CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. YOU DID IT!

Congratulations!  Your energy and dedication to defeat ConCon certainly was a huge success.  The CAS family accepted the task of defeating ConCon and revealed its power.  Thank you for your diligence and perseverance.


Yesterday Newsday devoted the front page to the increase in pension premium cost for educators over the next two years.  It is interesting that Newsday would cover this information on pages one, two and three the day before the vote.  We are in their sights and they are rallying the voters to vote yes for a Constitutional Convention, Proposition #1.  The Newsday’s November 6th editorial urges all readers to vote yes.

Today is the day to call your contacts and explain that a yes vote could change the laws of New York State for the next 20 years.  We have elected legislators to make changes.  If New Yorkers elect to have a Constitutional Convention today special interest groups such as the Koch brothers and Robert and Rebekah Mercer could use their money and influences to get people elected as delegates and dictate a convention’s agenda.

YOUR WAY OF LIFE IS IN THE BALANCE.  YOUR FUTURE IS AT STAKE.

VOTE NO FOR PROPOSITION #1.  IT IS ON THE BACK OF THE BALLOT.

Thank you for your patience over the last few months.

Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


If New York State has an affirmative vote on a Constitutional Convention, the deep pocket corporate interests will spend big money next year to stack the convention delegates in November 2018.  These delegates could submit amendments that reduce your pension and/or eliminate collective bargaining.  Parents respect and admire the work we do.  However, if one or both of these items are on the ballot in 2018, parents could vote to cut school taxes.

This evening review your contact list and call to remind people to vote NO for a Constitutional Convention tomorrow.  It is Proposition #1 on the BACK of the Ballot. (Constitutional Convention).

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


Four days remain to election day and the Constitutional Convention vote.  Review your contact list to assure you have encouraged your family, friends and community to vote NO on Proposition #1.

If the voters elect to have a Constitutional Convention special interest groups will spend an inordinate amount of money to have their delegates elected in November 2018.  Mike Fabricante, vice president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) said, “Many people both on Wall Street and off see pensions as a weight on their purse and those folks will fill, or their money will fill, the convention.”

The families we serve appreciate our dedication.  However, a growing number feel they pay too much in school taxes.  Special interest groups would have delegates elected to the CON CON for the purpose of:

–Changing or eliminating the Triborough
Amendment
–Reduce our pensions

We have to get out the NO vote!

THE VOTE IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH.  The CON CON is Proposition #1 on the BACK of the ballot.

Let’s get out the NO vote!

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


There are six days left before election day, November 7th.  Have you urged your family, friends, and community leaders to vote NO for Proposition #1.  Money from outside the state is urging a Yes vote for personal gains.  According to a Sienna College poll released in September 45 percent of the registered voters are in favor of a CON CON, 33 percent are opposed and 22 percent are undecided.  It is imperative that we spread the word to vote NO.

At Stake:
-Future pensions could be reduced.
-Retirees living on their pension could have their pension
reduced.
-Collective bargaining could be eliminated.

We need the 22 percent undecided to vote NO.  Don’t be the person who opens the paper on November 8th and discovers we HAVE A CON CON because you didn’t contact people.

THE VOTE IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH.  The CON CON is Proposition #1 on the BACK of the ballot.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION – VOTE NO!

Your way of life would change drastically if we have a Constitutional Convention.  You could lose:

  *Your retirement pension.
*Your right to an enforceable contract.
*Protections if you are injured or lose
your job.
*Your right to collectively bargain.

The cost of a ConCon is estimated upwards of 300 million dollars of your tax dollars.

Speak with your family, friends, neighbors and community leaders and urge them to vote “NO” on Tuesday, November 7th.  This is Proposition #1 on the BACK of the Ballot.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


Vote Nol  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!   Vote No!

Vote No!  Vote Nol  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!  Vote No!   Vote No!

November 7, 2017 Constitutional Convention Ballot Question:

Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend same?”

A ”yes” vote for the Constitutional Convention means you could LOSE:

  • Retirement Security
  • Your right to collectively bargain.
  • Your job.
  • Your right to a free public education.
  • Social welfare needs.
  • State budget spending caps.
  • Workers’ compensation.
  • Environmental protections.
  • Your right to have a union.
  • Public schools, libraries, colleges and universities
 
Even if you oppose one or two of the above is it worth risking all the other rights?

On Tuesday, November 7th vote “NO” on the Constitutional Convention

THE PROPOSITION IS ON THE BACK OF THE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH BALLOT!  Talk with your family, friends and neighbors about why it should be voted down.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


Who Wants a Constitutional Convention

There are many special internet groups intent on having a Con-Con.

  1.  Those who would allow fracking, lumbering, mining in the Adirondacks, and Catskills.
  1.  Charter Schools and voucher proponents.
  1. People who want our pension benefits reduced to save them taxes.
  1. Prohibition on gambling lifted to allow more casinos in the State.

These groups are spending huge amounts of money to bring the Yes vote.  We have to get out the no vote the old fashioned way — word of mouth.  We have to spread the word to vote NO!

THE PROPOSITION IS ON THE BACK OF THE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH BALLOT!

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


October 17, 2017

Vote NO For a Constitutional Convention

In the 1950’s and early 60’s teachers fought long and hard to unionize for better working conditions and fair wages.  It took strikes and the breakup of many longtime friends to win the fight.

Educators finally had a place at the table to negotiate a contract.  Eventually the Triborough discussion was passed.

On Tuesday, November 7th the voters in New York State will decide whether or not to have a Constitutional Convention.  Should they vote YES many of our long fought rights will be eliminated.  Special inter3st, money groups, are spending millions to promote a Yes vote.  The cost of a Con-Con is over 300 million dollars.  That’s 300 million dollars from next year’s budget.  How much of that 300 million dollars from the Education budget?

It is important that we urge our friends, relatives and co-workers to vote NO for a Constitutional Convention.  Remind everyone that the proposition is on the BACK of the Ballot.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


October 12, 2017

Protect Your Rights as an Educator

A number of special interest groups are promoting a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con). If one comes about the amendments they will push will cost money.  Where will the money come from?  A significant amount could be purchased at your expense.  Proponents of a con-con are promoting campaign finance, restructuring the judiciary, legalizing marijuana, pro-abortion, con abortion, gun rights, and restructuring the state legislature.  These groups will work together to produce a yes vote on November 7, 2017.

They are counting on a yes vote and using your tax dollars for their programs.  If we have a yes vote it could mean:

  1. Eliminating or restricting our right to organize and bargain collectively.
  1. Amending the pension laws for past and future retirees.
  1. Change or eliminate the Triborough Amendment.
  1. Enact an even more stringent Tax Cap.
  1. School vouchers and/or state aid to religious schools could affect public education.

The cost of a convention will be upward of 300 million dollars of taxpayers’ money.  Each delegate to the convention would receive a minimum of $80,000.   Each delegate will hire a staff.  Another expense.

Changes to the Constitution, if needed, can be changed through the normal process.  This would be accomplished by the passage of the amendment(s) through two session of the legislature and approval by the voters in a November election.  This mechanism for change does not take tax dollars from the budget.

