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!
For the past 28 years, the East Williston Teachers’ Association has awarded scholarships to graduating seniors whose plans are to study education and to become a teacher.
The teachers in East Williston are proud to support our students as they begin their academic pursuits that will ultimately culminate in what we know will be a rewarding career as an educator. We cannot think of a more fitting way for a group of teachers to honor our profession and give back to the community. “
The David K. Israel Scholarship, is a $12,000 scholarship, named after a 40 year veteran English teacher who served as the East Williston Teachers’ Association President for more than a quarter century and was a founding trustee for the EWTA Scholarship Foundation.
This year’s David K. Israel Scholarship recipient is Ms. Rachel Tomei.
One of her teachers describes her as someone who loves learning. She is extremely diligent, contentious and efficient. She is a good planner, and manages her time wisely. She is kind, easy to get along with, and is a team player. Another teacher describes her as dedicated, unbelievably reliable, and organized student. She is described as an open and accepting person who has the ability to build strong relationships.
Rachel has already had success working with struggling students. She is a highly sought out peer tutor. Additionally, she has been volunteering to work with special needs children assisting them in improving their skills.
When describing her work with a special needs student, Rachel reflects on her ability to help a frustrated young man develop skills, build confidence and find success. She spoke of the privilege she feels to work with children and the desire to “connect” with kids to foster their learning.
Rachel will be attending Binghamton University.
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
I have connected with some amazing education leaders through their blogs. They work tirelessly to expose the truth about the systematic dismantling of our public schools through "education reform". I have complied a list of my favorite bloggers. Happy reading!
Bruce Baker, School Finance 101 – http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/
Carol Burris – http://roundtheinkwell.com
Daniel Katz - http://danielskatz.net/
Mark Naison - http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com/
Diane Ravitch – http://dianeravitch.net/
Morty Rosenfeld - http://pobct.org/ATM/
Mercedes Schneider – http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/
Valarie Strauss, The Answer Sheet - http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/
It is a sad fact that our Governor has chosen to go to war with those of us who have committed our life's work to educating children. We, the teachers of the East Williston Teachers' Association, feel strongly that the policies and initiatives this Governor supports are NOT in the best interest of the children or the community we serve.
The members of the East Williston Teachers' Association are wearing red, every Tuesday, to demonstrate our opposition to the corporate “reform” movement that is systematically attempting to destroy public education. We do not accept the rhetoric that public education in this country is broken or that American teachers and students are incapable of competing with their international peers. Under the guise of “reforming” education, corporations, in conjunction with politicians from both parties, have been working to pass legislation that imposes economically crippling unfunded mandates on public school districts. These corporations are making tens of millions of dollars on the backs of our children and colleagues, and we will no longer silently tolerate this behavior.
Different Paths to Privatization
Privatization takes many forms… High stakes testing, Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluation systems based on test scores, merit pay, the proliferation of charter schools, co-located schools, closing public schools because they were “failing”, staffing schools with Teach for America “teachers”, the property tax cap, unfunded state mandates, the stripping of collective bargaining rights. Each of these “reforms” makes corporate “reformers”, like Bill Gates, Walmart, and Pearson, huge sums of money which they then use to make contributions to politicians, like Governor Cuomo who will pass legislation allowing the cycle to continue. NONE of these “reforms” has ever been linked with increased student learning.
The EWTA’s Vision for a Robust Public Education System
The East Williston Teachers' Association imagines a public education system that truly serves the needs of a democratic society. It should be a system that endeavors to develop individuals who will be capable of assuming all the responsibilities of citizenship, by preparing students to be successful after graduation in either a career of their choice and/or further university study.
We believe that the government is constitutionally obligated to fund public education. Its obligation is to provide the funding so that every student may achieve their fullest potential. We know that state and federal governmental unfunded and underfunded mandates significantly reduce a school district’s ability to provide these opportunities to students by severely limiting a school board’s local control of these allocated governmental funds. Because, school board trustees are locally elected officials that represent the taxpayers in each community, we believe that those boards should be able to make the determination for how those taxpayer monies are spent.
Public schools must be able to offer rich, vibrant and diverse curricula that includes but is not limited to the following; art, music, foreign language, science, history, literature, civics, geography, mathematics, and physical education and class size must be kept small enough for students to be afforded individual and small group instruction. In addition, schools should offer a varied array of extracurricular activities that allow students to further explore their diversified interests and enables them to develop the skills necessary to work with others. All school buildings should have libraries that are staffed with certified library media specialists and resources that support student learning. Additionally, each school should be staffed with nurses, guidance counselors, school psychologists, and social workers, and additional professionals that can facilitate the medical and social needs of the students.
The EWTA believes that when parents, students, and teachers work together to demand that elected officials maintain, at a minimum, the above items in every public school the needs of each student, community, and society as a whole will be positively impacted.
Adapted from http://thepjsta.org/red4ed/
Meryl Fordin, writes to keep you informed of the happenings in the EWTA as well as in public education; the mundane to the insane.