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November 16, 2011
State teachers union issues its own roadmap to new evaluations
The cover of NYSUT's evaluation handbook This school year, New York State school districts and their teachers unions are spending a lot of time hammering out local agreements about adopting the state's new mandated teacher evaluation system, required by June. While 40 percent of that system is predetermined by student test scores, myriad unanswered questions surround the remaining "subjective" 60 percent: Should formal observations be announced in advance? Should teachers be entitled to discuss their own observations with administrators afterwards? Should student surveys have weight in evaluations? Today, the state teachers union unveiled what it's calling a "groundbreaking" roadmap to answering those questions that it hopes local unions will use as they sit down to negotiate. Based on work that was piloted last year in six districts across the state with funding from the AFT and the Obama administration's Investing in Innovation competition, New York State United Teachers' "Teacher Evaluation and Development" system carves out a role for teachers to participate in their own evaluations. TED represents a shift from defense to offense for NYSUT, which sued this summer to stop the state from allowing districts to increase the weight of test scores in teacher evaluations. The roadmap is broken down into four phases, each involving teachers in the evaluation process, that are outlined in a 95-page guidance handbook available on the union's website.
August 24, 2011
Partial win for state union on evaluations, but appeal is likely
A State Supreme Court Judge partially sided with the state teachers union today over how big of a role standardized state test scores should play for teacher evaluations. Overturning a key state regulation that was approved by the Board of Regents in May, Judge Michael Lynch ruled that local districts could only double the weight of test scores in evaluations – from 20 percent to 40 percent – if the local union signs off on the arrangement. The judge upheld a different regulation, which will allow districts the option to increase testing emphasis, so long as it is through collective bargaining. The New York State Education Department criticized the judge's reversal and pledged to appeal it, further complicating the future of an evaluation system that was originally slated to take effect this year. The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by New York State United Teachers in June. In the suit, NYSUT lawyers argued that the Regents were circumventing a carefully negotiated state law that set the weight of test scores at 20 percent.
August 30, 2010
Listen to us, teachers tell Arne Duncan in Albany
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (right, blue shirt) and NYSUT President Richard Ianuzzi listen to a teacher at a roundtable at NYSUT's Albany headquarters today. ALBANY, N.Y. — Teamwork was the watchword as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan took his national back-to-school bus tour to Albany today. Duncan has taken to the road to celebrate teachers, and to convince them that his reform efforts will not undercut their interests. In New York, many teachers are still skittish of a new teacher evaluation plan that will, for the first time, allow school districts to judge them based on their students' test scores. The state and city teachers union struck the agreement with state education officials in May, in part to improve the state's Race to the Top application. And so, in appearances at the state teachers union headquarters and the State Capitol, Duncan and state officials emphasized that New York's reform policies are the result of a team effort between state education officials and its teachers unions. Those policies won the state nearly $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds last week. "Where other states were not able to reach consensus, New York was," Duncan said.
April 30, 2010
State Senate introduces new bill to double cap on charter schools
The legislative battle over whether and how to raise the state's cap on charter schools could begin again as early as next week. The State Senate's Rules Committee, which is chaired by Senator Malcolm Smith, introduced a bill today that would lift the charter school cap to 460, more than doubling the number currently allowed under state law. It also would require schools to make more of their financial practices public and increase the number of special education and English language learners they serve. Charter school advocates are hailing the bill as a compromise between supporters of the speedy growth of charter schools and critics who argue that a cap lift should come only with changes to how the schools are run. But perhaps the most vocal skeptics of charter management practices, the teachers unions, are crying foul. Union officials are complaining that the bill was developed without union leaders' input and that its regulatory provisions are too weak.