Make sure your family and friends understand that the high jacking of our values is at stake.  Encourage your family and friends to vote NO.

THE PROPOSITION WILL BE ON THE BACK OF THE BALLOT ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


October 5, 2017

Proposed Constitutional Convention Fact Sheet

The last convention held in 1967 cost $150 million dollars; the estimate for 2017 is over $300 million dollars.

The delegates each get the salary of NYS assembly person ($79,500), their staff gets paid (friends and relatives?), they get meals, transportation, and an expense account.  They get the salary regardless of how many days they had to work.

There is a rental cost for the meeting hall and the WIFI for the meeting (number of days undetermined).

What are some of the major changes that might affect the way we live today? 

A. “Forever wild” provisions could be changed to allow fracking, lumbering, mining in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and other wild areas.

B.  A guaranteed right to a free public education could be changed to allow for more charter schools and vouchers in the state, and tax caps could become mandatory.

C.  Pension benefits that “cannot be diminished or impaired” could be changed to allow for diminishment in the form of paying state income taxes on the pension, and non-reimbursement of Medicare Part B.  It would also open to door to future changes in the amount of a pensions system, thereby destabilizing it.  This has happened in other states.

D.  Voting changes could be enacted, like making an absentee ballot not available unless you will be physically out of state.  This would affect many senior citizens, college students, and those who are without a means of transportation to get to the polls or who are working during the hours that the polls are open or who can’t get there in time.

E.  Collective bargaining and workers’ rights to unionize could become restricted as has happened in other states.  The hard fought rights of educations, such as the Triborough Decision, could be altered or eliminated.

F.  Age discrimination in housing and jobs could be enacted which is important because of 2020 31% of people between 65-75 will still be working.

G.  Worker protections such as minimum wage, workers compensation, child labor regulations, 8-hour day, and how overtime is treated could be changed.

H.  Social welfare and public relief benefits and oversight and protections for nursing homes could be changed.

I.  A bi-cameral legislature could be changed, making the legislature one house.

J.  NYS could be divided into two states, upstate and downstate, as the organization Divide NYS Caucus would like.

K.  A prohibition on gambling could be lifted, which could mean more casinos all around the state.

Please share this information with family and friends.  Urge them to vote NO on the November 7th ballot.  The proposition is on the back of the ballot form.   If you do not vote NO it will be considered as though you do not care.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


September 25, 2017

Proponents for a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con)

The coming months will be filled with media coverage urging voters to vote for Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) on November 7, 2017.  Many self interest groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to promote a successful ‘Yes” vote.  If the voters approve a convention, delegates would be elected in 2018 with the convention held in 2019.  Advocates of a convention contend that the New York State Constitution is long overdue for a change.

Upstate interests support three autonomous regions, each with its own magistrate (Governor) and its own legislature.  Upstate interests have for many years felt that downstate excessive business regulations and unfunded mandates have produced excessive harm for them.

Another change being promoted is the elimination of the present Assembly and Senate.  This view holds that one house and the Governor is the simplest and most effective way to run the State.

Various political, and vested interest groups, are advancing changes in the administration of elections, campaign finance, the structure of the judiciary, marijuana legalization, pro and con abortion, gun rights advocates, and environmental legislation.  Each group will view a Con-Con as an opportunity to enhance their agenda and vote “Yes” for a Con-Con.  The alliance of these groups will be a formidable “Yes” vote.

It is almost certain that questions on tenure, contracts, pensions, and working conditions for educators will be a priority.  Special interest groups will advocate the saving of taxpayer dollars by the elimination of one or more of our protections and rights.

The cost of a Constitutional Convention will be approximately 300 million dollars of your tax dollars.  Each delegate will receive $80,000 plus the cost of their staff.
New York State Constitution grants our duly elected legislators and the Governor the same rights as the delegates of a Constitutional Convention without a 300 million dollar price tag..

It is necessary that each CAS (ESSAA) member promote a “No” vote on November 7, 2017.  Presently the vote on whether or not to have a Constitutional Convention is on the back of the ballot.   However, there is discussion to place it on the front of the ballot.  Look on both sides of the ballot.

Continue to discuss the need of a no votes with your family and friends. We can win this – but we need your constant assistance.

Thank you,
Tony Laurino
Legislative Liaison


September 6, 2017

Constitutional Convention

This is the first in a series of occasional articles that will outline what a Constitutional Convention is; how it functions and the affect it can have on your working conditions and pension.

Every 20 years, New Yorkers have an opportunity to vote whether or not to have a Constitutional Convention to alter, amend or change in any way the State Constitution.

On Election Day, November 7, 2017, New York voters will be asked whether their state’s constitution should be redrafted.  If New Yorkers vote no, the status quo remains.  If the voters vote yes New Yorkers will elect delegates to the Constitutional Convention on Election Day, November 6, 2018.   In this case each of the 63 Senatorial districts will vote for three delegates from that district.  At the same election fifteen delegates-at-large will be elected.

On April 2, 2018 the elected delegates convene to discuss proposed amendment(s).  A majority vote of all the delegates is necessary to submit an amendment to the voters.

New Yorkers will have an opportunity to vote on each proposed amendment in the November 2019 election.

Why do we have to vote “NO” on November 7, 2017?

1.  Civil service employees could have their terms of employment, working conditions and pensions changed.
2.  The Triborough Amendment could be eliminated or changed.
3.   Pension laws for past and future retirees could be altered.

It is not too early to discuss with family and friends the need to vote “NO” onNovember 7, 2017.

Thank you,
Anthony C. Laurino
Legislative Liaison


 

NYS Legislative Update June 20, 2017

The 2015 education legislation granted tenured teachers who move from one school district to another the right to serve a three year probation instead of four years.   Administrators and supervisors were not included in this legislation. For the past year we have been lobbying for equity.  Last week the Senate passed our bill 60-0.  The bill has been sent to the Assembly where it is being sponsored by Assemblyman Peter Abbate (Bill A-8108).

Please send the following email to your Assemblyperson:

Honorable ____________:

The education legislation of 2015 provided a three year probation period for tenured teachers who move from one school district to another.  The bill did not include administrators and supervisors.  Assemblyperson Peter Abbate’s bill A-8108 rectified the inequity.  I urge you to vote for this bill when it comes before the assembly.

Sincerely,
NAME
ADDRESS

Reminder to Members:

Your PAC donations afford us greater opportunities to meet with legislators and discuss our education agenda.  Please give serious consideration to contribute when you receive PAC information in August.

Thank you,

Sincerely,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


NYS Legislative Update June 5, 2017

We now have an Assembly sponsor for our tenured administrators and supervisors bills.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate sponsored bill A8108 which relates to tenured administrator and supervisors who move from one district to another to serve a three year probationary period instead of four.  This bill will be on the Assembly Education committee agenda soon.  It is incumbent upon each member to send the following email to the members of the Assembly Education Committee.  We need 1400 emails if we want this to happen.

Honorable Catherine Nolan,

The education legislation of 2015 granted a three year probationary period to tenured teachers who more from one school district to another.  Since the legislation did not specifically identify administrators and supervisors they have not been included.

Bill A8108 rectifies this.  I urge you vote this bill to the full Assembly for a vote since it establishes Administrator & Supervisors’ equity with the teachers.

