January 23, 2019
Meet Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee
(D) NY Assembly District 82, Bronx
Michael R. Benedetto was born in the Bronx in 1947 and has lived his entire life in Northeast Bronx. He attended local Catholic primary and secondary schools, and in 1969 he graduated from Iona College with a B. A. degree in History/Education. While a student at Iona College he served as President of the Student Council and was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges. In 1971, he earned a M.A. in Social Studies/Education.
Assemblyman Benedetto spent his entire 35 years in teaching on the elementary and secondary school level. From 1969 to 1974 he taught at Our Lady of Assumption School in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx. In 1974 he joined the New York Public School system as a teacher of mentally and physically challenged children. In 1977 he was assigned to P.S. 160, The Walt Disney School, in Co-op City in the Bronx and in 1988 he became a coordinator of the special education unit. He remained at P.S. 160 for almost 28 years until being elected to the State Assembly in 2004.
While with the New York City schools, Assemblyman Benedetto ran the first “very special” Olympics for multiply handicapped children; became an “in-service” instructor, teaching other teachers about special education; and served as a member of local School District #11 Mainstreaming and SEALL training committees. The Assemblyman also worked as a mentor teacher and taught in his schools’ talented and gifted program.
Assemblyman Benedetto has received numerous awards for his achievements in education. In 1987, he received the New York Lung Association award for contributions to preventing children from smoking. In 1992 he received an award from the New York City adaptive physical education department for efforts on behalf of that program. In 1993 he received the FIAME (Federation of Italian-American Educators) Excellence in Teaching Award. He also received New York State and Congressional Citations applauding his teaching achievements. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) presented Mr. Benedetto with a citation for service to the cause of teacher unionism.
In addition to outstanding accomplishments in his career, he has made a huge impact on his community. For example, in 1969, Assemblyman Benedetto started the Throgs Neck Community Players community theater group and served as a member of Community Planning Board #10 from 1975-1979. In 1981 he started the Bronx Times Reporter newspaper which has become the largest community paper in the Bronx.
As a Legislator, Assemblyman Benedetto has focused on educational and child protection issues and has been an ardent supporter of union rights.
3602 E. Tremont Ave.
Bronx, NY 10465
(D, WF) NY Senate District 37, Westchester
Shelley Mayer has spent her career as an advocate for New Yorkers.She is an experienced and progressive leader. In an April 2018 Special Election, she was elected to the New York State Senate representing the 37th Senate District, which includes the Cities of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, and Rye; the Towns of Bedford, Eastchester, Harrison, Mamaroneck, North Castle, and Rye; and the Villages of Bronxville, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Rye Brook, and Tuckahoe. She was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election on March 20, 2012 and subsequently re-elected November 2012, 2014, and 2016 from the 90th District (Yonkers).
Shelley previously served as Chief Counsel to the New York State Senate Democrats, where she helped lead the effort to expel the disgraced Hiram Monserrate and helped draft critical legislation to reform Albany and protect taxpayers.
Prior to her election to the Assembly, Shelley was a Senior Counsel at the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School, where she focused on health care and labor law rights. For over seven years, she was Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Continuum Health Partners, one of New York City’s largest teaching hospital systems, working to protect Medicaid and Medicare services and improving the relationship between New York City’s diverse communities and the hospital system.
From 1982 to 1994, Shelley was an Assistant Attorney General in the office of New York Attorney General Bob Abrams. She served in the Civil Rights Bureau, as Chief of the Westchester Regional Office, as the legislative liaison for the Attorney General and ultimately as a senior advisor to the Attorney General. As an Assistant Attorney General, Shelley fought to protect civil rights for New Yorkers and to broaden laws protecting consumers and tenants.
Shelley received a JD from SUNY Buffalo School of Law in 1979 and a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in 1975. Shelley has been actively involved in the Yonkers community, serving as a member of the Yonkers NAACP, Yonkers YWCA, Westchester Women’s Bar Association, and Westchester Women’s Agenda. She is a member of the Yonkers Lawyers Association, New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Shelley also previously served on the Board of the Jewish Council of Yonkers/Westchester Community Partners and the Yonkers Public Library. Shelley lives in Yonkers with her husband of 36 years, Lee Smith. Shelley and Lee have three adult children – Aaron, Julia, and Arthur Smith.
