ALBANY, N.Y. November 17, 2009 – With enrollment booming at community colleges and SUNY and CUNY campuses, New York State United Teachers today warned that further budget cuts would devastate middle-class and low-income students, who increasingly see public higher education as the only affordable path to a college degree and a brighter future.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said a new SUNY report showing a 9.8 percent jump in community college enrollment demonstrates that New Yorkers are turning to places such as Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, Hostos Community College in the Bronx and Suffolk Community College for job training and retraining, as well as affordable courses that lead to two-year or four-year degrees. Iannuzzi noted President Obama, in a Sept. 21 speech at HVCC, extolled the value of community colleges as "places where anyone with the desire to take their career to a new level or start a new career altogether has the opportunity to pursue that dream."
Iannuzzi said Gov. David Paterson's proposed $34 million in cuts to community colleges "would crush the dreams of middle-class students, who would be denied access to the courses they need to compete for high-quality employment opportunities and help put New York's economy on the road to recovery."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said the if the governor's proposed $177 million in midyear cuts to public higher education – including $90 million to SUNY; $53 million to CUNY and $34 million to community colleges – are enacted, it would amount to a staggering $610 million in cuts to public colleges and universities over the last 18 months.
"These institutions are key cylinders in New York's economic engine and play a vital role in re-training displaced workers so they may re-enter the workforce," Lubin said. "By dismantling our state colleges and universities – while raising tuition and decreasing student aid – the governor is shutting the door on working families who cannot afford expensive private college tuition."
Lubin said NYSUT activists would continue to bombard legislators and the governor with letters, faxes and e-mails urging them to reject further public higher education cuts. He noted NYSUT members had participated in numerous rallies protesting budget cuts and testified at recent legislative hearings. He added that the union's statewide radio campaign has been extended and continues to hammer at the damage that budget cuts to public schools and SUNY, CUNY and community colleges are doing to New York students and their families.
"We will continue to fight alongside those legislators, who believe as we do, that SUNY, CUNY and community colleges must have the resources to fulfill their mission of educating students and providing access to an affordable college education," Lubin said.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, 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.
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.