Thank you for your consideration.

Your Name

Send same email to each Education Committee Member:

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Education Committee
Email: NolanC@nyassembly.gov

The following are members of the committee:

Carman E. Arroyo
Email:  ArroyoC@nyassembly.gov

Michael Benedetto
Email:  benedettom@nyassembly.gov

Anthony Brindisi
Email:  brindisia@nyassembly.gov

Steve Englebright
Email:  EngleS@nyassembly.gov

Al Graf
Email:  grafa@nyassembly.gov

Earlene Hooper
Email:  hoopere@nyassembly.gov

Ellen Jaffee
Email:  JaffeeE@nyassembly.gov

Ron Kim
Email:  kimR@nyassembly.gov

Peter Lawrence
Email:  lawrencep@nyassembly.gov

Barbara Lifton
Email:  LiftonB@nyassembly.gov

Peter D. Lopez
Email:  LopezP@nyassembly.gov

William B. Magnarelli8
Email:  MagnarW@nyassembly.gov

Shelly Mayer
Email:  MayerS@nyassembly.gov

David G. McDonough
Email: mcdonough@nyassembly.gov

Steven F. McLauglin
Email:  mclaughlins@nyassembly.gov

Michael Miller
Email:  MillerMG@nyassembly.gov

Walter T. Mosley
Email:  MosleyW@nyassembly.gov

Dean Murray
Email:  murrayd@nyassembly.gov

Daniel J. O’Donnell
Email:  OdonnellD@nyassembly.gov

Steven Otis
Email:  OtisS@nyassembly.gov

Amy Paulin
Email:  PaulinA@nyassembly.gov

Edward P. Ra
Email:  Rae@nyassembly.gov

Phil Ramos
Email:  ramosp@nyassembly.gov

Linda B. Rosenthal
Email:  RosentL@nyassembly.gov

Sean Ryan
Email:  RyanS@nyassembly.gov

Rebecca A. Seawright
Email:  SeawrightR@nyassembly.gov

Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
Email:  ThieleF@nyassembly.gov

Matthew Titone
Email:  TitoneM@nyassembly.gov

Michele R. Titus
Email:  TitusM@nyassembly.gov

Mary Beth Walsh
Email:  walshm@nyassembly.gov

Thank you,

Sincerely,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


NYS Legislative Update May 5, 2017

Bob Ungar, Kristin Curran, and I were in the Capital when the legislators returned on Monday, April 24th.  We had scheduled meetings with legislators to discuss the administrators’ tenure legislation, the impending legislation on students’ code of conduct and suspensions, and the Constitutional Convention.

Administrators Tenure

The 2015 education legislation allows a tenured teacher who takes employment in another school district to serve three years’ probation.  The legislation is silent on administrators hence administrators must serve a four year probation.  Since the summer we have had meetings with Senator Carl Marcellino, Senate Education Chair, to advance legislation granting administrators the same rights as teachers.  At our meeting last week legislation was put into draft form.  We are now waiting for a bill number after which it will move to the Senate Education Committee.  Senator Martin Golden, Civil Service and Pension Chair, will co-sponsor the bill.  When the bill goes to the Education Committee, you will be directed to contact Senate members in your district and request that they move the bill out of committee to the Senate floor.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Civil Service and Pension Chair, will sponsor the bill in the Assembly.  When it moves to the Assembly Education Committee, you will be requested to contact Assembly people in your district and ask that they move the bill to the floor of the Assembly.  It is not usual for a bill to be fast tracked as this is.  We need your assistance in contacting legislators when the time comes.  We will send an eblast with the names and contact numbers of members on each of the education committees.

Student Code of Conduct and Suspension Bill

We met with Assembly and Senate legislators to discuss bills (A3873-S3036).  Both bills are based on a New York City restorative justice movement.  The legislators we spoke with had no knowledge of the bills.  After we explained a few of the bills problems such as, removing the authority of the Board of Education; not permitting a student to be removed from class or school activities in response to tardiness, unexcused absence from class or school, leaving school without permission, insubordinate behavior including, but not limited to the use of inappropriate language or gestures, lack of identification upon request or a violation of school dress code; requiring school districts to establish a committee of parents, teachers, students, security personnel, and representatives of all school organizations to write a NEW code of conduct.    When this has been accomplished a public hearing about the proposed code of conduct must be held before its adoption. There was unanimous agreement among legislators we met with that the bills would not go anywhere.

Constitutional Convention

Aside from a few legislators, there wasn’t a compulsion to push for a constitutional convention.  It was widely agreed upon that this is being pushed by people outside the Capital.

We have agreed with other municipal labor unions to stay in contact with our members urging them to impress upon family and friends the need to vote no for a Constitutional Convention in November.  The legislature can accomplish through legislation anything a Constitutional Convention can.  EXCEPT – change pension laws.  Only a con-con can change pension laws.  A Constitutional Convention makes us vulnerable in terms of working conditions and pension.  Presently the legislature has no designs on either, but other money people do.  A few legislators researched the cost of a con-con, and the numbers are now in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

We will continue to monitor these initiatives in Albany and keep you informed!

Very truly yours,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


April 11, 2017

The 2017-2018 budget was agreed upon this weekend.  This budget, as previous budgets, included non-budget policy items.  This was one of the issues, but not the only one, that held up an agreement.  Senator John DeFrancisco has suggested the legislature move on a constitution amendment.  Senator DeFrancisco is from the Syracuse area.  Members from that area should phone, email, and/or fax the Senator.  A Constitutional Convention will add millions to the budget while taking funds from other categories such as education.  Legislators have left Albany for a two week vacation.

Education Budget Highlights:

  • Foundation aid increase of $700 million, for a total school aid increase roughly $1.1 billion;
  • Extends contracts for excellence until all schools with the district are in “good standing”;
  • Requires the chancellor of NYC to notify students about the opportunity to attend a specialized high school;
  • Non-public schools- Allows non-publics to access smart school bond funding for connectivity projects, provides grants for STEM teachers, provides reimbursements for state mandated immunizations;
  • Charter schools- Increases facilities funding for schools in NYC and provides a supplemental tuition;
  • Pre-kindergarten- Allows parents of pre-kindergarten programs to serve on community district education councils in New York City, consolidates five of the six programs into a single program over multiple years, requires districts to adopt quality indicators, requires SED to adopt a new tuition methodology for pre-school special education integrated classes;
  • Allows districts to enter into ten year contracts for educating Native American children;
  • Increases the threshold for school districts to purchase food from farm collectives directly from $25K to $50K

Very truly yours,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


February 16, 2017

New York State Constitutional Convention

What is a Constitutional Convention?

Every twenty years New York State voters are afforded the opportunity to vote on whether or not to convene a Constitutional Convention.  This year the vote will take place on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7th.  If passed, the Constitutional vote will be held in April 2019.

How are delegates selected to represent

the voters at the Constitutional Convention?

Each of the 63 Senate districts is allotted three (3) members with fifteen (15) at large delegates.  The delegates meet in Albany and have the ability to amend any section of the state constitution.  Upon agreement of a majority of the delegates, the amendment will then go before the voters for approval.

