The PJSTA Endorses Zephyr Teachout

The Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association is very proud to endorse Zephyr Teachout for New York State Governor. Teachout has a clear vision for a public education system that NY’s students, teachers, and communities deserve. Teachout stands in opposition to the privatization measures that have been endorsed by Governor Cuomo and which hurt NY’s students.

Zephyr Teachout calls for full and equal funding of NY’s schools, an end to high-stakes testing, protection of public education against privatization, the empowerment of NY’s local school communities, and the end of the suspension pipeline. All of these positions resonate deeply with the rank and file membership of the PJSTA. We are excited to work with Teachout to bring her vision of public education to New York State so that all New Yorkers can reap the benefits of the best public education system in America.

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Zephyr Teachout to Speak at PJSTA Conference Day

It is with great pleasure that the PJSTA welcomes gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout as a guest speaker at our general membership meeting on September 2nd, the first day of school.  Teachout is running against Governor Cuomo in the September 9th Democratic Primary.  She has recently endeared herself to public school teachers with an education platform that is very supportive of the work we do.  You can read more about Teachout’s public education plans here.  We will follow up with more details in the coming days.

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Bombshell Rocks NYSUT Officers

I came to school early to work in my classroom this morning.  I wasn’t intending to post a blog until later on.  But then I read Norm Scott’s bombshell over at Ed Notes that was posted late last night.

To summarize, in very quick fashion NYSUT got legislation pushed through the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate, and the governor’s office that allows NYSUT to pay the school districts that current officers used to work in, to keep those officers on as active employees on leave from those Districts.This allows the officers to continue to accrue time in the New York State Teachers Retirement System. This would further allow the officers to collect not only their NYSUT pension when they retire, but also a much more lucrative pension from the State than they should actually be entitled to.

What is amazing (and alarming) is the speed in which this was all done and the fact that it was done secretively.  On June 9th the bill was referred to governmental employees.  By June 19th it had passed the assembly.  It passed the senate on June 20th.  It was delivered to the governor on July 11th and he signed off on it on July 22nd.  Astounding.  Andy Pallotta has had virtually no legislative victories to benefit NYSUT’s 600,000 members, yet in just over six weeks he had a victory that ensured double pensions for his cronies.  Additionally it seems to ensure that should Karen Magee, Martin Messner or Paul Pecorale, none of whom are close to retirement age, ever lose their NYSUT positions they will have teaching jobs to go back to.  Contrast this to former NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler who lost April’s election and has no job to return to.  The officers are no fools.  They saw how that could happen and apparently made it a priority to ensure their jobs and double pensions within the first few months of taking office.

All of this begs a few questions:

What did the NYSUT officers promise to legislators to get them to sign off on this so quickly?  Is this why they endorsed a pro-charter, pro-voucher, reformy Jeff Klein?  Or why they endorsed the indicted Tom Libous?

What was Governor Cuomo promised, by NYSUT Officers, to get him to sign off so quickly?  After all, they have gone out of their way to tell us they oppose him.  Why would he want to help them? Is it in exchange for not endorsing Zephyr Teachout in the Democratic Primary and not donating VOTE COPE funds to her campaign?

Did NYSUT promise that they’d support the Common Core that is favored by so many politicians in order to get this done?  Curiously, the time when Cuomo received and signed off on the bill, was sandwiched right around the AFT Convention, where Karen Magee claimed that we would have no direction without the Common Core.

How much money in membership dues was spent to get this deal done?

How much VOTE COPE money will be going to elected officials who helped to move this bill through so quickly and quietly?

When will NYSUT release a detailed report of every dollar that has been spent since they took office, of every VOTE COPE dollar donated, and of the officer’s compensation packages?

This scandal is really just breaking.  Plenty more questions will arise. Who knows if we’ll get an answer to any of them.  What is blatantly clear, however, is that despite running on a platform of transparency, the NYSUT officers have secretly prioritized using our money and time to win a legislative battle that benefits only themselves.  It is a betrayal on the grandest of scales.  It is absolutely unconscionable behavior and may very well warrant a call for their resignation.

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Ride for Life Seeking Volunteers for Community Ice Bucket Challenge

Former PJSTA President Christine Pendergast asked that we share this very exciting opportunity for volunteers…

Ride for Life is seeking approximately 20 volunteers to help coordinate a Community Ice Bucket Challenge to benefit ALS research on Tuesday, August 26th at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai.  The event will be held at 6:00 pm but volunteers will be needed all throughout the day to help assist with the event’s logistics.  Participants in the actual challenge will need to provide their own buckets.  There will be overhead photography to capture participants forming the phrase “ICE ALS” and tee-shirts for the event will also be on sale.

If you are interested in volunteering for this very worthy event please email or and let them know what time of day you are available to help.

Former NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi with Ride for Life founder Chris Pendergast.

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Katie Kleinpeter Takes the Challenge!

Earlier today we told you of Rob Pearl’s departure from the PJSTA.  The silver lining is that when leaders of an organization leave it opens a spot for new leaders to step in.  I have always viewed Katie Kleinpeter as a future leader of our union.  She contributes in virtually every manner possible, attending rallies and pickets, making phone calls, even attending our Diane Ravitch Book Club last fall!  This year Katie will begin her first full year on the PJSTA’s Executive Board as Clinton Avenue’s senior building representative.

It should come as no surprise that when Beth Dimino called out the PJSTA membership to take the #IceBucketChallenge Katie Kleinpeter stepped up to the plate.  Here is Katie…

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