Colleagues,

I hope that you had a good summer break and enjoyed it with family and friends. As we welcome you back to the new school year, we also want to inform you about some salient issues and about our ongoing efforts on your behalf.
– Less testing and no more SLOs. We’re not done yet but we are very close to reaching agreement with the District on a re-negotiated Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) for the 2018-19 school year.The new pact would eliminate  the need for individual Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for more than 90% of teachers and substantially reduce the amount of student testing – such as pre-tests and post-tests. Instead of individual SLOs, the District will set, with our involvement, a single target for student performance. More than 90% of school districts in New York State are already using group targets for APPR.  While we continue our efforts to entirely get rid of the junk science that is APPR, we are doing all we can to diminish its harmful impact on teaching and learning. If successfully negotiated, the new APPR agreement will result in lessening the burden on teachers and freeing up more time for learning. The one-year agreement could be adjusted or renegotiated, if necessary. More details soon. Meanwhile, you either already received your APPR rating for last year, through your RCSD email, or you will receive it in the next few days. The APPR Appeal form, if you need it, is posted on the RTA website <www.rochesterteachers.com>.
– More teachers added. As we welcome you back, we also welcomed 175 new colleagues to our ranks at last month’s New Teacher Orientation – more than 140 of whom are added this year. And more will be hired still. Most of these new colleagues are Elementary School teachers, Special Education teachers, Bi-Lingual Education teachers, Reading and Literacy teachers, Guidance Counselors, and in other disciplines. It is truly remarkable that, despite a huge initial budget deficit ($65 million), the District recognizes the importance of funding more teachers rather than laying off teachers. We welcome and appreciate the additional support for our students.
RTA endorses Melanie Funchess. On Tuesday, September 13, Rochester Democrats will go to the polls to select candidates for the RCSD Board of Education. Upon the recommendation of the RTA’s Legislative and Political Action Committee, RTA has endorsed Melanie Funchess for re-election. Widely recognized for her expertise in the field of mental health, Commissioner Funchess is a passionate advocatete for our students and for Rochester’s public schools. She has earned our support and deserves your vote.
– Back to school supplies drive. The RTA Action Committee, in collaboration with the RTA’s Social Justice Committee, are spearheading a drive to provide school supplies to Rochester’s students. Among other items, we’re looking for book bags, notebooks, folders, pens and pencils, crayons, and index cards. Donations may be brought to the RTA office (30 N. Union Street, Suite 301). Or you may contact Gavin Barry <barry.gavin@gmail.com> or Michael Tobin <mtobin@rochesterteachers.com> for pick-up or other options. Please consider supporting this effort to increase our students’ readiness for learning.
Join us at Labor Day Parade. Please join us tomorrow for the annual Labor Day Parade.This year’s theme is “Union Strong!” And the Grand Marshall is our own Tom Gillett – great leader at RTA, NYSUT and the local labor movement. The parade begins at 11am but we will begin to gather at 10am on North Union Street (between East Avenue and Charlotte Street) across from the RTA and NYSUT headquarters (30 N. Union Street). I hope to see you there as we march in solidarity with Rochester’s working women and men. Bring your family and friends.
Sticking with our union. Despite the recent Supreme Court decision on Janus, union.97% of Rochester teachers have already recommitted to continue their membership with RTA. We are reaching out to the remaining colleagues who may be on leave or away from work for other reasons.If you have not yet signed the recommitment  card, please call the RTA (546-2681) or see your RTA Faculty Representative. We are gratified that Rochester teachers recognize that only together we can have the strength to influence policies, ensure fairness and due process, protect teachers’ rights and benefits, and advocate for our students, for our profession and for our public schools. The collective wisdom of teachers, and our collective strength, represents the best hope for improving public education and for promoting what is good for students and fair to teachers.
Have a very successful school year. As always, please call the RTA (546-2681) or email us (contact information can be found here on the RTA website) if you have questions or need assistance. 
Adam Urbanski, RTA President