Rate Commissioner King’s Performance, Take the Survey Today!

<<<<< #RateCommissionerKing: TAKE THE SURVEY TODAY!>>>>>


NY State Education Commissioner John King thinks student and parent surveys can be a viable part of a teacher’s annual professional performance review (APPR).  Earlier this month, King put new emphasis on the classroom observation portion of the teacher evaluation system calling it a “central issue” for discussion as the state attempts to, once again, revamp the APPR process.  He suggested the use of student and parent surveys as evidence of teacher performance – a way to overcome the apparent biases of NY’s principals as they attempt to complete teacher evaluations.

We looked at a student survey that has been used around the state, the Tripod Student Perception Survey.  The questions are designed to shine a light on what Tripod calls the 7Cs of Teaching Practice:  care, confer, captivate, clarify, consolidate, challenge, and control.  The surveys we viewed were extensive – 40 questions for the early years and 103 questions for secondary students.  You can view the original Tripod surveys here:

Tripod Student Perception Survey for Early Years

Tripod Student Perception Survey for Secondary Students

Since King is New York’s top educator, we wondered what his students (NY’s teachers) think about his teaching and leadership skills. Please take a moment to complete our survey (see below or follow this link).  We’ve modeled our questions directly from the Tripod Student Perception Survey for Early Years Students, of course we’ve added Commissioner King’s name where appropriate.

Please share the survey with your colleagues and friends via email, Twitter and Facebook – we’d like to get as many teachers to respond as possible.  Don’t forget to follow the link at the end of the survey to view the results.  You can follow the WDEA on Twitter @wdea3115.

Thank you.

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NY Public Schools Are Not for Sale! Take action, sign the petition today.

New York’s public schools are NOT FOR SALE!

Opponents of public education — led by a handful of hedge fund and Wall Street billionaires — are trying to cash in on the millions they spent on NYS Senate elections at the expense of public schools in local communities. And they gave millions more to Governor Cuomo.

Their first goal: starve the public school system that serves nearly 90% of our students and privatize education, through subsidies to private and parochial schools and through privately-run charter schools.

We can’t let that happen.

Tell Governor Cuomo and State Legislators: Don’t let Wall Street buy our public education system. Stand up for public schools that serve all of our children.



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Education Matters: Dec. 8

EDUCATION MATTERS: an occasional review of the state of education in NY


Hunger Games comes to NY:  Zephyr Teachout and the Working Families Party released a scathing education report last week about corruption in the Cuomo campaign.  In it, they detail how Wall Street titans secured the allegiance of the governor thru campaign donations and outside spending. 12 individuals spent $4.3 mil on a PAC apparently designed to purchase control of State Senate education policy.  https://t.co/uInwTgASQD

NYSTRS retirement contributions are decreasing this year and districts are expected to save a bundle.  On Long Island, districts may save up to $100 million from lower pension costs. http://nwsdy.li/1APoLjy

Fed up with the climate of over-testing our kids? You can send a message to the politicians in Albany. Go to the NYSUT MAC (https://mac.nysut.org/custom-email) to send a message supporting a districts’ right to refuse mandatory, stand alone field tests.

Parents, teachers, students, and community members can visit NYSAPE (NYS Alliance for Public Education) to oppose the Board of Regent’s efforts to mandate Pearson’s field testinghttps://www.votervoice.net/NYSAPE/campaigns/37674/respond

Cuomo’s struggle to extend the school day continues as only 6 schools our of the state’s 700 have implemented longer days. http://capi.tl/1weCxxs 

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) president, Michael Mulgrew, offers his take on the state of education in NY. “It’s time to fight back, it’s time to show what we can do.”

Their agenda is the same as always, too: promote charter schools and vouchers and the privatization of education; roll back collective bargaining; and cut the public services on which we all depend.  READ MORE

The plaintiffs in Campbell Brown’s anti-teacher tenure lawsuit have filed an opposition brief against the city and state teachers’ unions’ motion to dismiss the case. NYSUT is pushing back, maintaining that Tenure Allows Good Teachers to Fight for What Their Students Need.

Many experts are weighing in on the real problems in education. This week, Forbes contributing writer, Nick Morrison, suggests The Problem Isn’t Getting Rid of Teaches, It’s Keeping Them.

Are you registered for Teaching Tolerance Magazine? It’s free for educators. Subscribe → http://bit.ly/YDxtCU 

An LSE study suggests that money, success, and good grades are less important than emotional health in children.  Emotional health in childhood is the “key to future happiness” .

Pro-Common Core Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana is ousted in a run-off election.  http://lat.ms/1A6y5ib

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Education Matters: Dec 1st

Thank you to everyone who participated in November’s College Pride Day.  When we take pride in our education and experience it sends a powerful message to our students and the community.  We’re highly qualified, we’re professionals, and we work for kids through our support of the WDEA college scholarship.  The Holidays are a perfect excuse to treat yourself to some new college apparel.  I ordered mine from the Potsdam College Store and I had it in hand in just two days.  What are you proud of?  Our next College Pride Day is scheduled for Tuesday, December 16th.  Stand out in a crowd, show your college pride.

Last month, SED officials said districts are required to administer field tests, even if some district want to opt out. The Board of Regents considered a proposal to amend state regulations so districts are clearly required to conduct field tests.  NYSUT blasted the potential state change, saying that students should not be subjected to additional testing.

