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Speech Improvement Chapter Newsletter - June 2015

From Mindy

The end of the year is fast approaching, and I wanted to share with you many of our accomplishments this year.

In May, we celebrated Better Speech and Hearing Month and provided a workshop on executive dysfunction. In June, our workshop was on reading strategies for the speech language pathologist. In addition, 30 of our executive board members and volunteer liaisons met with President Michael Mulgrew to share with him the top issues for our chapter to bring to Chancellor Fariña. I fully explain our issues and goals below.

Among our other accomplishments, we have completed a bank of more than 500 speech goals aligned to the Common Core curriculum, and it is now on our website along with other smart goals suggestions. An explanation of how the goals were created is below. 

We held our chapter elections and are pleased that nearly all of the positions have been filled. The UFT Speech Chapter Executive Board works very hard to bring your issues to our monthly meetings at UFT headquarters and to alert me to issues in your districts. As I have traveled throughout the city I have also heard from you on a number of citywide concerns. 

I am always hopeful that more of you will participate in our speech meetings because only your active participation makes a great chapter. If you do not have anyone in your district making speech chapter announcements, then please consider volunteering as a chapter liaison. If every district in the city had a volunteer liaison, then more information would be disseminated to everyone. Please email me or call our hotline number, 1-212-598-7774, to discuss how you can get more involved. 

Many of you also participated in the Teacher’s Choice and extended-time surveys which will be used to try to increase funding from the City Council. We continue to need your support in alerting Governor Cuomo about issues related to Common Core testing, teacher evaluations and charter schools. Many of us know that expanding charter schools can lead to reduced space for our services and drain resources.

If you are not receiving our newsletters, notices of our staff development workshops or President Mulgrew’s citywide email updates, please be sure to sign up at the UFT website. Please check out our old newsletters on issues related to observations, ratings and attendance. If you did not receive your observation report from your speech supervisor be sure to contact your supervisor by email because these reports will be used to support your overall rating in your school.

I wish all of you a relaxing and healthy summer and hope to see you next school year.


Mindy Karten Bornemann
Chapter Leader

Our workshops on reading strategies and executive dysfunction

We got excellent responses on our recent workshops. Some members reported that the reading workshop helped them develop strategies to better gauge reading comprehension and identify ways to help students become strategic readers. Others said that they now “more fully understood ways to support syntactic and semantic challenges in curriculum.” Another speech provider said, “This workshop was excellent, and it was very well organized and provided wonderful videos and free materials.”

Our gracious speaker, Jill Fahy, just sent us resources she used, which are now available in our chapter’s resources section on the UFT website.

Future staff development workshops

Our speech chapter workshops are based on your needs and attendance. We have generally had excellent attendance and always get positive feedback from those who attended. But at our last workshop in June, our attendance was low and the fees collected were barely enough to cover the amount we paid for the wonderful speaker. I am concerned that our chapter will have to discontinue our weekend staff development workshops if attendance does not improve. Perhaps, now that the DOE has finally begun to offer staff development, there may not be a need for our chapter workshops. Only time will tell. 

Our chapter has been offering weekend staff development since 1993 (I remember because it was the year my daughter Rebecca was born.) It is not typical for a functional chapter such as ours to be able to give these weekend staff development workshops that offer inexpensive CEUS and include breakfast. Since we are self-supporting, the chapter covers the costs, which for each workshop is usually $6,000 to cover travel and hotel for our speaker, CEUS and food for the event. Please support our chapter events and attend our weekend workshops next year, or they will be discontinued.

Speech goals aligned to Common Core curriculum

We are very proud that after a long process, we now have our speech and language goals aligned to the Common Core from kindergarten to grade 9. Many of our chapter members attended a Common Core for the SLP workshop with Lois Heyman and reviewed graded story books.

Then chapter members wrote smart goals and suggested interventions. There are more than 500 goals, which are now posted in the Resources section of our website.

It has taken more than a year and a half to type, edit and sort all of the goals into the categories of expressive language, phonology, listening, speaking, receptive language and semantic and pragmatic speech. Feel free to adapt the goals for your students' individual educational needs.

From our Meet the President, top issues for the Chancellor

In April, 200 members of functional chapters met with President Mulgrew to discuss some of the chapter’s most pressing issues. He was very interested and responsive to our concerns and asked us to report back to him which issues should be brought up with Chancellor Fariña. Based on discussions among our chapter representatives and volunteer liaisons, we brought the following needs to Mulgrew’s attention:

  • speech therapy materials and tests including protocols;
  • adequate equipment including iPads or Chromebooks with high-speed broadband to complete SESIS encounter attendance;
  • daily time to complete encounter attendance so members can be part of staff development and parent engagement in their schools;
  • more time to complete progress reports, IEPs and evaluations;
  • time to work with classroom teachers in the Chancellor’s literacy program; and
  • appropriate space to provide therapy.

Mulgrew asked to know more about our needs because so many of our chapter’s participants complained about not having speech materials, tests and resources to do our job properly. Now that we have asked him to present these issues to Chancellor Fariña, we will keep you posted on what our chapter may expect. We have heard many concerns about the need for laptops or iPads, access to apps, therapy materials for literacy and phonemic awareness, and different evaluation tools and protocols for our varying ages and cognitive levels.

