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    • North Colonie student is getting on board with books

      When student Caroline Kremer came to North Colonie residential construction teacher Eric Phillips with an idea to build bookshelves for the homes of students living in poverty, Phillips readily got on board.

      Specifically, he got pine boards.

      Using a photo that Kremer had provided for the design, Phillips had his technology students build 40 bookshelves using raw pine that students sanded.

      "We find that if students do community service projects in high school, there's a greater likelihood they'll do that as adults," said Phillips, a member of the North Colonie Teachers Association in Albany County.

      In the past, he has had students build wooden trains for Toys for Tots, and equipment storage garages at two of the district's schools.

      The shelves were delivered to the homes of students from six different elementary schools confidentially after elementary school principals chose the boys and girls from the free-and-reduced-lunch list

      Kremer's project goes beyond the shelves. She is also all about what's on them: books, books and more books. So far, she said she has collected or purchased 8,000 books and distributed 3,000 of them to more than 100 families. Each of the students needing books has been given 10 books. For many of the youngsters receiving books, they can be stacked on their new shelves.

      "If people have trouble buying food and clothing, then books are a luxury and they really shouldn't have to be," she said.

      Kremer has spent a week each of the last two summers taking part in the Capital Region Institute for Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium, led by North Colonie TA members Thea MacFawn and Kelly Wetherbee. Inspired by speakers, panel discussions, books and videos at the 2015 symposium, she started her own project, The Book Shelf. The idea was born after her immersion in social justice causes.

      "I've always been really interested in human rights and I want to learn more to help others," she said.

      A calm, composed student entering the 11th grade, Kremer explained: "As of last year, 10 percent of students in the district were at poverty level. That's more than 500 kids."

      Working with teachers and administrators, she set up a table last year on the first day back at school for faculty and staff. She handed them fliers, explained what her program was all about and announced she was accepting donations and/or books.

      "I asked everyone I knew for books, and asked them to tell everyone," she said. At first, she stored books at her house. But then, well, they took over. She turned to school.

      "Man, did books explode!" said Phillips, who is also a supervisor for career and technical programs, as well as two summer school programs. "They were in conference rooms and storage rooms."

      "It was a little overwhelming at first," admitted Kremer, who is working on improving her storage and distribution system for this year.

      Donations of money were generous as well. Kremer collected $2,300. With the money, she brokered a deal with Scholastic to buy new books so that each student would receive both new and used books. She said she bargained a deal with Scholastic: If she spent her money there, they would give her back 50 percent of the cost to spend again. So she still has money left to buy more books this year.

      When children own their own books, they are more likely to read, she said. Reading is so important for their development and verbal skills.

      Her favorite book as a youngster? Corduroy, written and illustrated by Don Freeman.

      For help with her project, Kremer turned to North Colonie social studies teacher Daniel Weaver and Kathy Skeals, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Weaver coordinated those donations and deposited them into his Amnesty International sub-account, designated for The Book Shelf.

      "I also encouraged my students in my classes to donate books and help Caroline organize the books by reading level and genre. The project was amazing and Caroline did a great job," said Weaver, who was also her Advanced Placement world history teacher.

      Photo Gallery: Capital Region Institute for Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium

      Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium 2016

      "In my classes I do teach about human rights," said Weaver, who takes students to the United Nations each May.

      In class, his students are exposed to many historical events that crushed human rights, including the French Revolution, the Armenian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, the Holocaust, Balkan ethnic cleansing, and Pol Pot's Killing Fields. His students also participated in the social justice awareness Red Sands project.

      Weaver said students get involved in projects through their compassion and empathy. "They see the significance of the issues," he said.

      "I start the school year by introducing my students about The Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued by the United Nations in 1948 and about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the chair of the commission that overlooked the passage of the document. In addressing the United Nations in 1958, she said: "...where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world…'"

      This same quote of Roosevelt's was used throughout the symposium to encourage students to start small, either with a project of their own or by joining and contributing to an existing human rights organization.

      "We want to give them strategies," said Wetherbee, a school librarian who uses her skills as a media specialist to help symposium students use technology to get the word out about projects they support. She is, Wetherbee said, also "All about books. We want them to walk away with something they can use."

      This year, the 47 students in the program were given The Teen Guide to Global Action by Barbara Lewis.

      "As a young, upcoming generation of leaders, its important they learn … how they can make change, and how they want their country to respond," said MacFawn. "We work to give them inspiration, guidance and to be confident they can do something."

      The symposium is supported by NYSUT, which promotes social justice through union activities, solidarity, outreach and connection. NYSUT's "Be the Union" business-sized cards explain "Why in Five" the issues of child labor protections, racial equality, labor solidarity, wage equity, fair trade, women's rights, LGBTQ solidarity, and ending hunger and poverty are worth defending. Each symposium student was provided with the cards.

      For more information on Kremer's project, write to shakerbookshelf@gmail.com.

      The Capital Region Institute for Human Rights plans a teen symposium again in 2016. For more information, contact capitalregionhumanrights@gmail.com.

    • NYSUT members to serve as delegates to Democratic convention

      ALBANY, N.Y. July 22, 2016 - Twenty-two members of New York State United Teachers, including President Karen E. Magee, will serve as delegates to next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

      The NYSUT delegates - representing current and retired educators, as well as higher education faculty - form one of the largest blocks in New York’s convention delegation.

      The NYSUT delegation includes supporters of Secretary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

      The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association - NYSUT’s two national affiliates - endorsed Clinton’s run for the White House.

      “This has been an exciting year, with incredible energy and passion for two stellar supporters of public education, organized labor and a better future for working Americans all across our nation,” said Magee, a Hillary Clinton delegate. “I look forward to witnessing Democrats coming together in unity and nominating Hillary Clinton, then continuing our work to elect her president of the United States in November.”

      To see Karen E. Magee's tweets from the convention floor, follow @KarenMageeNYSUT.

      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.

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    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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