December 2010 Issue
November 22, 2010

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United
Caption: From left, the Pine Bush TA's Betsy Byrne and Carla McLaud present a check of more than $2,000 to Jessica Bell of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.

Pine Bush TA

Seeking to maximize their donations to reach more people in need, members of the Pine Bush TA have donated more than $2,060 to The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley since collections began Sept. 1.

The local, led by Carla McLaud, decided financial donations translated to more support for the needy than collecting, transporting and storing goods — every $1 donated provides four meals worth of food.

The food bank "is able to provide fresh produce and other potentially perishable items to those in need while the products are still fresh," said McLaud, a NYSUT Board member. Pine Bush is active in NYSUT's Local Action Project, which trains locals in community outreach and coalition-building.

North Country locals

While many locals reach out to their communities as union members from a particular school or organization, a group of northern New York education locals have kicked that up a notch: They have banded together for solidarity in action.

The North Country Coordinating Council of Teachers is a group of 17 local education unions from Jefferson and Lewis counties that uses their collective voice to make a difference.

This month, council members donated an evening to work the phones for a membership/fundraising drive for Watertown's WPBS television.

The TV station interviewed Carmine Inserra, president of the Indian River Educators Association and leader of the council, and also hung the council's banner in the background.

"We're always in the public forum anyway," said Inserra, adding that hosting a public event shows the community how teachers are out there working to do the right thing.

PBS, said Inserra, is a great educational resource. Locals in the council range from LaFargeville TA with 42 members and Sackets Harbor TA with 44, to Watertown EA with 336 members and the Indian River EA with 332. Past activities have included donating books for students.

United Federation of Teachers

Frustrated with the New York City Department of Education's Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS), some teachers have designed a better way to track student data.

The United Federation of Teachers recently profiled a few of the innovative data programs developed by members, for members that are making their way through school systems. They include:

Impact, which tracks student attendance and assignments for high schools, is now used in 21 schools. It was developed by Jesse Olsen, a math teacher at Validus Preparatory Academy in the Bronx.

DataCation was designed by teachers from Brooklyn's High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, and was purchased by 30 city schools last year.

LMG Data Group, formed by staff from Leon Goldstein High School, also in Brooklyn, sells software customized to analyze whatever data schools choose.

There has been no shortage of complaints about ARIS since it was first introduced in 2008 by former Chancellor Joel Klein. DOE insists teachers use the $80 million program to track student data so they could then adjust their lessons to individual student needs.

Westfield TA

Members of the Westfield TA in Chautauqua County brushed up on their acting chops and singing to sponsor the musical "Snoopy."

Under the direction of members Kent Knappenberger and Sandra Makuch, faculty and staff performed an entertaining show for the Westfield community.

The musical raised more than $2,100. The local donated $1,075 to the McClurg Museum, home to the area's historical society, and the rest will go toward student scholarships.