Hilton Central School Teachers Association
08.26.16
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HCSTA Newsletter 2015-16 


HCSTA Teacher Volunteer Day

Another Major Success!

Social Justice Committe Chair Martha Burke thanks all that volunteered to spruce up the community on May 14th.  It was another major success all around the town.  

HCSTA leadership wants to than Martha for a job well done and wishes her well as she moves on to other obligations outside the executive board.  


 

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with...a little volunteering. J

Saturday May 14th

Light breakfast at the high school and luncheon after at the Arlington.

Just click on the Sign Up button below!

 

Group Organizing Made Easy!

 

 

Hello!

You have been invited by Martha Burke to sign up for "2nd Annual HCSTA Teacher Volunteer Day." Please click on the link below to view the online sign up sheet.





Hillary Clinton Scheduled In Rochester 

Things are heating up in the race for president in New York State. Former Senator from New York and Secretary Hillary Clinton will be here in Rochester on Friday, April 8, in her next stop on the campaign to be the next president of the United States! If you would like to attend with our AFT for Hillary gear, please email our Regional Political Organizer Paul Hypolite ASAP. He has t-shirts, buttons, stickers, placards and lapel pins for all NYSUT members who would like to attend. His email is phypolit@nysutmail.org. You can also call him at 937-207-5337.

 

WHEN:   FRIDAY APRIL 8

WHERE: Samuel J Stabins Physical Education Complex, Monroe Community College, 1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester

EVENT START: 6:00 PM ET

DOORS OPEN: 4:00 PM ET





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Where Do They Stand on Budget?

The deadline is April 1. Here is a rundown of some of the top priorities of “the three men in the room” negotiating the budget – Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie – and where each man stands on the issues.



 Read What Chancellor Rosa is Saying!!!

As Regent Rosa takes the helm from Meryl Tisch we are hoping for real partnership with parents and teachers, substantive discussion about the relevance of testing, and straight talk with legislators about funding public education in New York. Fingers crossed.... Read more in Politico New York



MCFT and a retired Superintendent Speak Out!

 A great deal has changed — on paper, at least — since this time last year, when hundreds of thousands of New York students refused to take state math and English exams. Still, many of the leaders of last year's insurrection are gearing up for a repeat performance. They believe the state has not gone far enough and are calling on parents to have their children opt out again.   Find out  more in the Democrat and Chronicle.

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Congratulations is in order for an HCSTA member!  Stephanie Harney is a librarian at Quest who is creative and dedicated.  Stephanie is responsible for initiating and earning Quest semifinalist in this year’s Follett Challenge!  Stephanie’s hard work and persistence has earned an incredible award worth $30,000 that will benefit everyone at Quest.  The final winner of the Follett Challenge has yet to be announced.  HCSTA sends our best wishes to Stephanie.

Please refer to the below site for more info, if you touch play – the Quest School is named around 2:18 into the video.

http://www.follettchallenge.com/index.cfm


Follett Challenge - Empowering Innovation

www.follettchallenge.com

Follett is rewarding top-notch educators who are designing 21st century teaching and learning programs. $200k is up for grabs so take the Follett Challenge!



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Hope For New Direction

From State Ed!

NYSUT is praising the selection of three new Regents with significant public education experience who can help end the era of test-and-punish and forge a new path for public education policy that respects the voices of students, parents and educators.

Who they are:

Luis Reyes- endorsed by leaders of the test-refusal movement

Nan Mead- parent of two students in public schools

Elizabeth Smith Hakanson- retired teacher

These individuals were named to the Board of Regents and NYSUT President Karen Magee is “looking forward to working collaboratively with them as we seek to end the harmful over-testing of students; help create new and better standards; and work toward developing a fairer and more meaningful evaluation system”.

The Regents and State Education Department have before them a 21-point blueprint from the Common Core Task Force on the work ahead. Executive Officers of NSYUT are encouraged that the three Regents selected appear to have a clear understanding of what works in public education and, more importantly, what doesn’t work and has been soundly rejected by parents and educators.”Learn MORE about this important change in state education leadership from  North Country Public Radio! 