Principal’s Weekly on mandated services and ramifications for not providing services

Additional good news for our chapter was in a recent Principal’s Weekly reminding principals that mandated services are not to be cancelled except in extraordinary circumstances.

The Principal’s Weekly reminded principals that the programs and services on a student’s IEP — such as related services that include speech, occupational or physical therapy, and counseling — are legally mandated and necessary for the student to make progress in school. Therefore,  providers of these services must serve each student as mandated and may not be assigned to other duties like exam scoring, coverage or proctoring for other classes that would prevent them from doing so, except in extraordinary circumstances.

An extraordinary circumstance is one that cannot be foreseen by a principal or a school; our interpretation is that this is a snowstorm or widespread illness.
Recently a speech teacher was reprimanded for not providing enough speech services based on the teacher’s encounter attendance. There were many sessions cancelled due to proctoring dates, test preparation, student absences, trips and citywide tests. This administration held the speech provider accountable for these missed sessions although the administration was clearly responsible for some of these issues. However, the provider had not ever reported the proctoring issues and test preparation to the administration or, through a special education complaint, to the UFT. This is a lesson for all of us: We must ensure that our students get their services. If you are prevented from seeing your students regularly, you must report it formally to the school administration and UFT chapter leader, and you must let us know at the speech chapter. In addition, the online special education complaint form can be completed; your complaint will be handled by Carmen Alvarez’s team of experts.

New paperwork reduction standards

A new paperwork reduction agreement with the DOE has been formulated. We have been meeting with the DOE throughout the year on reducing redundant paperwork including writing progress reports. As you know, this information is already in the IEP, including the present level of performance, past and present goals and mandate recommendations. Suzanne Sanchez, lead administrator for the DOE, has assured us that this created progress report will be discontinued next year due to our chapter’s insistence that it is duplicative. We are very pleased that this redundant paperwork will no longer be mandated; however it is our understanding that we will still complete the progress reports that are attached to report cards.  

Chancellor’s initiative gains for next year

Earlier this month, Carmen Alvarez and I met with the Department of Educations’s literacy initiative committee to discuss the literacy program plan for next year. The DOE committee includes speech supervisors, managers, literacy experts and the UFT. Many problems were reported to this committee, and thanks to your emails and phone calls, we had a great deal of evidence to present. After our request for volunteers for a focus group, we formed a group that included chapter members Deborah Callis, Kesha Hill, Melissa Torribio–Boughner, Gay Zacerous, Frances Wilson-Watson, Evelyn Palumbo Lorina Allert and Kelly Enamorado. They all gave feedback to me, Assistant Chapter Leader Katherine Lewis, UFT Vice President Carmen Alvarez and Liz Truly. The focus group members told us about their experiences and discussed the pros and cons of the initiative.

The DOE is not expanding the program next year but is addressing many of the issues that we brought to their attention. The DOE will make materials for the program available early in the year, give preparation time to review the materials and offer staff development to both the speech provider and the classroom teacher. In addition, there will be a better collaboration between the principal, speech supervisors, speech providers and classroom teachers as to which materials to use and who will participate in the initiative. Some speech teachers who were chosen for the initiative this year did not want to participate this first year, and others who wanted to do it were not chosen. The time factors were also a huge concern for planning and collaborating with the classroom teacher. Lastly, implementation of the program in the schools was very inconsistent. This year there will be more standardization of the rollout and the monitoring of progress will be more consistent and done early in the year. In addition, by starting the initiative earlier in the year, speech therapy students will not be dropped midway through the year and given to other providers. We will let you know how the guidelines are rewritten and will keep you abreast of changes to the program because we all want it to be successful next year. 

Chapter election report

The following chapter members were elected. There were no election challenges this year. Congratulations to all those elected to serve our chapter, and thanks to all of you for participating in our elections. I want to thank everyone who stood in elections, including my new assistant chapter leaders who answer our chapter's hotline number and Lisa Arian for helping with many of my emails.

Chapter leader: Mindy Karten Bornemann

Assistant chapter leaders:  Katherine Lewis, Brenda Caquais

High school representatives:
Brooklyn/ BASIS − Charlene Tuff
Manhattan − Gabriella Shakhnes-Schecter
Queens − Jessica Krivac
Bronx − Elana Shoyket

District representatives:
Brooklyn − Ava Geddis, Kesha Hill
Manhattan − Sandy Robinson, Gay Zacerous
Queens − Ana Roldan
Bronx − Jennifer Knight
Staten Island− Margaret Rice, Sheri Katzen-Akelson

District 75 citywide speech services:
Brooklyn − Khadejar Danson
Manhattan − Meredith Blackman Straker
Queens − Kimberly Pascerelli-Klein
Bronx − Lourdes Hawkins
Staten Island − vacant

Delegate Assembly delegates:
Lorina Allert, Brenda Caquais, Maria DeCandia, Ava Geddis, Ladesha Gill Bey, Kesha Hill, Virginia Hill, Sara Hochrad, Jodi Klempner, Jennifer Knight, Katherine Lewis, Mayra Santos-Torres, Edward Sweeney, Charlene Tuff

Related Topics: Chapter News