A friend of NYSUT, Kennedy Shriver was honored with the union's most prestigious award, the Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service, at the 2003 NYSUT Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.
Shriver gets Shanker award
New York Teacher - April 23, 2003
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, whose name is synonymous with the Special Olympics, was honored with the union's most prestigious award at its recent policy-making convention.
In introducing Shriver to receive the Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service, named after the longtime leader of the American Federation of Teachers and a co-founder of New York State United Teachers, NYSUT President Tom Hobart said Shriver's leadership forged "incredible opportunities" for children with disabilities. The Special Olympics, which NYSUT proudly sponsors, involves 1 million athletes in 150 countries.
Shriver, who was hailed by delegates, said the award was particularly meaningful because "Al Shanker always fought for teachers and children." She added: "You, all of you, have inspired us."
The Kennedy Foundation is working to alleviate the chronic shortage of special ed teachers - a shortage she called "at least as critical as the shortage of teachers of math and science." An estimated 40 percent of special ed teachers leave the field within five years. She called for incentives, such as forgiving education loans for teachers who work in special education for at least two years.
Shriver asked delegates to commit to a "call for freedom" for children with disabilities," a call for hope and a call for love."
Through sponsorship and dozens of volunteers, NYSUT annually plays a major role in the state's summer games. Tony Bifaro, a NYSUT assistant to the president, chairs the state Special Olympics Board of Directors. The 2003 summer games will be June 13-15 at Hofstra University on Long Island.