Thursday, January 31, 2019
I hope everyone is having a great school year so far and looking forward to the warmer months yet to come. Last week, both the NYS Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly voted to amend our current APPR evaluation system. While the new law pertaining to teacher evaluations certainly falls short of what public educators and union members wanted to see, it is definitely a step in the right direction, and a victory for unionized public educators in NYS. For instance, the old law mandated 3-8 ELA and math scores had to be part of those educator's evaluations, but the new law states that the choice of exam for evaluation is an item for collective bargaining between the unions and the school districts.
Although the new law still requires that 50% of a teacher's evaluation must be comprised of student performance on test scores, at least we now have a voice on which exams will be included in the evaluation. All this being said, the biggest take away here is that a very similar bill was shot down by the NYS Senate last year, and died in the Assembly when politicians who oppose unionized educators wanted to link the APPR changes to charter school expansion. One of those leading the charge against us was State Senator John Flanagan, who referred to unionized teachers as "forces of evil" in NYS.
So what happened? During the fall election cycle, our state union NYSUT spent a huge amount of time, effort, and resources electioneering for politicians who supported unions and public educators. As a result of our hard work during the fall election cycle, the NYS Senate was flipped, and now those who support unionized teachers outnumber those who do not. This is the importance of voting. The changes we are seeing to the APPR law are the direct result of those elections!
Elections have consequences on a national level as well. Our elected leaders not only have the ability to legislate our rights away, but they also have power over the appointment of federal judges, who can interpret the law in an unfavorable manor when it comes to union rights. Nowhere has this power been more damaging to public unions than on the Supreme Court, which has seen two recent vacancies filled with extremely anti-union judges. As a result of those appointments, we saw the erroneously decided Janus ruling which stripped unions of their right to collect a fee from everyone who benefits from collective bargaining. Unfortunately, the Janus case was just the tip of the iceberg, as many more cases challenging every aspect of union rights are likely to be seen before the Supreme Court in the coming years. Our enemies are using the appointment of these two Justices as an opportunity to judicially crush unions in this country.
As we move forward, it is important to note that there will be many new federal judges appointed, along with at least 2-3 other Supreme Court vacancies in the next few election cycles. Unions have the ability to control almost every election in this country and regain the rights we have lost. All it takes to restore our rights and power is for union members like us to keep in mind that elections have consequences. We must vote for politicians on every level of government who will listen to our voices, share our values, and respect our union!
I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming Wizards Event on April 3rd and The We Make a Difference Awards Night on April 30th. In Solidarity.