We've had an exciting school year so far! Although it has been challenging at times, I encourage you to take a moment to celebrate all the victories we've had along the way. As you may have heard, our union and unions across the country received great news on March 29.
We survived a serious threat when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld fair-share fees that public sector unions collect from non-members in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case. Read the New York Teacher story about the Friedrichs case.
It is a cause for celebration, but it would not have been possible without our hard work and collective voice. I’d also like to thank you for your committment to the work that we do as school guidance counselors. You are on the front lines every day, offering our students the support they need. But our work is far from over.
Each day, many of our students bring their emotional baggage into the classroom, preventing them from focusing as much as they need to. Sometimes, educators need help navigating these challenges and they can't do it alone. That’s why schools need the right resources and tools to help them. It’s why UFT members and parents traveled to Albany on March 9: to ask state lawmakers to properly fund our schools.
And it worked! New York state passed its 2016-17 budget on April 1. The budget includes $24.8 billion for school aid, a 6.5 percent increase. It also eliminates the so-called Gap Elimination Adjustment, a $400 million cut to schools statewide that was implemented in response to the 2007-09 recession.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “This year’s budget enables New York City’s public schools to continue to make progress and is a down payment on the state’s debt to public education.” By finally resolving the issue of what was owed to the suburban districts, we can now focus — going forward — on providing more support to the school districts with the highest need.
I encourage you to help us fight for what we need by staying active in our chapter and participating in union events.
We need to let others know that unionism is alive and well. We must make sure that all our members understand what the UFT does for them in terms of salary, financial security, health benefits, advocacy and representation. If you have any questions at all about all the benefits of union membership, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am honored to continue to represent you as your chapter leader. Happy spring and keep in touch!
Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader
Our 12th annual Guidance Counselors Conference
Our 12th annual Guidance Counselors Conference on March 12 was a big success. More than 200 counselors gathered to hone their professional skills, network and celebrate our camaraderie as a chapter. Carolyn Stone, the former president of the American School Counselor Association, was our keynote speaker, and we enjoyed a great day of workshops led by our colleagues.
We’ll be sure to send out another call for workshop proposals before next year’s conference on Saturday, March 18, 2017, so that we can continue to learn from each other.
Be Union Loud and Proud!
As I mentioned above, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld fair-share fees in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association with a 4-4 ruling.
It’s a big win for working families, but our fight is far from over. The March 29 decision won’t stop our enemies. Other cases are already in the pipeline.
The appointment of the next Supreme Court justice will be key. Our message to the Republicans in the U.S. Senate is: Do your job and give Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee, a fair hearing. In the event that the Republicans continue to refuse to hold a hearing, we must do everything in our power to ensure a Democrat wins the White House in November.
I encourage you to stand with your brothers and sisters and join the Union Loud and Proud campaign. In numbers we have power. Please join in our fight and encourage your colleagues to join as well.
Please also take a moment to read your colleagues’ #UnionProud stories on the importance of union membership. You can subscribe to read new ones as they are added and share your favorite stories on social media. Have your own story to tell? Please let us know by filling out our Union Loud and Proud testimonial form.
Our guidance counselor seminar series
Our seminar series for guidance counselors in the fall was a big success! At our first seminar, more than 100 counselors gathered to learn how to write basic IEPs and goals.
The second workshop in our guidance seminar series “ELL Services (Changes to CR Part 154)” clarified recent policy changes that affect many students and the third seminar about functional behavioral assessment and behavior intervention plans explored compliance issues and more. I want to extend a special thank you to our presenters: Emma Mendez, the UFT liaison to the DOE's Division of Specialized Instruction and Student Support, and guidance counselors Kerronn Kitchen and Lisa Nieves.
We'd like to continue crafting useful and engaging workshops for you, so please email me at email@example.com and let me know if you have any ideas. Your feedback will help guide our planning for future seminars.
Run/walk for the UFT Disaster Relief Fund
Join your colleagues at the UFT 3rd Annual 5K Family Fun Run/Walk on Saturday, April 16 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The run is sponsored by the UFT Middle School Division. The starting point is in front of the Coney Island boardwalk. You have until Thursday, April 14 to register. The fee is $25 for adults, $15 for children, age 12 or younger.
For registration and more information, see the event listing »
Update on Borough Field Support Centers
This year, the Department of Education's Office of Guidance and School Counseling has been working with school guidance counselors to help build our capacity and support us in the work we do. The office has been supportive so far, but there are still a few concerns. This is a new process for all of us so we want to make sure that we are being granted a sufficient level of support from guidance managers in each of the DOE’s Borough Field Support Centers.
If you have not yet used this service, I would encourage you to do so. Guidance managers can offer professional development and resources to help you better provide guidance services to students. I would like to continue monitoring the success of the support services offered by guidance managers, so please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know about your experiences.
For more information on the Office of Guidance and School Counseling, visit the DOE website.
Guidance Counselors Chapter receives a new proclamation
We received a new proclamation from the City Council on Feb. 10 recognizing our hard work in honor of National Counseling Week, which took place Feb. 1 to 5. Education Committee Chair Danny Dromm presented it to our executive board at our monthly meeting and we couldn't be more thankful. I believe that this proclamation is a testament to the fact that our hard work has not gone unnoticed. I encourage you to continue to be active and proud of our efforts as a chapter and as a union.
Rosemarie Thompson elected as NYSSCA president
I have been elected as president of the New York State School Counselor Association for 2016–17. In this new role, I will continue to advocate for you and other school counselors throughout New York state. This is an exciting time for our profession. We’re experiencing more visibility and obtaining more support as the importance of our work becomes clearer.
I look forward to seeing you at this year’s conference on Nov. 17 to 19 at the DoubleTree Hilton in Tarrytown, NY. This year's theme will be “School Counselors Making A Difference.” The association’s conference brings together all school counselors who share a common vision: to ensure that students have a smooth transition from grade-to-grade.
Open Market Transfer period on April 15
The Open Market Transfer period begins on Friday, April 15. Guidance counselors may transfer schools under the Open Market Transfer Plan. Principals will post anticipated as well as approved vacancies between April 15 and August 7. During the open period, these vacancies are posted online; you can view them on the DOE's Open Market Transfer Plan section of the website.
The listings are revised as positions are filled and principals post new vacancies, so it’s good to regularly visit the website. If you know that a vacancy is available but not posted, please contact your borough office and district representative as soon as possible with the details. Schools can advertise and select staff for all projected vacancies, but a transfer won’t become final until the vacancy is an approved vacancy and the transferring employee has been entered into the Galaxy budget of the new school.
How to apply through Open Market Transfer
The application process is straightforward. You’ll be asked to complete an online registration form but first, you must create a user ID and password. Once you’ve done that, you can apply online for all vacancies in your current license area. All qualified guidance counselors can apply for specific positions at job fairs or send applications to the schools they are interested in.
You can also send applications and resumes to schools that have not advertised vacancies so that, in the event a vacancy arises, principals will be aware of your interest. We recommend that, in addition to filing an online application via the Open Market Transfer Plan system, you also submit a hard copy of your cover letter and resume via fax, mail or in person. Since principals may receive many online applications, it might be helpful for them to receive a paper copy of your materials as well as the electronic application.
Check your file at the end of the year
Remember to check your personnel file at the end of the year to point out and remove old letters in your file. Our contract provides that any letter over three years old should be removed if no disciplinary charges are attached to that letter. If you have not done so recently, make an appointment with your principal to see your file and flag anything that needs to be removed.