March 2011 Issue
February 17, 2011

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United
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Caption: Lorraine Mollo and Mike Sanchez of the White Plains Teachers Association display some of the 100 phone cards purchased following the local union's fundraising campaign to provide prepaid calling cards to service men and women stationed overseas. Photo by Matthew Brown/the journal news.

White Plains TA

A fundraiser started last year by the White Plains TA to honor one of its members serving in Iraq will now become an annual event to provide much-needed calling cards for service men and women overseas.

"It was a great morale booster for the troops, but it was also a great learning experience," said Lorraine Mollo, an elementary teacher and community outreach coordinator for the local led by Kerry Broderick. The group raised $2,000 to buy 100 calling cards after Mike Sanchez, a social studies teacher who is now back at Highlands Middle School, explained how difficult and costly it can be to call home from a foreign country.

Purchased through the U.S. Army's website, the cards were sent to Sanchez's fellow soldiers still overseas and provided to the community to tuck in goodie boxes for local troops serving overseas.

Mollo said the WPTA will again hold the fundraiser this spring, placing stars in school hallways to recognize contributors. "It was district-wide, with teachers, custodians, secretaries — even Mike's mom contributing," Mollo said.

Sanchez returned to school last fall from his deployment where he served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. "These phone cards will go a long way in helping someone call home, staying in touch with family and loved ones," Sanchez said.

Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College

When an error in class size limits was discovered at Suffolk CC, the faculty association and college administration worked to resolve the situation quickly and amicably.

In response to unprecedented increases in enrollment, the two sides agreed in 2009 to increase class sizes by two additional students. A review of course sections later found that in 38 cases the "hard limit" of two students had been exceeded.

"To the college's credit, once the problems … were uncovered, they immediately corrected them," said FASCC President Ellen Schuler Mauk. And the college went a step further, agreeing to compensate members who had been impacted.

"While the individual compensation is a token amount, the settlement nevertheless underscores the good-faith negotiations of the college administration and the good will of our faculty members who taught the additional students without complaint in the spirit of creating a welcoming environment for our students while we addressed the issue," Schuler Mauk said.

FASCC is a graduate of NYSUT's Local Action Project, which helps locals increase skills in community outreach and coalition-building, among other things.

Rochester Teachers Association

Putting into practice what they have learned about coalition-building in NYSUT's Local Action Project, more than 1,000 members of the Rochester Teachers Association joined parents and other community members recently to protest the condition of city schools under Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard.

Citing larger classes, a fixation on test scores, lack of collaboration and decreased access to social and health services, Rochester TA President Adam Urbanski said Brizard's policies aren't helping students.

"The voices of parents and teachers are now consistently ignored," Urbanski said. "School safety and student discipline have significantly deteriorated because all alternative settings for our troubled students have been eliminated."

The group has been protesting Brizard's State of Our Schools address.

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