Jordan Elbridge Teachers Association Endorses Current NYSUT Leadership

At its meeting on February 10, 2014, the JETA Executive Council unanimously adopted the following resolution on behalf of the leaders of NYSUT currently running for re-election:

 

Whereas over the past 30 years we have witnessed a shift in the political climate in which we work like never seen before. Teachers and Teacher’s Unions have become the scapegoats of our budget problems in a way never seen.  This sentiment has been further aggravated by what is now referred to as “The Great Recession;” however, it needs to be recognized that it has been simmering for a long time; and

Whereas the raises of the 1980’s started to bring us forward to a level of respect that we deserved. Health insurance costs were not on the radar and you never heard complaints about our pensions. During the “fiscal crisis” of New York State in 1991 we actually had a mid-year cut to state aid. We had layoffs, but ducked a huge loss mostly due to a retirement incentive that was offered by the State; and

Whereas this practice of retirement incentives became relatively common throughout the 90’s and helped to mitigate the constant budget issues that seemed to confront us every year.  As the stock market soared the retirement system performed well and cost school districts next to nothing. Raises became increasingly difficult to bargain as health insurance costs began to grow like never seen previously.  During this period, private sector workers began to lose their defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans like 401k’s. They also began to pick up a greater share of their health insurance. Throughout this time however, we managed to survive rather well; and

Whereas we lobbied our local legislators in the summer of 2001 and our talking points revolved around how to spend what was estimated to be about a $5 billion surplus. On September 11, 2001 we saw the tragic events that resulted in a loss of more than 3000 of our citizen’s lives. The personal losses are far too great to be quantified and we should never minimize their significance. But it is relevant to point out that in the wake of those events our $5 billion surplus became a $12 billion dollar deficit in New York State. The world changed quickly and drastically in many ways. Yet, we survived; and

Whereas as a statewide union we dealt with budget struggles and layoffs and things seemed to go up and down for a while. Our leader of 33 years, Tom Hobart announced his pending retirement in 2004. It was a shock but we knew we had the experience of 1st vice president Toni Cortese to rely upon. Somewhere around that time she announced that she was leaving for a job with the AFT. Also remember, it was only a short time before that 2nd vice president Walter Dunn also retired. Our current president, Dick Iannuzzi was appointed to replace Walter. Maria Neira was appointed to replace Toni Cortese. At the 2005 RA Dick Iannuzzi was elected and became the second president in the history of NYSUT. We had a significant change in the leadership of the organization in a short period of time. Through these changes, we still survived; and

Whereas Dick immediately had to negotiate his way around the struggles associated with the statewide unification with the NEANY. Those of us who recall know that was not an easy task. Also around the same time there was a national split within the AFL-CIO that resulted in the formation of the Change to Win organization. There now existed  a division in the house of labor that impacted us all at our labor councils. Following shortly afterwards was the Great Recession of 2008-2009. An economic event that was unprecedented in the history of not only this nation, but much of this planet. The massive loss of revenues resulted in a massive loss of jobs in the public sector, including more than 30000 teachers in New York State. It needs to also be recognized that this massive loss of jobs caused a massive loss of revenue for NYSUT as an organization; and

Whereas we moved forward and faced Tier 5 in 2010, Tier 6 in 2012. A tax cap, threats to Triborough and LIFO. A perfect storm came upon us from well-organized and well-funded opposition and a Democrat-in-name-only governor. Yet, we survived. We faced Race to the Top legislation from our Democrat-in-name-only president that resulted in APPR and the common core in a wave of reform that covered this entire country. Through all of that we managed to survive and achieve an APPR plan where 80% of the plan is collectively bargained locally. Do we love APPR?  Of course not: It has been hard work to bargain something and protect our members at the same time. The hard work continues and it isn’t going to get any easier in public education any time soon. If you don’t believe that you need to pay attention to what has happened in Wisconsin and Michigan. This is the world we live in and New York State is a huge target that is not immune to what is out there. We need to understand the backdrop that colors the decisions that have been made over the last several years. We need to recognize that the leadership of NYSUT has positioned us to be part of the conversation along the way. We need to recognize that we can’t bang the table and say NO and expect challenges to go away. And most importantly, we need to be truthful to our members and not make promises that we know we can’t keep. We must always do what is best for the organization, which means what is best for the diverse membership we represent; and

