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    • Regents grant 'safety net' for teacher certification exams no one has taken

      The State Education Department plans to introduce a new set of teacher certification exams that teacher education students can skip altogether, if they choose to take the existing set of exams instead.

      The state now says teacher education students do not have to first fail the new certification exam before they can use this so-called “safety net.” It is the first time SED has granted a safety net for a new exam before any teacher preparation student has taken it.

      “This pre-emptive action — to grant a safety net for exams no one has yet taken — raises the question of how ready these exams are for use by teacher preparation students,” said NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino, who oversees higher education policy for the union.

      The Board of Regents, which approved the plan at its Oct. 18 meeting, said the new “safety net” would “help take some of the financial pressure off of students,” and “allow time for teacher education programs to adapt their coursework.”

      This latest “safety net” applies to the 14 new content specialty tests that will be released in November as part of the state’s overhaul of the teacher certification exams. The content specialty tests evaluate a future teacher’s competency in areas of specialization, such as languages, chemistry or mathematics, and are one of four certification tests future teachers must pass in order to be licensed in New York State. There are 41 content specialty tests; 19 have already been revised and introduced.

      In January, the Regents approved a safety net that applied only for the first 19 content specialty exams that have already been released, following an outcry by students and teacher education faculty that some teacher education programs did not have the time to revise their curricula to include the material covered in the new exams. Depending on the type of content specialty test, the earlier safety net allowed students to either take the older exam only if they failed the new one, or submit transcripts and other proof attesting they had demonstrated competency in the material.

      The newest safety net expires June 30, 2019. Because students do not have to fail the new exam before they can utilize the safety net, they will likely pay only one registration fee.

      The new safety net option also applies to students who still need to take any of the 19 previously revised content specialty tests. The safety net in those cases expires in June 2017.

      In the three years since SED began introducing the revised teacher certification exams, the Regents have approved some kind of substitute path to certification for all four of the new exams. The new certification exams were designed by and are being administered by Pearson, Inc., the global educational testing company.

      NYSUT, UUP, the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY and other critics of the new path to certification process note that if the exams are so problematic the state has to keep offering safety nets, then maybe the entire process needs to be evaluated. No systematic evaluation of the new package of exams has taken place since they were introduced in 2014.

      A number of the Regents have expressed the same concern, and last spring, the Regents directed SED to revive a dormant statewide task force on one of the other certification exams, the educative Teacher Performance Assessment. That task force, which includes several NYSUT members, is still meeting.

      “We support rigorous assessments of future teachers, but the current certification system needs to be fixed,” said UUP Vice President Jamie Dangler, a member of the statewide task force. “Pearson should be adequately field-testing new exams.”

    • School board to honor Herricks nurse, teachers for saving life of student

      The guests for Herrick Middle School student Shanketh Kumar’s 13th birthday celebration this week were not a roomful of screaming teens, but a small crowd of ecstatic teachers, a principal and school nurses — the people who saved his young life when he collapsed at school, with no heartbeat and no breath.

      “When I got there, he was laying looking up. His eyes were wide open. He was dead,” said school nurse Dana Lieberman.

      Teamwork, training in CPR, the presence of an Automated External Defibrillator and quick, decisive action flipped his story.

      A month later, he was eating Indian and Chinese food at a restaurant, celebrating his birthday. Becoming13 is certainly a major turning point, marking the official entry into the kingdom of teenagers. But, for this shy adolescent, it was an extraordinary milestone because, just a few weeks before, his world had closed up faster than the lock on a prison door.

      Kumar was doing a warm-up lap on the outdoor track at his Nassau County school when he collapsed on the grassy, inside portion of the track, said physical education teacher Arthur Friess, a member of the Herricks Teachers Association.

      “He was trying to complete his first warm-up when he collapsed,” said Friess. “The plan was to start our first day of football.”

      Kumar, an eighth-grader, is no stranger to fitness: He played centerfield for the school’s baseball team last year. He said today that he has no recollection of what happened that day on the track.

      “I came to in the hospital. I didn’t know what was happening,” he said.

      When Kumar fell, face down, Friess thought the student had had a seizure.

      “He was breathing. His hands were curled and cupped like showing signs of a seizure.” Friess bent down to monitor him. Colleague Joe Welsh sent the other students inside, called the nurse’s office and the principal, and called 911.

      Part-time nurse Tracey Baumann ran out first and saw that his pulse was getting weaker. She sent Friess inside to get more medical information on Kumar. Nurse Lieberman had grabbed the “GO” bag of medical supplies and ran to the scene.

      “He was not breathing. There was no pulse. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Lieberman, a Herricks TA member. She said she looked up, locked eyes with principal Joan Keegan, who was running out, and screamed at her to get the AED.

