6/19/18 No Time to Talk- Pass S8301: As the clock ticks on this year’s legislative session, the fate of teacher evaluations hangs in the balance. NYSUT is standing against Senate gamesmanship attempting to expand charter schools in return for a deal. Fax them…again! Comptroller Wants Bullying Stopped: NYS Comptroller says schools and teachers need funding, training, and support to clamp down on bullying in schools. More Teachers Have 2 Jobs: As many in education get ready for their summer jobs, many just keep working theadditional jobs they have all year to make ends meet. NY Steps Up: As unions brace for the Janus decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, lawmakers in about a half-dozen states like NY have passed legislation that aims to give teacher unions better access to potential members.
6/18/18 Taking on Screen Time: Screen time is a battle for most families. Using the proprietary parental controls can be tricky. Here’s a guide. The To Do List: The NYS Legislature plans to end their year this week. Here’s what’s on their to do list. Mental Health Matters: As some states weigh teaching mental health in schools New York’s new law adds mental health instruction to the list in kindergarten through 12th grade. NY Steps Up: As unions brace for the Janus decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, lawmakers in about a half-dozen states like NY have passed legislation that aims to give teacher unions better access to potential members.
6/15/18 Adulting Getting Harder: Once known as Home Ec., family and consumer sciences (FCS) classes which teach students essential life skills aka. adulting are fading away. Carranza Town Hall: In a politically charged town hall, Carranza tackles segregation, testing, and charter schools Back to Collective Begging?: If the court rules for Mark Janus, it will likely have the most negative impact on workers’ freedom to organize and bargain collectively in 70 years.
6/11/18 Too Hot?: Is your classroom too hot? Schools are especially vulnerable to hot temperatures. NYSUT needs your stories of overheated classrooms to help get changes made in laws to protect students, teachers, and SRPs. Tell your story here. Schools Pivotal in Prevention: Schools can play a big role in fostering discussion with young people about suicide and should train personnel in suicide prevention. But is funding available to do this vital work? More Charters This Week?: New York state’s top education policymakers will vote on six new charter schools in their last meeting before summer break. Meanwhile Betsy DeVos’ husband Dick says everybody wins with charters. Keep Speaking Out: High school valedictorian’s mic was cut when she began speak out about school sexual assault.
6/7/18 Can U Plan on Planning Time?: A majority of teachers say they don’t have sufficient time to collaborate with other teachers, says a new report. Who’s to blame? Not you. Specialized HS Test: Everybody is talking about the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Here’s what itlooks like Hot Air II: NYSUT says Senators are full of hot air describing the lack of movement on the current test and punish APPR system. Teachers were at the capital telling the NYS Senate to get it done. Fax them!
6/6/18 Looking for Better PD?: Tired of one size fits all professional development? A new wave of PD for and by teachersis bringing choice and voice to the profession. What DeVos Won’t Discuss: Ed Sec. DeVos says her school safety panel will not look at guns. What? Meanwhile, 8thgraders receive gifts of ballistic shields for their backpacks. And….: New York may allow teachers to report troubled students to a judge to ensure they do not have access to guns. Full of Hot Air: NYSUT says Senators are full of hot air describing the lack of movement on the current test and punish APPR system. Today we’re telling them to push the handful of NYS Senators who have yet to sign on to APPR/testing reforms. Fax them!
6/1/18 Growing Like Weeds: Think charters only happen in big cities? They’re growing like weeds in places you wouldn’t expect. Self Cyber-Bullying: In the digital age teenagers cyber bullying themselves is a real and damaging thing. Kids Call Out Testing: Today as teachers get ready to protest testing -students have their own ideas aboutstandardized testing. Are lawmakers listening?
Today is the Day- Party of Protest?: Most NYS Senators have signed on to S8301 delinking tests from APPR- a few have notand teachers plan to protest on today.
