ALBANY, N.Y. May 14, 2008 - New York State United Teachers today launched a $1 million television ad campaign urging New Yorkers to remember that opportunity for children, good jobs and a healthy economy are all part of the American Dream - and depend on passing school budgets on May 20.
The 600,000-member union's annual push to encourage voters to support their local school budgets takes a different approach this year. The new 30-second spot acknowledges "times are tough" as a senior citizen, soccer mom and businesswoman all share on paper airplanes a message urging voters to "pass on" opportunity to children through a "Yes" vote on Tuesday.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said New Yorkers, hurt by rising gas prices and a sluggish economy, still strongly support public education and recognize that schools continue to make dramatic progress. The television ad, he said, is a gentle, visual reminder that, "this generation of students needs the continued support of their local communities."
"Children deserve every opportunity to succeed. Supporting school budgets is the best way to provide children with the resources they need to be successful, to go on to college and compete for high-quality jobs here in New York state," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said union members will be taking nothing for granted, however. "Our members are making hundreds of thousands of phone calls through organized phone banks in dozens of locations; mailing out postcards, flyers and letters; and are campaigning door-to-door and at ballgames, school events and community gatherings," Lubin said. "They want to deliver a clear message that an investment in education is an investment in our children's future."
"Passing school budgets allows school districts to sustain important programs. NYSUT members are working all over the state in coalitions with parents, sports boosters and others on behalf of the programs that students need," Lubin added.
Beginning today and running through the May 20 statewide voting day, the NYSUT television ads will air on commercial television in eight upstate markets and on cable TV on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs. The ad promoting the school budget votes is airing on network affiliates in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown. It is also being 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 stations.
Lubin noted last year's 95.3 percent "pass rate" in 2007 set an all-time record. In 2006, voters approved 88.7 percent of school budgets on the first try, above the 83.5 percent budget approval rate for 2005 and the 84.9 percent of budgets winning passage in 2004.
NYSUT leaders are optimistic that the vast majority of school budgets, buoyed by a $1.75 billion increase in state education aid, will win voter approval. Property tax report cards submitted to the state Education Department show the average tax levy increase contained in the proposed 2008-09 school budgets is 3.26 percent.
Reporters, editors: The NYSUT television ad can be viewed online at nysut.org
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.