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Veterans Day
Nov 08

From Navy petty officer to "Huffalump" driver, SRP Darci Ordway lives to serve.

Navy veteran and School-Related Professional Darci Ordway will never forget her first school bus run.

As she nervously pulled up the hulking 40-foot shiny yellow bus to her first stop, a young girl, barely big enough to lift her legs upon the high steps, got onto the bus and said, “Thank god you’re here. If my mom fluffed my hair one more time I was going to lose it.”

That’s all it took for Ordway — who calls her young riders “Huffalumps” — to get hooked.

 

Ordway started out as a driver so she could be with her four boys after school and during the summer, and to provide them with good health insurance through her union job. But — thanks in large part to her “Huffalumps” — she realized she loved what she was doing and stayed on after her own kids finished school.

She even served as a two-term past president of the Chatham Central Bus Drivers Association, as well as on the board of Our Community Cares, which helps local veterans with transportation, resources and support.

Service: to her union, her community, her country — that’s how this bus driver rolls.

“I loved it all,” she said.

Ordway also knows up close and personal the high price of service.

Her grandfather Charles Hover was a New York state trooper from what is now Troop G. He was drafted into World War II and served as a lieutenant. Then, while aboard an airplane heading back to the United States at the end of his service, he was killed when his aircraft was shot down over Mirandola, Italy.

Waiting at home was his three-month old son, who would become Ordway’s father.

The preciousness of life is part of Ordway’s DNA. In the morning, her bus full, Ordway pulls up to the school and has all the kids get quiet. Then she has them shout, “I am beautiful! I am smart! I am the best kid I know!”

Ordway considers herself and her fellow school bus drivers to be ambassadors. She’s the first face that students see when they step onto her bus, which takes them to class and then back home at the end of the day. She’s the one who makes sure they all know each other — this floppy mix of kids from kindergarteners through seniors — so they feel comfortable tapping one another for support while in school.

Ordway joined the Navy one day before her high school graduation, serving from 1987-1993 in California.

Her first assignment was as a chef for crews of up to 2,200 soldiers training to be Navy Seals. Three times a day, they were very hungry – and sometimes after special drills they might need a midnight meal. 

The second half of her military career was spent at a Naval air station as a petty officer coordinating room assignments and maintenance at military housing occupied by enlisted soldiers who ultimately were deployed to the first Gulf War, and other places.

“You were never sure who was going to return,” she said. “There were people who didn’t show up at the door to take their key.”

In her spare time, Ordway — whose voicemail greeting says she may “be out having some kind of adventure” — is anything but idle.

Every year she rides her bike 310 miles from the World Trade Center in New York to Washington, D.C. in memory of her grandfather as part of a group that pedals to honor fallen troopers.

The group is called New York State Police Chapter 37 in honor of the 37 Port Authority officers killed in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The riders raise money and awareness.

The ride is all part of Ordway’s belief in service, and steadfast remembrance of the sacrifice her grandfather, and so many others, have made.

“I loved serving my country…volunteering to stand under that flag,” she said. “Other countries have no vote, no freedom, no choice. These are people who fought for us, so we could have civil rights, so we could progress with freedom of speech and freedom of a political party. We vote, and we use our voices that were protected by veterans.”

We Remembered
Nov 07

We told you we would remember

 

Don’t mess with NYSUT.

If you run for office and call dedicated, hard-working educators and health-care workers “forces of evil” — as Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan did a month before Election Day — our members will remember.

If you refuse to address the state’s broken and unfair teacher-evaluation and standardized testing system, our members will remember.

And if you insist on catering to the billionaire-backed charter industry at the expense of New York’s students, our members will remember.

“If there is one takeaway from this election, it’s that NYSUT members pay attention – and they vote,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said.

In the same way NYSUT members remembered who didn’t stand by students and teachers, they also remembered those who did — staffing phone banks and working tirelessly on behalf of those candidates. In the end, the union’s motivated membership was instrumental in flipping control of the state Senate, and electing a majority of pro-public education candidates. Consider:

  • 95 percent of the union’s endorsed candidates for Assembly won (137 endorsements, 130 wins — including NYSUT’s own Monica Wallace and Patrick Burke)
  • 88 percent of NYSUT’s endorsed candidates for state Senate won (40 endorsements, 35 wins)
  • 81 percent of NYSUT’s endorsed candidates for Congress won (26 endorsements, 21 wins)

The show of force by NYSUT members — proving they are a “force of good” — continues the trend of teacher activism nationwide. This past spring, fed-up educators in West Virginia, Arizona and Oklahoma walked off the job, leading successful strikes to force lawmakers in their respective states to raise their pay and invest more in their public schools.

