Some Teacher Love from the Gov

I was having a great day teaching today.

Then I read this article about how the governor is saying that the APPR standards aren’t tough enough and he is going to look to make changes.

And another one saying that he won’t sign the bill that he introduced and negotiated making things easier for teachers who were hurt by the not-so-smooth rollout of the Common Core. The links are in the article:  It’s About to Get Real

That made me a little bitter, but it turned out just to be an appetizer when sent me this one.

In it, the Director of State Operations writes to the Chair of the Regents and Commissioner of Education how the governor “does not want to demonize teachers” and then proceeds to ask twelve questions that would seem to do just that, asks for suggestions on how to do it better, and insinuates he will use his budget to do so: Governor’s Letter. This letter will show the direction the governor is going as we head into 2015 and is worth a read.
No matter what they say, no matter what they think, for whatever it is worth, I believe that we do a fantastic job making our students the most important people in our district!

Mandatory Field Testing

The Board of Regents has proposed an amendment to state Education Law that explicitly would require school districts to participate in “field testing.” State Education Department officials maintain the action is necessary to offset the increasing number of parents keeping their children from participating in field testing, which is the practice of administering test questions that aren’t scored but serve to generate feedback and help testing companies enhance future exams.

Please consider visiting the NYSUT Member Action Center to email your comments about mandatory field testing to SED.

Points to Consider in Your Comments:

-Students should not be subjected to over-testing or burdened with field tests.
-The main purpose of field tests is to benefit for-profit test makers.
-Mandatory field testing would only further the erosion of learning time.
-Parents and teachers want more time spent on teaching and learning and less time spent on testing.
-The state’s priorities need to be recalibrated to emphasize teaching and learning, not more standardized testing.

New Coaches and Advisors, Listen Up!

This past week, Ben resolved an issue with the district that involves only first year coaches and first-year club advisers who are paid under Schedule A-3.

If you fall into one of those categories, please check with your building representative to be sure that you are being paid what you should be for your time.

Thanks for all you do for our kids.

Congratulations, Paul!

This past October, Paul Farfaglia was re-elected to the New York State Teacher Retirement System Board of Trustees.

There are only ten people who sit on the board, and only three active teachers.

Paul’s work for teachers goes way beyond Jordan Elbridge. Check out the page for the Board at

Thank you and congratulations, Paul!

Brace Yourselves!

A common objection I hear from people who don’t like to donate to VOTE/COPE is that “NYSUT always endorses Democrats.”

To be honest, it’s not that simple. In the past election cycle, NYSUT refused to endorse Andrew Cuomo, and even worked to block his endorsement from the AFL-CIO, of which NYSUT is a part. Failing to win a union endorsement from the most heavily-unionized state in America essentially torpedoed his hopes of securing the Democratic nomination.

This article from the New York Post shows why I believe it is a good idea that NYSUT did not endorse the governor. We believe that charter schools are bad for students; he sees them as appropriate political payback. He supports using test scores to evaluate teachers; we know how unjust such a system is.

As you can see if you read this article, it is going to be an interesting four years.

No matter what happens, JETA members will continue to do what is best for our school and our students!

Vote on Tuesday and Some Other Things

I wish I could take credit for writing this, but it was written by Maggie Estlinbaum, one of the high school building representatives in a letter to the high school faculty that was too good not to reprint here:


Hello Everyone,


Tuesday November 4th is Election day.  It is of the utmost importance that we all take the time to vote and make our voices heard.  It was mentioned at our last faculty meeting that only 43% of NYSUT members voted in the last election.  As I am sure you are aware, if we do not vote, it is difficult to convince our elected officials that the issues that we value like a great education system is important.  So please, take the time to vote, and make sure that you vote for all of the contested offices.  It is almost more important that you vote for your local officials as  your voice is more powerful at a local level.


To help you in forming your decisions below are links to the Onondaga County Board of Elections and the Cayuga County Board of Elections.  On both of these websites you can find a sample ballot for each of the contested races so that you can do your research before heading to the polls on Tuesday November 4th.


Here is also a link to the NYSUT endorsed candidates in case you are interested.


Finally, there are two things that I need to request from you:

  1. We are looking for members to attend Board meetings and take notes at them.  As Mindy mentioned following our last faculty meeting we have done this in the past and it holds the Board more accountable for what they say about teachers in a public forum.  There is a sign-up sheet in the staff lunch room and I will likely walk around and try to sign folks up in the next week or two.
  2. We are looking for members who would like to join the APPR committee.  This committee will be in charge of looking at our APPR agreement and discussing any developing any potential changes.  I have already heard from Marlena Nivison, Pam Mead, and Jason Kufs that they are interested in being on this committee.

Time Magazine Cover Slams Teachers

Time magazine is about to use its cover to blame teachers for the problems in America’s schools. On Monday, Nov. 3, this cover will be in every supermarket checkout line and newsstand across the country—and it’s already online.

I just signed this petition demanding Time apologize to teachers. Will you join me?

Thanks JETA

Thanks for setting this up! It is a great way to communicate.

Tenure, Talking Points

Teacher tenure is under attack in New York state and nationwide. In July 2014, two lawsuits were filed–Davids v. New York and Wright v. New York–that claim New York’s tenure laws deprive students of their right to a sound basic education. The lawsuits specifically attack the tenure process, the use of seniority in layoffs, and the three-year probationary period for new teachers, which they claim is too short. Former news anchor Campbell Brown, fronting for a shadowy group calling itself the Partnership for Educational Justice, is bankrolling the Wright case. Brown, who won’t disclose her financial backers, makes the unsupported claim that tenure is responsible for low student achievement.

The New York state lawsuits were filed after a lower-court ruling in the case of Vergara v. California gutted that state’s tenure laws. NYSUT attorneys believe the California ruling will be overturned on appeal–but meanwhile it has emboldened copycat suits across the country. Bankrolled by the wealthy elite and anti-union forces, these attacks represent an all-out assault on the fundamental labor rights of working people.

NYSUT is mounting an aggressive and vigorous defense of tenure both in the courts and the court of public opinion.

Read more

Uncle Sam Needs You to Vote this November, but Aunt Kiki Needs You this Friday

Kiki Gugel asked me to ask around the high school for two volunteers to work at the snack bar at the Pep Rally on Friday night, September 12.

Please don’t tell her that I didn’t because I forget things like that. Hopefully she won’t read this post and know that I’ve let her down because the 43 people who have registered for updates so far (YEAH, JETA!) will read this and turn out in force.

I worked it last year, and it was a blast. And I don’t just mean the fireworks.

She told me to beg. Unfortunately, at, we (will eventually) have such high standards that we prefer to ask nicely.