Welcome New PJSTA Members!

The newest members of the PJSTA!

The newest members of the PJSTA!

Welcome to the newest members of the PJSTA!  Today, 18 new members had their orientation with members of the PJSTA’s executive board along with members of our rank and file.  In addition to taking care of membership paperwork and getting to know their contract, PJSTA’s newest members were briefed on the current landscape of public education in New York State and encouraged to get involved in being an activist who will advocate for their profession, their students, and the communities that we serve.

If you are a new PJSTA member, or someone else who is wondering where you can get informed and stay informed on all the happenings in public education, you will want to be sure to regularly check out the following…


  • Perdido Street School- An brilliant blog, updated regularly, written by a NYC teacher who covers all things public education in New York.
  • NYC Educator– Updated nearly daily, another blog written by a NYC teacher, providing commentary on all the happenings in public education.
  • Diane Ravitch– The foremer Assisstant Secretary of Education keeps us up to date on public education in the US.
  • Ed Notes Online– Retired educator and long time activist Norm Scott’s well know blog dealing with public education and teacher unions.

Facebook Groups


  • @ThePJSTA– The official Twitter account of The PJSTA
  • @beth_dimino– PJSTA President Beth Dimino
  • @sashammy– PJSTA 1st Vice-President Brian St. Pierre
  • @Refusethetests– PJSTA rank & file member, and dynamic public education activist Melissa McMullan
  • @STCaucus– The Rank & File Caucus of NYSUT
  • @nysape– New York State Allies for Public Education
  • @LIOptOut– Long Island Opt-Out
  • @perdidostschool– The Twitter account of the Perdido Street School blogger
  • @TeacherArthurG– The blogger who write the NYC Educator blog
  • @DianeRavitch– The aforementioned Diane Ravitch

This is by no means a comprehensive list, however it is a good list to get started with.  If you read these blogs several times a week and follow them on social media you are on your way to becoming an informed public school teacher in New York!

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NYSUT Seeking Ambassadors for Public Education: Education Summer 2015

NYSUT is seeking “Ambassadors for Public Education” for something they are referring to as “Education Summer 2015.”  I have no idea what it entails.  Here is the link to apply.  Here is the job description.

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Happy Summer

Wishing our members a wonderful and relaxing summer and best wishes to our newly retired members!  We will be taking a little while off from the blog unless there is major news that breaks.  However we will be back later in the summer as we ramp up for the 2015-2016 school year.

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MORE Raises Resolution of “No Confidence” in Elia… Unity Caucus Votes it Down

Jia Lee raises “No Confidence” reso at the UFT DA.

Via the MORE Caucus…

Jia Lee, Chapter Leader of The Earth School and a member of MORE, brought a MORE-sponsored resolution before the Delegate Assembly (DA) calling for a statement expressing opposition to the appointment of recently appointed state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia pointing to the lack of transparency and democracy in the process of her appointment which took place under a veil of secrecy. UFT High School VP and Unity Caucus member Janella Hinds spoke in favor of Commissioner Elia, calling her a “friend to teachers unions and someone we can work with”.

Ms. Lee explained that the UFT’s support of the new commissioner  is a mistake because, “In the day after her appointment, Elia stated strong support for the Common Core Standards and high stakes testing, while criticizing parents who opt their children out of these tests.”

In supporting the sentiment of Regent leader Meryl Tisch, to Elia it is just a matter of re-packaging rather than fundamental change. Elia has been a supporter of using student test scores to rate teachers. “We have an opportunity to harness and galvanize the experiences of teachers to proactively call for what students need in our schools and for our working conditions,” Ms. Lee said. “These things can no longer be compromised”.

The DA, dominated by Unity Caucus chapter leaders and delegates, voted against the resolution.

