ALBANY, N.Y., March 27, 2009 - Radio listeners across New York state woke up this morning to an alarm bell. But it wasn't necessarily from their clocks. It was an alarm set off by a new radio ad sponsored by New York State United Teachers, warning New Yorkers about the devastation that could come if Albany lawmakers fail to adequately fund education in the fiscal year that begins Wednesday, April 1.
The ad is running on radio stations heard in just about every New York state community. It will be supplemented by newspaper advertisements in coming days.
"By all estimates, more than 8,000 teachers and other school staff could lose their jobs under the education budget now on the table in Albany," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "If that happens, it's our children - and their futures - that suffer most."
The ad credits President Barack Obama, New York Sen. Charles Schumer and House Ways and Means Chair Charles Rangel for ensuring the state is in line for federal stimulus money to "help keep teachers teaching and students learning." But it challenges state lawmakers to do their part.
Against the backdrop of a ticking clock, an announcer says:
"Albany must not turn back the clock on our students' academic gains. Albany must not turn back the clock on our struggling economy.… Alarm bells are ringing."
The $150,000 radio campaign comes a month after NYSUT-produced television and radio ads that supported a progressive income tax, asking the state's wealthiest citizens to pay their fair share in order to preserve vital services like education and health care.
"Poll after poll show that New Yorkers support their public schools," said the union's executive vice president, Alan Lubin. "NYSUT and its members will continue to remind lawmakers of that in every way we can - through phone calls, personal visits, e-mails and over the airwaves. This is a battle we can't afford to lose."
NYSUT represents more than 600,000 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.
The clock is ticking toward the state budget deadline.
President Barack Obama did his part.
New York's Congressional leaders - especially Senator Schumer and Chairman Rangel - did their part.
The federal stimulus will help keep teachers teaching and students learning.
But it only takes us some of the way.
Without Albany doing its part, we face a crisis in education.
Schools across New York will suffer more than 8,000 layoffs.
Albany must not turn back the clock on our students' academic gains.
Albany must not turn back the clock on our struggling economy.
New Yorkers want Albany to do right by education.
The alarm bells are ringing.
Tell Albany: ACT NOW.