“NYSUT has been clear that students should not be subjected to over-testing or burdened with field tests that are conducted for the main purpose of benefitting test makers. We are on record supporting districts that choose to opt out of field tests. Mandatory field testing would only further the erosion of learning time and is directly counter to what parents and teachers have been saying: Students are not a test score. The state’s priorities need to be recalibrated to emphasize teaching and learning, not more standardized testing.

High achieving teacher sues state over evaluation labeling her “ineffective.”  Sheri G. Lederman’s Superintendent, Thomas Dolan, signed an affidavit saying “her record is flawless” and that “she is highly regarded as an educator.”  Yet somehow, when Lederman received her 2013-14 evaluation, which is based in part on student standardized test scores, she was rated as “ineffective.” Now she has sued state officials over the method they used to make this determination in an action that could affect New York’s controversial teacher evaluation system.

As more and more and more teachers retire, NYSTRS pension retirement fund remains strong.  The school district’s contributions will actually be reduced next year by ~26% as the fund shows record returns.

Thinking about retiring? Keep in mind important filing dates to receive contractual incentives and unused sick day reimbursement.

Grant Wiggins, education guru and co-author of Understanding by Design, gives the NYS grade 8 math tests a big “F”. Read his critique here.

Think the obsession with test scores has run the gamut, think again. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to track your students’ test scores & reward or punish the college you attended.  

New York charter school audits reveal $28 million in questionable expenses. 95% of NYS private charter school audits show mismanagement and fraud. 

Cuomo’s book sales? (drum-roll please): wk. 1-945 copies. Wk. 6-40 copies. Failing to show growth over 2 points in time = Ineffective



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McCrea’s Monday Memo-9/22

Good morning WDEA,

I wanted to touch base on a few issues before the week got underway.  As always, if you have questions or concerns, please email me or the WDEA3115@gmail.com address or you can call/text my cell 315-882-6344.

We are re-forming (and reforming) the district’s Instructional Council. Please consider joining the group as a rep from your building and/or encouraging someone on your team that would be a good addition to the group. We will be meeting on Oct. 15 from 12:30-3PM to discuss Project Based Learning, Board Goals etc. as well as professional development in the district.  We hope to meet at least semi-annually or as issues arise.  The IC includes two faculty members from each building.  If more than two faculty members volunteer from a building, there will be an election within that building to determine who will sit on the IC.  Whether or not you’ve served on the IC before, I encourage you to volunteer.  The group, in its new form, promises to be an opportunity for spirited dialogue about our school and its mission.

Special thanks goes out to Liz Persons for leading our Westhill Warriors Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Team!  And thank you to everyone who has joined the team so far!  We are hopeful that many more will join, it’s not too late.  Our Westhill Warriors Team will be walking in this important event on Sunday, October 19 in downtown Syracuse.  If you can’t walk with the team, please join us online and make a donation to this important cause.  Making Strides Against Breast Cancer helps so many people.  Did you know that a donation of…..

  • $25 helps provide information and support for 2 people facing cancer?
  • $50 could help provide free lodging for a patient who must travel for treatment?
  • $75 may help give rides to and from cancer treatments for 3 people?
  • $100 helps guide 4 women facing cancer through every step of their journey?

In a district our size, with your help, we should easily be able to make our team goal of $1000.  Won’t you help us by either signing up to walk or making a donation?  Just search for our team (Westhill Warriors) at makingstrideswalk.org/syracuse.  Thank you so much!

We’ve been having conversations with the district and residents about an education foundation for a number of years. It took the right mix of administrative experience, community initiative, and vision to get the foundation off the ground.  A foundation grant is a very special opportunity to jump-start special initiatives in your classroom, I encourage all of you to consider submitting grant proposals this year.  I was part a foundation in my former district, and have been in touch with foundation leaders across the state.  As you consider proposals, I encourage you to survey some projects from those districts (see below).  By all means, think outside the box and consider bold initiatives that will help you bring your classroom and school closer to the vision you hold.  Casey has also offered to review any ideas or proposals and offer his suggestions for a successful grant.  What do you want your teaching (and students’ learning) to look like?  A foundation grant may be the very thing to get that done.

Check out these sites:




Please encourage your colleagues to join our Celly text notification group. If you haven’t done so already, please text @wdea3115 to 23559 on your cell phone.  Password: XXXX (see your building rep).  Ask your building rep if you need help.  Celly (and another text notification system called Remind) are great ways to engage groups of parents, colleagues, or students direct to their cell phones. It’s also a great communication tool in the classroom that you can use within our BYOD environment.

Have a great week.

In Solidarity,


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Vote Yes May 20th!

Please join us in supporting the Westhill Central School budget on May 20th. VOTE YES for quality education in the Westhill District.

The budget vote takes place on May 20th from 7AM-9PM in the foyer of the High School Auditorum located at 4501 Onondaga Blvd.

Learn more about the budget by visiting www.westhillschools.org.

Remember, you never stop paying for a bad education.

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Diane Ravitch in Syracuse April 1st

From CNYTeacher: Diane Ravitch in Syracuse April 1st.

The grande dame of public education advocates is coming to Syracuse on April 1st, 2014, for the Syracuse University Lecture Series. Spread the word among your education colleagues and concerned parents.  The failed policies of NY State Education Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents are ruining our children’s educational opportunity right before our eyes. This may be the most important debate of the decade.

The event is general admission, no tickets are needed, so plan to get there early. There has been an overwhelming response from the Albany and Rochester area as well. It would be great to have a Westhill contingent at the lecture, email Greg McCrea if you’re interested in attending.

Learn more by visiting: http://lectures.syr.edu/lectures/the-death-and-life-of-the-great-american-school-system/


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