ALBANY, N.Y. May 7, 2007 - New York State United Teachers is launching a statewide television advertising campaign to encourage New Yorkers to "invest in the future of our kids and our community" by voting "Yes" on school budgets on May 15.
Beginning Wednesday, May 9, and running through the May 15 statewide voting day, NYSUT's ads will air on commercial television in eight upstate markets and on cable TV on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs. NYSUT is spending nearly $1 million on the get-out-the-vote advertising campaign.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the union's 30-second spot urges voters to remember the importance of high-quality public schools to the local economy and property values. "Children deserve every opportunity to succeed. Supporting school budgets is the best way to provide schools - and children - with the resources they need to be successful," he said.
Iannuzzi noted that the budgets being proposed by school districts typically carry tax increases of less than 4 percent, roughly the cost of inflation.
"Taxpayers throughout the state show that they view spending on public education as a smart investment by voting to approve their local school budgets," Iannuzzi said. Last year, 88.7 percent of the school budgets in the state passed, up from 83.5 percent in 2005 and 84.9 percent in 2004.
This year, most voters are being presented with budgets that include unprecedented increases in state aid - aid that will help New York's children achieve and succeed. At the same time - as depicted on the accompanying charts - this record state investment in public education, coupled with STAR exemptions, allowed most districts to hold the line on taxes.
"Local taxpayers have been footing too much of the education bill on their own for too long," Iannuzzi said. "The state stepped up this year and helped local districts provide some taxpayer relief."
Meanwhile, NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said work by thousands of grass-roots volunteers - manning phone banks, mailing literature and handing out flyers at ballfields, school events and community gatherings - will complement the union's television advertising. He said NYSUT members are working in coalitions with parents, sports boosters and others on behalf of the programs that students need.
"Teachers see first-hand how their students benefit when school budgets are approved," Lubin said. "Passing school budgets allows districts to provide the programs and services students deserve as they work toward a better future. Passing school budgets goes a long way toward ending the academic achievement gap."
The NYSUT television ad promoting the school budget votes and pro-education board candidates will air on network affiliates in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown. It will also be shown on News 12 stations on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs, as well as on CNN, MSNBC, Discovery, The History Channel and other cable networks.
The ad features children and a train set as an announcer intones, "We all want our community to be strong down the road, with a healthy local economy, property values that hold up and opportunity for all our kids. The best way to do all that is to support high-quality public schools today, to stop cuts to arts, sports and after-school programs and avoid teacher layoffs. On May 15, vote Yes on the local school budget to invest in the future of our kids and our community."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 585,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.