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December 14, 2015

Regents action a first step

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. Dec. 14, 2015 — New York State United Teachers issued the following statement in response to today’s vote by the Board of Regents on emergency regulations starting to put in place a moratorium on the use of state tests in teacher evaluations:

“The Common Core Task Force responded to parents and educators’ legitimate concerns about the harmful effects of overtesting on students and the misuse of state tests in teacher evaluations. It issued many important recommendations aimed at reducing testing and the resulting pressure on students, while calling for the development of New York standards by New York teachers that would benefit New York students. Those recommendations opened the door for substantive change and an end to the state’s test-and-punish mentality. Today’s vote on one of those recommendations is an initial step. However, more hard work lies ahead and further changes are necessary to properly implement all the task force’s recommendations. Working collaboratively and constructively, we expect the Regents and State Education Department to make policy changes that restore the joy of teaching and learning to our classrooms.”

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.


December 10, 2015

NYSUT statement on 'momentous developments' in public education

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. Dec. 10, 2015 - New York State United Teachers today released the following statement:

"Today we celebrate momentous developments at the state and national level that open the door for a much needed transformation in public education.

"The recommendations of the state task force signal a commitment to restore the joy of teaching and learning in our classrooms.

"Task force recommendations that have been championed by parents and educators include the creation of developmentally appropriate New York state standards by New York state teachers for New York state students; de-linking state test scores from evaluations for a minimum of four years; and less time on testing, more on learning. The new standards and curriculum resources would be phased in gradually with full educator engagement and transparency to parents.

"These changes are essential to end the high-stakes pressure that has eroded the joy of teaching and learning and narrowed the curriculum.

"NYSUT thanks our members, parents and each and every activist whose passion and dedication on behalf of students has brought us to these shared achievements.

"A sea change is underway in public education, both here in New York state and at the federal level through the Every Student Succeeds Act. Now we must redouble our efforts to ensure these and other necessary and transformative changes are realized in every classroom across New York state."

NYSUT is represented on the task force by NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino; science teacher Heather Buskirk, a member of the Johnstown Teachers Association; New York City third-grade teacher Kishayna Hazlewood, a member of the United Federation of Teachers; and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

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.


With Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act, Life After NCLB Begins
By Tim Walker

Every Student Succeeds Act
On Thursday, President Obama will make it official with a stroke of a pen: the No Child Left Behind era is over. Obama is scheduled to sign into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), one day after it was passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate, which followed broad passage in the House last week.
Every Student Succeeds Act is the seventh reauthorization of the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act, first passed in 1965, and the first since 2002 when NCLB became law. This reauthorization has been years in the making and suffered through several false starts, but it picked up steam in 2015 as opposition to the rigid and punitive “test and punish” regimen imposed by NCLB intensified and several education groups, including the NEA, lobbied Congress to get the job done.
“Students can’t afford to live another year under No Child Left Behind,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said repeatedly this year. Major progress was made over the summer with
the passage of two separate reauthorization bills – the Every Student Achieves Act in the Senate and the Student Success Act in the House. In November, leaders from both chambers met and hammered out the compromise final bill – the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Critical to this entire effort was the unprecedented mobilization and advocacy of public school educators across the country. Although it took too long for NCLB’s staggering failures to register with many lawmakers in Congress, educators and parents have known for more than a decade that scrapping NCLB and replacing it law that provides more opportunity for all students and more time to learn was an urgent national priority.
Their hard work, says Eskelsen García, was worth it.
“This is a deserved victory for public education because the Every Student Succeeds Act will ensure all students have equal opportunity to a high-quality public education regardless of ZIP Code,” Eskelsen Garcia said.

Every Student Succeeds Act: The Basics
What ESSA sets out to do is strike the right balance between the respective roles of the federal, state and local governments in formulating education policy. The consensus over the past few years was that NCLB was heavily tilted toward the federal side but for the wrong reason. The original ESEA’s emphasis on ensuring equity and opportunity was brushed aside while new rigid, punitive mandates dictated to states how students and schools should be evaluated. Every Student Succeeds Act goes a long way in defanging NCLB’s grinding test and punish regime, lays a path for new flexible pillars of school accountability and reaffirms the original law’s vision that zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of a child’s education.
Throughout the reauthorization process, NEA’s focus has been threefold: decouple standardized testing from high stake decisions, create an “opportunity dashboard” to help close opportunity gaps in needy schools and elevate the voices of educators in the policymaking process. Based on these measures, ESSA has the potential to be a game-changer.