Resolution: No Confidence in New State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia

Whereas, the top down education policies under No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and high stakes accountability tied to Common Core Standards have had disastrous effects on whole child education and democratic, school-based decision making in New York State

Whereas, there was no transparency in the selection process, no public vetting of candidates, no .opportunity for public input in the appointment of the new State Education Commissioner, Mary Ellen Elia

Whereas, Ms. Elia’s record makes it clear she is a strong supporter of the Common Core State Standards (even though Florida has pulled  out of Common Core) and high-stakes testing; she was an early proponent of using test scores to evaluate teachers, complete with $100 million in funding from the Gates Foundation. She also negotiated a merit pay system and supports school choice

Whereas, last January, the Hillsborough Board of Education voted 4-3 to dismiss her. Members who voted her out have been on record as criticizing her for board-superintendent tension, her salary and benefits, and constituent complaints about too much high-stakes standardized testing, some said her tough disciplinary policy disproportionately affected black students and employees who said her management style was heavy-handed.

Whereas, she failed to notify the district immediately that a 7-year-old girl had stopped breathing on a school bus and died later; she said she didn’t know the scope of the tragedy until the family sued the district.

Be it Resolved that UFT will hold a press conference and issue a press statement of no confidence in the appointment of Ms. Elia, because it does not serve the best interests of our children, educators, or public schools

Resolved that the educators of the UFT seek public vetting and member discussion before the leadership of the largest local in the state supports the appointment of any state chancellor

Resolved that our union leadership will organize meetings at the beginning of the 2015/16 school throughout the boroughs, for working UFT educators to discuss this appointment, state educational policies and develop our own vision of statewide educational policies that will best serve all our children

Be it further Resolved that the the UFT will fight for a renewed statewide emphasis on the arts, music, libraries and physical education for all of our children.

So Unity Caucus thinks that a commissioner who says that opt-outs are no good, who wants to “repaint” the Common Core narrative so that people like it, who has been accused of trying to cover up her former district’s complicity in the death of a seven year old, and who promised the Gates Foundation that she’d fire the “bottom” 5% of teachers every year is a “friend to teachers unions and someone we can work with”?!?!  With friends like MaryEllen Elia, who needs enemies?!

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Reactions to the New NYSED Commissioner

As you have surely heard by now, the Board of Regents unanimously elected MaryEllen Elia as the new state education commissioner.  Elia, who supports the Common Core, high stakes testing, test based teacher evaluation schemes, voucher programs, and charter schools, was a predictably disastrous hiring.  She recently was fired as a superintendent in Florida where she was accused of trying to cover up the district’s complicity in the death of a 7 year old and was also accused of racial discrimination regarding her disciplinary policies.  That’s only the tip of the iceberg too.  Basically, the regents decided that Florida’s trash was New York’s treasure.

The hiring of Elia (or “EVILia” as she was dubbed in Florida) is nothing short of a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands who opted-out of state tests and to public school teachers.  To be clear, a teacher with the track record of Elia would never be hired again.  Yet Elia essentially got a promotion.  This coming from the people who like to preach about accountability.  The regents decided that they’d ignore the parental and teacher outcry against the reform agenda and double down on it instead.

Over at the Perdido Street School blog, Reality-Based Educator ran a great series on Elia.  You can check out his posts…

“Reign Of Chaos” For Ten Years At A Hillsborough Middle School Under MaryEllen Elia’s District

LeadershipAllegations Of Racial Discrimination In Hillsborough Schools Under MaryEllen Elia’s Leadership

Parents Wanted MaryEllen Elia Out After Deaths Of Two Special Needs Students

New NYSED Commissioner: We’ll “Repaint” The Common Core Narrative So People Like It

Reactions from union “leaders” were typically awful…

STCaucus had a decidedly different take.  In a statement released yesterday they said…

Members of the ST Caucus Executive Committee were present at the May 18, 2015 Board of Regents’ meeting and had meaningful discourse with various Regents about APPR and high stakes testing. Ms. Elia’s track record does not align itself with the ST Caucus’ stance on these issues. In light of these discussions, the ST Caucus was surprised with the appointment of Ms. Elia to the position of Commissioner.

Ms. Elia’s track record does not align itself with the ST Caucus’ stance on these issues as well as positions shared with us by the Regents. It is the hope of ST Caucus that Ms. Elia will reverse her past positions on CCSS, HST, charter schools, and teacher evaluations. Further, the ST Caucus calls for the inclusion of each of the stakeholder voices related to decision-making in all aspects of the public education system in the state of New York, as well as demanding the process be a transparent democratic process that is representative of the great state of New York and the people it serves.


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