The East Williston Teachers’ Association is joining with the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools on January 19th for a National Day of Action - #EWTA4PublicEd #ReclaimOurSchools.
Our purpose is to share our concerns about the nominee for US Secretary of Education, Ms. Betsy DeVos. Ms. DeVos is a billionaire activist from Michigan. She has a degree in Business Administration and Political Science. Ms. DeVos has no educational experience. She has not ever attended public schools herself nor have any of her four children. Never having worked in a school - public or private, we believe, should disqualify her from serving in this role.
It seems obvious to us that the US Secretary of Education should hold some minimal credentials: a degree in teaching, have served as an educator and have a connection to a public school system – where 85% of the children in this nation are educated.
We are concerned that Ms. DeVos will support policies intended to privatize, defund and destabilize public education in America. We are troubled at the prospect of what that would mean for us here in East Williston.
We, the teachers in East Williston, stand united in support of our schools. We believe in public education and the right EVERY child has to a free and appropriate education. We are concerned how national policies may adversely affect our public schools and the quality education our students receive in East Williston.
We are against the nomination of Betsy DeVos for US Secretary of Education. We encourage you to do as we have done, contact your US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten GIllibrand and tell them to Vote NO! Betsy DeVos should not be confirmed Secretary of Education.
I imagine you are aware that President-elect Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education. This nomination makes it clear that education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destabilizing public education in America. Ms. DeVos has no educational experience. She does not have a degree in education. She has never worked in a school - public or private which in my opinion, should disqualify her from serving in this role.
I have called and written our Senators asking them to deny her confirmation. I encourage you to do the same. The Network for Public Education has put together an easy way for you to make your opinion known. Click this link to send a clear message to the Senate that Betsy DeVos should not be confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education.
This year EWTA piloted a virtual phone bank to GOTV for Adam Haber (running for State Senate SD7). I hosted the phone bank in my home. 21 teachers made approximately 750 calls in 3 hours! The new technology is easy to use and NYSUT checked in with stats of our progress which was very motivating to people making the calls.
IT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS and IT WAS GREAT FUN! Anytime you can combine politics and fun you’ve hit a home run. Looking forward to more success!
I hope you all had a summer where you were able to enjoy time with friends and family, adjust to the slower pace and recharge for what I hope will be a wonderful school year.
This summer Franny and I vacationed in Montreal – and how fortunate we were to be there during the thick of the heat wave! I travelled with Lainey to my favorite place in the world, Cape Cod! It was a thrill for me as I took her to all the best spots – from the fresh water ponds to the tidal flats of First Encounter Beach to the boisterous art-filled colorful Provincetown and the amazing Sleepy town of Eastham where you will be able to send my retirement check when the time comes!
In thinking about todays’ remarks I reflected on my summer. To my surprise, I watched a lot of TV – a habit I don’t usually subscribe to. I watched in earnest the two political conventions – one because I wanted to and the other because I was baited by my daughter to know the other side’s policies better to embolden my arguments….. Thank you teachers for teaching my daughter so well! I do think it best however to refrain from discussing my true thoughts about the current political discourse of our country.
I also watched in awe, along with the rest of the world, as the Olympics streamed into my living room. I watched Jamaica’s Usain Bolt defend and maintain his title as the fastest man in the world. I watched the poise and the strength of Simone Biles as she captivated us with her gravity- defying feats. I watched Brazil’s men’s soccer team become home town heroes. I watched the US women’s 4x100 relay team run alone on a track to qualify for and ultimately win the gold medal race. I watched the triumphant and tragic outcomes in soccer, basketball, swimming, diving and volleyball (just to name a few).
The world witnessed how commitment, hard work and sacrifice can bring success and pride not only to one’s self but to one’s nation and at the same time, we saw others who, equally as committed, hardworking and sacrificing fell short of their goals. I found so many parallels to the work we do each day. Because if you think about it, Olympians like teachers can be quite inspirational. Olympians like teachers are leaders - undeniable role models. When thinking about what makes an Olympian several characteristics came to mind.
Olympians like the best teachers I know are passionate. They love what they do and they share what they love. The most engaged students are those who are learning from dynamic and passionate educators.
