A Letter from a Comsewogue Resident to Governor Cuomo

A really terrific letter written here…

Dear Governor Cuomo and the State of New York,

When we moved into the Comsewogue School District 16 years ago, it never occurred to me that my kids would grow up in such an amazing school district. Honestly, I wasn’t thinking much past having to get my kid enrolled.

Fast forward to now. My kids have received education’s as different as they are. Teachers who have gone above and beyond to engage and teach. An administration who supported and included us in decisions and processes involving my children. A school board and a superintendent who are always available to talk and share and explain.

With that in mind, knowing that the children who are the future are being so excellently educated, how can you have the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to threaten to take Dr. Rella away from us and replace him with SOMEONE OF YOUR CHOICE simply because he stands for our kids!!!! Do you see the numbers? Do you read the statistics? Do you know how fantastic we, and hundreds of other Long Island districts, really are? Do you really think that firing Dr. Rella and sending your own lackey will stop us from fighting for our kids???

You can’t possibly come close to knowing what’s best for our kids. You, who have never stepped foot into one of our buildings. You, who have never spoken to one of our children. You know nothing about our superintendent, except that he’s standing for our kids. What have you done for our kids lately, Governor Cuomo?

Sincerely,
Jessica Glass

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Comsewogue May Consider Refusal to Administer NYS Tests

Comsewogue’s Board of Education

The Comsewogue School District’s Board of Education will be discussing at the board workshop on 3/26 the possibility of adopting a resolution that would have them “seriously consider not administering the New York State standardized ELA and Math exams in grades 3-8, and the Science exam in grades 4 and 8.”

This follows the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District’s resolution that was very similar.  In that district, located right outside of Buffalo, the school board tabled the resolution until their meeting tomorrow, seeking to have more input from the community.

Here is the resolution in it’s entirety…

The Board of Education of the Comsewogue Union Free School District has serious concerns about current and proposed New York State education policy. We believe as elected representatives of the Comsewogue community we have an obligation not only to provide our students with a sound, basic education, but to provide them with a supportive and encouraging environment in which they can develop at their own pace. This environment also seeks to support the dedicated educators of our schools, encouraging best practices and collaboration, as opposed to competition. The current funding and evaluation policies, as well as Governor Cuomo’s proposed reforms are contradictory to that intent.

Unless Governor Cuomo and the State Legislators establish a fair and equitable state aid funding formula which adequately provides funding for ALL school districts throughout the state so they can provide for the educational needs of every child in New York State

AND

Comply with the court ordered removal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment thereby providing school districts with the necessary funding already owed to them

AND

Unless Governor Cuomo and the State Legislators suspend the current teacher and administrator evaluation regulations using student test data for 20% of the total score

AND

Abandon Governor Cuomo’s proposal to expand the use of student test data to 50% for teacher and administrator evaluations

AND

Without these efforts, The Comsewogue Board of Education believes that New York State leadership is proceeding with policy that is detrimental to our students, faculty and administrators. These misguided funding and evaluation policies seek to further an agenda of blame and punishment, instead of support and development.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

The Board of Education of the Comsewogue School District will seriously consider not administering the New York State standardized ELA and Math exams in grades 3-8, and the Science exam in grades 4 and 8.

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Ali Gordon’s New Blog

I wanted to take a moment to direct our readers to Comsewogue School Board Trustee Ali Gordon’s new blog Stand Up and Refuse. I am sure you will want to take a regular look at what she is writing. Her latest piece on “The 95% Fallacy” is a great piece to share with those who claim that opt-outs can negatively impact a district’s funding. Check it out!

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Senator Flanagan in Hot Water

Lots of news involving Republican New York State Senator John Flanagan, who represents the residents of the Comsewogue School District.  First, Flanagan stated that if too many people opt-out we will lose federal funding…

 

That is an outright lie.  You can read here and here about how we will NOT lose funding do to opt-outs.  Senator Flanagan, who is the chairman of the senate’s K-12 ed committee is either misinformed or lying.  I’m not sure which is worse.

