Program makes it easy to thank teachers who change lives

A new initiative from Farmers Insurance gives people a way to send a personal thank-you to educators who make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children—and offers those educators a chance to win a grant to use in their classrooms.


Early learning: This is not a test

In her latest column appearing in the New York Times, AFT President Randi Weingarten writes about the necessity of making early childhood education a priority in this country.


Weingarten writes about the promise of the Common Core

In her latest column appearing in the New York Times, AFT President Randi Weingarten writes that the Common Core State Standards, while not a silver bullet, are important in helping to equalize educational opportunity for all children.


An Open Letter about Testing: what parents and community members need to know

In April, our students in grades 3-8 will take state tests based on the new Common Core standards adopted by the State Education Department. Parents and educators have raised serious concerns about the timing and preparation for these new standardized exams. As president of NYSUT, I am writing to let you know why teachers are so concerned.

Let me be clear: Teachers support the principle of Common Core standards. Done right, implementation of quality Common Core standards can enrich and expand student learning, critical thinking and creativity.

And we fully support the principle of accountability for students and educators. Done right, standardized tests can be one of many measures that can strengthen teaching and learning.

But the problem is: Testing in New York state isn’t being done right.

No experienced teacher would test students on material before it’s been taught — and yet that’s the scenario the state has created in its rush to roll out new standardized tests. Two-thirds of teachers surveyed statewide say their students lack books and materials aligned with the new Common Core standards. As recently as last month, the state was still rolling out materials and instructions on Common Core, while expecting students to have mastered new curriculum by April. Too many students have not had time to prepare for what will be a whole new set of challenging standardized exams in math and English Language Arts. Not surprisingly, everyone from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to State Education Commissioner John King has acknowledged that students’ test scores will likely drop significantly — some estimates say up to 30 percent. Yet the state is allowing this year’s scores to be used to unfairly label students and to inaccurately measure teacher effectiveness.

As parents know, it’s wrong to impose “high stakes” on too many tests, given too frequently, and before teachers have had the opportunity to properly prepare their students. It’s wrong for children to come home crying after taking a test. Thousands of educators are “telling it like it is” and sharing these concerns about student stress and anxiety in detailed, heart-felt letters to Commissioner King and the Regents.

Here’s what we’re saying: Let’s get this right.

Patience, time and resources are required to implement new and challenging Common Core standards. This year’s exams should be used to measure the state’s progress in introducing Common Core standards — not for high-stakes decisions.

Just like you, educators support high standards. Our commitment is to get it done right.


Richard C. Iannuzzi

President, New York State United Teachers

Join us by signing a petition that calls on the state to get testing right. Go to





Common Core: Do What It Takes Before High Stakes

In her latest column appearing in the New York Times, AFT president Randi Weingarten writes about the promise—and the possible pitfalls—of the new Common Core State Standards. If implemented properly—namely, by ensuring that frontline educators are prepared to teach these rigorous new standards—we can provide all children with the problem-solving, critical-thinking and teamwork skills they need to compete in today’s changing world. If not, they will end up in the dustbin of abandoned reforms. Read her full column.