The Rural Schools Association of New York

Advocacy Materials

YOU make your Rural Schools Association stronger when you reach out to your policy makers. Here, you can find the latest policy news, contact information for your representatives, and templates and scripts for phone calls, emails, and letters. Please make use of whatever you can. Feel free to distribute this within your districts to teachers, staff, students, parents, etc. so they may also speak out for rural schools. This was a common theme at the conference: we need more voices to be heard in Albany! Here is some information on why phone calls are more powerful than emails or letters, however emails and letters are better than doing nothing, so please act in whatever way you are able, as often as you can. ​

Here's Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators, by Daniel Victor, NYTimes, 11/22/2016
Caveat: Certainly email if you're not able to call though!

Find Your Representative

New York State Board of Elections has this easy tool to help you connect with your state representatives in the Senate, Assembly, and US Congress and Senate:

Alternatively, you can call the Senate Operator at 518-455-2800 and the Assembly Operator at 518-455-4100 and ask for your Senator or Member of Assembly. The Executive Chamber can be reached at 518-474-8390.

Phone Call & Email Scripts

These are scripts that you may use as is, or edit as you see fit, to contact you representatives to advocate for policies to benefit our district - by phone, email, or written letter. Because people are more likely to communicate with their representatives when given something like this, please feel free to distribute this widely - handouts send home with students, flyers in the main office, a section in your school newsletter - and encourage parent, teacher, and student voices to be heard in Albany.

May 2, 2018

Dear State Leader,

There is little question that public education must establish an effective and efficient means of assessing the performance of its educators. Assembly Bill 10475 by Assembly Member Nolan and its counterpart, Senate Bill 8301 by Senator Marcellino seek to do that. I applaud the work of these leaders, the governor, NYSUT, NYSCOSS, NYSSBA and others in arriving at a means of accomplishing this vital task with a decreased level of disruption and fiscal harm to our schools than was contained in prior iterations of the legislation.

Making the use of state student testing an optional component is the correct approach, as is retaining existing APPR plans until a new procedure is in place. Both of these legislative provisions provide additional local flexibility, as well as fiscal stability. The legislation provides leadership in this controversial function that will hopefully result in an improved means of assessing both an educator’s present performance and in correlating a district’s curricula with the state’s standards and regulatory requirements.

On behalf of the nearly 320 member school districts of the Rural Schools Association, I would respectfully request that the final version of the legislation make every attempt to recognize the unique circumstances experienced by our rural schools; their inability to either staff or afford internally or externally developed evaluative instruments, their need to minimize additional student testing, their need to avoid duplicative or conflicting aspects of federal and state law and regulation.

Please recognize that in deviating from longstanding policy by making a new APPR the subject of collective bargaining (rather than an administrative function) costs for already fiscally strapped rural schools are likely to increase. The inability of rural schools to raise revenue locally may well result in actual staffing layoffs to cover the cost of a newly bargained-for system. There is no fiscal reserve in most rural school districts to cover this new expense. Make no mistake, changing evaluations to a mandatory subject of collective bargaining is a new and unfunded mandate.

As the state continues to struggle with creating an equitable, workable and effective means of evaluating school instructional staff, please continue to listen to those who are responsible for its implementation and ultimately, for their students’ educational success.

Very truly yours,