April 27, 2010
State teachers union makes its case for charter school reform
The state teachers union has been complaining about charter school mismanagement for a long time. Now, we have their complaints in writing. The New York State United Teachers released its report today cataloging cases of documented and alleged financial mismanagement, conflicts of interest and counseling out of needy students. The report, which NYSUT based on a review of records from 60 of the state's approximately 140 charter schools, estimates that the state's charter schools have an 8 to 10 percent student turnover rate each year. It also argues that state charter law doesn't prevent financial abuses such as those at East New York Preparatory Charter School, which the city is closing at the end of this school year. The union's arguments will sound familiar to those who followed New York State United Teachers representative's testimony at State Senator Bill Perkins' hearings on charter school oversight last week. At the hearing, charter school authorizers responded that many of the cases of mismanagement the union cites were uncovered through their current oversight practices. The full report is below the jump:
April 20, 2010
NY teachers union strikes back against Newsweek cover story
Does that April 15 edition of New York Teacher look familiar? Apparently, the state teachers union didn’t take to Newsweek’s take-down of teachers unions…
February 8, 2010
Education groups giving funds but not taking sides in gov.'s race
Major state education stakeholders are funneling money to both sides in the not-yet-official-but-looking-likely gubernatorial primary contest between Governor David Paterson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. But donors say that although their gifts coincided with increased speculation about Cuomo's entry into the governor's race, the donations are more a reflection of what they want to see happen now than a sign they're taking sides in a future race. The state teachers union, which vigorously opposed Paterson's recent attempt to raise the cap on charter schools in the state without additional restrictions, gave $8,400 to Cuomo in the middle of December. That donation followed a $10,000 gift to the attorney general last June. Union spokesman Carl Korn said that the most recent donation was an indication of support for the attorney generals' crackdown on predatory lending to students and not a forward-looking political move. Cuomo has so far kept quiet on his views on charter schools and recently refused to comment on whether he supported Paterson's push to increase the number of charters allowed under state law.
February 25, 2009
State teachers union will now represent lifeguards
New York State United Teachers, the state chapter of the city teachers union, just announced that the union is on the brink of adding about 500 1,200 lifeguards into its fold. The lifeguards used to belong to another union, but they sought out NYSUT hoping it would offer "stronger representation," according to the press release below. Most of NYSUT's 600,000 members are teachers (and most of those are in New York City) but the union also represents some groups that aren't affiliated with schools, including hospital nurses, group home workers, and day care providers. Read background on how lifeguards got unionized here. Here's the NYSUT press release: Lifeguards join NYSUT seeking a voice, better pay & improved safety ALBANY, N.Y. February 25, 2009 — Along with their whistles, sun block and rescue buoys, some 1,200 state lifeguards, including nearly 500 who protect beachgoers on Long Island’s shores, will be carrying something else on their stands this summer — a NYSUT union card. New York State United Teachers announced today that state-employed lifeguards who protect pools, lakes and beaches from Lake Erie to Montauk are affiliating with the 600,000-member union. The NYSUT Board of Directors will formally vote to accept the new local union — known as the New York State Lifeguard Corps — on Saturday, ending a nearly six-year legal odyssey that started when lifeguards began seeking better pay, improved training and safety equipment, and a voice in their working conditions.
January 21, 2009
At union's request, city kids offer action plans for Obama
Here's an idea for the new president: Make people happy by giving them pennies. According to a story in triptych form by Miah Mansour, a kindergartner at PS 130 (not sure which borough), that's what it would take to stave off the foreclosure crisis. Miah sent the story, which you can view in full below the jump, to the state teachers union, NYSUT, after it asked schoolchildren to offer advice to Barack Obama. Other letters suggest insulating schools against budget cuts, reducing class sizes, and providing bigger file cabinets for teachers. (Via Edwize)
October 17, 2008
State Dems fight back against NYSUT Republican endorsements
Malcolm Smith NYSUT’s possible endorsement of Republican candidates for State Senate has Democrats worried. Malcolm Smith, Democratic leader of the State Senate, released…
October 16, 2008
Could panic over education cuts cost Dems the state senate?
PHOTO: Joe Mahoney/iNewsThe state senate chambers Pledging not to allow any mid-year budget cuts to education has won the Republican leader of the state…
August 19, 2008
Studies of tax caps show detriment to education
New York State has the highest local taxes in the nation, prompting Governor Paterson to propose a cap on how much property taxes can be increased for education funding. But how would a tax cap affect public education? Studies show that tax limitations decrease revenue for public services and are associated with lower student achievement and higher class sizes, according to a briefing paper by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Research and Information Services. The briefing paper reviews more than a dozen studies and concludes that state funding does not replace local funding limited by tax caps; in fact, local funding is often used to make up for state funding cuts during economic downturns. Furthermore, tax caps affect poor families and their communities the most, widening inequality. Studies linked tax limitations with lower student achievement, both when comparing districts affected by tax caps to similar districts not affected and when looking at achievement before and after a tax limitation took effect. Also, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Massachusetts' Proposition 2 1/2 made local budgets more dependent on state aid, which fluctuates along with the health of the economy. Prop. 2 1/2 took effect during the "Massachusetts Miracle," a period of rising state revenues due to economic growth; CBPP warns against enacting a similar law during a slow economy, when state funding is unlikely to make up for local shortfalls.
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