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    • Partnership is a lifeline for teachers from Puerto Rico

      Though he’s an accomplished educator with eight years of experience in Puerto Rico, Emil Rivera was a little nervous when he came to Buffalo to be a high school bilingual special education teacher.

      “I had my doubts,” said Rivera. “I was prepared to be all on my own.”

      Instead, just five days after arriving from Puerto Rico in late August, Rivera was pleasantly surprised — and immensely grateful — for the immediate support from Gliset Colón from the Buffalo State College bilingual education program and Judith Harris, a faculty member and director of the Tonawanda-Grand Island Teacher Center. It was exactly the kind of welcome wagon he needed.

      “I feel like a little boy starting school,” said Rivera, as he picked up an Acer tablet and teacher education textbook provided through a regional teacher center grant. He also listened intently as teachers from last year’s program described how the emotional, instructional and technical supports they received were nothing short of “lifelines” for their success.

      Rivera is one of 20 teachers from Puerto Rico who were recruited by Buffalo City Schools to fill much-needed bilingual educator positions. While Buffalo has historically had a large Spanish-speaking population, the numbers have grown dramatically since last year’s Hurricane Maria. In 2017–18, more than 500 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in Buffalo schools, with many more arriving over the summer. Statewide, as of the end of last school year, more than 2,500 students from Puerto Rico relocated to New York schools. As a result, districts around the state are struggling with a severe shortage of bilingual educators.

      While the New York Board of Regents approved one-year emergency certification for teachers from Puerto Rico and the state had allowed in-state tuition for SUNY and CUNY students from Puerto Rico, these newcomers face a number of challenges to becoming permanently certified teachers.

      “It’s a very complicated process, with varying individual circumstances,” said Colón, who coordinates the college’s bilingual graduate certification program.

      Educators with less than three years of teaching in Puerto Rico public schools (or those from higher education or private schools) must pass all of New York’s certification exams, including the edTPA portfolio assessment — all while settling into a new home and teaching full time. Educators with more experience are exempted from those requirements but need to complete a bilingual extension certificate and, in many cases, earn a master’s degree.

      “While many of these teachers are highly qualified educators, they are English language learners themselves and the challenges are great,” said Harris, who worked with Colón to provide a crash course on edTPA requirements for the newcomers. “They have to work even harder.”

      Stefany Arce, who is starting her second year as a bilingual kindergarten teacher, said the tablet the program provides is like a lifeline. She uses it to translate her college textbook readings, discussions at faculty meetings and for classroom learning center activities.

      Then there are the emotional supports.

      “The traumainformed care we provide to our students is to some extent what we need to provide for these teachers,” Harris said. “Just like the students, these teachers are displaced, too.”

      Colón, whose own family emigrated from Puerto Rico, said many of these teachers faced difficult decisions to leave their homeland and they are separated from their family. That’s why she tries to create a family-like support system and connect the newcomers with essential community-based groups.

      Colón and Harris, who are both members of United University Professions at Buffalo State, said the retention rate for the program has so far been promising, with all eight of last year’s cohort returning to teach in Buffalo and taking courses at the college this fall. Under School of Education Dean Wendy Paterson, Buffalo State works closely with area teacher centers, building bridges between higher ed and P-12 educators.

      “The support system is working, but continued funding is uncertain,” Colón said, noting tuition assistance and state Teachers for Tomorrow grants are in question. While the $2,200 teacher center grant provided books and tablets for this group, the state cut teacher center funding for this school year.

      “These teachers need our help,” Harris said. “If we don’t support these teachers, we will never be able to meet the needs of these children who are growing in numbers daily.”

    • Back to School Immigration Update

      Dear Immigration Advocates,

      As we begin a new school year, despite the excitement of new students and possibilities, a cloud of uncertainty remains around our students who are immigrants or from immigrant families. Additionally, a bullying atmosphere remains in many communities. Because we want our members and their students and families to feel as welcome as possible, we invite you to dive into these Colorín Colorado resources that can help you and your colleagues get to know your ELL and immigrant students better and start working together to meet their needs. Some of our most popular back-to-school resources are included below.

      We also have lots of resources for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-October 15) on Colorín Colorado. Here are some great ideas for the classroom and lots of booklists! Take a look at these classroom resources and activities. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and for the latest information and resources on ELLs and immigrant students, check out our weekly ELL headlines as well.

      For more information on countering hate in our schools and institutions, please join us Monday, Sept. 24, for an important Share My Lesson webinar discussion, After Charlottesville: How Uncomfortable Conversations Can Overcome Hate. Facing History and Ourselves and the American Federation of Teachers are co-hosting a conversation with author Eli Saslow on how college students helped change the heart and mind of the heir apparent to America's white nationalist movement. Note: This session is available for education credit, per your school's or district's approval. Follow Facing History and Ourselves on SML. To register please go to the link below:

      Sept. 24 Webinar: Overcoming Hate

      Share on Twitter and on Facebook.

      We still need your help in an amicus brief the AFT is planning to file on behalf of AFT members and the families we serve in support of a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's shameful and inhumane family separation and family detention policies. The lawsuit, State of Washington, et al. v. USA, was filed on June 26 by 17 State Attorneys General, and the Attorney General of DC.

