ALBANY, N.Y. July 15, 2008 - New York State United Teachers congratulated Randi Weingarten on her election as president of the American Federation of Teachers and applauded her vision of public schools as community centers that would bring together under one roof services for needy children and their families.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi congratulated Weingarten and the other officers elected at the AFT's national convention in Chicago. Former NYSUT Vice President Antonia Cortese was elected secretary-treasurer, while Lorretta Johnson, a paraprofessional from Baltimore, will serve as AFT's executive vice president.
"We couldn't be prouder that these three women will be leading our union in the fight to improve our public education and health care institutions and ensure that all working Americans get a fair shake," Iannuzzi said.
Iannuzzi said NYSUT's commitment to ending the achievement gap dovetails with Weingarten's agenda. In her acceptance speech Monday, Weingarten said she will promise a national reform agenda that includes expansion of the community school model for children in the neediest communities. She proposed schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance; high schools that allow students to sign up for morning, afternoon or evening classes; and schools that provide child care, dental, medical and social services help for at-risk children and their families.
Iannuzzi said community schools are "an exciting concept" that would be very helpful to New York's efforts to end the achievement gap.
"We can't assume that every child coming through the schoolhouse door has access to quality early childhood education, medical care, dental care and other social services. In fact, we know they don't, and we know that these holes in society's safety net contribute to the achievement gap," Iannuzzi said. "Allowing public schools in low-income neighborhoods to serve as community centers is a smart way to deliver essential help to children and their families. Closing the achievement gap means focusing on the needs of the whole child, not just on their academic needs."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 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.
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