5/30/18 John Who?:Sen. John Flanagan is the only one standing in the way of the teacher evaluation bill.The bi-partisan legislation would decouple student test scores from teacher ratings
This Friday- Party of Protest?: Most NYS Senators have signed on to S8301 delinking tests from APPR. Has yours? Teachers plan to protest on Friday The Divide Multiplies: Study of N.Y. schools finds wide racial, ethnic disparities in AP math and science courses. 1,000 Cuts: Death by a thousand cuts. See how [See%20how%20privatizing%20public%20education]privatizing public education is working and how it impacts you and your students.
5/25/18 Learning to Love Statistics: For years calculus was king- the key to jobs in hard science. Now as we drown in big data a “new math” may reign supreme… statistics Whole School Therapy: Social emotional skills (SEL) in school is more than 20 years old. Now it is getting greater attention. Some schools are helping troubled kids and their whole school community withgroup therapy. Closing? But, Why?: NY education officials want to close a public school with a student population that is mostly minority and economically disadvantaged — even though the school does remarkably wellacademically.
5/22/18 Janus Coming Soon:With the Janus ruling coming in days the Supreme Court ruled against workers uniting to fight for better pay in a victory for businesses.
I’m Sticking with My Union. How About You?: See why our members are signing on now! Got Student Loans?:New York Sen.Gillibrand is pushing for new regulations to protect student loan borrowersafter the administration announced it would close an office dedicated to protecting borrowers.Seniors Ready to Flex: Schools launch new initiative urging high school seniors to flex their civic muscles by registering and voting.
5/17/18 Turn It Up!: Besides passing school budgets yesterday-dozens of teachers joined the ranks of elected officials as school board members. This is part of the Pipeline Project – helping educators move from classroom to capital. Are you next? Reading Your Mind: Americans are not good readers. Don’t blame screens - Americans’ trouble with reading predates digital technologies. The problem stems from a misunderstanding of how the mind reads. #RedforPublicEd Rolls Over Raleigh: The wave of teachers taking on the learning and working conditions in their schools rolled over Raleigh. Watch the video and be inspired! Testing Debacle: Testing debacle prompts outrage from teachers, parents. See why.
5/16/18 Results Are In- Kids and Schools Win!: School budget votes are in. Check out results in: Western NY , Central NY , Rochester, North Country, Capital Area , Long Island , NC Teachers on Capital Steps Today: NC teachers will descend on the statehouse in Raleigh to rally for more public school funding. Teachers Ready to Rumble in Mid-Terms: As teacher activism grows, more are taking their fight to the polls – organizing and running for office. Drive By DeVos: Ed Secretary DeVos made her first visit to New York and to the nation’s largest school district, but didn’t visit a single public school. Testing Debacle: Testing debacle prompts outrage from teachers, parents. See why.
5/15/18 Go Vote – We’ll Wait: You can read the news later. Our kids and schools need you to go and vote now! Yes, you may bring your family and friends. Next Year? Yikes!: The state Division of the Budget released its financial outlook for 2020, 21. Looks like a $780 million budget deficit for 2020 and $1.4 billion for fiscal year 2021. And,why is it worse? Inside the Teenage Brain: A teenage brain is a fascinating, still-changing place. There's a lot going on: Social awareness, risk-taking, peer pressure; take a peek inside. Testing Debacle: Testing debacle prompts outrage from teachers, parents. See why.
5/14/18 Let’s Shred the Voting Thing!: It’s easy to come up with an excuse not to vote tomorrow on your school budget and for the Board of Education members who will lead your district. But, in giving up your decision, you allow others to make a statement for you.
Ants, Termites, and Textbooks (or lack thereof): NC teachers are going on strike for more than overdue raises. They’re seeking better learning and working conditions for students. But just how bad are things in some schools? Taking Care of Teachers: As teachers are working to meet the SEL needs of their students, who is taking care of them?
