ACROSS THE BOARD - November 2015
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We're Thankful...
With just a few days until the aroma of roasted turkey and fresh-baked pumpkin pie fills the air, we'd like to thank and acknowledge each of you for your countless hours of service to our schools, communities, and most importantly to our children.  On behalf of Westchester Putnam School Boards Association, we wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy, & Filling Thanksgiving!
Attuning a Tin Ear? - President's Message
A colleague recently updated us on the Governor's Common Core Task Force meeting. A veteran of many advocacy efforts, she recounted the arguments once again made on behalf of our educational mission and our children. Almost with eyes closed, she repeated the mantras:
  • Stop the high stakes testing.
  • Not research based/not validated.
  • Not developmentally appropriate.
  • Transparency - release the test questions.
  • Linkage to teacher evaluation encourages teaching to the test.
  • Get rid of the test and punish environment.
  • Use a matrix of good information to inform instruction.
  • Narrowing the curriculum has further widened the gap - not closed it.
  • Stop holding teachers accountable for the results of socio-economic inequities.
  • Need for an expert panel - given at least 2 years to develop something appropriate.

As she chanted those all too familiar mantras, I realized that perhaps their familiarity is part of the problem --that after years of singing the same song, it's easy for us to develop a Tin Ear.  We hear the words, maybe even believe them, but are stuck right there at the end of the sentence.

  

The "usual suspects" repeat their scripted parts, and the listeners listen and maybe even nod their heads. Everyone packs up, goes home, and at 3:00 o'clock in the morning, 3 men in a room make a decision that affects the lives of millions of children, their parents, and all the people involved in public education.

So here's the question: How can we, collectively, get from the talking-about-it stage to the doing-something-significant-about-it stage? Is it really just a problem of "A-tuning a Tin Ear?" Was that really the Tin Man's issue?
~ Stephen O. Jambor, Ph.D, WPSBA President/Brewster BOE
Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast & More...

Here's what's on the WPSBA calendar for the month of December:

 

BREAKFAST & NETWORK WITH REGENT JUDITH JOHNSON -- FULL!
Regent Johnson will join us for breakfast and a conversation on topics such as: APPR/3012-d; NYS Assessments; Common Core Learning Standards; Student Achievement, and Receivership.
Thursday, Dec. 3 from  8 am - 9:45 am
SW BOCES Career Services Campus, Culinary Arts Bldg "I"
65 Grasslands Road, Valhalla, NY 10595
$15 per person. 
Wait List Only.  To add your name to the wait list, notify your District Clerk.
NYSSBA & REGIONAL LEADERS TO SHARE INSIGHTS AT 12/10 LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY COMMITTEE (LAC) MEETING  
NYSSBA Director of Governmental Relations Julie Marlette, NYSSBA Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Jay Worona, and regional leaders will join us to discuss state legislative priorities as we craft a cohesive message and agenda.
NEW TIME: Thursday, Dec. 10; 6 pm - 8 pm
(WPSBA Board of Directors meeting will now follow from 8pm - 9:30pm) 
Briarcliff Manor MS School Media Center (Library)
444 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
All WPSBA members are welcome. To register for one or both meetings, CLICK HERE 
For a full list of upcoming events: WPSBA 2015-16 PRINTABLE CALENDAR
Professor Peter Johnston "Opens Minds" at Joint Dinner
Over 180 board members and superintendents came to hear "Opening Minds," a presentation by Professor Johnston on the links between classroom talk, reading engagement and children's social, emotional and literate development.  For those interested in more information, Professor Johnston suggests referencing his book "Opening Minds," as primary source of information as well as two articles, "Engagement With Young Adult Literature: Outcomes and Processes" and "Talking in Class," as ways to understand the young adult work he presented.

The Annual Joint Dinner is sponsored by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, Westchester Putnam SBA, Dutchess SBA, and Rockland SBA.
Albany Wants Your Input - Deadline Nov. 30th!
Capitol BldgThe Governor's Common Core Task Force and the State Education Department would like to hear your thoughts on the Common Core.  The Task Force has been holding meetings and collecting comments from constituents through an online form as part of a comprehensive review of learning standards, instructional guidance, curricula, and tests. Concurrently, SED has a lengthy online survey to gather feedback on each of the Common Core Learning Standards.  We encourage you to take part in these efforts.  The submission deadline for both is November 30th.
 
Optical Scanner Voting MachineTransition
NYS legislation requires all school districts to use the optical scanner voting machines (or a paper ballot) for the school district Annual Meeting vote and any bond referendum effective January 1, 2016.  While Putnam County school districts have been using the electronic voting machines for several years, this is new for most Westchester districts. WPSBA has been in conversation with the Westchester County Board of Elections regarding the costs and logistics for this transition and continues to share updates with district clerks.  Each district should contact the Westchester Board of Elections in writing to indicate their intent to use the Westchester County electronic voting machines for the May 17th vote and for any upcoming bond referendums in 2016, as a formal agreement with Westchester County will be required.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie Visits Our Region
NYS Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie has been touring NYS Assembly districts across the State.  During his Nov. 18th visit to Assemblyman Steve Otis's district, board members, superintendents, Lisa Davis (WPSBA Exec Dir) and Judy Wiener (LHEC Legislative Director), as well as Port Chester principals, teachers and others, were invited to participate in a candid and informative round table discussion at Port Chester Middle School.
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