Whereas we have survived all of the preceding, how is it that leaders within our organization have now acted in a way that will destroy from within what we have all fought so hard to preserve?  How is it that leaders who have the voice and power to enact change choose to overthrow 80% of our NYSUT leadership instead of work from within to maintain unity?  How is it that the largest local within NYSUT insists it has no interest in “taking over” yet they weigh in with an endorsement before the Unity Caucus has a chance to take a position?  There is a call for a need for change. Have they not witnessed the NYSUT that has endured unthinkable challenges? and

Whereas the platform of the Revive NYSUT team choose to use the title “Where We Stand”, taken from Al Shanker’s AFT newsletter.  It is borderline offensive that they would hijack something from a figure of unity for this union and use it to promote an agenda that is sure to divide.  Maybe they need to read the transcript of the “Keep the Clock” speech from the 1976 Representative Assembly and take a lesson.

“Our organization is a wonderful work of art. It has been put together. If destroyed, it will never be put together again. To each of us goes the responsibility of seeing that it is the clock that survives and not the sledge hammer.”

and

Whereas the Jordan-Elbridge Teachers’ Association is from a local of less than 200 members. Locals like ours—943 in all–compose 72% of NYSUT. 1158 locals have less than 400 members and constitute 88% of all NYSUT locals.

Resolve that we continue to support the incumbent officers in their bid for reelection to their respective offices within the leadership of NYSUT.

Further resolve that other locals join us in supporting the incumbent officers so that our leadership is not driven by only the largest 2% of locals in this organization.

January HS Newsletter

Pam Mead has started publishing a newsletter for the high school. Here’s the January issue. (It looks much nicer than the hyperlink below!)

January Newsletter

JETA in the Centerfold!

My copy of NYSUT United landed in the mail today. While I normally just read it for the articles, something made me flip to the centerfold–and whoa! There we were, wearing blue on December 9th along with a bunch of other teachers from all across New York “rising up to reclaim the promise of public education.”

NYSUT has been calling for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing for students and teacher evaluations because they have been so poorly written and implemented so far. Whether they heard us  then or not, they’ll hear us soon–that is one fine-looking centerfold!

If you’d like your own copy, you can download one from http://jeta.biz/?p=227. It’s not clear at this time if anyone will be available for autographs or not.

Sporting the Blue on December 9

 

State Education Commissioner John King has decided to repeal the Common Core Standards after seeing JETA members dress up in blue today. “That’s strange,” pointed out JETA co-president Ben Alexander. “All we wanted was a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing so that test results don’t hurt kids or teachers any more.”

Well, that actually didn’t happen, but it was fun to sport the blue. More pictures will follow as they are received at JETA.biz Central.

 DEC9JEMSAt the Middle School this morning.

Kiki Gugel (8th Grade Resource), Jim Sherman (MS Home & Careers), Paul Farfaglia (Data Co-ordinator), Angel Bevilaqua (8th Grade Science), Doug Hickman (MS Technology), Leo McCormick (7th Grade Science), Mark Donabella (8th Grade Math)

 

DEC9JETAEXECThe JETA Executive Committee members who made it to the end of the meeting at 6:00

Leo McCormick (Treasurer), Happy McClurg (Health & Safety), Kiki Gugel (MS Building Rep), Jennifer Weaver (Secretary), Paul Farfaglia & Ben Alexander (co-Presidents), Dave Sipley (Hiding in the Background), Pat Smart (Elbridge Building Rep).

Join JETA in Wearing Blue on December 9th!

Why wear blue on Monday?

If nothing else, it is a show of unity.  If you have been following the news with regards to the Regents’ Reform Agenda and the series of forums that have been held across the state you should understand.  One such forum was held in Fayetteville on Tuesday, December 3rd.  What the commissioner, the Regents and our area legislators are hearing is a consistent message over and over.  That the rushed implementation of the common core standards has been ill-advised and has wreaked havoc among our students and educators.  The standards were rolled out with little or no resources provided by the state until after the first set of assessments reflecting the standards appeared last April.  The message has been clear and consistent from NYSUT in asking for SED to slow down and provide some mid-course corrections to our current path.  Essential in that request is the enactment of a 3 year moratorium on the use of assessments for high stakes consequences for students and teachers.  Let’s take the time to do something right for a change instead of doing it to say we “got it done”!

It was apparent from Tuesday’s forum that these calls continue to fall upon deaf ears.  The commissioner and our area Regent have been consistent in their message that they are committed to the current course of actions.  We will continue to meet and press the commissioner, the Regents and our legislators with regards to this agenda.

