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Small cities school funding case sent back to lower court for factual findings

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

By Jay Worona
Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel

It has been nine years since the plaintiffs in the small cities school funding case commenced court proceedings seeking to ensure that their school districts receive sufficient state funding to provide their children the opportunity to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed in the state Constitution. According to the plaintiffs, the state has violated the state Constitution by failing to appropriate sufficient levels of funding to enable their districts to provide a sound basic education.

MLK was right: Everybody can be great

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

Betty Rosa
Regents Chancellor

"Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." - Martin Luther King Jr.

In my last On Board column, I wrote about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the lessons to be learned from those awful events. Tragically, an even more destructive storm, Hurricane Maria, ravaged my childhood home of Puerto Rico just as the country was beginning to recover and heal from Harvey and Irma.

Call to Action: Federal Tax Plan Released

November 3, 2017

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives released their long anticipated tax reform bill. Coined the "Tax Cut and Jobs Plan," HR 1 includes a modified version of the plan to eliminate the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Under this proposal, the deduction for state and local sales and income taxes would be eliminated, while the deductibility of property taxes would be continued, but capped at $10,000 per year. This compromise would still negatively impact many New Yorkers. Urge your congressional representative to oppose any change or reduction in the SALT deduction. Take Action Now

Call to Action: Congress Prepares to Take Up Tax Reform Plan

October 25, 2017

Congress is preparing to act on a budget resolution, an action that will pave the way for further action on a tax reform plan. Advertised as a tax cut for the middle class, the outline of the proposal (based on the information available at this time) would:

  • Reduce  the number of federal income tax brackets, including an increase for the lowest income earners and a decrease for highest income earners;
  • Reduce the corporate rate for most corporations;
  • Double the standard deduction; and
  • Eliminate a number of key federal deductions including the deduction of state and local taxes (SALT), including property taxes levied by school districts.

Teacher of the Year Albrecht calls for emphasis on charity

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

New York's Teacher of the Year invited school board members and administrators at NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention and Education Expo to join him in a campaign to show students the importance of charity and community service.

Brockport fourth grade teacher Christopher Albrecht noted that he received three financial awards (totaling $1,100) as part of the statewide honor announced in September.

"I plan to keep none of it," he said. Instead, using bulk ordering discounts available to educators, he expects to purchase at least 1,300 books to give to students.

Delegates set official positions, add minority seat to NYSSBA board

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Barbara Bradley
Deputy Director of Online Communications and Project Planning

At the 2017 Annual Business Meeting in Lake Placid, delegates passed 26 resolutions, which will become part of NYSSBA's 2018 advocacy agenda and stay in effect as official positions for five years.

The 250 delegates also passed a bylaw amendment to give the New York State Caucus of Black School Board Members a voting seat on the NYSSBA Board of Directors.

My remarks at the Business Meeting

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

Susan Bergtraum
NYSSBA President

I find that most school board members are self-motivated and don't need a lot of inspiration. Nevertheless, I attempted to be inspirational at the 2017 Annual Business Meeting. I tried to capture the essence of what draws us to school board service and explain how NYSSBA helps us magnify our voice and fulfill our mission as school board members. Below is the text of my remarks, edited slightly for this space.

"Better school boards lead to better student performance." You see that phrase on the banner of NYSSBA's website. You see that phrase on our letterhead. You see that phrase on individual emails.

But it's not just a phrase. It's a concept that goes to the heart of school board service.

I thought about that philosophy when I became president of this vibrant association two years ago.

Keynote speaker calls for K-12 schools to focus on students as individual learners

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

Everyone in American public education knows that our students are always near the bottom of the list when compared to how students in Europe and Asia score on math, science and other tests.

According to education scholar Yong Zhao, here's what education leaders should do in response: forget about it.

There are more important things that America can excel at besides training kids to ace standardized tests, Zhao said.

Public schools need to be prepared for immigrants' needs, potential

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

Alex Kumi-Yeboah's son Salah was extremely quiet when he entered kindergarten. The school determined that he needed special education services. Not satisfied, Kumi-Yeboah pulled his child out of that school and sent him to another elementary school in the same public school district. An official from the new school called home one day and asked if it was all right to enroll Salah in its gifted and talented program.

An assistant professor in the University at Albany's School of Education, Kumi-Yeboah told that story during a one-hour presentation on "Understanding and Educating the Immigrant Child" at NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid. It's a personal example of how schools can underestimate immigrant children.

Elia warmly received amid concern about future of teacher evalutions

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Next up, teacher evaluations.

In an address to NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia delivered a status report on new learning standards, test reforms and a new accountability plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The audience of school board members and administrators punctuated Elia's speech with applause more than a half-dozen times as she explained her priorities and promised to remain responsive to continuing feedback as the initiatives roll out in schools.

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