SCOTUS Ruling: Harris v. QuinnHarris v. Quinn dealt with the issue of whether employees who benefit from union representation can be required to pay their fair share of the cost of that representation. In New York State, "fair share" for public unions is referred to as "agency fee."
Click HERE for a supplement prepared by NYSUT Legal Counsel concerning questions about the Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn
NYSUT calls delay on consequences a necessary first step
ALBANY, N.Y. June 19, 2014 — New York State United Teachers today said it anticipates passage of a bill now before the Legislature that would establish a two-year moratorium protecting teachers from some of the worst consequences of the State Education Department’s flawed roll-out of the Common Core standards, an essential step toward fixing what’s wrong with the system.
“Hitting the ‘pause button’ on high-stakes consequences for teachers — as we’ve done for students — is a necessary step toward reducing over-testing and restoring our focus on teaching and learning,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “Parents and teachers agree that it will take time to fix what’s wrong with the system. That message is resonating today at the state Capitol.”
She said Governor’s Program Bill 56, introduced as Assembly Bill 10168, now under consideration by the Legislature, will “provide a very important ‘time out’ that protects teachers from being unfairly penalized as a result of the rushed implementation of the Common Core. The state test scores that have been deemed invalid and unreliable for students would be deemed invalid and unreliable for penalizing teachers. Basic fairness prevails.”
Magee expressed confidence this approach would pass muster with the U.S. Department of Education, which has signaled it would grant waivers under the Race to the Top program to states that delay using Common Core test results in teacher evaluations.
Magee said parents and teachers agree the 2010 teacher evaluation law put too much emphasis on standardized testing and data collection, while failing to properly recognize that teaching is an art that cannot be quantified by a standardized test or a one-size-fits-all evaluation system. She emphasized that teachers welcome fair evaluations, especially those from trained administrators who focus on professional learning, improving instruction and better addressing students’ individual needs. “Teachers have always been evaluated annually. Those evaluations will continue — as they should,” Magee said.
NYSUT said it appreciates the constructive dialogue with the Assembly, Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo that is advancing an outcome that will benefit students and their teachers.
NYSUT Vice President Andrew Pallotta said, “We must continue these discussions about fixing what’s not working. That has to include reducing over-testing and recognizing that a student is not a test score — and neither is a teacher."
NYSUT seeks to challenge legality of property tax freeze legislation
ALBANY, N.Y. June 6, 2014 - New York State United Teachers has filed a motion seeking to amend its 2013 legal challenge to the property tax cap to include a challenge to the recently enacted property tax freeze. The motion argues that the two laws, which operate in unison, deprive taxpayers of their constitutional right to determine local school funding levels, and that the challenge to both laws should be decided together.
NYSUT's motion is now before state Supreme Court Justice Patrick McGrath. If the judge agrees, NYSUT's case against both the tax cap and tax freeze credit program will be combined and heard at a later date.
NYSUT's motion reads, in part: "The tax freeze, in essence, financially incentivizes school districts and voters to stay within the cap. It also effectively punishes districts, voters, taxpayers and school children in districts where school boards and voters exercise their constitutionally protected right to exceed the cap, by denying tax credits to otherwise eligible taxpayers in such districts. This is done without regard to the current funding effort of the district or the current educational achievement or needs of the district's school children."
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said it is clear the tax freeze credit program and tax cap are intertwined. Both, she said, violate the state constitution.
"Public schools are still reeling from budget cuts. The tax freeze program is a gimmick that dangles a check in front of taxpayers as a carrot to go along with the cap's stick," Magee said. "Both the so-called property tax freeze and tax cap undermine local control and only worsen the already devastating funding gap between low and high wealth school districts."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the property tax freeze credit only deepens the pain caused to students and their schools by the tax cap. "It further coerces school districts into abiding by an undemocratic and unconstitutional tax cap that is harming public education and denying students the programs and services they need," he said.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.