Is it possible for CAS members to be affected? 

All civil service employees could be faced with drastic changes in working conditions and pensions.  Under the present constitution, our terms of employment are protected.  Delegates to the convention could put on the ballot a change or elimination to the Triborough Amendment.  Delegates could also amend the pension laws for past and future retirees.  The very structure of working conditions along with your employment and pension benefits will be in the hands of political appointees.

Is there a better way?

Crucial changes to the New York State Constitution can be passed through legislation with the exception of pension reductions.  It is not necessary to open the entire constitution to make changes.

What can you do to help?

Our concern is that the anti-union sentiment pervasive in our current political system will attract a great deal of out of state money that will be devoted solely to weakening public sector unions through the diminishment of benefits. Speak with your family and friends and request they contact their state legislators to tell them there are better ways to make changes.  Let the state legislators stand behind their legislation with a yes or no vote.

Finally, become active and involved in your local association and stand willing to assist CAS and its efforts on your behalf to insure we maintain our hard-fought rights and benefits.

FACT:  The 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention cost taxpayers roughly $6.5 million.  In 2017 numbers, that’s close to $50 million that could be put to better use.

Sincerely,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


January 24, 2017

The New York State Constitution requires the election of state legislators every two years.  Between Election Day in November and the end of December, the outgoing legislators may vote for a salary increase for the incoming legislators.

Representatives of the Assembly and Senate met with independent gubernatorial appointees in December to discuss the raise.  State lawmakers have not had a raise since 1999.  In addition to the raise, the Governor’s appointees added ethics reform, affordable housing, and lower property taxes to the agenda.  This lead to a stalemate.

Assemblyman Mike DenDekker stated that the failure of the independent gubernatorial appointees to act of their own accord might well be illegal and the appointees may have violated sections of the “Public Officers Law.”

On December 27, 2016 the Governor announced plans to hold six State of the State messages in different areas of the state instead of the traditional one address before the numbers of the Assembly, Senate, and taxpayers.  The State Constitution requires the Governor to communicate to legislators the condition of the State and make recommendations for the new session.  Governor Cuomo’s office said this year’s events are aimed at delivery the governor’s message directly to the people, not the power players.  The leadership of the Assembly and the Senate announced they would not attend any of the Governor’s six addresses.

On this note, the 2017 session begins.  As previously reported Bob Ungar and I have been meeting with legislators for the past several months to garner support for our 2017 legislative program.
We identified three key topics of importance to our members:

Tax Cap – The reality of eliminating the Tax Cap is unrealistic since it is one of the Governor’s signature pieces of legislation.  The tax cap for the 2017-2018 school year is projected to be under 1% this year as it was for the last two years.  School districts will be forced to cut programs, staff, and services to accommodate the cap or, pierce the cap and hope for an approval of 60% from the taxpayer.  At this time we have the support from a core group of legislators for a real 2% Tax Cap that would not be tied to the cost of living or any other mechanism that would lower it.

A recent report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found local governments in New York continue to struggle with little, or no, revenue growth.

Jarema Credit – Included within the 2015 Educational Transformation Act was the expansion of the probationary period for all teachers and administrators from three (3) to four (4) years.  The legislation continued the so-called “Jarema Credit” which shortens the probationary period to three (3) years for teachers who had received tenure in another district. However, this does not extend to administrators and only applies to teachers.  Tenured administrators who move to another district would be subject to serving another four (4) year probationary period.  We have met with Senator Marcellino, and other legislators who agree that this legislation is partial to teachers and inexplicably inequitable.  There exists no common sense or logical reason to distinguish between teachers and administrators in this area.  Bob and I will work with Senator Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, to draft a change to this piece of legislation.

APPR – Bob and I will continue to work with legislators regarding the smoke and mirrors of APPR.  Realistically, there is not an evaluation system that will improve our schools.  Each student enters school with a different set of variables, i.e. home life, real economic circumstances, home value of education, language barriers, social promotion, education readiness, etc.  Self-serving private sectors posit that failing schools are the result of poorly performing teachers and administrators who are protected by the unions.  We need to remain steadfast in our goal to expose the myths of the private sector.

Governor Cuomo’s State of the State preliminary education proposals include:

Create 22,000 after school slots in the 16 Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Areas

Expand high-quality Pre-K

Create additional early college high schools to provide opportunities in tech sector

Create additional early college high schools to provide opportunities in tech sector

Expand NYS Maser Teacher Program: computer science teachers

Extend Empire State Excellence in Teaching Awards

The Governor proposed an increase of $75.3 million dollars for Long Island’s public schools.  The total Nassau, Suffolk proposal for 2017-2018 is $2.7 billion.  This year the allowable tax-levy increase is 1.26 percent.  Nothing is written in stone.  We will have to wait on the March discussions among the Assembly and Senate leaders with the Governor.

To these ends, I ask for a CAS/PAC donation of $50 from every CAS member.  Click here for a dues deduction form. You can also donate via PayPal through our website at http://casliny.com/legislation/caspac-contributions/

During the course of the year, in addition to your PAC contributions, I will likely ask for your support by making telephone calls and sending emails to your legislators.

Sincerely,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


September 20, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

CAS/PAC is the lobbying arm of CAS and the means by which we gain access to our State representatives.

Over the past few months, Bob Ungar, our lobbyist, and I meet with several key legislators to share with them your concerns.  The three topics we have emphasized are; 2% Tax Cap, Jerema Credit (relates to tenure), and APPR.

Tax Cap – The 2% Tax Cap is one of Governor Cuomo’s signature pieces of legislation.  The tax cap for the 2017-2018 school year is projected to be under 1% as was last year’s cap.  Our school districts will be faced with a difficult choice, either cut programs, staff, and services or override the tax cap which will require a 60% approval from the community.  The reality of repealing the 2% Tax Cap at this time is nonexistent.  This summer Bob and I met with legislators who are willing to support a real 2% Tax Cap.  We are working with Assembly and Senate legislators to make this a reality.

Jarema Credit – Included within the 2015 Educational Transformation Act was the expansion of the probationary period for all teachers and administrators from three (3) to four (4) years.  The legislation continued the so-called “Jarema Credit” which shortens the probationary period to three (3) years for teachers who had received tenure in another district. However, this does not extend to administrators and only applies to teachers.  Tenured administrators who move to another district would be subject to serving another four (4) year probationary period.  We have met with Senator Marcellino who is in agreement that this legislation is partial to teachers and inexplicably inequitable.  There exists no commonsense or logical reason to distinguish between teachers and administrators in this area.  Bob and I will work with Senator Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, to draft a change to this piece of legislation.

APPR
Bob and I will continue to work with legislators regarding the smoke and mirrors of APPR. Realistically, there is not an evaluation system that will improve our schools. Each student enters school with a different set of variables, i.e. home life, socioeconomic circumstances, home value on education, language barriers, social promotion, education readiness, etc.  Private sectors that are financially self-serving post that failing schools are the result of poorly performing teachers and administrators who are protected by the unions.  We need to remain steadfast in our goal to expose the myths of the private sector.