Can you wear blue on Monday, December 9th as a show of support?  This is a day of action nationally supported by the AFT, the NEA and our state organization, NYSUT.  We hope to take some pictures and post them on our website to show our support for what is our cause!

Thank you!

Thanksgiving Greetings

Sitting here in Texas with the family, I think it’s only right to wish y’all a Happy Thanksgiving.

While mushy stuff will be kept to a minimum on this website as long as I’m writing posts, thank you for working for the kids, for fighting against the odds, for waging daily war against ignorance, ambivalence, and poverty. Thank you for working around all the barriers that get placed in our way. Thank you for joining in a common cause to make the world a better place than we found it. Thanks for being friends. Thanks for belonging and making it worthwhile to belong to JETA.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

December 9th–Wear Blue & Help NYSUT Call for a Moratorium on Testing

New York State United Teachers is participating in a national day of action on December 9, 2013.  We are asking all members to wear the color blue on this day as a show of unity in a call to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.  In New York our campaign if focused on a call for a 3 year moratorium on high stakes consequences with testing and fair funding for public education.

Wear blue on December 9 and show that you support what’s best for students and teachers. The press release from NYSUT president Dick Iannuzzi follows below.

Parents are invited to join us and show their support for a 3-year moratorium on high-stakes tests.

M E M O R A N D U M

 

TO:              NYSUT Board of Directors

FROM:        Dick Iannuzzi

DATE:         November 15, 2013

RE:              December 9 – National Day of Action

December 9, 2013 is a National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education—an opportunity to raise our voices in unison in New York and to connect our campaign for fair funding and a three-year moratorium on high-stakes consequences with campaigns to support public education across the country.  In order for this to be successful, we need your help to mobilize every NYSUT local in every corner of the state.

The National Day of Action connects what we have been fighting for in New York with a national movement. It reinforces our work over the past year and will increase our momentum exponentially.  NYSUT will be participating in this national day of action with a broad coalition of union and community partners, including the AFT, NEA, AFL-CIO, the Alliance for Quality Education and Citizen Action.

We plan to maximize the impact of this nationally coordinated action by demonstrating solidarity and holding actions in as many places as possible on the same day. Actions are designed to engage all of our education members including early childhood staff, teachers, SRPs and higher education members.  We are asking:

 

  • All members to wear the color blue to show support for public education.
  • Our locals to explain why the state’s bad policies — insufficient funding, tax cap, obsession with testing, lack of support for teaching and learning, insufficient staffing, lack of access to affordable higher education, to name a few — make them blue and offer solutions for making it right.
  • Parents to join us so that there is a sea of blue for public education across the state.
  • Locals to send us pictures of members and reasons why they are wearing blue and we will post he photos and a running list of the reasons why members are blue on our website.

In addition, NYSUT will hold joint press conferences with AQE, Citizen Action and other allies in several locations on December 9 to promote our shared legislative agenda and the message that the state should focus on teaching and learning, not testing.  NYSUT and community leaders will meet with their respective Regents and urge them to support a three-year moratorium on high stakes consequences, accelerate support to our schools and make the course corrections that are needed to get it right.

With your support, the Day of Action will amplify our voices and help us achieve our goals.

What is JETA dot BIZ?

Hey everybody–

Welcome to JETA.biz.

We’re trying to take the old JETA newsletter and put it up online so that we can get material out to you more quickly and get more feedback from you than we’ve been able to do in the past.

I’m going to try and anticipate some questions.

Why a blog? Isn’t that 2003ish? –Because it is highly customizable and will allow for Building Reps to host sections for individual schools, for us to reach out to the community, and to help us stay in touch with each other better.

Why dot biz? Isn’t that proletarian? (Thanks, Bill Schlegel!) Well, there aren’t many JETA-based domains left, and this one was the easiest to remember.

Why does that weird face icon appear next to my comments? It’s something I found in the settings that looks cool. It’s called a Gravatar, and it is generated based on your e-mail address. I figure I’ll leave them up until someone complains because I kind of like them.

You can get to the log in page by going to the Site Stuff menu above, and then Login. Then you can write and post comments. Don’t be afraid–it’s nearly impossible to break!

If you have a problem with your user name (you are Megan, not Meg; you work at EE, not MS) please drop an e-mail to dave@jeta.biz. You can change your own password on your profile page. (And you probably should–after writing so many, I started losing it a little bit.)

We hope you like this and work with us to make it even better! Join in!