The Senator Flanagan news isn’t finished though.  Today’s Daily News features an article claiming that Flanagan voted on bills that benefitted clients of the law firm that he makes in excess of $100,000 working at.

Via the NY Daily News

ALBANY — A veteran Long Island state senator voted on a host of bills that benefited clients of a law firm for which he works, the Daily News has learned.

In addition to being a longtime state lawmaker who chairs the Senate Education Committee, John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) is “of counsel” at Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana in Uniondale, where he reported making between $100,000 and $150,000 in 2013.

A number of the clients listed on the law firm’s website have business before the state, including Cablevision, Chase Bank, and Citibank.

The firm also lists as clients different colleges, governments and other groups with matters before the state.

The crossroad between the outside income of lawmakers and their public duties has been a hot-button issue in recent months in scandal-scarred Albany. Gov. Cuomo and other critics complain that many lawmakers who are also lawyers are making big money at firms without having to disclose exactly what they do to earn it.

Government reform advocates say there is at the very least an appearance of a conflict of interest that should have led Flanagan to either recuse himself from votes impacting clients of his law firm or publicly disclose the ties.

“There should be a desire to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and undue influence,” said Susan Lerner, of Common Cause/New York.

In a number of cases, Flanagan voted in favor of bills on which public records show clients of his law firm had lobbied.

Cablevision, for instance, reported as having lobbied on at least six bills since 2011 that Flanagan voted for, records show. One sought to exempt electronic news sources and periodicals from sales and compensating taxes, while others had to to do with ticket scalping.

Another half-dozen bills that Flanagan supported were sought by Chase Bank.

In a statement released by his Senate office, Flanagan said he did not represent any company with business before the state.

“These are clients of the firm and I have no involvement with them,” the senator said.

But one critic argued that when lawmakers don’t disclose their specific clients, “it actually means they are responsible for all the clients in the firm.”

A law firm spokeswoman had no comment.

Flanagan’s biography on the law firm’s website highlights no legal accomplishments, focusing almost exclusively on his legislative background. It lists his legal practice areas as municipal and real estate.

Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Flanagan should have vetted any potential conflicts with the Legislative Ethics Commission and received an opinion on how to deal with them.

A Flanagan spokesman would not say whether that was done.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been aggressively investigating the issue of lawmakers’ outside income and the nexus between their public offices and private employment. And Cuomo is pushing legislation to require full disclosure of outside income and clients.

Bharara recently charged now former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver with using his public office to help pad his pockets through two law firms.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County) is reportedly also under investigation by Bharara over his outside income.

Skelos made as much as $250,000 in 2013 serving as “of counsel” at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek.

That law firm not only has clients with business before the state, but also has a government lobbying component.

Skelos has said he does not personally represent anyone with business before the state and has no connection to the firm’s lobbying arm.

Horner argued the inherent potential conflicts of working for firms whose clients have business before the state is why lawmaker income should be capped, an issue Cuomo has raised.

“It’s the problem of serving two masters,” Horner said.

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PJSTA & NYSAPE in the Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Thanks to Katie Kleinpeter for the write up…

We had a great time marching and dancing along with NYSAPE in the Rocky Point St. Patty’s Day Parade today!  We had a chilly start that soon turned into a fun walk with many cheers, smiles and waves from the crowd.

Thanks to all who came and walked with us including Beth Dimino, Brian St. Pierre, the Reph Family, the Pearl Family, Jay McGuiness, Keith Zoccoli, Vicki Barrett, Britt Cantone, the Frimmer Family, Bernadette Weltsek, Larry Weltsek, Eric Sorenson, Dave Anzini, Gail Ports, Sue Niver, Lauren Retundi, Kathy Martin, the Tilmont Family, George Chesterton, Henry from Bellmore-Merrick and Tim Needles from Smithtown.  We saw many friends, fellow teachers and students along the way that enjoyed the parade with their families.  The NYSAPE mobile billboard was proudly displayed in Rocky Point for all to see.

stpdp

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