Nice turnout for the Fall 2018 SWRTA get-together.
If you needed a single piece of evidence to show just why this year’s election is so important, it was provided yesterday by State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (Smithtown). On Monday, in an interview with WNYC, Flanagan referred to NYSUT as a “force of evil” for our support of candidates who support our values (specifically, against APPR and against charter school expansion).
EVIL? This is US he’s talking about. You, Me, everyone we work with. Even within the messy, impolite, world of political races, this is a new low. But for the moment, let’s put aside just how un-democratic a statement like this is. Let’s also temporarily put aside how, regardless of the election, this comment adds more fuel to anti-teacher and anti-union sentiment that causes us so much harm.
We need to focus on what Flanagan’s comments mean for this November. Flanagan has made it clear how he views us and what we can expect in the next year’s legislative session. Unless we can get more pro-education candidates elected in the Senate, we can count on a continuation of APPR and who knows what other damage might be on the way.
This is why every single one of you reading this need not only to vote for NYSUT endorsed candidates, but to do everything you can to help make sure that others do too. That includes talking to your family, your friends, and your neighbors, etc. It also means we need people to make phone calls.
Please check your emails for details on phone banks
In the last post, we talked about why this election is so important. Not only do we need each of you to make sure you get out and vote, but there are few other important things you can do to make sure that we come out on the winning side on November 6th.
- If you have grown children, make sure they are registered to vote. Click here for a link you can send them.
- If you have children away at college (or any family members who will be out of town on 11/6), click here to get them an absentee ballot.
- Click here to double check your own voter details (polling place, election districts, etc.) Or click here to find election district info for any address.
- Put it in your calendar – now. Planning out the time you’re going to vote (i.e. before school, after school, after dinner, etc) makes it much more likely that it will happen.
- Check out the list of NYSUT endorsed candidates (Don’t worry, we’ll send this out again – in a more condensed form – closer to Election Day)
- Help get out the vote. SWRTA will be helping out with phone banks on Monday, October 15th from 3:00 to 7 pm. You can come right after your building meetings.
Not only are phone banks way less stressful and much more fun than you probably think, they are also incredibly effective:
In the Con-Con election, 60% of NYSUT members voted overall. That’s pretty impressive, since it’s about double the general population. But what’s really amazing is that number rose to 87% among members who were directly contacted!
So please, click here to let us know that you’ll join us on the 15th . You can stay for as little or as long as you’re able.
2018 Phone Banks
223 Roanoke Ave, Riverhead
While every election is important, this year’s in particular will have a tremendous impact on public education here in New York. After putting up with years of broken promises, it actually looks like we have the opportunity to help put in place a number of legislators who share our values and will represent us and our students in Albany.
As just one example, last Spring a bill was before the Assembly and Senate that would have drastically changed APPR, allowing districts and unions to work together to create fair evaluation systems, rather than having to rely on invalid test scores and byzantine, state-approved rubrics. The Governor had announced plans to sign it, but it was blocked by a handful of Senators who were acting on their own agenda. Issues regarding charter schools, school funding, the tax cap, etc. have also failed to be addressed.
The APPR bill (as well as bills related to these other issues) will likely arise again and we want to make sure things go as they should.
It is critical that we have a very strong turnout to support NYSUT endorsed candidates. These are people who will help to make sure that the interests of public education are heard. It’s important to note that our endorsements include both incumbents and challengers and includes Independents, Republicans, and Democrats; what they have in common is that they share our values.
As you probably know, teachers tend to vote in slightly higher numbers compared to the general population. This is great, but it’s not enough. In addition to casting your own ballot, there are a few things you can do to help insure victory on November 6th. Click here for some ideas.
Political Action Works
Once again, we’re very happy to bring you evidence of positive change that came about via political action. We’ve reported on it numerous time over the past few years, and of course we saw it first hand during contract negotiations last Spring. The latest example concerns the Regents rules on opt-outing out of state tests.
Earlier this year, the Regents proposed new regulations that would have severely penalized districts with opt-out rates higher than 5%. NYSUT asked members to respond, and we did. As a result of this pressure, the “Regents rejected regulations that would have wrongly diverted federal Title I funds from students attending schools with a less than 95 percent participation rate… [and] significantly improved upon the draft regulations and will now allow schools with high opt-out numbers to ‘leave’ state accountability lists if they are otherwise high-performing.”
Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to call or write a letter.
RC22 (the local NYSUT Retirement Council) is offering grants of up to $500 for “the implementation of educational projects for which funding is not available through normal school districts channels.” More information, along with an application, can be found by clicking here.
Fall Get Together
Every new school year is a reason to celebrate – but having a contract (and knowing we won’t be needing to picket) makes this year especially sweet. So let’s all celebrate together at Buffalo Wild Wings in Miller Place on Friday, October 5th. Appetizers are included, so it helps to get a head-count in advance. Please RSVP by clicking this link.
SWRTA is pleased to welcome the following new teachers to the Shoreham-Wading River Faculty:
- Jaquelyn Nicholes
- Samantha Shepard (also @ MS)
- Tara Ann Yoches (also @ MS)
- Jim Finnerty
- Kelly Kane
- Cara Brown
- Sandra Nicotra
We are also very pleased to announce that, due to an additional section of Kindergarten being added at Miller Avenue, Lauren Esposito will be re-joining the faculty.
2018 may go down in history as the year of the teacher strike. Strikes are not a new phenomenon, of course, but they have become a far less common tool in recent years, especially in the world of education.
But as conditions for teachers and students got worse and worse around the country, politicians and school boards began to see what happens when you push too far against public education:
Teachers push back, communities support them, and public education wins.
Why were they so successful? A lot of the press about the strikes centered on just how low teacher salaries are in many places in the country (teachers losing their houses, having to get second jobs, etc.). And the fact is, people overwhelmingly have positive feelings about teachers and don’t want to see them suffering. But it’s important to note that strikers were pushing for greater funding for schools overall, including things like more counselors and nurses.
And while strikes are a pretty extreme tool, the success of their efforts point to a bigger point, one we’ve made again and again. It sometimes seems that the forces against public education are so immutable that there is no point even trying, we have the power to make change happen when we are united.