To these ends, I ask for a CAS/PAC donation of $50 per member which translates to less than $2 a paycheck with dues deduction.  Click here for a dues deduction form for you to fill out and submit to your central office.  You can also donate via PayPal through our website at http://casliny.com/legislation/caspac-contributions/.

During the course of the year, in addition to your PAC contributions, I will likely ask for your support by making telephone calls and sending emails to your legislators.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you provide throughout the school year.

Best wishes for a successful school year,
Sincerely,
Tony  
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


September 7, 2016

In November all legislators will be up for election.  At the present time the Assembly is overwhelmingly Democratic while the Senate holds a narrow Republican majority.  It is vital that we keep a balance of power between the Democratic Assembly and Republican Senate.  Consider the consequences of having a Democratic Assembly and Senate.

New York City would hold the purse strings on the education budget.  Consider, also, the fact that in the last five years the Senate passed our suspension bill which would require suspension records to accompany a student enrolling in a new district.  The Assembly has never even had this bill out of committee.

Last year our work with the Republican leadership, John Flanagan, and the Senate Education Chair, Carl Marcellino, assisted in eliminating the GAP.

Each year the Republican Senate has pushed the education budget higher than the Governor’s and Assembly’s recommendations.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Liberal or Conservative, our agenda, as an organization, is to protect our members and education.

With these goals we urge you to vote for and encourage family members and friends to vote for the following:

SENATOR JOHN FLANAGAN – HUNTINGTON – COMMACK – SMITHTOWN – STONY BROOK – PORT JEFFERSON

SENATOR CARL MARCELLINO – OYSTER BAY

SENATOR KEMP HANNON – GARDEN CITY

SENATOR TOM CROCCI – ISLIP

ELAINE PHILLIPS (VILLAGE OF FLOWER HILL).  RUNNING FOR JACK MARTINS SEAT

Thank you.

Tony  
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


September 1, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Recently, Bob Ungar and I met with Senator Marcellino, the Senate Education Chairman.

Our agenda consisted of two items:

  • Jarema Credit – Included within the 2015 Educational Transformation Act was the expansion of the probationary period for all teachers and administrators from three (3) to four (4) years. The legislation continued the so-called “Jarema Credit” which shortens the probationary period to three (3) years for teachers who had received tenure in another district. However, this does not extend to administrators and only applies to teachers.  Tenure administrators who move to another district would be subject to serving another four (4) year probationary period.  We have met with Senator Marcellino who is in agreement that this legislation is partial to teachers and inexplicably inequitable.  There exists no commonsense or logical reason to distinguish between teachers and administrators in this area.  Bob and I will work with Senator Marcellino to draft a change to this piece of legislation.
  • 2% Tax Cap – One of Governor Cuomo’s signature pieces of legislation is the 2% Tax Cap. Its popularity with the general public makes its elimination extremely unlikely.  However, as we look back on the so-called “2% tax cap” we see that it’s not truly a 2% cap.  In reality, the Cap has been far less than 2% thereby punishing school districts and leading to a diminution of services to the students.   Senator Marcellino agrees that if we are to have a 2% Tax Cap it should not be based on the economy and fluctuate each year.  Bob and I will continue to meet with legislators in both houses and on both sides of the aisle to garner support.

Tony  
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison


June 16, 2016

The last days of the 2016 legislative session are upon us.

Assemblyman Abbate (A9715) and Senator Golden (S7120) have legislation that relates to the health insurance buyout programs.

These bills provide that the Department of Civil Services shall not deny any participating agency or participating employer the ability to collectively bargain for a health insurance buyout programs and that the Department shall not limit the employees who participate in the insurance buyout plan to those whose other health insurance coverage is not coverage through the New York State health Insurance Plan (“NYSHIP”).

Legislation has passed the Assembly and CAS is lobbying vigorously to get it through the Senate.

Thank you.

Tony  
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison 


June 13, 2016

The Assembly introduced legislation (A10569) which allows districts not compliant with the present APPR legislation to operate without the loss of aid increases.

The NYSSBA endorses this legislation since it allows them greater bargaining power when negotiating APPR. We anticipate that if this bill is signed into law some school districts would like to begin to tie APPR to contract negotiations. Ironically, while tied into state aid school districts have feverishly asserted that APPR negotiations should always be separate from contract negotiations.

This issue has been brought to the floor of the Senate without a resolution to date. With time running out on the 2016 session, negotiations are still underway on control of New York City schools, ethics, lead testing for water, fantasy sports, opioid addiction, and health care transportation.

CAS is discussing with Senators the Assembly’s legislation decoupling APPR from aid increases. If not drafted carefully such legislation could possible give school districts an undo advantage in both contract and APPR negotiations.

Thank you.

Tony  
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison 


May 26, 2016

A hearty thank you to the members who contribute to our PAC fund.  Your donation assisted Bob and me to succeed in lobbying for the return of the funds to school districts under the Gap Elimination Adjustment.  Since the 2009-2010 school year the state has deducted from each school district’s aid allocation to assist the state fill its revenue shortfall.  The GEA caused an increase in class size, staff lay-offs, reducing non mandated curricula, and reducing or modifying sports, music and drama, thereby hindering the quality education for which New York has been renowned.  Your continued support will enable us to have meaningful dialogue on the following bills:

Bills in Opposition:

Sponsored by Assemblyman Raia –this bill would decrease the amount of funding allocated to administrative costs when there is an elimination of any teaching position or a decrease in salary or cost associated with such positions.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Goodell – If a Board declares a fiscal emergency, this bill would empower the Board to freeze salaries, enter into new collective bargaining agreements that change employment contributions to the pension fund or the amount of employee salaries.

Proposed Legislation:

We would urge legislators to eliminate the 2% Tax Cap.  However, legislators know that such a bill would be a death knell for them.  We are therefore advocating for a real 2% Tax Cap not tied to inflation, cost of living, or any other outside influence.

  • Assemblywoman Nolan is considering legislation untying the funding from implementation of evaluations. We will continue to work with legislators to implement such legislation.
  • Last year legislation was enacted tying teacher/principal evaluation to student test scores. The Board of Regents later placed a moratorium on the use of test scores in the evaluation process through the 2019-2020 school year.  We are advocating that the legislators repeal their 2015 bill of the 50% evaluation and leave evaluations to the professional educators.

Assemblyman Hawley’s bill advocates the repeal of the 2015 bill relating to annual performance review for teachers and principals and the repeal of teacher/principal evaluations.

Bob and I will be monitoring the education bills for the remainder of session.  In July we will begin our annual meetings with legislators in their home districts to outline our proposals and concerns for the coming session.  This is election year for all legislators.

Your PAC donation will be especially needed to retain legislators who understand our concerns and want a quality education for all students.  In August you will receive a form allowing the district to deduct your PAC donation from your check over a period of several months.  Please fill this form out and return it to your district office.

Enjoy the summer to recharge your batteries!

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


May 12, 2016

The Assembly Education Committee discussed a series of bills on Wednesday, May 11th.  One bill affects our membership.  Bill A4515 sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Raia:

SUMMARY:  

This bill will amend the education law by adding in a new section 1527-1

in relation to school budget reductions.  During the consideration and adoption

of the proposed school district budget for any school year in which there is

the proposed elimination of any teaching position or a decrease in salary or

costs associated with such positions, the governing body of the school district

shall make a proportional decrease in the amount of funding allocated to

administrative costs including cost associated with positions and salaries of

administrative staff in such proposed budget.

