By now I hope you’ve received dozens of thank yous throughout the day from parents, students, colleagues and administrators. Yes, today is Teacher Appreciation Day, and this is Teacher Appreciation Week, so it may seem a little cliche to be receiving one more note thank you from “the union guy” but I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to do so before the end of the work day. So, here it goes:
Thank you for dedicating yourself to a profession that has taken it’s share of hits over the last few years but is no less noble than it was 20, 30, or 40 years ago. Thank you for supporting one another and your colleagues across the state and the country through your union membership. Thank you for contributing to Vote/Cope (yes, it does make a difference). Thank you for voting. Thank you for participating in and contributing to our community projects including Making Strides, PWP, Corporate Challenge, and Relay for Life. Thank you for supporting the WDEA scholarship fund. Thank you for listening when a fellow teacher needs to vent, and for venting and speaking your mind when silence isn’t good enough. Thank you for answering a panicked call or text from a colleague at 10PM or 6AM. Thank you for making us laugh and for empathizing when a friend is on the verge of tears. Thank you for the rides to the mechanic and for watching my class in an emergency and for joining us at Happy Hour after a particularly long week. Thank you for recommending your favorite book, the round of golf, and for joining us on the long run. Thank you for the wonderful baby showers, bridal showers, and retirement parties that help us mark the chapters in our lives. Thank you for asking the questions that need asking and for taking time to explain things one more time. Thank you for helping us each get through the day.
Our shared work connects us and gives us strength.  What you do makes a difference in the lives of your students and your colleagues.
Enjoy the rest of the week. In my mind, every day is Teacher Appreciation Day.
In solidarity,
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VOTE Tuesday!!!!

VOTE! TUESDAY! Find your polling center and voter registration status for tomorrow’s primary election.

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WDEA and Westvale Roadrunners donate $5K to Westhill Educational Foundation

Thank you to all the WDEA members who attended both the PWP 5k last weekend and the Westhill Education Foundation’s Chip In for Education event on Saturday. The WDEA and the Westvale Roadrunners Club were proud to present a check for $5000 to the Foundation on Saturday night. We should all be proud of the good work Westhill teachers are doing in our community. Thank you for your contributions to these events. Here’s to many more years of healthy collaboration between our union and the community.   

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Meet the candidates at CNY Labor Council meetings.

WDEA members are invited to attend upcoming Central NY labor council meetings in Syracuse to meet local candidates and discuss critical issues in education and labor.

  • April 20th, 5:30PM, 317 Spencer St., Syracuse.  Meet Assemblyman Al Stirpe and Onondaga Health Commissioner Dr. Gupta.
  • May 18th, 5:30PM, 317 Spencer St., Syracuse. Meet Democratic primary candidates for John Katko’s congressional seat.

The congressional primary is scheduled for June 28th.

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Teachers and neighbors organize for family fun 5K April 10th

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Don’t miss the PWP 5k run/walk on Sunday, April 10th, in the heart of Westvale on Syracuse’s west side.  Now in it’s 4th year, the PWP (Paint Westvale Purple) race is being organized by a team of neighbors and teachers that are dedicated to healthy families, strong schools, and vibrant communities.  Gather your friends, famiiy and co-workers and run or walk together with us in the heart of Westvale.

9:30 — Free Kid’s Fun Run 
10:00 — 5K Run/Walk with timing provided by Leone Timing

Registration for the 5K is now open! Go to our Registration page to sign up.  Registrations received by March 31st will include a PWP T-shirt.

Learn more about the race at PWP5krun.com. We hope to see you there on April 10th!

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NYSUT Supports Members’ Choice to Opt Out

Testing season is rapidly approaching and there has been much conversation at the state level about opting out of the grade 3-8 ELA and Math exams again this year. Last year over 200,000 students and their parents refused the exams in an unprecedented act of civil disobedience designed to send a message to Albany-our kids are more than a test score. Well, Albany got the message. Many things have changed in the last 12 months.

We have a new Commissioner of Education, Mary Ellen Elia. NYSUT put pressure on legislators across the state to elect new members of the Board of Regents, including a replacement for the chancellor, Meryl Tisch, and our very own Regent, Anthony Bottar.  The new chancellor, Betty Rosa, has been an outspoken proponent of a parent’s right to refuse the tests on their child’s behalf and, since being appointed chancellor, has reiterated her commitment to redirecting the focus of the State Education Department on the challenges that schools serving poor students face. READ MORE HERE ABOUT BETTY ROSA’s APPOINTMENT.

And let’s face it, the biggest change that teachers are facing is a 4 year moratorium on the consequences of the high stakes 3-8 tests on our APPR scores. Yes, the state is still hanging onto an “advisory score” based on the state growth score. Yes, we still are administering local achievement tests. And yes, the observation model is not perfect.  But I can’t state strongly enough how significant this moratorium is for teachers in grades 3-8 and this change will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on the rest of the APPR system moving forward. We have the advocacy of parents and our union, NYSUT, to thank for these changes.

Some things haven’t changed much, despite what you’ve heard on TV. Are the tests shorter this year than last? Yes (by 1-2 questions per booklet). Have timed tests been eliminated? Yes (which is causing a host of other logistical issues). Has Pearson been removed as the author of the tests? Yes (but not this year. That’ll start with next year’s test). Are teachers being consulted on the design of the test? Yes (kind of, they are consulting on the tests but not actually writing questions. The big testing companies are still in control of the test questions and administration).  And the big question in my mind: are the tests developmentally appropriate for kids? I think you can guess the answer to that one.

So, we come back to the issue of opting out of the state tests-should our members opt our their own children from this year’s tests?  Opt Out is not going away, there’s even an online web app that generates an automatic opt out email for parents, opens your mail app on your phone, and lets you customize the letter to meet your child’s individual needs. Not that’s cutting edge tech at its best.  Our WDEA executive council agreed that sharing information with our members was the best way to answer their questions about opt out. NYSUT agrees and will support locals (the WDEA) as they share info with their members and support a parent’s right to refuse.

There is still a strong opt out movement across the state and locally. You will likely have students opting out again this year.  As you consider your own choices as parents, please take a moment to look over some information prepared by NYSUT. Also, please remember a few important points:

  • Parent’s have a right to refuse the state tests.
  • Regents exams should not be refused, student’s need them to graduate.
  • Teachers should neither encourage nor discourage opting out of state tests.
  • Refer all parental questions about opt out to your building principal.



Thank you for staying informed about this issue. If nothing else, it is a valuable lesson in the power of standing up for kids and speaking out through the union.

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Order your BOGO tickets to Hall of Fame game

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 9.28.38 AMNYSUT members can order special two-for-one tickets to the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown Saturday, May 28. Go to baseballhall.org or call 877-726-9028. Use the code NYSUT16.

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