5/10/18 Students Leading Learning: Learning happens when students, not you, are doing the work. Not as easy as it sounds. Student Loan Alarm!: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is being folded into another agency, a consolidation that some fear will limit its ability to stand up for student loan borrowers. Teacher Strikes, Pay Hikes, and Raises: Teachers are stepping up for their kids and colleagues, but pay raises don’t always show an ongoing commitment from states for public education- the fight continues. Teacher Power is Real: Teachers are very humble. They just go about their business— but they are the largest profession in the US. And collectively, they have the power to demand and win changes to funding and salaries- IF they work together. Teachers Are Making the Call: Senators statewide are feeling the heat as calls from concerned teachers regarding APPR and testing are flooding their offices. Yes, you can still make a call today. The NYS Senate still needs to hear from you… Send a message to your Senator now.
5/9/18 A Little Stressed?: Work, safety, health and finances seemed to be the greatest sources of anxiety, according to latest APA poll. But are we caring for this very real condition? Teacher Power is Real: Teachers are very humble. They just go about their business— but they are the largest profession in the US. And collectively, they have the power to demand and win changes to funding and salaries- IF they work together. Teachers Are Making the Call: Senators statewide are feeling the heat as calls from concerned teachers regarding APPR and testing are flooding their offices. Yes, you can still make a call today. The NYS Senate still needs to hear from you… Send a message to your Senator now.
5/4/18 Get to Work on De-Linking Tests: The NYS Senate still needs to hear from you… Send a message to your Senator now.
AZ Teachers End Walkout: Arizona teachers ended their walkout with major gains, but they’re aren’t done fighting. #RedforEd is just getting warmed-up. How Bad?: Across the country there’s a growing movement to recruit teachers from overseas . Yet another sign of the difficulty some districts are having providing the basics with school budgets that have been slashed. Teachers Say No Thanks: Despite support from the President and the NRA, measures to arm teachers in schools are failing.
4/27/18 Peeling Back APPR/Testing: Assembly billbacked by NYSUT would peel back the layers of APPR bringingcommon senseto teacher evaluations and testing so teachers can teach and kids can learn! Seeing Red: Clad inred for public ed. thousands of educators are in the streets with the support of parents and students. Why?: Teacher working conditions are students learning conditions.Pay and teacher retention is low whilestressis at an all time high.Right to workto blame.
4/26/18 Learning Without SEL?: Teachers, like parents, have always understood that children’s learning and growth do not occur in a vacuumsocial emotional learningmakes a difference.
Saving for Pensions: Legislators are proposing that school districts be allowed to set up special reserve funds for potential increases inteacher pensions.
New Math: NYC’s 1700 schools with be sharing $125 million in aide, but the math is a bitcomplicated.
Walkout Update: First, it was West Virginia. Then, Kentucky and Oklahoma. Now, Arizona and Colorado teachers prepare towalk out.And, a survey out today says most Americans think teachers need to walk to getbetter pay.
4/20/18 No Social Security for Teachers?: Teacher pensions are part of the fuel for unrest in the ranks. But did you know that more than a million teachers don’t have Social Security in retirement? School Violence Protests Today: DOE will penalize city high-school students who take part in today’s gun-control protest. On LI some schools will require students to wear clear backpacks on campus as part of anew safety measure. As students speak out – is anyone listening? AFT Drops Wells Fargo: The American Federation of Teachers is dropping banking giant Wells Fargo as a recommended lender to its 1.7 million members because of the bank’s continued involvement with the NRA. Students to Rebuild PR: SUNY students willing to volunteer with rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico will receive college credit for their time At the Breaking Point: The teacher pay penalty is only part of the problem. Most enter the profession understanding that in exchange for lower salary they will get better benefits – it isn’t the case anymore. Further, data shows the female dominated education work-force has a big wage gap. Teachers Post Problems: Teacher protests are spreading rapidly nationwide. The New York Times invited America’s public school educators to show us the conditions that a decade of budget cuts has wrought in their schools.
