ALBANY , N.Y. April 12, 2008 — Delegates to New York State United Teachers 36 th Representative Assembly re-elected President Richard C. Iannuzzi and other officers to new three-year terms and approved resolutions Saturday setting the union's policies on a host of important education, health care and labor issues.
Iannuzzi, who taught 34 years in Long Island's Central Islip School District, was re-elected, along with Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin, Vice President Maria Neira and Vice President Kathleen Donahue. Delegates elected Lee Cutler, a teacher in Nanuet in Rockland County, to serve as secretary-treasurer, replacing Ivan Tiger who retired. NYSUT Vice President Robin Rapaport, the former National Education Association of New York president who helped lead the historic unification of the two unions in 2006, is stepping down this summer as part of the agreement.
Iannuzzi, who has made ending the achievement gap the hallmark of his presidency, laid out his vision for NYSUT in his State of the Union speech Friday, telling delegates the union will work to level the educational playing field by attacking the root cause of the achievement gap – poverty. "We have a moral obligation to ensure that all children are provided an equal opportunity to learn."
A convention highlight came Friday when Central Islip's Concert Choir, preparing for a tour of Italy – which will include a performance at the Vatican – filled the convention hall with song. Delegates, showing their admiration for the talents of these students, most of whom live in poverty, spontaneously "passed the hat" and raised more than $6,500 to help fund the trip.
The nearly 3,000 delegates also debated some 70 resolutions and passed measures directing NYSUT to work to improve conditions for part-time workers; increase state support for SUNY, CUNY and community colleges; and help school-related professionals secure higher wages and greater access to affordable health care.
Delegates also were addressed by New York's elected leadership. Gov. David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno thanked educators for the work they do every do and committed to being partners with NYSUT in ensuring that educators have the resources to do the job. They also pledged to make funding for higher education a priority next year.
Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, addressed the convention by telephone hook-up Saturday, thanking the union for its role in securing the American Federation of Teachers' endorsement and for its years of support. She pledged to fight in the White House to end the problematic No Child Left Behind law. "We will replace it with something we develop together," Clinton said.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo also addressed delegates and spoke of their support for education, affordable health care and the rights of working families. Labor Commissioner Patricia Smith introduced educators to Labor Department programs that will help students choose careers.
New York State Teacher of the Year Richard Ognibene called on his colleagues to continue to press the fight for disadvantaged students, saying the "essence of great leadership is speaking on behalf of others who have no voice."
In addition, Education Commissioner Richard Mills acknowledged NYSUT for being a full partner – and leader – in working to close the achievement gap. "The road is difficult, but we've done difficult things before," Mills said. "The destination is clear: the success of every child."
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.