Great article here about Ohio's repeal of SB5 and the protection of collective bargaining rights for Ohio workers.
Last week, Maggie Eller and I concluded our negotiations with the district regarding a new contract agreement with the district for teacher aides. Aides have already received the details of that agreement. A meeting and vote will occur from 3:00-4:00 on Thursday.
Katie joined me this weekend at the NYSUT Tarrytown Regional Office Local Presidents' Conference. We learned a great deal about the New York State and about political activism.
The Regents approved the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards in January, with introductory phase-in to begin this school year. According to the State Education Department, this is a transitional year, with school districts providing support and professional development on how to incorporate the new standards into instruction. SED has posted a handful of exemplary lessons and Commissioner John King has urged teachers to try aligning at least one unit per semester with the common core standards.
While a recent NYSUT survey shows members are aware of the Common Core State Standards, too many districts are not providing members with the professional development that is needed. We're hearing reports from the field that some principals and superintendents are trying to require teachers to submit lesson plans aligned with the new common core standards. This is NOT a state requirement this year. Nothing is mandated until 2012-13. (In fact, this spring's state assessments in ELA and math will continue to be based on the 2005 learning standards.) It's also important to keep in mind that many collective bargaining agreements include provisions about lesson plans. The introductory phase-in does not supersede collective bargaining agreements.
"Our position is very clear. We support the common core standards because they are deeper, clearer and, if implemented appropriately, can improve student learning," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "However, in order to make this sea change in planning for instruction, we need quality professional development, adequate time and collaborative teams working on capacity-building."
Once again, Neira noted, SED is rushing the transition and not getting the sequence right. SED is planning to leapfrog to new assessments on the common core standards in 2012-13, before all of the curriculum modules are ready. "We are continuing to advocate for a meaningful transition so this effort can be successful," Neira said.
Neira urged local leaders to ensure practitioners are involved with district and school-level committees working on realigning instruction. For background information, SED has set up a new Web page, EngageNY.org, with exemplar lesson plans, a video and an overview of the 12 major shifts in instruction. In addition, the union's Education & Learning Trust and the state's Teacher Center network are partnering to offer professional development opportunities to help educators with the transition.
The statewide union lauded this week's state legislative actionto stimulate the economy and provide much needed funding for crucial programs in education and health care. Union leaders offered kudos to Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Skelos for following through and passing the three-way tax reform agreement that nets an additional $2 billion.
Restored funding for education and higher education in particular is a crucial investment for economic development and jobs growth, said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi.
"We thank the leaders in Albany for recognizing the need for the revenue to adequately support education," he said, "and we thank NYSUT members who answered the call to action. Public education is the engine that drives the economy and will create the New York we all want and deserve. We await a budget that reflects that commitment."
In addition to the main components of the agreement, detailed in the Special Briefing you received Tuesday, NYSUT lobbyists succeeded in adding language to the agreement that ensures BOCES, 4201 and Special Act schools in the eight-county New York City metro region will gain from an easement of the MTA tax. Also, schools will now be eligible for part of the flood relief funding that was included.
Three-way agreement on tax code to generate $2 billion in revenue
Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a three-way agreement that will generate an additional $2 billion in added revenue next year from taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers.
NYSUT leaders welcomed this as a significant step forward and credited activism by NYSUT members, other union members, coalition partners and the "99 percent" for making the case that New York state must up its investment in public education and health care, and that the wealthiest must pay their fair share to help make that happen.
"This agreement provides the revenue that will make it possible for New York state to begin restoring cuts that have so burdened our schools and campuses. Clearly, more is needed and we look forward to a state budget that reflects how revenue is allocated," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi. "New Yorkers want to see a greater investment in its public schools, higher education and health care facilities. Investments in infrastructure, job creation and economic development all reflect a commitment to growing New York's economy, which benefits all of us. Today's agreement gets us closer to the New York we all want."
The deal announced Tuesday will cut taxes for 4.4 million middle-class New Yorkers and tweak rates for the highest earners so that they would pay slightly less than they do under the so-called "millionaire's tax," set to expire at the end of this month.
Individuals making more than $1 million in taxable income and joint filers making more than $2 million would pay a rate of 8.82 percent, fractionally lower than the 8.97 percent rate they paid under the millionaire's tax. This slight tax break pales in comparison to the bonanza the super-rich would have reaped had the millionaire's tax simply been allowed to expire at the end of this year. The agreement announced today means New York state will still capture much needed revenue from these mega-earners.
The new income-tax rates would start next year. The newly implemented top bracket would expire Dec. 31, 2014.
In their joint press release, Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Skelos also announced the governor's New York Works initiative, a $1-billion fund that would invest private, and possibly some public, pension funds in infrastructure such as roads, bridges and parks.
Iannuzzi had previously shared with the board and with local presidents in last week's tele-town hall that conversations with state leaders have been underway as to the potential investment of pension funds. Iannuzzi noted that TRS retirement fund investment decisions are controlled by a 10-member New York State TRS Board of Trustees and are based on the recommendations of independent financial analysts who must evaluate an investment's soundness and whether it has an appropriate rate of return.
The new tax rates would generate $2.6 billion in gross income, but some of that would be allocated to new initiatives, including $50 million in additional relief for flood-ravaged areas of the state; $37 million for an inner-city youth employment program; and a tax credit for employers who hire inner city youth.
Approximately $2 billion in net income would be available to close this year's budget gap and fund increases in next year's budget, a much-needed shot in the arm, although still far short of what is needed to fully fund schools, higher education and health care. "Our work remains cut out for us," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, "but we know we are on the right track and we will keep telling our state leaders what our students need to succeed."
Meanwhile, in addition to the tax code changes announced today, leaders announced a new commission will be appointed to more thoroughly analyze the state's tax structure and consider what further changes might be needed.
The SFL dance raised over two thousand dollars for the Liz Minter foundation.
SED grade 3-8 testing reaches the level of fiasco
In what can only be described as a fiasco, State Ed has retracted a statewide memo on this spring's grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments -- the same tests that were rescheduled twice after SED slotted them during spring break for many districts. When news media reported SED's memo to the field -- which said the department is significantly expanding testing time for ELA and math -- parents and educators reacted negatively. The department subsequently retracted the memo, maintaining it was sent out without the commissioner's approval. While SED claims publicly that it will now accept comments on the testing procedures, changes are unlikely since SED has also said the revised memo will go out next week. Interestingly, David Abrams, the longtime assistant commissioner in the Office of Standards, Assessment and Reporting, has resigned.
Our position has always been that students need appropriate time-- not more testing. Stay tuned!
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.