Friday will be the 117th day of school for teachers. On Sunday morning we push the clocks ahead to daylight saving time, and the following Saturday, March 20, in the early morning hours we welcome the start of spring. Hallelujah! Not like I’m in a hurry or anything. We note this coming Friday for another reason as well. It’s the one-year anniversary of the closing of our schools to in-person instruction and the beginning of what NYSUT recently described as “a year of sacrifice.” 

When I reflect on where we’ve been and look toward the sunshine on the horizon, I can’t help but feel hopeful. In Nassau County 24% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose. The CDC says fully vaccinated grandparents can visit with their grandchildren again without masks or distancing. I saw my own parents again recently up close and without masks. And changes announced by Governor Cuomo will now allow fully vaccinated domestic travelers to enter the state without having to quarantine or test out. Finally, the national economy is doing better than expected and the fiscal picture in New York is far better than predicted a few months ago. NYSUT reports that final approval of the 1.9 trillion-dollar relief package making its way through Congress will bring one billion dollars to New York for a variety of programs including schools. For all these things I am grateful. 

As I mentioned previously, Friday is a milestone. It is an opportunity for educators everywhere to pause and reflect on both the challenges and sacrifices of the year but also on the tremendous things we have achieved together. Please join me this Friday, March 12, as we metaphorically link arms with fellow teachers across Long-Island in our Wear Red for Ed campaign to mark those achievements. Please also remember that there are fellow Long Islanders still very much in need and make a contribution of a non-perishable food item in your building. See our Wear Red for Ed flyer for more specifics.   


With the coming of spring there is much in the way of planning for next year that needs to be done. At the same time the uncertainty surrounding a September 2021 reopening makes that planning extremely challenging. Our collective bargaining agreement with the district expires on June 30, 2021 and we will soon be returning to the negotiating table. Many issues of concern to us before the pandemic still need to be addressed. But teaching during the last year has also raised a host of new ones. We are asking Head Building Representatives to convene focus groups in the buildings to discuss potential modifications to the contract that could potentially address those issues. Look for an invitation to participate. 

Regents Exams and Testing

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) released a memo on March 2, 2021 that delivered some bad news with regard to standardized testing.  At present it looks like we are going to have to administer state assessment tests along with the Algebra 1, ELA, Living Environment and Physical Setting/Earth Science Regents Exams. The others, along with August Regents exams, are expected to be canceled at the Board of Regents meeting on March 15. NYSED had requested an assessment waiver from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) because they determined “the spring 2021 State assessments cannot be safely, equitably, and fairly administered to all students across the State given how severely the pandemic is impacting the delivery of instruction to students and adversely affecting their social and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, the USDE refused to issue a “blanket waiver” of requirements for state assessments though NYSED has not given up and is continuing to lobby on the issue. We will know more following the March 15 Board of Regents meeting, after which NYSED will provide additional guidance concerning the spring 2021 State assessments and diploma requirements. 

Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) Hours

I have been asked by a few teachers recently about the need to document the completion of 100 CTLE hours over the course of the last five years. You may recall that back in 2016 the NY State Education Department required everyone holding teaching certification (Permanent, Professional and Level III Teaching Assistant) to register on their TEACH site. Except for holders of Permanent certification, certificate holders would also be required to successfully complete 100 clock hours of acceptable CTLE during the registration period (five years). This year marks the end of that five-year period and thus all members who had to register in 2016-17 will now need to re-register and attest to the completion of the hours. Records of completion of CTLE hours should be documented in Frontline (I would save copies locally as well) but are not required to be uploaded to the State. Unfortunately, the State has at present provided little to no guidance to certificate holders or school districts about any part of this process. As soon as I know more I will share it with you.

In unity,



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