JUSTIFICATION:

Too often during times of budget cuts, worthwhile programs are always the

first to go, even when there may be other alternatives.  Too many times we

see cuts to teaching, art programs and other extra-curricular programs while

the many highly-paid administrative salaries remain a burden on the local

taxpayer.  This bill takes steps to ensure that there will be parity in the process

as school districts tackle difficult budget-cutting decisions.

Bob Ungar and I are presently in discussion with legislators regarding this bill.

As always your CAS/PAC donations go a long way in affording us opportunities to engage in discussions.  If you have not done so already, please send your $50 CAS/PAC check to: 

                                                            CAS/PAC

                                                            490 Wheeler Road

                                                            Suite 280       

                                                            Hauppauge, NY  11788 

You can also donate online at:  http://casliny.com/legislation/caspac-contributions/

Thank you.

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


May 11, 2016

Bob Ungar and I have been warning legislators of the eventual dangers of the 2% Tax Cap bill.  At this time a number of districts are facing bankruptcy.  We have advocated an elimination of the bill or a change in the substance of the bill.  Assemblyman Andy Goodell from Jamestown has sponsored a bill (A-05090) that effectively freezes contracts and empowers Boards to change the terms and conditions of contracts.  Below is a summary of his bill:

              Section 1:  Allows a declaration of a state of fiscal emergency by a majority
vote following a public hearing in designated situations.

Section 2:  Freezes salaries and benefits for a 90 day period during contract
negotiations, with the support of PERB mediation, Thereafter the school board
shall have the power by majority vote to change the terms and conditions of
the contract.

Section 3:  Gives school boards the express statutory authority to enter into
new collective bargaining agreements that change employee contribution levels
and/or the amount of employee salaries considered by the retirement system for
pension purposes.

Your PAC donations have assisted us in our discussions with legislators.  This year we were successful in restoring the Gap Elimination funds.  The upcoming discussion with legislators on Assemblyman Goodell’s bill is a priority.  We need your help.  Please send your $50 donations to:

CAS/PAC

490 Wheeler Road

Suite 280

Hauppauge, NY  11788

You can also donate online at: http://casliny.com/legislation/caspac-contributions/

This is an election year and we need to keep those legislators who value education close to us.

Thank you.

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


March 11, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

On Wednesday, March 9th, the Assembly Education Committee met to consider bill A09411, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nolan, the Chair of the Education Committee.  The bill relates to the restructuring and takeover of struggling schools.

1-For schools designated as struggling (one year), but not persistently struggling (three or more years), the local school district will continue to operate the school for two additional years.

2-For schools newly designated as struggling after 2016-2017, the school will be immediately eligible for receivership.

3-Should the Commissioner determine a school be placed into receivership the district will appoint an independent receiver to manage and operate all aspects of the school and develop and implement a school intervention plan.

4-The receiver will have the power to supersede any decision, policy or regulation of the superintendent or board of education.

5-The receiver will include in the intervention plan: measures to address social service, health and mental health needs of the students and their families: measures to improve or expand access to child welfare services: as applicable measures to provide greater access to career and technical education: measures to address achievement gaps for English language learners, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students: a budget for the school intervention plan.

6-In creating and implementing the school intervention plan the receiver may, after consulting with stakeholders and the community engagement team, may convert school(s) to community schools.*

7-In addition the receiver may expand, alter or replace the curriculum and program offerings; replace teachers and administrators who are not appropriately certified: increase salaries of current or prospective teachers and administrators: establish steps to improve hiring, induction, teacher evaluation, professional developments, expand the school day or school year: abolish the positions of all members of the teaching and administrative staff assigned to the school.

8-The receiver may request the bargaining units representing teachers and administers negotiate a receivership agreement that modifies the applicable collective bargaining agreement.  The receivership agreement may address: the length of the school day; the length of the school year; professional development for teachers and administrators; class size; assignments.  The receivership agreement shall not provide for any reduction in compensation unless there is a proportionate reduction in hours and will provide a proportionate increase in compensation where the length of the school day or year is extended.

9-The receiver has the authority to convert a school in receivership to a charter school, provided that such charter conversion shall operate consistent with a community school’s model.

At a meeting in Speaker Heastie’s office I was informed that he was more a proponent of Community Schools than Charter Schools.

*A Community School is a partnership between the school and community resources.  A Community School concentrates on additional academics for failing students, health and mental health service for the community, supports strong families, promotes employment opportunities, provides access to child welfare services, promotes career and technical education, and creates a strong social service center for the community.  Community Schools are usually open six days a week and have a strong mentoring program for families.

Bob Ungar, our lobbyist, and I, are in constant communication with legislators on your behalf.  Issues such as charter schools, 2% Tax Cap, 50% state test scores toward administrators evaluation, and the merger of school districts, are but a few that affect our working conditions and quality education.

Our PAC fund needs your help.  If you have not donated to CAS/PAC yet, please send $100 to our office at address below, or sign up using dues deduction form, or you can link to our website to donate directly.  Thank you.

                                                           CAS/PAC

                                                490 Wheeler Road, Suite 280

                                                      Hauppauge, NY  11788 

Sincerely,

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


February 23, 2016

On Wednesday, February 24th, the Senate Education Committee will meet to discuss new bills.

Bill S1442-A, LaValle and A1414-A, Thiele, affects Suffolk County.  At the present time a central high school district may be formed by the combination of two or more contiguous central, union free, or common school districts in Suffolk.  This bill would exclude the following districts from being contiguous; Montauk, Springs, Wainscott, Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Tuckahoe, Hampton Bays, Riverhead, Quogue, East Quogue, Westhampton Beach, and Remsenburg-Speonk.

Another bill being considered by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, establishes a task force on arts and music education in elementary and secondary schools (S1148-Avella). The task force will examine, evaluate, accept public comment and make recommendations concerning the adequacy of the current state curriculum for arts and music education for elementary and secondary schools in the state, and the sufficiency of time devoted to the instruction and performance of music and arts during each school day.

The task force shall consist of 11 members to be appointed as follows:

  • One member appointed by the board of regents;
  • One member appointed by the council on the arts;
  • One member appointed by the New York State School Music Association;
  • One member appointed by the New York State Art Teachers Association;
  • One member appointed by the New York State School Boards Association;
  • One member appointed by the temporary president of the senate;
  • One member appointed by the speaker of the assembly; and
  • Four members appointed by the governor.

The task force shall submit, within 18 months of the effective date of this act, a report of its findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Governor, Board of Regents, temporary President of the Senate, Speaker of the Assembly, minority Leader of the Senate and minority Leader of the Assembly.