Olympians like the best teachers I know are resilient. They allow setbacks to fuel their desire to grow and improve. As teachers we are always learning. This work of education is ever-evolving constantly changing, fluid and dynamic.
There is not an Olympian out there without a team. As the cliché goes, there is no “I” in team. We all know that our students thrive when we work together and support one another.
Olympians Never Quit. Neither do we! The tenacious teacher will always find a way to meet the needs of his or her students.
Olympians like every teacher I know are fearless and focused. The goal is clear – creating opportunities for our students to achieve their personal best.
So when the kids arrive tomorrow – Go for the gold. Be passionate! Be resilient! Work together! Support each other! Be tenacious! Be fearless and focused! And just for good measure, be brave! The kids are counting on us.
For the past 29 years, the East Williston Teachers’ Association has awarded a scholarship to a graduating senior who plans to study education and to become a teacher. The David K. Israel Scholarship is a $10,000 scholarship, named after a 40 year veteran English teacher who served as the East Williston Teachers’ Association President for more than a quarter century.
This year’s recipient is Ms. Sarah Graffigna.
One of her teachers describes her as someone who is committed to scholarship; that her intellectual capacity and social affability make her an exceptionally well rounded student. She is an attentive listener, active class participant and efficient speaker. She is comfortable taking on challenges and works diligently towards success. Sarah is described by another faculty member as a joy to be around. She is approachable, understanding and giving. She is bright, and she is willing to share her unique insights. She brings fun to the work of teaching and learning.
Sarah has served our community in a number of leadership capacities and has an outstanding record of volunteer work for a number of excellent causes, most notably her commitment to the students in the EWSD’s Life Skills program. When describing her work in the special needs community, Sarah shared how the students are her inspiration. It is through them that she has found the courage to branch out, to get out of her comfort zone and to take risks. She has learned, through her volunteer efforts, the value of perseverance, patience, flexibility and hard work. All great lessons to have learned before becoming a teacher.
One of the Scholarship Foundation Trustees noted, “Sarah has laid a tremendously strong foundation which will support her, not only in her studies to become a teacher, but as experience which will serve her greatly as she ultimately enters the profession.
The University of Maryland is truly fortunate to welcome her this fall. Congratulations Sarah!
Tax deductible contributions can be made to the David K. Israel Scholarship Foundation c/o The Wheatley School, 11 Bacon Road, Old Westbury, NY, 11568
EWTA is joining NYSAPE in SUPPORTING REGENT BETTY ROSA FOR CHANCELLOR & REGENT BEVERLY OUDERKIRK FOR VICE CHANCELLOR
Regent Betty Rosa has extensive experience as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and college professor with a strong background in special education and ELL education.
Regent Beverly Ouderkirk has an extensive background as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and has held several special education leadership positions. Both have traveled the state to talk to stakeholders to collaborate and gather important feedback on education policy.
Additionally, the EWTA joins NYSAPE in calling on the Board of Regents to postpone the elections for the offices of Chancellor and Vice Chancellor until April, when the two open seats are filled with new Regents. The current plan calls for a vote in March (as per the Board’s bylaws), but we believe that it makes very little sense for two outgoing Regents to vote for the next leaders of the Board they will no longer be serving on.
Education has certainly taken front and center today! In addition to ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), the NYS Common Core Task Force has published its report. The commission makes several recommendations, many of which are promising but not guaranteed. While we can be cautiously optimistic, we must not rest until the job is complete. We must continue to advocate for our profession, our students and our schools. Our activism is as important as ever!
Tuesday, November 3rd is Election Day. It is an “off season” election which historically has a very low voter turnout. This off-season election is CRITICAL! Though we have no endorsed candidates in any of the races, WE NEED EVERY MEMBER TO VOTE! Please don't sit this one out. IT MATTERS!
NYSUT’s power comes from its membership - each one of us! With more than 600,000 members, our strongest weapon is our vote. Each of us MUST VOTE. Elected officials must see that in an off election year, when only 30% of the general population votes, NYSUT members come out in huge numbers. WE NEED EVERY MEMBER TO VOTE! Please don't sit this one out. IT MATTERS!