      “She spun around,” Lieberman said.

      Keegan spotted health teacher Pamela Seebald, who had just helped situate the students who were brought in from their outdoor gym class. As Seebald began walking out onto the field, Keegan yelled, “Get the AED. “

      “Fortunately, due to our training, I am very well aware of the location of our AEDs and I was able to very quickly gain access to one of our coaches’ office and return to Shanketh,” Seebald recalled.

      Using the CPR barrier, Lieberman said she blew into the boy’s lungs while Baumann and Welsh were doing compressions.

      “They do 30 compressions. I do two breaths. They do 30 compressions. I do two breaths,” she said. “There was no reaction.”

      You just do what you’re trained to do. It was the scariest day of my life,” Lieberman said.

      With the arrival of the AED, she turned it on and put the connected pads on the upper right and lower left parts of his chest. The machine reads the heart, and then advises.

      “It said ‘SHOCK ADVISED,’” she said.

      Bam! The paddles lifted his chest.

      “You could see his heart beating right in his chest,” Lieberman said. “He was gasping. We kept breathing for him.”

      “Seeing him regain a pulse was truly remarkable, a moment in time none of us will ever forget,” Seebald said.

      The fire department came and put on an oxygen mask on the student; Lieberman rode in an ambulance with Kumar to the hospital.

      “It was bone chilling. I didn’t sleep for two weeks,” she said.

      Kumar was taken to the local Winthrop Hospital, where he did not regain consciousness until the next day. He was later transferred to New York Presbyterian Hospital where he had surgery to have an internal defibrillator installed in his heart. He said he spent two weeks in the hospital, where the crew who saved his life came to visit him in small groups.

      Lieberman said the Winthrop Hospital emergency room staff approached to congratulate her for saving Kumar’s life.

      “It wasn’t just me. Everyone thought of everything,” she said.

      And so it was. The Herricks Middle School handbook is titled, “Respect. Responsibility. Readiness.” And that was the form of the day.

      At the time of Kumar’s collapse, Principal Keegan printed out the boy’s demographic information on file so they would have it for the ambulance crew; his medical records were checked as well. She made sure a nearby drain on the field was checked so medical responders didn’t trip in it. She contacted personnel at the school Kumar’s younger brother attends so they could speak to him and nurture him. They wanted to be sure he heard news from them first.

      “In this day of technology, word gets out quickly,” Keegan said.

      The day after the event, Keegan had a school psychologist from another building, who is trained in crises, come to meet with the Herricks school responders for a debriefing. After the adrenalin rush is over, she said, rescuers are often faced with concerns about whether or not they did everything correctly. At that point, Kumar had still not regained consciousness.

      “Everyone worked diligently and instinctively to make sure all of our students were taken care of during the incident,” said Herricks TA President Nidya Degliomini. “Gym classes were brought inside, blinds were drawn and students quietly kept away from windows to keep the incident private, members directed the ambulance to quickly find its way to field, calls were made to alert the parents as quickly as possible. It is heartwarming to know that my members acted instinctively as the village that worked together to save a life and kept all our students in mind.”

      “They did a good job. They saved my son,” said Kumar’s mother, Achala.

      On the day of his collapse, she was called at work where she does medical billing for a psychiatrist. She said she handed the phone to her boss and he asked some specific questions. Then she raced to the hospital.

      “The next day, he woke up. He recognized us,” she said. Her husband, Kumar’s father, also has an internal defibrillator in his heart – although he never had an incident this dramatic.

      Kumar said he does not like all the attention he is receiving now that he is back in school, but other than that, he said: “I love it here. It’s fun and welcoming.”

      “When this happened, every one of us decided we were going to do whatever it took to keep him alive. It was the classic definition of teamwork … This incident proves how important an AED actually is. It saved his life!” Friess said.

      NYSUT was active in advocating for the 2002 state law making it a requirement to have AEDs in schools. Other advocates included former teacher Rachel Moyer and the AED activist family of Lou Acompora.

      The traumatic event at Herricks also shows the importance of having a school nurse in every building, Lieberman said. There are 1,000 students and 120 staff at her school; Baumann is there three hours a day.

      “It makes a huge difference to have somebody who is trained and is a nurse. It shows you how important a school nurse is,” Lieberman said.

      NYSUT has been advocating for a state law making it a requirement to have a school nurse in every building, beginning with large cities.

      Lieberman said that the incident is a reminder to all, especially those who work with children, that training in CPR and AED, and in the use of EPI pens and Narcan, is vitally important

      “I never ever thought I‘d have to do that on a kid,” she said. “I thought if we ever had to do that (use an AED and administer CRP), it would be on a grandparent coming to a concert.”

      The Herrick school board is scheduled to honor these lifesavers at its Thursday night meeting.

    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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