Opportunity Gaps in Focus. For the first time, state-designed accountability systems must include at least one indicator of school success or student support to determine where holes should be filled. These indicators might include lack of school counselors, or inadequate access to advanced coursework or a richer curriculum.

Less High Stakes. ESSA will still require annual tests in grades 3-8 and once in high school. However one of the linchpins of NCLB, the so-called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandate, is history. For years, this provision dangled threats of punitive measures, including closure, over struggling schools if they didn’t meet narrow federally mandated test-based measures of accountability. ESSA provides funding for states to audit and streamline assessment systems, eliminate redundant and inefficient assessments and improve them. The new law also creates a pilot program for state-designed assessment systems that are driven by teaching and learning, rather than accountability that best inform instruction. And where states allow, ESSA maintains the right of parents to opt their children out of statewide academic assessments and allows states to limit the amount of time students spend taking annual tests.


Greater Educator Voice. Over the past decade, educators’ expertise has been muzzled by NCLB’s unreasonable and unworkable federal mandates. There was simply never any room for a second opinion. While ESSA preserves the historic federal role in protecting the most vulnerable students it also recognizes that top-down doesn’t work for everything. The new law prohibits the federal government from mandating teacher evaluations or defining what an “effective” teacher and calls for many decisions for local schools and states be determined by collaboration between educators, parents and other community members. “Educators will have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect their students and classrooms,” said Eskelsen García

What Happens Next
Even after the historic passage of ESSA, the work in many ways is just beginning. Because the new law does away with so many federal mandates on everything from assessment, accountability and evaluation, state legislatures will be playing a decisive role in determining how ESSA is implemented. It’s now up to the states to work with local stakeholders and districts to design, for example, new and better assessments and accountability systems and follow-through on identifying and filling opportunity gaps.


Save the Date: 2016 UTIT End of Year Party June 9th


Pension & Retirement Education Program (PREP)

Schedule | Making a Reservation | Directions to Sites

Many retirees wish they began focusing on financial and retirement planning much earlier in their lives. The truth is: No matter how far along you are in your career, careful financial and retirement planning are critical.

NYSTRS' Pension & Retirement Education Program (PREP) is designed to help members of all ages prepare for retirement. PREP is structured to allow you to tailor the program to fit your needs. Stay for the entire seminar or just the modules below that would be of greatest significance to you:

  • NYSTRS Benefits: Your pension, disability coverage, loans, vesting, death benefits. (8:45-10 a.m.)
  • Financial Planning: Saving early, catching up, withdrawals, financial advisors. (10:15-10:45 a.m.)
  • Social Security: Benefits, eligibility rules, when to collect, earning limits. (10:45-11:20 a.m.)
  • Estate Planning: Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills, long-term care. (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)
  • Retirement—A New Beginning: Planning ahead, staying active and healthy, relationships, relocating. (1:30-2:30 p.m.)
  • Filing for Retirement: Retirement options, "resigning" vs. "retiring," choosing a retirement date, retirement checklist. (2:40-3:15 p.m.)
  • Retirement Income: Monthly payments, taxes, earning limitations on NYS public employment. (3:15-3:30 p.m.)

Watch our PREP video to learn how NYSTRS can PREP you for retirement.

Seminars are held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 8 a.m. There is no fee to attend and your spouse/companion is welcome to attend, but you must make a reservation in advance. (Note: These seminars are not designed for individual retirement counseling.)


Directions to PREP Sites

Future Programs

This chart indicates when the schedules of other seasonal programs will be posted here.


Sessions Held

Schedule Posted


October December



February May



July August


Making a Reservation

There are two ways to make a reservation:

  1. Online using your MyNYSTRS account. After logging into your account, select the "My Tools" tab and then "Schedule Appointments."
  2. By calling NYSTRS at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6180 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Please provide your:
    • NYSTRS EmplID or Social Security number;
    • Date of birth; and,
    • Home address and telephone number.

If your spouse/companion is attending and is also a member, please have the above information available for him/her as well

Please bring your most-recent Benefit Profile to the seminar. For the most up-to-date estimate of your retirement benefits, use our online MyNYSTRS Pension Estimator. This tool allows you to create estimates using various retirement dates.

If you make a reservation and subsequently cannot attend, please cancel by calling the number above or via your MyNYSTRS account so your place can be made available to another member.



For NYSUT Member Benefit Information visit the link below:

Visit: http://www.nysut.org/memberbenefits/mbRedirect.html



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