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    • Pallotta: A Constitutional Convention poses a serious threat to public education

      The following opinion piece by NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta appeared in the September 18, 2017, edition of On Board, the official publication of the New York State Association of School Board Officials. Learn more about the Constitutional Convention at www.nysut.org/concon.

      A Constitutional Convention poses a serious threat to public education

      Don't be fooled.

      president andrew pallottaA Constitutional Convention would have nothing to do with improving New York State government and returning it to "the people." Instead, what a convention would really be about is ensuring government remains in control of political insiders and serves the interests of deep-pocketed donors.

      History has shown that convention delegates mostly would be made up of politicians and their staff. A convention would be more than a publicly funded boondoggle, too - expected, by some estimates, to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

      Just as troubling, a Constitutional Convention could spell complete disaster for New York State's public education system.

      From Long Island to Plattsburgh, Buffalo to Albany, our public schools are already faced with significant challenges. Chronic underfunding continues to plague our most-needy schools. Districts statewide remain hamstrung by the unrelenting constraints of a tax cap that have diminished local control. And we now have a secretary of education in Washington who supports voucher schemes, privatization and the unregulated proliferation of charter schools nationwide.

      By opening the state Constitution to a sweeping overhaul, the progress our schools have made could be permanently derailed. In fact, should voters in November approve a Constitutional Convention- which would put at risk everything from retirement security to environmental regulations that ensure clean water and air -the very protections that guarantee children access to a free, quality public education and a shot at a successful life could be stripped away altogether.

      Why on Earth would we take such a risk?

      When talk turns to the possibility of a Constitutional Convention, much of the focus is placed on public pensions. And, yes, a convention would most certainly result in reduced pension benefits for public-sector retirees, including classroom teachers, school administrators and other education professionals. At a time when New York State is facing a teacher shortage, the promise of a dignified retirement is an important recruiting tool for a profession where salaries have not kept pace with the private sector.

      The retirement security of public servants who have dedicated their lives to helping children is a worthy issue to highlight when it comes to speaking out against a Constitutional Convention. But, when it comes to public education, it is far from the only issue.

      The last time a Constitutional Convention was held in New York, there was a proposal to repeal the Blaine Amendment, which prohibits the use of state money to fund religious schools. Had voters not rejected this attempt, public education in our state would look very different today, and not for the better.

      In a political climate where school voucher schemes are a constant threat, wealthy donors could use their influence to secure convention delegates who would push an agenda that would devastate public schools - leading to the likely loss of critically needed funding, local control and transparency.

      New York State already owes its schools roughly $3.5 billion under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court ruling. Wasting hundreds of millions of dollars - or more - on a bash for political insiders when, instead, it could be used to educate our children, is simply unconscionable.

      The fact is, legislative changes can be imposed through the existing amendment process. And, what's more, unlike a Constitutional Convention, the amendment process doesn't cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It's completely free.

      We have a responsibility to protect the right to a quality education for all students, no matter their zip code or socio- economic status.

      We have a duty to ensure that teachers and education professionals working in our schools have access to the resources necessary so they can deliver to students the best education possible.

      We have an obligation to the communities we serve. By placing our bets on a Constitutional Convention, we are gambling with the future of our children. It is not worth the risk.

      It is incumbent upon all of us who work to protect public education in New York State to vote "No" in November.

      Andrew Pallotta is president of New York State United Teachers, a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care.

      Learn more about the Constitutional Convention at www.nysut.org/concon.

    • AUDIO: DiBrango talks to Capitol Pressroom on Next Generation standards


      Via WNCY's Capitol Pressroom, Sep. 18 , 2017:

      "The Regents have recently taken action on the Next Generation standards. Jolene DiBrango, Executive Vice President of the New York State United Teachers, weighed in on the issues and how they will impact New York State’s schools."

       

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need

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    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing anti-public education agenda that attacks teachers and hurts students.

    Rather than provide what all kids need, the governor is pushing a Billionaires' Agenda that would decimate the state's public schools. His "my-way-or-the-highway" budget would:

    • hold school aid increases hostage;
    • woefully underfund the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
    • more than double the weight of standardized tests;
    • make permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on school communities;
    • eliminate funding for teacher training;
    • launch a back-door voucher plan that would siphon funding away from schools most in need;
    • underfund public higher education by tying funding to campus "performance" rather than enrollment;
    • smooth the way for the privatization of SUNY's five hospitals;
    • destroy prep programs for future teachers;
    • and fail to fully address the student debt crisis.

    Simply put, Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget - which serves the interests of his billionaire backers - is an attack on public education that fails to address what all students need.

    Things you can do right now to fight back.

    Every NYSUT member is needed to defend public education and the teaching profession from Gov. Cuomo's Billionaires' Agenda.

    Tell the governor to stop scapegoating... stop teacher bashing and focus on what #AllKidsNeed.

    Here's your to-do list.

    Take action on this week's campaigns.

    The latest actions will always be right here in the No. 1 spot.

    Call your state senator. Now.

    • Stop what you're doing and call your state senator with this message: stand up to the Governor's "Bigfoot" tactics and defend our outstanding New York public schools!
    • You can look up the number at the NYSUT Member Action Center.

    Sign up for MAC text alerts!

    Take 10 seconds and sign up for MAC text alerts on your phone!

    Here's how: Text the word "NYSUT" to the contact number 38470.

    Sign the petitions.

    Call out the governor.

    • Invite the governor to visit your class to learn what #AllKidsNeed. Tweet out an invite directly at him and be sure to include his Twitter handle @NYGovCuomo and the hashtag #InviteCuomo if you want your tweet to be seen and heard.
    • Not on Twitter? See step 8.

    Get connected to the MAC.

    • BY TEXT. Get real-time text messages about urgent news and actions by texting the word NYSUT to the number 38470.
    • BY EMAIL. Subscribe to the NYSUT Member Action Center email alerts for updates on this campaign. If you're registered via email as a NYSUT MAC e-activist you'll also be the first to know about upcoming rallies, protests and more.
    • BY APP. Download the NYSUT MAC App for your iPhone or for your Android phone. Be sure notifications are enabled to receive alerts on new action items.

    Get connected on Facebook.

    Get connected on Twitter.

    • Join Twitter and follow @NYSUT to be part of the social media army.
    • Once a day (or as often as possible) tweet your thoughts on what #AllKidsNeed - more science labs, music and art classes, school libraries, smaller class sizes and more. We're reminding the governor to focus on what matters! Follow the conversation in real-time for some great examples from parents and educators.

    Share the poster.

    Wear the button.

    Take part in community forums.

    • Keep an eye on nysut.org/allkidsneed for information on upcoming NYSUT-sponsored Community Forums to Save Public Education in every region of the state.

    Talk it up.

    • Get the conversation going - online and offline. Read "Where We Stand" and use it to craft social media messages, send letters to the editor, and brief friends and colleagues.
    • Circulate and share print materials and videos.

    Support "Take Action Tuesday."

    • Mark your calendar to support NYSUT's "Take Action Tuesday" every week. Be on the lookout for updates.

    Learn more at www.nysut.org/allkidsneed.

     

    Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 March 2015 16:10)

     

    Member Alert Program

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    There are so many member benefits, that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
    The NYSUT Member Benefits MAP (Member Alert Program) email blast service keeps you informed through a brief email message every three weeks.
    You can join MAP on the NYSUT website, at http://www.nysut.org/49.htm

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:58)

     

    Nysut Action Center Mobile App

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    NYSUT action center now has an app for smartphones that makes it very easy to take action. It is available in the app store for free.



    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:38)

     
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