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Congratulations to Chris Monfiletto, one of our HCSTA members for being the recipient of the prestigious Golden Apple Award!  This award celebrates great educators in our area.  Chris is a Social Studies teacher at Merton Williams that naturally connects with his students and has a great love for teaching.  Students are engaged in his classroom and drawn to his enthusiasm, making a major difference in kids’ lives.  We are so proud of such a deserving award is presented to one of our own -  Way to go Chris!!!

Watch the award presentation as shown on Channel 8 Newscast! 



New York Teachers:

Vote to Win 100,000 Books for Your State

Vote for the state of your choice to win thousands of new books for children in need from First Book and Disney. Vote as many times as you like through March 31, 2016.

Schools and programs registered with First Book in the winning state will receive 100,000 books. Second and third place states will receive 25,000 and 10,000 books, respectively. See complete rules and information here.

- See more at: https://www.firstbook.org/get-involved/be-inspired/vote#sthash.hoyBfrRx.dpuf



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Show Your Style With New HCSTA Apparel!

Order your HCSTA apparel soon!  Check out the great quality, sizes and new styles as the samples make their way around the district.  Expect to receive an order form by Monday, March 7th.  Orders are due with check payment made out to Fast Lane Apparel by March 14th.  Your items will be ready in two to three weeks and conveniently delivered to your building.  

Contact your Public Relations Rep for more information:

RUEKBERG, DAVID – High School

MEYERS, SARA – Merton Williams

JAEGER, SARA - Village

RUDD, KIM - Northwood

FRANCESCA, ALICIA – Quest


2-9-16

NYSUT files lawsuit on behalf of Buffalo teachers to vacate 

State Education Commissioner’s ruling

ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 9, 2016 — New York State United Teachers said today its attorneys have filed a lawsuit against State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, seeking to strike down her November decision giving the Buffalo public schools superintendent authorization to unilaterally impose changes at five persistently struggling city schools.

Filed on behalf of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the lawsuit claims Elia’s ruling — pursuant to the state’s receivership law — impaired the BTF’s collective bargaining agreement with the district, was “arbitrary and capricious” and exceeded the commissioner’s jurisdiction because it affected staff in schools not designated as “persistently struggling.”

“Buffalo’s teachers are dedicated professionals who work with some of our state’s neediest students,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “Day-in and day-out, they are on the front line helping children overcome numerous societal obstacles so they have the chance to succeed. When it comes to enhancing our schools, it is critical that the voice of our teachers is heard.”

BTF President Phil Rumore said the lawsuit “is not about our contract. It is about using child-abusive state tests to mislabel students and schools, even though a Governor’s Task Force — on which the commissioner was a member — found them so flawed that it (recommended putting) their use on hold until 2019.”

The lawsuit — which also names as defendants New York State, the State Education Department, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash and the city’s Board of Education — was filed in state Supreme Court, Albany County.

As a result of the commissioner’s ruling, Cash bypassed the BTF contract and unilaterally imposed measures such as lengthening the school day and ordering the involuntary transfer of teachers.

The union, in seeking a decision to toss out Elia’s ruling, noted the commissioner refused to consider whether Cash negotiated in good faith as required by state statute and regulations. The union also stated Elia refused to consider proposals put forth by the BTF to improve the persistently struggling schools, including smaller class sizes, and intensive math and literacy interventions.

“The BTF sought and provided studies for initiatives to really support students, such as smaller class sizes,” Rumore said.  “Not only did the commissioner reject them, but she supported district proposals that provided no rationale, or studies to demonstrate how they would improve student performance. This (ruling) is not about supporting teaching and learning. It is about looking for someone to blame and punish for the state’s failures.”

For more information on the lawsuit, visit http://www.nysut.org/news/2016/february/nysut-files-lawsuit-on-behalf-of-buffalo-teachers-to-vacate-state-education-commissioners-ruling.

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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1-20-16

Cuomo Calling for Constitutional Convention:

Saying New York's system of government is "broken," (sound familiar?) Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reiterating his support for a state constitutional convention which he says offers voters the chance to reform their state government.

Voters will decide in 2017 whether to hold a constitutional convention.  Once it’s open everything is on the table including current and future pensions.

Read more from the Finger Lakes Times.