Bob Ungar, our lobbyist, and I will be meeting with legislators on these bills and other concerns of our membership.  You can assist us by donating to our PAC Fund.  If you do not have PAC funds deducted from your check, you can send a check to:

CAS/PAC

490 Wheeler Road

Suite 280

Hauppauge, NY  11788

Recommended donation is $50.00 for year.  If you wish you can fill out this CAS/PAC form and submit it to you payroll department (or you can donate through pay pal by going to our website at http://casliny.com/legislation/caspac-contributions/)

Sincerely,

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison

Tony with Flanagan and Marcellino

 (l-r) Senator Carl Marcellino, Senate Education Chair; Tony Laurino, CAS;
Senator John Flanagan, Leader in the Senate

February 22, 2016

When the legislators return to Albany after President’s week, their attention will focus on the budget.  Legislators have various backgrounds prior to election.  Most are attorneys, or business people; very few have been in Education.  Bob Ungar, our lobbyist, and I have been meeting with legislators to assist them in understanding the complexities of education in the 21st century.  The following are topics we have, and will continue, to discuss.

Charter Schools – Public school expenditures for charter schools include staff salaries, instructional support services, classroom materials, food service, transportation, capital investments, and maintenance of school buildings and property.  Students are selected by lottery.  Unquestionably families who enter this lottery are, by and large, those who monitor their children and have a high regard for education.  Consequently the students who are enrolled do well in school and are the most disciplined Charter schools drains not only money from public schools but also many of its most successful students.

Schools in Receivership – The Democratic leadership in the Assembly advocates Community Schools rather than the Regents proposal.  A Community School would offer extra academic assistance to failing students, health care services, employment assistance, family counseling, and accentuate family cooperation.

The 2% Tax Cap – This year the 2% tax cap is for all practical purposes 0%.  If we do not change this law districts will suffer the closing of schools, the laying off of staff and support staff, larger class size, and the elimination of after school activities.  Ultimately we will see some districts around the state go bankrupt.

We have a number of legislators willing to sever the rate of inflation and make it a true 2% tax cap.  We must encourage a complete repeal of this bill.

Opt-out – Many legislators are under the impression that the movement will not be the force it was.  They sight shorter tests, the removal of time limits, the elimination of teacher evaluation tied to student state test scores, and the teacher review of tests prior to the student taking the tests will alleviate the fears of the parents.  When asked about witholding state aide, should the opt-out movement be more than 5%, they tell us that it is the Governor’s call.

50% state test scores toward teacher/principal evaluation – Although this will not take effect until 2020 we must be vigilant in convincing legislators that the 2015 bill is flawed.  There are too many factors that are a part of a student’s life which determines success and/or failure in the classroom.

This year is an election year for all legislators.  It is vital that Bob Ungar and I stay connected with legislators who understand our goals and agree with us.  It is even more essential that we continue to reach out to other legislators to assist them in understanding our concerns.

Please donate to our CAS/PAC fund.  It is important that every member donate $50 a year to CAS/PAC.  If you do not donate through your dues deduction (CAS/PAC form) please send your check to:

CAS/PAC

490 Wheeler Road, Suite 280

Hauppauge, NY  11788

Sincerely,

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


November 16, 2015

The Governor’s task force for 2015 held public hearings around the state in October and November.  At each meeting two members from the task force solicited comments from educators, parents, and community members on Common Core, testing and curriculum.  Noticeably absent from the Governor’s directive is teacher/principal evaluation.  The deadline for their recommendations is December 31st.  The task force recommendations will be included in Governor’s 2016 education legislation.

Commissioner Elia has established a SED task force that does include teacher/principal evaluation as well as Common Core and standardized tests.  Commissioner Elia will report her findings to the Board of Regents.

Bob Ungar, our lobbyist, and I have been meeting with legislators to discuss CAS’s views on the same topics.  This communication urges every CAS member to email their views to their Assemblyperson and Senator on the topics.  You can locate your legislator by clicking on http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ and http://www.nysenate.gov/senators-committees

Below are recommended topics on which you may want to elaborate.  Select one or two topics:

  • The implementation of the new standards was rushed and lacked teacher/principal/parent input.
  • Testing time for Grades 3-8 students is excessive and reduces teacher/student contact time.
  • Teachers are teaching to the test. Enrichment and creativity have been stifled.
  • The arts and exploratory subjects are no longer a priority.
  • There should be a moratorium on “high stakes” student assessments until the curriculum and assessments are properly coordinated.
  • Standardized tests need to be reduced and decoupled from the teacher and principal evaluations.
  • VAM is a debunked evaluation system. A teacher/principal can be highly effective or effective one year and the next be developing or ineffective.
  • Student assessment scores along with teacher and principal evaluations mirror lack of resources and adverse socioeconomic factors. Poverty is the real overriding issue, not poor teachers and principals.
  • Test questions are, at times, ambiguous, not age or grade appropriate, poorly designed and designed for students to fail.
  • The aspirational levels for “college and career readiness” are inflated and need to be reexamined to insure transparency and fairness.
  • Parents and practitioners have little confidence that student assessment scores provide a meaningful opportunity to constructively reflect on student achievement or teacher and/or principal performance.

Your emails will support the efforts of Bob and me with the legislators.

Do not forget to donate to CAS/PAC.  We are requesting $50 per member per year.  You can donate by sending a check to our offices at:

CAS/PAC

490 Wheeler Road, Suite 280

Hauppauge, NY  11788

Or by filling out dues deduction form and giving it to your district office.

You can also contribute by PayPal by clicking on the icon below.

Your PAC donations affords Bob and me a greater opportunity to dialogue with legislation.

Sincerely,

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


October 15, 2015

Dear CAS Colleagues,

In January 2016 the state legislature will resume business in the days following Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address.  In each of his previous State of the State messages, the Governor took on the mantel of the “education Governor”.  In the 2015 session, he coupled education legislation to the budget, a tactic which held the budget hostage until his education agenda too was adopted.  According to Senator Flanagan, majority leader in the Senate, this year the budget will not be tied to legislation.

The entire legislature will be up for election this year.  In 2014 and 2015, with the opt out movement gaining momentum, three of the seven new state senators ran, and won, on a platform to stop Common Core.  A number of legislators are beginning to question their own involvement in educational legislation.

Word on the streets of Albany is that to quell the opt out movement Common Core will be altered.  I don’t know if altered is the correct word since the name will change along with modifications in testing time.  If nothing further is changed, this would amount to form, not substance and appears to be nothing more than an attempt to change the negative connotations that have become attached to the infamous term “Common Core”.

Last year three people ran on the “Stop Common Core” ticket and won.  We need to assist more like-minded legislators who realize that education should be left to the educators.  Please email the following freshmen legislators expressing your support as a member of CAS.

Senator George Amedore – District 46

Albany, Greene, Montgomery, Schenectady, Ulster

Email:  amedore@nysenate.gov

Senator Terrance Murphy – District 40

Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester

Email: murphy@nysenate.gov

Senator Robert Ortt – District 62

Monroe, Niagara, Orleans

Email: ortt@nysenate.gov

 

The 2016 election is crucial for education in New York State.  When education bills are sponsored in the coming session, I will call on you to email specific legislators to apprise them of your views on Common Core and APPR.

Just as important is our CAS/PAC.  If you have not signed up for dues deduction, please do so now.  It’s only $50 a year.  That’s less than $2.00 a pay check.  You can also contribute through PayPal by going to our webpage at http://casliny.com/legislation/caspac-contributions/  or by sending a check to our office at:

CAS/PAC

490 Wheeler Road

Suite 280

Hauppauge, NY  11788

Thank you.  Let’s all get in the game.