You’d think Sen. Flanagan would have remembered what happened to his fellow Long Islander, U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who 21 years earlier attacked teacher tenure and was bounced from office by educators who had enough.

Flanagan didn’t remember.

NYSUT members never forget. 

Nov 06

Pallotta: "Forces of good" big winners in tonight’s elections

ALBANY, N.Y. November 6, 2018 – New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta released the following reaction to tonight’s elections results:

“If there is one takeaway from this election, it’s that NYSUT members pay attention – and they vote. NYSUT members took notes on who considers them ‘a force of evil’ and they remembered who betrayed them in choosing the charter industry over reforming the broken teacher evaluation system. Our incredibly energized ‘forces of good’ – joining a national wave of teacher and union activism – burned up the phone lines; rang thousands of doorbells, engaged their colleagues in conversations, and handed out more campaign literature than anyone can count. In addition to our financial contributions, we worked hard for those champions who understand it’s time to end the state’s obsession with testing; fix the broken evaluation system and invest more in our public schools, colleges and hospitals. Educators and the state's working people are 'forces of good' and they are the big winners in this election."

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.       
School Psychology Awareness Week
Nov 06

School Psychology Awareness Week - Nov. 12-16

 

School Psychology Awareness Week (SPAW) is November 12-16, 2018

This year's theme is "Unlock Potential. Find Your Password!" A password is a personal key for unlocking any number of areas of potential in our lives. Our goal is to connect with how modern youth and adults unlock things (e.g., gaming levels, phones, devices, codes) and to highlight how thinking about specific skills, assets, or characteristics as "passwords" can lead to positive growth. School psychologists are particularly skilled at assisting students and staff in unlocking the resources, proactive and preventive skills, and positive connections necessary to unlock one's full potential to thrive in school and life.

The annual NASP School Psychology Awareness Week poster can be used in many different ways, from starting school-wide initiatives to having conversations with families about how to best support the growth and development of their children into thriving individuals. Regardless of how you use it, this poster can inspire all school personnel to help students thrive.

Nov 05

NYSUT welcomes Regents extension of moratorium on tying flawed tests to evaluations

ALBANY, N.Y. Nov. 5, 2018 — New York State United Teachers today released the following statement after the Regents extended the moratorium on tying state standardized test scores to teacher evaluations:

"We welcome the extension of the moratorium and thank Chancellor Betty Rosa and the Regents for continuing to recognize that the state’s over-emphasis on standardized testing has worked for neither students nor teachers. While we welcome the moratorium extension, NYSUT will continue to seek a long-term legislative solution that will return evaluations to local control. Teachers and local school districts know what works best in their own communities."

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.

ballot
Nov 02

Your vote matters on Election Day

When the first presidential election in newly minted America was held in 1789, three of the 13 new states did not vote, including New York, which was in the midst of a legislative conflict.

Now, more than 200 years later, New York’s conflicts are still holding back votes. There is no early voting here, voter registration is a separate process, and polls are only open one day.

Limiting access leads to low turnout. In the 2016 presidential election, New York ranked 41st in voter turnout, with only 57 percent of people voting. Meanwhile, mid-term elections — such as the one Tuesday — generally draw even fewer votes.

NYSUT members are working to reverse that trend. Active and retired unionists are staffing phone banks throughout the state through Election Day.

“We’ve never seen this much action,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said enthusiastically.

The necessity of voting to support pro-education and pro-labor candidates is pressing, said Pallotta, especially when considering a legislative landscape in which Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is running for reelection, called educators “forces of evil.”

Despite the state’s paltry voting turnout, a recent proposal to bring early voting to New York — which was backed by NYSUT — failed to pass.

“This isn’t really just a Republican/Democrat issue,” Rev. Emily McNeill, director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, said of the early-voting proposal rejection. “It’s really a method politicians use to protect their own power.”

Some states require photo ID to vote — typically a driver’s license — which makes it difficult for poor, elderly and handicapped people to vote. Some states also have purged section of voter rolls.

Twenty-three states now allow early voting up to two weeks in advance. Some states have automatic voter registration when you obtain or renew a driver’s license, and in others, you can register and vote on the same day.

Through the Labor-Religion’s affiliation with the national Poor People’s Campaign, McNeill said there’s been focus placed on raising awareness about efforts to suppress voting.

Working together with the League of Women Voters and Albany Law School, volunteers canvassed neighborhoods in Western New York to register voters, as they also did at the Albany County Jail. Email blasts were sent out as well.

McNeill said the fact that politicians suppress votes underscores just how important voting is, “otherwise they wouldn’t try to suppress it.”

“We need an organized force of people,” said McNeil, “who can hold the elite accountable to values of democracy and human rights.”


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