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Cuomo Caving?:

Having seen his poll numbers drop as he's warred with a big part of the Democratic base, some insiders say that the Cuomo who would dig in when publicly challenged in the first term is now quicker to cave when attacked by the left. He added that Cuomo called for an education reboot because parents sent a "clear statement" they were troubled by having their kids opt out of the state tests that were to be tied to the teacher evaluations.

Read more from the NY Daily News.



Assemblyman Calls Out GEA Numbers:

The governor suggested in his budget address that his priority is to fully restore Gap Ellimination Adjustment. 

“Gov. Cuomo made it sound like we were completely eliminating the GEA,” said Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River. “In reality, his plan only calls for approximately 30 percent of the GEA to be eliminated in 2016; that’s unacceptable.”

Read more from the Watertown Daily Times.



NY Budget Only Halfway There:

Governor Cuomo says his budget proposal would increase school aid over the next two years.  But the amount is less than half of what the Board of Regents recommended for the next school year, and advocates say it's billions away from what's owed to school districts by the state. 

What is Hilton Owed?  

Hilton High School$2,168,214.54
Merton Williams Middle School$1,079,513.60
Northwood Elementary School$1,336,759.39
Quest School$681,395.11
Village Elementary School$1,499,069.24

 TOTAL OWED- 

$6,764,951.88

That is  $1,531.22  per student!

https://mac.nysut.org/

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· Find Your Elected Officials

· Take Action with a click

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1-11-16

Rising graduation rates reflect steady progress,

greater state investment needed

to close achievement gap

ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 11, 2016 — New York State United Teachers today said higher graduation rates reflect steady progress by public education and the hard work of dedicated teachers and staff, but noted the achievement gap remains unacceptable and called out for a much greater state investment in public education. 

NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the 1.7 percent increase in the state’s graduation rate — to 78.1 percent — does not truly reflect gains being made in New York’s classrooms. She noted, for example, the August graduation rate — 80.3 percent — is slightly above New York’s goal of 80 percent that has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. And, the graduation rate in the state’s high-needs, large city districts has climbed 5.2 percent in three years.

“The rising graduation rates reflect hard work by dedicated teachers and school related professionals who, in concert with parents and their communities, are doing whatever they can to ensure that no child falls through the cracks,” Magee said. “However, the achievement gap remains stubbornly and unacceptably high, and educators will not rest until it disappears entirely.”

In 2015-16, Magee said, 31 percent of the state’s school districts are operating with less state aid than six years ago, and budget cuts during the Great Recession disproportionately hit districts serving the state’s neediest and most vulnerable student populations. “A significant state aid increase is needed, is justified and will pay off for our students and public schools,” Magee said. 

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino noted that the Regents’ efforts to boost graduation rates through alternative pathways to a diploma are a “positive step.” She said lifting graduation rates in the state’s large high-needs school districts, where more than half of students live in poverty, will take a significant new investment in smaller class sizes; academic support programs; additional guidance counselors and social workers; and programs to support newly arrived students, English language learners and students with special needs.

“Teachers, parents and students are working hard, and the higher graduation rates reflect that. Many more students are graduating in August, or in five years, and that kind of persistence and dedication should be acknowledged and rewarded,” Fortino said.

Fortino said additional state funding, especially for small city, rural and the Big Five school districts, is essential. “We know that when we provide additional support for access and opportunity to students in high-need districts, they graduate and contribute to the success of their communities and our country,” she said.

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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1-11-16

NYSUT statement on today’s Friedrichs vs CTA arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court

ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 11, 2016 — “The case being heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court — Friedrichs vs the California Teachers’ Association — aims not only to reverse decades of settled law, but also threatens the voice, working conditions and living standard of workers in New York State and across the nation. Unions are the last line of defense for America’s besieged middle class. They are an essential counterweight to worker exploitation, unsafe workplace conditions and corporate greed — as well as bad public policy such as overtesting of students and the unfair evaluation of educators. New York State’s amicus brief to this case — filed by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with the full support of NYSUT — makes it clear that, while it is fair for workers to contribute toward the cost of collective bargaining done on their behalf, no worker in New York is compelled to join a union or pay toward a union’s political activities. Make no mistake: Friedrichs vs CTA is a direct attack on American workers and a continuation of the relentless assault on labor by anti-union forces. NYSUT and its members will continue to fight — as we always have — to improve the lives of workers, ensuring always that their rights are protected and voices are heard while on the job.”

