Thank you to everyone who came to last week's 25th anniversary breakfast!
Tremendous thanks to Anthony Angotta, Julia Brogan, Tim Horgan, and Joyce Myers for helping ensure that our BTA dues are used appropriately and honestly.
And, thanks to Chuck, for the extremely professional job preparing the audit.
The audit report is available in Chuck's room - just ask if you'd like to see it.
Our BTA breakfast celebrating our 25th Anniversary as an affiliated union will be on
Thursday, November 29th
Please come celebrate with your brothers and sisters.
What tenure really means
By Wendy Star | Associate Counsel - NYSUT United - November 20, 2012
Although most states provide some form of tenure to public school teachers and other school employees such as guidance counselors and school psychologists, it has come under increasing attack throughout the country. In New York, tenure protections have existed since 1917, but even here tenure is not immune to attack. To critics, tenure gives bad teachers jobs for life. But this claim is based on a misunderstanding of what tenure really is.
Q: What is tenure?
A: Under New York law, tenure means that after successfully completing three years of probationary service, a teacher cannot be fired or disciplined except for just cause established in a due process hearing. The purpose of tenure is to protect teachers from arbitrary firings, and to ensure that our schools are staffed based on merit, not on supervisory whim.
Q: What is just cause?
A: The board of education must have a legitimate basis to seek discipline — a basis it can support with proof at a due process hearing. Just cause can generally include proof of professional incompetence, physical or mental incapacity, on- or off-duty misconduct or lack of certification.
Q: What is due process?
A: Tenure creates a constitutionally protected property interest in continued employment. Like other property rights, this right is not absolute, but it is protected from arbitrary taking by the constitutional guarantee of due process. This means teachers are entitled to a procedurally fair hearing before being disciplined or discharged.
Procedural fairness includes written notice of the charges, and the right to see the evidence, to confront witnesses and to present a defense before an impartial arbitrator.
At the hearing's conclusion, the arbitrator can impose discipline only upon a finding, supported by a preponderance of the evidence, that there is just cause. In New York, tenured educators' right to due process is outlined in Education Law §3020-a.
Q: Does this mean teachers cannot be fired once they receive tenure?
A: Of course not. Rather, the board of education must be able to prove it has a legitimate reason to discipline or dismiss the accused teacher.
Q: Is tenure really the cause of the problems with the education system?
A: Protecting teachers from arbitrary discipline is not an impediment to sound education. Notably, it is not only teachers who have tenure protections. In New York, most civil servants enjoy the equivalent of tenure under Civil Service Law §75, and many private sector and public sector employees, including those in higher education, have tenure or just cause protections under collective bargaining agreements.
Q: As a society, should we not want employers to have a legitimate reason for disciplining or firing employees, including teachers, who have invested years of their lives serving their schools and students?
A: Case law from across the country shows that without tenure, teachers are subject to dismissal for the flimsiest of reasons, including nepotism, political beliefs, or willingness to speak out about conditions at their school.
In fact, this was the reality for teachers before the tenure laws were strengthened to mandate that the ultimate determination to discipline or fire a teacher be made by a neutral party after a hearing, not unilaterally by the board of education.
Imagine a public school teacher who has worked for more than 25 years. A new principal or superintendent wants to hire her own people. Without tenure, this teacher could be terminated on a whim, for any reason or no reason at all. In an instant, 25 years of service and all the knowledge and experience that comes with it, would be erased.
Q: But doesn't the process take too long?
A: Tenure hearings do take time, as do most important and weighty procedures. When a professional is accused of misconduct or incompetence, there must be a fair opportunity to answer the accusations and sometimes this takes time. As the Supreme Court has cautioned, the Constitution, and particularly the Due Process Clause, " ... recognizes higher values than speed and efficiency."
Clearly, we should continue to make the 3020-a process as efficient as possible, without sacrificing teachers' due process rights, which protect teachers as well as the schools and students they serve.
Tenured teachers, and all NYSUT members who have similar protection under the Civil Service Law or a collective bargaining agreement, are entitled to free legal representation provided by NYSUT's Office of General Counsel, whenever they face disciplinary charges.
This representation ensures that an accused member has the best possible defense, and a full opportunity to be heard.
Wednesday, November 28 in the cafeteria.
See you there!
Dear David and my BTA family,
Thank you with all of my heart for thinking of me and for sending the beautiful plant that continues to brighten my every day. I often say, and was again reminded by your kind gesture, how lucky I am to be a part of this unique and caring community.
I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving. Hope to see you all soon.
From Susan Monaco:
Did you know the United States is one of the only developed nations not to require labeling of genetically engineered foods? Even China labels them! We have no time to lose. The USDA is preparing to approve a new wave of genetically engineered crops which would lead to millions of pounds of chemical herbicides to be sprayed on our food. The FDA is preparing to approve genetically engineered salmon, which would be the first genetically engineered animal on supermarket shelves in the United States.
I think we have a right to know how the food we buy is produced, including whether it's genetically engineered. That's why I contacted the FDA and Congress.
WATCH THE VIDEO AND THEN TAKE ACTION:
Please, click on that link, watch the video, and take action today.
MARGARET EBERLE FAIR TRADE FESTIVAL AND CRAFT FAIR
Memorial United Methodist Churchwill be hosting the Margaret Eberle Fair Trade Festival and Craft Fairon Saturday, December 1st, 2012, from 10am to 5pmat 250 Bryant Avenue in White Plains, New York
This event is open to the public. Suggested donation for admission is $2 - $5.
Live music will be performed throughout the day featuring Art Bennett, Marc Black (www.marcblack.com) and the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus. Homemade baked goods, soup, bread and fair trade coffee/tea will be available for purchase.
Limited vendor space is still available and applications are available upon request. Over 25 vendors are expected to participate.
This event is organized by Memorial United Methodist Church, The LOFT: LGBT Community Services Center, Westchester Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Nonviolence and the WESPAC Foundation.
Are you fed up with the state’s obsession with testing?
If so, let your voice be heard now!
Decisions are being made in Albany every day that directly impact our professions. It’s vitally important that the decision-makers hear from you – the practitioner – about what’s really happening in our schools.
That’s why NYSUT created an online campaign so that you can Tell It Like It Is to Commissioner King and the Board of Regents. We’ve been flooding SED with personal, heart-felt letters from educators, like you, who are saying: “Enough is enough!”
Now, they need to hear from you.
While Tell It Like It Is is ongoing, these next few days are critical. Your voice is urgently needed. Be part of the conversation. Help counterbalance the bad decisions being made about the work you do.
Click here to Tell It Like It Is.
And do it today.
Please let me know of important happenings in the lives of BTA members, so that I can print them in the BTA NEWS from time to time.