Sincerely,

Tony

Anthony C. Laurino

Legislative Liaison


October 2015

Colleagues,

In September the Board of Regents approved the state’s new teacher evaluation system.  The Regents agreed that the plan as proposed is unworkable and must be amended prior to implementation.  They recommended three amendments; limiting the release of rating information about teachers; providing waivers for small districts from hiring outside evaluators; and establishing a teacher appeals board to contest poor ratings due to standardized test scores.

Amendments passed in September moves a final vote to November.  However, the Regents could at that time propose additional amendments which would give them an additional 90 days moving a vote to February when the legislature is back in session.

A number of legislators I’ve spoken with bemoan the fact that they have been positioned to make education decisions.  With the 2016 elections drawing near, and the opt out movement growing stronger, Legislators must hear our message.

My summer meetings with a variety of legislators went well but it is important for Bob Ungar and me to stay in contact with them.  Some items we have discussed are:

  • The confusion caused by poorly conceived and implemented Common Core
  • The legislature agreed that the testing was poorly rolled out without sufficient teacher instruction. In light of these findings they put a moratorium recording the results on student’s records.  However, they saw no need to remove them from teacher/principal evaluations.
  • Test questions were poorly written and at times ambiguous with more than one correct answer.
  • The student evaluation system, VAM, is statistically unreliable as evidenced by a report from the American Statistical Association.

The only way we can make changes is through our CAS/PAC fund.

Sometime after the beginning of session I will provide you with a list of suggested items of concern and request you email your Assemblyperson and State Senator about those concerns.

Senator Flanagan, Majority Leader in the Senate, said he wants to work with budget issues this year and not blur the line between budget items and legislative issues.

Our administrators have clearly worked to provide a quality education for our students while being handicapped by a system that is clearly broken.

We cannot accomplish anything without your CAS/PAC donations.  We request $50 per member to continue our quest in Albany.  You can donate through a dues deduction, PayPal or by mailing a check to:

CAS/PAC

490 Wheeler Road

Suite 280

Hauppauge, NY  11788

I will keep you informed as the year progresses and rely on your assistance when emails to legislators becomes necessary. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Anthony C. Laurino

CAS Legislative Liaison


September 2015

Dear Members,

CAS/PAC is the lobbying arm of CAS and the means by which we gain access to our politicians.  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 Heaste, 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. Click here for a CAS PAC Payroll Deduction form for you to fill out and submit to central office or you can donate directly via PayPal by clicking on the button below.

During the course of the year, in addition to the PAC contributions, I will likely ask for your support by making telephone calls and sending emails to our legislators, and would like to thank you in advance for any assistance you provide throughout the school year.

Thank you.
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison

—————————————————————————————————————————–

May 20, 2015

I recently sent you information on Assembly bill A7303A.  This bill passed in the Assembly today by a vote of 135-1.   When the Assembly wants to correct a wrong, it moves fast.

Now more than ever you need to contact your State Senator and push for a companion bill.  Simply email your state Senator and request he/she sponsor a companion bill to A7303A.  Easy – and it will only take five minutes.  Don’t forget to involve your family and your PTO.

For information on your state Senator go to:  http://www.nysenate.gov/

Anthony C. Laurino, CAS President


May 20, 2015

Senator John Flanagan has been designated the Majority Leader.  His replacement as the Education Chair in the Senate has not been appointed yet.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Assembly Education Chair, amended the Education Assembly bill A7303 significantly.  Summary of the new bill A7303A:

  1. Require the commissioner to adopt regulations and guidelines in relation to APPR by November 17, 2015.
  2. Extend to November 15, 2016, the deadline for districts to have fully implemented on APPR.
  3. Eliminates the contingency requirement to fully implement the new evaluation system in order to be eligible to receive an increase in aid for the 2015-2016 school year and in subsequent years.
  4. Require SED to release by June 1, 2015, and annually thereafter, a significant amount of the most recent test questions and correct answers in grades three through eight in English Language Arts and mathematics exams in order to provide feedback from educators, parents and students.
  5. Appropriate $8.4 billion to allow SED to create and print more test forms to eliminate standalone multiple choice filed testing and release a significant amount of test questions.
  6. Require SED to establish a content review committee to review new standardized test items and/or selected passages for use on state exams in grades three to eight to insure that tests are presented at a readability level that is grade level appropriate and provide that any contracts previously entered into by SED related to standardized assessments must be amended in order to reflect grade level appropriate test questions and content.
  7. Require the commissioner to review the common core learning standards.
  8. Amend the definition of state designed supplemental assessments to include other locally selected measures of student achievements that are approved by SED.

I am encouraging all CAS members to email their state Senator and urge them to align their bill S5124 with the Assembly bill A7303A.  Include the fact that we are not in opposition of fair evaluations or standardized tests.  What we are against is a teacher and principal evaluation system that is based on student performance on flawed tests without true or meaningful consideration of the myriad of circumstances beyond an educators’ scope such as, poverty, home culture towards education, educational disabilities, English as a second language, and the child’s social environment.

It is important that every CAS member contact their State Senator.  Click on http://www.nysenate.gov/  to locate the Senator in your home district and urge them to allow for a well thought out evaluation plan and for them to provide their support towards Assembly bill A7303A.

This will provide us with another year to continue meetings with legislators for additional changes.

Anthony C. Laurino, CAS President


May 6, 2015

Senator Flanagan introduced a bill this week that would amend certain laws promulgated by the passage of the 2015-2016 budget.  As yet there is no “same as” bill from the Assembly.  The following are the changes;

  1. The Commissioner is authorized and directed to publish regulations no later than June 30 and adopt the regulations 45 days after the draft regulations are published. This affords the 45 days required by law for public review and comment which the present 2015-2016 budget law does not.
  2. The November 15th deadline requiring school districts to submit the standards and procedures for conducting annual teacher and principal review would be amended to December 15th. A one month delay simply does not provide adequate time to develop well thought out regulations.
  3. On or before June 1, 2015, and in each subsequent year the Commissioner will release test questions and corresponding correct answers in grades three through eight to teachers, administrators, principals, parents and students. The caveat to this change is that the number of questions and corresponding correct answers is limited “in order not to hinder the validity of future exams.” This language is open ended and subject to interpretation. It will likely result in simply maintaining the status quo. Simply put, it offers very little.
  4. Each teacher shall have a state provided growth score which shall take into consideration student characteristics such as but not limited to students with disabilities, poverty, English language learner, and prior academic history. These factors were supposedly already being included by SED in their growth formula.
  5. The Commissioner is authorized and directed to establish a content review committee for the purpose of reviewing any standardized test items and/or selected passages to insure they are grade appropriate and that the complexity of items and passages are within grade level expectations. The review committee shall include classroom teachers and experienced educators in the content area and/or grade level of items/passages being reviewed.

In short, this bill does very little to address our concerns and would need to be amended greatly to even begin to address those concerns. We will look to seek possible amendments to this bill, or push alternative bills, in the Assembly.

Anthony C. Laurino, CAS President