WATERVLIET, N.Y. September 4, 2007 - In an address to some 100 Watervliet teachers, the president of the 585,000-member New York State United Teachers on Wednesday will lay out the challenges facing school districts, educators and students statewide at the start of a new school year.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi, who taught elementary school on Long Island for 34 years before his election as president of the state's largest union, will open the school year with an address to the Watervliet Teachers Association. Iannuzzi is expected to discuss the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, standardized testing, school funding and property taxes; and other education issues.
Iannuzzi said as New York's 2.8 million students head back to school, teachers are ready to build on their success raising test scores and narrowing the achievement gap, but believe more of the state's record $1.8 billion state aid increase should be used to invest in strategies that support student learning.
"Teachers are anxious to roll up their sleeves and begin another successful school year. They're ready to greet their new students and work hard, in partnership with parents, to meet the challenges and demands of helping children meet federal testing requirements and learn new subjects," Iannuzzi said.
However, Iannuzzi said teachers also want to see more state funding directed to lower class sizes; fund remedial math and reading programs, invest in teacher training and support student learning.
"The historic commitment that the Legislature and governor made to public schools in this year's budget should be used to supplement local funds for education," Iannuzzi said. "Instead, we see that too many school boards are using the additional state money to replace local funding. Every dollar possible should be devoted to the classroom to improve student achievement."
Iannuzzi will speak at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5 at Watervliet High School on Wiswall Avenue, and will be available afterward for interviews.
"Having the president of NYSUT come to Watervliet on the first day of school is an honor. It sends a positive message about the important work that teachers do on behalf of children," said Peter Strand, a high school physical education teacher and president of the Watervliet Teachers Association.
NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.