4/19/18 Kid Lays Out Testing Challenge: A 5th grader is calling out legislators- telling them to take the test – tech failures and all. Cutting Classes Literally: Small school districts have long sought to save money by dropping to a 4 day week. Now some urban districts are making the switch. Students Seeking Change: On Feb. 14th a student started a Change.org petition that now has a quarter-million signatures. Her ask? A walkout to protest violence in schools planned to coincide with the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine in 1999. The student was born in 2002. In NYC commissioner Carranza discourages student participation in Friday’s gun violence walkout — which could come with consequences Up Next: Colorado: Teachers from Colorado are planning walkouts next week to call for more funding for education – and they won’t be alone. Public’s Take on Teachers: New polling is in on the public’s view on teacher pay and confidence in educators. At the Breaking Point: The teacher pay penalty is only part of the problem. Most enter the profession understanding that in exchange for lower salary they will get better benefits – it isn’t the case anymore. Further, data shows the female dominated education work-force has a big wage gap.
4/18/18 Helping Students Choose Wisely: Media literacy is more important than ever. 7 tips for teaching readers how to recognize bias. Up Next: Colorado: Teachers from Colorado are planning walkouts next week to call for more funding for education – and they won’t be alone. Public’s Take on Teachers: New polling is in on the public’s view on teacher pay and confidence in educators. At the Breaking Point: The teacher pay penalty is only part of the problem. Most enter the profession understanding that in exchange for lower salary they will get better benefits – it isn’t the case anymore. Further, data shows the female dominated education work-force has a big wage gap. Teachers Post Problems: Teacher protests are spreading rapidly nationwide. The New York Times invited America’s public school educators to show us the conditions that a decade of budget cuts has wrought in their schools.
Matt Damon explains why he made this surprising new film By Valerie StraussOctober 28 at 12:50 PM (Stone Lantern Films and Turnstone Productions)“Backpack Full of Cash” is a film title that suggests some untoward money dealings. And a new film by that title is — though the theme is not the traditional movie yarns about arms or drug dealing. Actually, it’s a 90-minute documentary about the real and ongoing movement to privatize public education and its effects on traditional public schools and the students they enroll. With actor and activist Matt Damon narrating, “Backpack” tells a scary but important story about corporate school reform policies that critics say are aimed at destroying the U.S. public education system, the country’s most important civic institution. While many Americans have heard of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, often by for-profit companies, and school “vouchers,” which use public money to pay tuition for private schools, they may not understand their central place in the broader corporate reform movement. That movement, which also includes policies such as standardized test-based “accountability” systems, thrived under the administrations of presidents George W. Bush, a Republican, and then Barack Obama, a Democrat. But there are both Republicans and Democrats who oppose corporate reform as well. Answer Sheet newsletter Education questions and answers, in your inbox weekly.