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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1-9-16                                                 Thursday January 14th

High School Auditorium Viewings

Education Inc.$$

2:30pm  AND  3:50pm

American public education is in controversy. As public schools across the country struggle for funding, complicated by the impact of poverty and politics, some question the future and effectiveness of public schools in the U.S.

For free-market reformers, private investors and large education corporations, this controversy spells opportunity in turning public schools over to private interests.Education, Inc. examines the free-market and for-profit interests that have been quietly and systematically privatizing America’s public education system under the banner of “school choice.”
Education, Inc. is told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids. With striking footage from school protests, raucous school board meetings and interviews with some of the most well known educators in the country, Malone zooms out to paint a clear picture of profit and politics that’s sweeping across the nation, right under our noses.

For more information about this film, follow this link



1-4-16

Executive Board Meetings for the

Remainder of the School Year

Location – High School – Room 21 (unless notified of a change in location)

Time: 3:30 – 5:00

*All Thursdays 2nd and 4th of the month, except a few due to holidays.

Remember to attend your building level meetings

 the first week of each month.

January 14th (HS Auditorium) and January 28th

February 11th and February 25th

March 3rd (HS Auditorium) and March 10th

April 14th and April 28th

May 12th (Annual meeting-Auditorium) and May 26th

June 9th – Annual Dinner Meeting



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12-21-15

Janurary Building Meetings-

Be There!

Your next building meeting on January 7th  (first TH we return), will be a very valuable meeting for you to attend to give feedback that will be coming straight back to the APPR committee.  President Stadtmiller encourages you to take the time and attend your building meeting.  This is NOT information you should rely on others to communicate to you.  More importantly this will be a meeting where your input is necessary and appreciated.

Keep January 14th open after school for a general membership meeting.  More information will be coming from your building reps at the building meeting.

HCSTA is making a huge effort to encourage members to be active and keeping our members informed, please get involved and help make this association strong!  



12-17-15

Keep Informed Regarding A Supreme Court Case:  Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. 

This decision currently under review by the court will have a huge impact on unions.  Watch for 3 videos that will help educate you on this topic. 

A combined time is about 15 min for all 3.



11-9-15

Engaging Unions:

Advocacy from NYSUT, AFT, NEA and it's members across the country has begun to work. Please continue to use the NYSUT Member Action Center. We must make sure that our Regents are listening to us and that they stop the direction of the APPR.

*****You can access the MAC here: https://mac.nysut.org/ ****



11-9-15

 Forums across NYS,

Common Core Standards Input

Nationally:

The Obama Administration (Including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan), admitted that standardized testing has gone too far. The administration also admitted its own guilt in the discussion (including linking test scores to teacher evaluations). You can read more about it here.

Locally:

Building Representatives are holding monthly building meetings (1st TH of each month), to share out information of what is occurring within HCSTA, please attend those meetings for important/accurate information.  Meeting minutes will be shared through home emails.  If you are not receiving those, please contact your building representative.

More info to come on the local showing of the movie Education Inc. (Education, Inc. is told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids.) 



11-6-15

Bring Your Voice to the Table: Standards Input

The Common Core Task Force is convening an open meeting to hear concerns this Friday at Genesee Community College in Batavia, Room T-102 of the Conable Bldg, 4-6 PM. Please attend and speak up!

Please urge your members to respond to the Common Core Learning Standards survey!  Go to www.nysut.org

 

"Silence is equal to agreement."

Take a few minutes and weigh in on the Common Core Standards survey. You can say what you think and feel about the standards in general or specifically, but all teachers and parents need to use their voices to speak out.  

If you refuse to "buy in" to the SED survey which asks you to tinker with specific standards to "help fix the problem," that's OK--but you should express your opinion about what the best solution might be, even if that means scrapping the CCLS and starting over. Or going back to the NYS Learning Standards which many educators helped develop.

 But don't sit in silence.

 Let your voice be heard!

 The NYS Learning Standards which preceded the Common Core were developed by educators and were rigorous. The Task Force should recommend that NYS return to those standards and take steps to ensure that they are emphasized in every school and every district.