Our attendance at the polls will be noticed at the state level. They will understand, by our actions, that if they do not support our issues that their job is at risk in 2016!!!! WE NEED EVERY MEMBER TO VOTE! Please don't sit this one out. IT MATTERS!
Be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 3.
1. John King’s Appointment as Acting U.S. Secretary of Education
John King, the former Commissioner of Education in NY lead the way to the devastating and destructive education policies we are fighting against each day in our schools. Now, he is going to be the Acting US Secretary of Education, replacing the equally as awful (sorry, it’s difficult for me to keep my feelings in check) Arne Duncan.
Please call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 — as well as a special White House telephone line dedicated to public comments at 202-456-1111— to express your displeasure in John King’s appointment.
This is what I said, “. I am outraged by the appointment of John King to Education Secretary. John King has devastated the public schools in NY with his failed policies, his irresponsible implementation of the common core and his disastrous utilization of standardized testing. He does not have the experience to run the Department of Education. He has little to no public education experience. He is a divisive leader and should NOT be the Education Secretary.
2. Common Core and Testing
Below are three links where you can comment on the Common Core to help guide the changes that we hope will be appropriate and in our best interest and the interest of our schools and our students. You do not need to provide feedback at each site but please take the time to have your voice heard. Please be aware that any information you provide is in the public domain and could be published.
This link takes you to the SED common core “aim High” link where you can comment on the appropriateness of each standard.
This link takes you to SED where you can provide input to the common Core Task Force.
Finally, this link is where you can share you stories, your personal experiences with the implementation of the Common Core in your classrooms or at home with your children.
Welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful summer and that you had time to rest, relax, recharge and prepare for the coming school year.
For me, this was an amazing summer! I took my first European vacation where Fanny and I travelled to Paris and Rome. We walked those two cities from morning to night, taking in as much as we could. It was thrilling and exhausting; full of beautiful sites, amazing art, wonderful food and incredible history. This was an on the move vacation- quite different from our usual beach vacation. After we returned, I found myself longing for the beach. I needed to simply kick back and relax. So we headed to the beach, and I had this great idea that I should join my daughter at surf camp! Yes, me and about 15, 7-14 year olds- learning how to surf. The instructors called me “Mamma”. “Paddle Mamma”, they would yell! Oh my god, what was I thinking? The only thing I can tell you is that it was amazing! Surfing is PURE JOY! It IS the moment. I found an off switch for the endless barrage of thoughts constantly filling my head. It is thrilling. It is exhilarating. It is exhausting. I must confess, surfing beat me up a bit (well maybe a lot). But I have found the gift I was looking for! And the best part is that I now have something amazing to share with my 14 year old daughter. Truly a gift of summer!
As I was preparing my remarks I was thinking about the state of education. I don’t think there was a day this summer that education was not in the news. In fact more often than not, front page news. There is so much to talk about: New York’s new Commissioner, APPR, Opting out, Tenure, Freidrichs and the Supreme Court, Dyett in Chicago, Campbell Brown, Charter Schools, Receivership, School Rankings, teacher burn out, and the education experiment of New Orleans- ten years after Katrina. So much…. How do I keep this positive?
So I found myself tooling around on the internet looking for an inspirational video to share. I came across the music video for Sara Bareilles’ hit song Brave. I was familiar with the song but hadn’t really thought much about the lyrics. Until now. Check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4
We are on the front lines. We are the last men and women standing, protecting our students from, what I would describe as the harmful educational policies coming down from the federal government and New York State. And soon, when each of us is reduced to a number, know that the APPR ratings are worthless. They are based on meaningless and invalid assessments that offer no valuable information about the students we serve and even less information about the instruction we deliver. OUR students need US to be brave. They need us to teach. They need us to engage. They need us to support. They need us to innovate. To create. To listen. To think. They need us to mentor. To care. To inspire. They need us to be passionate. To ask questions. To take risks. And they need us to provide the best education possible. They don’t need us to chase test scores. Be brave for each of your students. Show them how big your brave is!
Wishing you a school year full of great success!
Meryl Fordin, writes to keep you informed of the happenings in the EWTA as well as in public education; the mundane to the insane.