Sign up“Backpack” — done by Stone Lantern Films, and Turnstone Productions — attempts to explain the entire movement through the prism of the 2013-2014 school year. The best way to understand what is happening is by looking at how corporate reform affects schools, teachers and children, and that’s what the film attempts to do. Here’s a description of the film, from its Kickstarter website: BACKPACK takes viewers to Philadelphia, where in 2013-14, the charismatic principal of South Philadelphia High worries about the upcoming school year — his school has no music teacher, no librarian, and just two counselors for over 1,000 students. Across town, the C.O.O. of a brand new charter school welcomes students to gleaming, high tech classrooms. In North Philly, a 10th-grader performs a virtual frog dissection on her computer, in her bedroom. Her cyber charter school is run by the biggest for-profit online education company in the world. In Nashville, TN, a teacher is giving standardized tests to her eight-year-old students. This is their 30th Test Day of the year. Testing companies reap huge dividends. And in Louisiana, a Bible school headmaster teaches creationism to students who pay tuition with tax-funded vouchers. [Why the movement to privatize public education is a very bad idea] The description also notes that the term “backpack full of cash” refers to the belief by corporate reformers that every child should be allowed to take their share of public education dollars — their “backpack full of cash” — to any school they want, charter, religious, online or public. (The problems with such a system are many: Public money shouldn’t be used for religious purposes; traditional school systems, which educate the vast majority of students, need dependable budgets to properly operate; and the public has little or no oversight over private, religious and charter schools.) The title could equally refer to the billions of dollars that private philanthropists have spent in recent years to privatize the public education system through pet projects that have no research to back up their effectiveness. “Backpack” was directed and co-produced by Sarah Mondale, president and co-director of Stone Lantern who is also a public school teacher in New York. She directed and co-produced the 2001 four-part series titled “School” — and she was nominated for an Emmy for her direction of “Asylum: A History of the Mental Institutions in America.” The film makers are seeking funding via a Kickstarter campaign to complete final work on the film and distribute and promote it. The film makers got Damon, who has been vocal about the importance of public education for years, to narrate it. In an email, Damon explained why he agreed: “I got involved in the making of ‘Backpack Full of Cash’ because it tells the important story of how current education reform policies are increasing inequality and causing harm to our most vulnerable children. The expansion of charter schools is draining funds from our public schools and benefiting some children while leaving others behind with fewer resources. We need a public school system that gives every child an equal chance to a great education. I had that chance in the public schools I attended and I want to see it given — fairly and on an even playing field — to every child in our nation. “Backpack Full of Cash” helps us realize that true education equity will come when we address the deeper issues underlying education inequality such as child poverty, racial segregation, and the unequal funding of our schools.” Supporters of the privatization of public education say that outsourcing school management and running public schools like businesses is more efficient than allowing government to do the job. Critics say civic institutions can’t be properly run like businesses in part because children aren’t widgets. According to Samuel E. Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, whose recent book, “Education and the Commercial Mindset,” details how and why market forces have become important in corporate school reform: … where there is insufficient transparency for proper contract enforcement, the free market fails. Laissez-faire enthusiasts neglected to differentiate discrete (that is, easily measurable) from complex services. In the case of schooling, which is a classic complex service, the direct consumer is a child, who is in little position to judge whether classes are being properly taught. The parent, taxpayer and legislator are at a necessary distance. And standardized testing as a check on quality is rife with problems. It isn’t merely that teachers and principals under tremendous pressure to raise test scores can correct wrong answers on bubble sheets, as documented in Atlanta most notably, but they can also give students more time to complete tests and lend help in the process. More fundamentally, heavy reliance on standardized testing leads to teaching to the test, which means crowding out instruction in subjects that aren’t tested, particularly art, music, crafts and play, which are fundamental to a well-rounded education. Damon’s involvement is the latest in a string of education-related activities. In March 2011, he said during a television interview that President Obama’s standardized test-based school reform policies had disappointed him. Two months later, Obama took a shot at Damon in a comic address to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, saying: “I’ve even let down my key core constituency: movie stars. Just the other day, Matt Damon — I love Matt Damon, love the guy — Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ so . . . right back atcha, buddy.” Then in July of the same year, Damon came to Washington and delivered a speech at the Save Our Schools rally where teachers, parents and others protested the Obama administration’s standardized test-based school reform policies. Damon came at the request of his mother, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a well-known child development expert and professor emeritus at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., who was involved with the rally. The administration at the time was concerned enough about his speech to attempt to arrange a meeting, with then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan offering to meet Damon at the airport and talk to him on the drive into the city, according to sources at the time. Damon refused. In 2014, Damon had an online conversation with fans on Reddit and among the subjects he discussed was his opposition to standardized test-based school reform and the exclusion of teachers from the shaping of education policy. And now, he has narrated “Backpack Full of Cash.” [Matt Damon’s clear-headed speech to teachers rally]