

Phone banks are being set up to help get out the vote, and we very much need volunteers. Calls will be made from the Riverhead Teachers Association office on Monday 10/17 and Thursday 10/27. If you can spare even a few minutes on either of those days, please reply to let us know. If you’d like to make calls but neither of those dates work, please let me know that also, as there may be other opportunities.

Rob Verbeck
SWRTA Corresponding Secretary

Revised Common Core Draft

Revised Common Core Standards
Last Wednesday, the State Ed Dept. issued the draft of the revised Common Core Standards. NYSED claims that changes were made to about 60% of the standards. But while many media outlets reported this as being a big deal (Education Department proposes major changes to state’s ELA, math standards -The Buffalo News), others, such as the New York Times, offered a more accurate perspective (Cuomo Called for ‘Reboot’ of School Standards. Officials Propose Tweaks Instead).

You can (and should) see for yourself (Math; ELA), but the majority of changes in math were things like adding sample problems to the wording of the standards, splitting single standards into multiple standards, rearranging sentences or things like (and I’m not making this up) replacing “for example” with “e.g.” to be consistent throughout the document. There were some more significant changes in ELA (such as changing the requirement for “grade level texts” to “a variety of texts,” but quite a few of the revisions were just clarifications and wording changes (e.g. replacing “rules” with “norms”).

And as the media can’t even agree if the revisions were significant, it should be no surprise that there isn’t agreement over whether the revised draft is a positive development.

Again, you should see for yourself.

And what you should also do is give feedback. The pages for both the Math and ELA drafts are arranged by grade level, and under standard document there is a link to a survey. Unlike the original Common Core Survey which was confusing and time consuming, this one should only take a few minutes.


The Suffolk County AHRC is in the final stages of creating a sensory garden at their Shoreham location. To help support this project, SWRTA and the RCFA joined together to donate recycling and waste receptacles. The sensory garden will be open to AHRC residents as well as community members and these receptacles will help to keep it beautiful.

For more details, see the article in The Riverhead News-Review.

Pictured below are Linda Bruno and J. Adreassi of AHRC, RCFA 2nd VP Gary Karlson;  SWRTA President Lucille McKee, and RCFA President Lisa Goulding.


SWRTA Welcomes New Members

Last week, SWRTA welcomed many of our new members with a luncheon as part of their New Teacher Orientation. Pictured below  (not in order) are Susana Vique-Kearney (MS and HS), Nicole Vincent (MS), Caitlin Maher (HS), Samantha Schaaf (Miller Ave), Kathryn Sullivan (Wading River), Edward Storck (HS), Maryann Agius (HS), Sean Gil (MS, Wading River), Erin Jacob (HS), Krista Lohman (Miller Ave), Megan Mathesen (MS), along with SWRTA Officers Mary Hygom, Erin Schmalzle, President Lucille McKee, Rob Verbeck, Ronnie Malave, Leeann Kraus, and Anne DeSimone.

Congratulations and welcome to ALL of our new members.

Teacher Registration: Update

Hope you all are enjoying the first week of Summer vacation. I hate to let school business intrude on that, but I need to share a couple of updates regarding the mandatory registration that goes into effect this year.

As you know, ALL certified teachers in New York State must register with NYSED and renew their registration every five years. (There are also additional requirements relating to PD hours for some teachers. See the full NYSUT fact sheet for more details)

Here’s what’s new:

  • NYSED is still requesting that teachers register during the month of their birthday so the system does not get overwhelmed, but it will let you register at any time.
  • The system was supposed to go live July 1st, but it is open right now if you want to register today. (In theory that could change if the system gets overwhelmed).
  • The deadline for registering is still the end of your birthday month, but NYSUT got NYSED to waive the late fee. All the same, we recommend that you get it done by the deadline.
  • As part of the registration process, you will have to answer seven moral character questions. If you’d like to preview the questions, I’ve posted them here.) You’ll also have to answer a question about whether or not you are responsible for child support.

Finally, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to get to the registration page, so I created a cheat sheet to help you navigate the site.

Rob Verbeck
SWRTA Corresponding Secretary

Congratulations Kerri

Last night, our own Kerri Anderson was elected to the Mt. Sinai Board of Ed, receiving the most votes of the five candidates vying for two positions:

Kerri Anderson (733)
Lynn Jordan (726)
Anthony DiPaola (584)
Michael McGuire (387)
Robert McGrath (220)

Kerri’s victory is not just great news for her and for us, but is another positive indicator of how the tide is changing in favor of teachers and public education. Running as a teacher on a platform that included pushing the district to “enrich its academic programs to ‘meet the needs of all students.’ and advocating additional autonomy and flexibility for teachers,” she garnered nearly twice as many votes as one of her opponents whose goal was to save money, in part by looking at teacher contracts, “a major part of the budget.”

Please join us in congratulating Kerri. She will no doubt serve the Mt. Sinai community with the same dedication, passion, and excellence that she has been providing to our students.