Let's own up to our mistake and correct what's wrong. Let's uncouple the tests from punishments to teachers, schools and principals. Let's start to use assessments to inform instruction. The current uses of most of the tests are wasteful to teachers and students.

 





11-6-15 

Support School Related Personell

$15 rally happening on Tuesday, Nov 10, at 5:30pm.

March in Solidarity with our SRPs and Paraprofessionals!


Join the Fight for $15 (http://www.cvent.com/d/0fqmdp) in Rochester on November 10 as we rally to raise the wage! Too many of our fellow union members do not make enough money to make ends meet.  Many of them struggle financially and need public benefits like food stamps and Medicare to make ends meet. 

Wall Street got its raise, now Main Street deserves one too.  It is time to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour so that our families can keep up with the rising cost of living.  All across NY state, thousands of people will be showing their support for raising the minimum wage.

 

For us in the Finger Lakes region, there will be a rally in Rochester on November 10 to support the Fight for $15.  We will start at Washington Square Park and march to Rochester City Hall.



11-2-15

ELECTION DAY Tuesday, November 3rd!  

The Rochester Labor Council and Finger Lakes Labor Assembly endorsements for Tuesday's election are listed below. Encourage you to vote and to consider these endorsements. Endorsed candidates went through an interview process with the respective Labor Councils in order to receive this designation.

Most important: Be sure to vote tomorrow.

Polls are open 6 am to 9 pm

The 2015 Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation's Endorsed Candidates
Rochester Labor Council Endorsements 2015

TOWN SUPERVISORS AND TOWN BOARDS

Gates: Brenda James (Town Supervisor)

Henrietta: Mike Stafford (Town Board)

Henrietta: Mike Yudelson (Town Supervisor)

Henrietta: Robert Barley, Jr. (Town Board)

Irondequoit: John Perticone (Town Board)

Irondequoit: Adam Bello (Town Supervisor)

Greece: Valencia Metcalf (Town Board)

Brighton: Bill Moehle (Town Supervisor)

MONROE COUNTY LEGISLATURE

LD 3: John Romagnola

LD 4: Erik Johnson (Gates), NYSUT Member

LD 12: Maggie Ridge

LD 14: Justin Wilcox (Henrietta)

LD 18: Dorothy Styk

LD 17: Joe Morelle Jr. (Irondequoit)

LD 13: Simeon Bannister (Henrietta)

LD 21: Mark Muoio

LD 24: Josh Bauroth (City/Brighton)

LD 25: John Lightfoot (City)

LD 26: Yversha Roman (City)

LD 28: Cynthia Kaleh (City)

LD 29: Earnest Flagler-Mitchell (City)

LD 23: Jim Sheppard (City)

LD 27: LaShay Harris (City)

MONROE COUNTY EXECUTIVE

Sandy Frankel

Monroe County District Attorney

Sandra Doorley

ROCHESTER CITY COUNCIL

East District: Elaine Spaull

Northeast District: Michael Patterson

South District: Adam McFadden

Northwest District: Molly Clifford

Rochester City School Board

Willa Powell

Malik Evans

Liz Hallmark

Mary Adams

Finger Lakes Labor Assembly Endorsements City of Geneva:

Mayor: Ron Alcock

Geneva City Council: Shawn Beam (Ward 5), Pat Grimaldo (Ward 3), Paul D'Amico (Ward 2), Gordy Eddington (At Large)

NYS Supreme Court:

Bill Taylor

Craig Doran

Judy Sinclair

Matt Nafus



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10-26-15

Tisch announcement opens door to new direction in education policy

ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 26, 2015 — New York State United Teachers said Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s announcement that she would not seek another term opens the door to a new direction in state education policy — one that more fully respects the voices of parents and teachers and values teaching and learning ahead of standardized testing and data-driven teacher evaluations.

NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said, “With this announcement, New York state can move past an era that put far too much emphasis on standardized testing and, too often, dismissed the concerns of parents and educators. This mistaken direction in state education policy led to a serious erosion of trust and confidence. Chancellor Tisch recently acknowledged that, indeed, the state had gone too far, too fast in the use of standardized tests, especially in teacher evaluations. We now see movement to roll back some of those excesses. Those steps toward sanity in state education policy are most welcome and we look forward to working with Chancellor Tisch over the next five months to make the necessary fixes.”