      Our amicus brief will tell the stories of our members in the K-12, PSRP, healthcare, and public employee divisions who through their work understand the importance of keeping families together and keeping parents and children in non-detained settings.  We are looking for members who can talk about the negative long-term physical and mental health consequences of such separation and detention, based on their own training and experience. We realize this crisis is recent and many of these kids have not been placed in a regular school setting yet, but we want to relate your experiences with other children separated from parents or in custodial settings.

      If not you, do you know of any members in your local who have can speak to the experience of family separation? The members' stories would not be in the form of a lengthy declaration, but instead be a relatively short description.

      Finally, please consider writing a blog post about back-to-school amidst the pervasive unsafe atmosphere for our students who are immigrants and how you, your colleagues, your members are addressing the challenges and embracing the opportunities that come to a community when immigrants arrive.

      If you can get back to Giselle Lundy-Ponce as soon as possible with your blog post and/or names and contact information of members that can contribute to our amicus brief work, that would be wonderful. Giselle is cc'd on this email and her email is glundypo@aft.org

      Thank you again for all your support!


      Mary Cathryn Ricker, NBCT
      Executive Vice President, AFT

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need







    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing anti-public education agenda that attacks teachers and hurts students.

    Rather than provide what all kids need, the governor is pushing a Billionaires' Agenda that would decimate the state's public schools. His "my-way-or-the-highway" budget would:

    • hold school aid increases hostage;
    • woefully underfund the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
    • more than double the weight of standardized tests;
    • make permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on school communities;
    • eliminate funding for teacher training;
    • launch a back-door voucher plan that would siphon funding away from schools most in need;
    • underfund public higher education by tying funding to campus "performance" rather than enrollment;
    • smooth the way for the privatization of SUNY's five hospitals;
    • destroy prep programs for future teachers;
    • and fail to fully address the student debt crisis.

    Simply put, Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget - which serves the interests of his billionaire backers - is an attack on public education that fails to address what all students need.

    Things you can do right now to fight back.

    Every NYSUT member is needed to defend public education and the teaching profession from Gov. Cuomo's Billionaires' Agenda.

    Tell the governor to stop scapegoating... stop teacher bashing and focus on what #AllKidsNeed.

    Here's your to-do list.

    Take action on this week's campaigns.

    The latest actions will always be right here in the No. 1 spot.

    Call your state senator. Now.

    • Stop what you're doing and call your state senator with this message: stand up to the Governor's "Bigfoot" tactics and defend our outstanding New York public schools!
    • You can look up the number at the NYSUT Member Action Center.

    Sign up for MAC text alerts!

    Take 10 seconds and sign up for MAC text alerts on your phone!

    Here's how: Text the word "NYSUT" to the contact number 38470.

    Sign the petitions.

    Call out the governor.

    • Invite the governor to visit your class to learn what #AllKidsNeed. Tweet out an invite directly at him and be sure to include his Twitter handle @NYGovCuomo and the hashtag #InviteCuomo if you want your tweet to be seen and heard.
    • Not on Twitter? See step 8.

    Get connected to the MAC.

    • BY TEXT. Get real-time text messages about urgent news and actions by texting the word NYSUT to the number 38470.
    • BY EMAIL. Subscribe to the NYSUT Member Action Center email alerts for updates on this campaign. If you're registered via email as a NYSUT MAC e-activist you'll also be the first to know about upcoming rallies, protests and more.
    • BY APP. Download the NYSUT MAC App for your iPhone or for your Android phone. Be sure notifications are enabled to receive alerts on new action items.

    Get connected on Facebook.

    Get connected on Twitter.

    • Join Twitter and follow @NYSUT to be part of the social media army.
    • Once a day (or as often as possible) tweet your thoughts on what #AllKidsNeed - more science labs, music and art classes, school libraries, smaller class sizes and more. We're reminding the governor to focus on what matters! Follow the conversation in real-time for some great examples from parents and educators.

    Share the poster.

    Wear the button.

    Take part in community forums.

    • Keep an eye on nysut.org/allkidsneed for information on upcoming NYSUT-sponsored Community Forums to Save Public Education in every region of the state.

    Talk it up.

    • Get the conversation going - online and offline. Read "Where We Stand" and use it to craft social media messages, send letters to the editor, and brief friends and colleagues.
    • Circulate and share print materials and videos.

    Support "Take Action Tuesday."

    • Mark your calendar to support NYSUT's "Take Action Tuesday" every week. Be on the lookout for updates.

    Learn more at www.nysut.org/allkidsneed.


    Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 March 2015 16:10)


    Member Alert Program




    There are so many member benefits, that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
    The NYSUT Member Benefits MAP (Member Alert Program) email blast service keeps you informed through a brief email message every three weeks.
    You can join MAP on the NYSUT website, at http://www.nysut.org/49.htm

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:58)


    Nysut Action Center Mobile App




    NYSUT action center now has an app for smartphones that makes it very easy to take action. It is available in the app store for free.

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:38)

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