March 2012 Issue
February 21, 2012

Short takes: Opportunity to study the Amazon rainforest

Source: NYSUT United

Searching for something unique, spirited and fun this summer? K-12 teachers and environmental educators may apply to win one of three $1,000 scholarships to travel with scientists to one of the most diverse environments in the world. Join an Amazon rainforest discovery June 29-July 8. Experience a 1/4-mile rainforest canopy walkway, Yagua culture & crafts, bird watching, night hikes, and more.

Scholarship application deadline is March 8. Land cost is $1,850. Program applications accepted through May. Academic credit is available. Land cost is $850 for scholarship winners. For program and scholarship information, visit, contact Frances Gatz at 800-669-6806 or email

Units to join NYSUT

Head Start employees in Dutchess County, frustrated by their lack of a voice on issues ranging from workload to benefit-plan changes, voted recently to unionize.

The 162-member Dutchess County Head Start Staff Association — made up largely of teachers, teacher aides, advocates and parent-infant educators — is working on negotiating its first contract.

Following the lead of workers at its two sister organizations — the Astor Learning Center and the Astor Day Treatment Program, who voted previously to be represented by NYSUT — employees kicked off a vigorous organizing campaign. They voted at each of the seven Head Start sites throughout Dutchess County, with 63 percent voting to unionize. Also included in the new unit are speech therapists, food-service workers and social workers.

Teaching assistants in Saratoga County's Ballston Spa School District also have voted in favor of affiliating. The 55-member unit in January voted 45 to 6 to request a separate charter with NYSUT.

The unit previously had been an umbrella affiliate of the Ballston Spa Teachers Association for many years. The group — which decided it wished to be recognized as an independent local — is now called the Ballston Spa Association of Teaching Assistants.

Disaster aid still needed

NYSUT members have a long history of coming through for others in times of need, and your help is still needed to assist recovery efforts stemming from the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee last August.

Union members, their friends, family and supporters are strongly encouraged to give generously to the union's Disaster Relief Fund. You can donate online by visiting, or make your check payable to NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund and mail to NYSUT Headquarters, Attn: Jeff Lockwood, Accounting Department, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110.