222 Grace Church Street
Port Chester, NY 10573
Since the Governor’s budget address on Monday, our Legislative Liaison, Tony Laurino, and our CAS Lobbyist, Bob Ungar, have been working on two issues important to our members statewide. They are reporting that after years of lobbying for a fair education evaluation system we may be on the threshold of being heard. APPR legislation has been introduced in both the Assembly and Senate to disengage state test scores from teacher evaluations.
Assembly Education Chair Michael Benedetto and Senate Education Chair Shelly Mayer have introduced same as bills S1262 and A783 which will eliminate the mandate that school districts use state test scores to evaluate teachers. The bill will return the decision to school districts and collective bargaining.
Kristin Curran, Bob’s Legislative Aide, has just sent us a copy of the Assembly’s teacher evaluation bill that is on the Assembly calendar for Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
In summary, this Bill is “AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to state assessments and teacher evaluations; and to amend chapter 56 of the laws of 2014, amending the education law relating to providing that standardized test scores shall not be included on a student’s permanent record, in relation to making certain provisions permanent.”
CAS Principal Tenure:
The Governor vetoed our bill to grant administrators the same tenure rights as teachers when moving from one district to another. We will engage our attorneys to make the necessary technical changes noted by the Governor’s veto. These are simply technical and do not change the substance of the bill. When the changes are complete, Assemblyman Peter Abbate will sponsor the bill and we will discuss the changes with Assemblyman Benedetto and Senator Mayer.
Toward this end, your CAS/PAC donations have been extremely helpful in fueling these bills in both the Assembly and Senate.
If you would like to make a donation to our CAS/PAC please click on this link.
January 8, 2019
Update on Tenure Bill
On June 12, 2018, we informed you that ESSAA/CAS’ “Jarema” credit bill had been passed by both houses of New York’s legislature and was before the Governor for approval. The Bill is designed to shorten the tenure period from four years to three years for administrators who previously received tenure in their administrative position in another New York school district. That protection has been in place for many years for teachers but does not apply to administrators.
Unfortunately, on December 21, 2018, Governor Cuomo vetoed the Bill. The Governor’s objections appear to be based upon technical flaws in the Bill that can be addressed and corrected. Therefore, our Legal team as well as our Lobbyist and Legislative Liaison are working to address the issues outlined in the Governor’s veto and plan on sponsoring revised legislation. We are determined to deliver this protection to public school administrators in our State and will aggressively pursue a new Bill in the hope of having a law passed by the end of 2019.
We will keep you apprised of our continued efforts.
September 15, 2018
Dear CAS Member,
CAS/PAC is the lobbying arm of the Council of Administrators and Supervisors and the means by which we gain access to our elected officials. It is a vital piece of our legislative program.
Over the summer, I along with our lobbyist Bob Ungar, met with several key legislators to share with them the frustrations, betrayal, and disappointment felt within the educational community. We explained to them that it has become quite obvious that it is now politically easier to attack educators than it is to attack the real issues facing our communities and schools.
This month, I will continue to meet with Assembly people and Senators to stress the need for legislative changes to APPR. Carl Heastie, the Speaker of the Assembly, has recently acknowledged the problems within our schools extend beyond the classroom. Bob and I will discuss the reality that no evaluation system will ever improve our schools, unless and until, sweeping social welfare policies and programs are implemented. For years, private sector forces have been pushing the naively simplistic and also financially self-serving position that our failing schools are a result of poor performing teachers and administrators who are protected by the unions. The absurdity behind this is glaring self-evident, in that it totally ignores all of the socioeconomic challenges facing these communities.
We need to be following these private sector groups throughout the halls of the Capital building and exposing the absurdity and financial corruption behind their arguments. However, it’s only through your CAS/PAC donations that we will able to gain access to meaningful meetings and dialogue with our legislators. We must now more than ever have a presence in the hallways and offices of the Capital building, but unfortunately in our system of government access can only be obtained through your CAS/PAC donations.
To that end, I ask for $50 per member which translates to less than $2 a pay check with dues deduction. You may donate through our website at http://casliny.com/advocacy/donate-to-caspac/ or you may use CAS-PAC Payroll Deduction form and submit to your central office.
If you wish to donate by check, please send your check to our CAS/PAC office located at:
1300 Veterans Highway
Hauppauge, NY 11788
CAS Legislative Liaison