New teachers - If you have a question please ask!  
There's always someone who will help you out!

Do you have questions? Are you confused?

What is VOTE-COPE? Is that another deduction?

VOTE-COPE (Voice of Teachers in Education - Committee on Political Education) is the union's non-partisan political action committee. Members voluntarily contribute to the fund, which supports the election of pro-education candidates and grass-roots lobbying. Union dues are not used for political action. Through VOTE-COPE, the professional and personal lives of our members are improved. This year, for example, VOTE-COPE helped secure a permanent, automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustment for all retirees, and legislation to eliminate the 3 percent mandatory contribution for members of Tiers 3 and 4 (those with 10 years of retirement system membership).

This is my first year of teaching.  What should I know about tenure?

New York state's tenure law dates back to 1917, but it wasn't until 1980 that all public school teachers and teaching assistants were included under its protection.  NYSUT-endorsed legislation helped strengthen the tenure law and expand its coverage, while reducing the probation period from five to three years.  Under the law, teachers and teaching assistants "on probation" may be dismissed at any time.   At or before the expiration of the probationary period, the district must deny or grant tenure.  The board of education grants tenure following an observation and review process - but only after receiving the superintendent's recommendation.  Once granted tenure, a teacher or teaching assistant is guaranteed due process, protecting them from arbitrary or capricious dismissal.  Tenure does not guarantee a job for life and is not ordinarily transferable from one school district to another.  Those teachers wishing to change school districts after receiving tenure only need to serve a two-year probationary period.
(Source: NYSUT's "What Every New Member Should Know" booklet.)

What is a tier and how do I know which one applies to me?

All New York public school teachers and teaching assistants (outside of New York City) belong to the state Teachers' Retirement System.  There are four "tiers" within TRS: 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Your tier is determined by the date you entered the retirement system.  All members who entered the system after Sept. 1, 1983, are in Tier 4.  Each tier has a different set of regulations and benefits. For more information, contact your teacher-member on the TRS board or visit the TRS Web site at
(Source: Sheila Salenger, teacher member on the NYSTRS Board of Directors.)
Send your questions on union- or work-related issues to Mentor, New York Teacher, Box 15008, 159 Wolf Road, Albany, N.Y. 12212-5008; or e-mail

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