New York State United Teachers released the following statement today regarding the death of Tyre Nichols:
Like the rest of our country, we're outraged and profoundly saddened in the wake of Tyre Nichols' violent death. Educators across New York mourn this tragedy and stand with the Nichols family as they endure this unimaginable loss.
As it has been far too many times, this tragic event will make this week difficult in our schools. Given the horror and senselessness of this event, we will all struggle to provide our students with the answers and comfort they so desperately seek.
NYSUT has compiled some resources for educators to help students through this trying time. For NYSUT members, our Peer Support Line is available to provide resources and assistance. Call this confidential helpline at 844-444-0152 or visit nysut.org/PeerSupport for more information.
Recent court rulings could jeopardize the Biden administration’s efforts to expand student debt relief. Until resolved, these legal challenges are leaving millions of borrowers in financial limbo. To complicate matters further, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which some understood to be available only through October 31, is actually still available, albeit in a more limited fashion now that the waiver has expired.
All these developments have left many educators scratching their heads and checking their bank balances. To find out more about student debt relief, sign up for one of NYSUT’s free online student loan webinars offered to members in partnership with Cambridge Credit Counseling. With a live presentation and Q&A session, a Cambridge certified student loan counselor will walk you through the latest updates and help you get on track. Attendees will also receive free access to the Cambridge Student Loan portal, along with the opportunity to schedule one-on-one counseling sessions.
The next online webinar is Jan. 10 at 6 p.m.
Thousands of NYSUT members have already taken advantage of this free union benefit. Through this program, counselors will help you better understand the various student loan repayment options, along with the latest twists and turns for Public Student Load Forgiveness programs.
Student debt relief has always been a complex – and contentious – subject, with many contending that its complexity ends up exploiting borrowers. Unions have advocated tirelessly for simplification, reform and expansion of the loan forgiveness programs. Union leaders are committed to keeping members informed.
Here are some highlights on recent developments.
PSLF is still available for educators and other public service workers. This is the case even if you missed the Oct. 31 deadline to apply for the limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver. Significant permanent improvements have been made to the program, so that more educators can receive the debt forgiveness they were promised. By the way, so far more than 236,000 educators and public service workers have received $14 billion in student loan forgiveness under the union-backed PSLF waiver.
Payments on federal student loans are set to resume, and interest will begin to accrue again, on Jan. 1. Student loan payments have been paused since March 2020, when the CARES Act was approved due to the pandemic. Union leaders are urging (LINK) the administration to extend the freeze on payments to help borrowers who are still struggling under crushing debt.
A new federal loan forgiveness program, which was announced by President Biden last fall, has been halted by a number of pending court challenges. As of last week, the U.S. Department of Education stopped accepting applications for the new program, which would provide up to $20,000 in federal student debt relief to people earning less than $125,000. So far more than 26 million student-loan borrowers have already applied for the new debt relief, with about 16 million applications already approved, Biden officials said. While the court challenges could ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Education Department said it will hold onto borrowers’ information so it can quickly process the relief “once we prevail in court.”
As the legal appeals process proceeds, we will post updates on any new developments, including the resumption of the program.
The look on her face said it all.
A Clyde-Savannah special education teacher received the surprise of her life during a school-wide assembly of cheering students, appreciative colleagues and local dignitaries.
Caitlin Garvey, who teaches first-, second- and third-grade special needs students at Clyde-Savannah Elementary School, was stunned earlier this month when she was presented with the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which includes a $25,000 prize.
“I was flooded with emotion,” said Garvey, who started her career as a teaching assistant. “I’m not one to draw attention to myself, so to have so many people, even those I’d never met, arrange such a special event for me was just astounding.”
She was further amazed this week, when the NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Lester Young opened their meeting with a special shout-out to Garvey and hailed the award as the “Oscars of Teaching.”
Garvey is just the eleventh New York teacher to receive the award from the national Milken Family Foundation over the past 35 years. Part of the fun and magic of the award is the way it’s presented — sort of like how the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol suddenly shows up at your door with balloons and roses.
“Caitlin engages students through innovative methods to reach their highest potential, adapts instruction to the needs of every child, and displays exceptional leadership in the classroom, school and district," said Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop, who presented the award along with Alex Trikalinos, an assistant commissioner at the New York State Education Department.
Garvey leads a self-contained class with 12 special needs students, along with five paraprofessionals, using a curriculum she designed with the help of specialists in speech language pathology, assistive technology, autism and more. She creatively uses small group experiential activities, differentiation and technology to take advantage of students’ existing skills and de-emphasize barriers to learning. On average, most of her students go from being able to read a few words, to being able to read several sentences or more at a time.
Garvey also works closely with families and mentors other teachers in the district on differentiation and student engagement strategies.
When Garvey heard her name announced at the assembly, she said she felt a surge of pride — and vindication.
“Early in my career, I faced A LOT of rejection and struggled to find my footing in the field. I graduated at a time when teaching jobs were few and far between and positions were highly competitive,” she said. “As someone with little experience, I was often overlooked; I felt like a failure.”
“One summer, I decided my spirit couldn’t take anymore; I sent out my final round of applications and prepared myself to walk away. For months, no one called, and then in August, I had a voicemail offering me the opportunity to come interview in my current district,” she recalled. “I poured myself into interview prep but also kept my expectations low. And lo and behold, the principal at the time saw something in me that I almost lost. I’ve been working in Clyde-Savannah ever since.”
Like so many educators, Garvey said her journey has been marked by incredible highs and lows — but this award demonstrates how important it is to never give up.
“I had no idea that my work had been profound enough to reach people far beyond my classroom,” Garvey said. “That’s something that every teacher dreams to be true but rarely gets to see confirmed.”
Educators have been denied raises, but they’re protesting cuts to student services too. Click here to read the rest.
Cuomo, in Shift, Is Said to Back Reducing Test Scores’ Role in Teacher Reviews
Less than a year ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York proclaimed that the key to transforming the state’s education system was tougher evaluations for teachers, and he pushed through changes that increased the weight of student test scores in teachers’ ratings.
Now, facing a parents’ revolt against testing, the state is poised to change course and reduce the role of test scores in evaluations. And according to two people involved in making state education policy, Mr. Cuomo has been quietly pushing for a reduction, even to zero. That would represent an about-face from January, when the governor called for test scores to determine 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
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Calling for more time and money for the New York's struggling schools, NYSUT and numerous other advocates strongly urged lawmakers to revisit the state's receivership law and replace the punitive provisions with support.
"NYSUT strongly opposes the enacted receivership law; it scapegoats educators who teach in these schools and overrides local control and collective bargaining," said NYSUT Legislative Director Steve Allinger. "It's not sound education policy."
To read more click HERE
‘Well I’ll be VAMned!’ Why using student test scores to evaluate teachers is a sham
If by now you don’t know what VAM is, you should. It’s shorthand for value-added modeling (or value-added measurement), developed by economists as a way to determine how much “value” a teacher brings to a student’s standardized test score. These formulas are said by supporters to be able to factor out things such as a student’s intelligence, whether the student is hungry, sick or is subject to violence at home, or any other factor that could affect performance on a test beyond the teacher’s input.
read the rest here
New York’s 3-8 grade students took flawed state tests this spring, and on Friday, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) demanded the state’s Board of Regents members personally review the State’s English language arts and math tests. The Common Core-aligned tests were developed by the for-profit company Pearson at a cost to the state of $32 million. Although a gag order prevents teachers from revealing test contents, reports leaked to the media claim the tests contain obscure vocabulary words and questions that are several grade levels above students’ actual grades.
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