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    • NYSUT calls on Regents to personally review Pearson tests

      ALBANY, N.Y. April 24, 2015 - New York State United Teachers today called on members of the Board of Regents to personally review Pearson-developed standardized tests in English language arts and math so they can better address widespread concerns about the appropriateness of certain questions, the length of state tests and their difficulty.

      NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the union is reacting to published reports that this year's ELA tests contained reading passages that were, in some cases, several grades above students' actual grade level and which contained obscure vocabulary words and phrases. Concerns have also been raised about the difficulty of certain math questions. Because teachers are inappropriately - and unlawfully - gagged from discussing the state tests, Magee said it is imperative that the Regents immediately undertake a public review of all the grades 3-8 ELA and math tests, in part to understand the growing anger and frustration among parents and educators."

      "The Regents are responsible for this system. They set education policy. They should know what's on these tests. If they read the tests - especially those which have been singled out as egregious examples of Pearson run amok - we believe the Regents will gain a better understanding of why so many parents are frustrated and why NYSUT continues to question their validity," Magee said.

      NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino added, "The State Education Department and Pearson should not be the only ones to have seen these tests in their entirety. The Regents should review the complete ELA and math tests to better understand parent and educator frustration before making a decision on a new five-year testing contract that will dramatically affect the lives of students."

      Fortino said leaked questions, anonymous blogs and published news reports hint at why frustration has been mounting and nearly 200,000 parents opted their children out of the state ELA tests this month. According to reports, the ELA tests, developed under a $32 million contract with Pearson, contained a number of controversial questions, such as:

      • The third-grade ELA test reportedly contained a passage from "Drag Racer," which had a grade-level difficulty of 5.9 and an interest level of 9-12th grade, as well as an allusion to the Aurora Borealis. In addition, teachers anonymously reported one question appeared exactly the same on both the third-grade test and the fifth-grade test.
      • Fourth-graders, who are generally 10 years old, were reportedly required to write about the architectural designs of roller coasters and why cables are used instead of chains.
      • News reports said sixth-graders were asked to read a Jack London story, "That Spot," which included difficult words and obscure phrases such as "beaten curs," "absconders of justice," "savve our cabin," and "let's maroon him."
      • A sixth-grade reading passage references Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde, and includes this paragraph: As a result, the location of the cloud is an important aspect, as it is the setting for his creation and part of the artwork. In his favorite piece, Nimbus D'Aspremont, the architecture of the D'Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Rekem, Belgium, plays a significant role in the feel of the picture. "The contrast between the original castle and its former use as a military hospital and mental institution is still visible," he writes. "You could say the spaces function as a plinth for the work.

      New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

    • NYSUT, UUP mourn loss of Warren Weinstein

      NYSUT President Karen E. Magee recently expressed "heartfelt condolences to the family of UUP member Warren Weinstein," adding, "Brother Kowal is right: Dr. Weinstein is a hero."

      A full statement from United University Professions follows.

      UUP mourns loss of former member Warren Weinstein

      April 23, 2015

      United University Professions sends its condolences to the family of former UUP member Warren Weinstein, an American human rights activist held hostage by al Qaeda who was accidentally killed in a U.S. counterterrorism drone strike.

      "Dr. Weinstein is a hero," said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D. "As a human rights activist, he spent his life helping others. My heart goes out to the Weinstein family, which has worked tirelessly to free him from the grips of terrorism. His death is tragic."

      The White House announced Weinstein’s death April 23. Weinstein and an Italian hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto, were killed in the January attack, which also killed an American who was an al Qaeda leader.

      Weinstein, 73, is a former UUP member at the State University of New York at Oswego. He was kidnapped by al Qaeda terrorists Aug. 13, 2011, in Lahore, Pakistan, while working with the United States Agency for International Development.

      In an August 2014 press release, UUP called for the U.S. State Department to secure Weinstein’s release. Kowal urged UUP’s 35,000 members to contact their Congressional representatives to ask them to support U.S. House and Senate resolutions calling for Weinstein’s safe return.

      Kowal also wrote letters to NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association urging them to pressure the State Department to take action to free Weinstein immediately.

      President Barack Obama, in a morning press conference April 23, said the CIA was unaware of Weinstein’s location—he was being kept at an al Qaeda compound—when the drone strike was ordered.

      "For decades, Warren lived the ideals of our country," said Obama. "He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who willingly left the comforts of home to help the people of Pakistan."

      Weinstein was working as an economic development expert for J.E. & Austin Associates, a contractor to USAID, when he was abducted. Weinstein served in the Peace Corps before working with USAID. He has not been heard from since 2012, when he was seen in a video released by al Qaeda.

      He is survived by his wife, two daughters and numerous grandchildren.

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need

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    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

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    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

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    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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