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said today’s announcement by Chancellor Tisch is an opportunity for the Regents and State Education Department to pursue a new policy direction.

 

“The pendulum on standardized testing is swinging back. Policymakers have clearly heard from parents and educators that more teaching and less testing is needed. The chancellor’s decision to step down opens the door for a new direction in state education policy,” Fortino said. “We look forward to working with the chancellor in her efforts to ‘calm the waters’ over the next five months and to implement a better, fairer system of testing and evaluations.”

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.



Find the NYSUT Member Benefits Offering for November and December here.

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Northwood 6th grader Andrew Rohloff died suddenly Saturday, October 10th.  HCSTA sends our thoughts and prayers to the Rohloff Family as well as Northwood teachers and students at this difficult time.  Andrew was a special young man that will be deeply missed by all that knew him.  

Condolences and memories may be left for the family here.  


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See the Sept-Oct Member Benefits Offering below!  

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High School Social Studies Teacher

Leah Oltean

Honored as HCSTA Teacher of the Year!


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High School teacher Leah Oltean was selected by fellow union members as the HCSTA

2015-16 Teacher of the Year during the annual convocation ceremony September 3rd.   Leah is honored for her dedication as a classroom teacher, drama club advisor and many contributions to HCSTA- including secretary for the past several years.  Included with the TOY plaque is a sign that reserves a special parking space for Leah in the upper High School parking lot for the school year. 

Leah has been with the district since 2004.  She has taught a wide variety of courses at the 11th and 12th grade levels in the High School Social Studies Department.  In addition, Leah also devotes countless hours to both the annual musical and drama productions at the high school.  Leah was joined by her husband, HHS science teacher Ben Giesselman and parents George and Donna Oltean during the ceremony.


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The HCSTA 2015-16 TOY finalists are Pam Brady, Northwood Elementary; Laurie Donavan, Village Elementary; Mary Elias, Quest Elementary; Michelle Farrell, Village Elementary; Patrick Krutchen, Quest Elementary; Laura Malta, Hilton High; Todd Scaccia and Steve Sorensen, Merton Williams Middle School; and Laurie Steele-Sperber, Northwood Elementary.  Congratulations to all! 

 



 7-9-15   NYSUT Press Release

NYSUT cheers Pearson’s firing

ALBANY, N.Y. July 9, 2015 — New York State United Teachers today said the State Education Department’s new, five-year contract with Questar Inc. and a promise to involve New York teachers in every step of the test-development process is a victory for students, parents and teachers.

Less than a year after hundreds of parents and NYSUT members rallied on the steps of SED and shredded copies of the state’s testing contract with Pearson, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the grassroots effort paid off.

“Pearson offered a bad product and today Pearson got fired,” Magee said.

“Teachers have called for this for years,” she added. “It is a first step along the road toward ending New York’s failed testing policies. The Questar contract, in its promise to emulate New York’s successful test-development process for Regents exams, begins to restore the trust and confidence in teachers to do the job right. It says New York is going to trust its own teachers, not a corporation, to develop state tests.”

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said the new contract is a positive sign from Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at the beginning of her tenure.

“It, perhaps, signals that the State Education Department is beginning to listen to parents and teachers at the grassroots level who are concerned about over-testing; the length and difficulty of state tests; and the age- and developmental-appropriateness of standardized tests,” Fortino said. “Our advocacy will continue until all the changes we seek are in place.  In concert with parents, we will continue to press for appropriate tests that measure what students know and are then used to improve teaching and learning. State tests designed to measure students’ learning cannot and should not be used for high-stakes decisions for students and teachers.”

Fortino said NYSUT is urging SED to move slowly and cautiously — mindful of the “digital gap” in many places around the state — toward the increased use of computers in testing.  Fortino noted, “Many school districts still do not have the appropriate technology platforms in place to implement computer testing.”

In addition, Fortino said if SED moves closer to computer-based testing, “It should not simply move ‘fill-in-the-bubble’ tests from pencil and paper to the keyboard and Internet. New York should be listening to and working with all the stakeholder groups on performance-based testing that can more accurately measure what students know and are able to do.”

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.