Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
"I want to thank you for what you do to make our community schools the best in the world," U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told delegates.
A former Congresswoman appointed by the governor to fill Hillary Clinton's unexpired senatorial term, Gillibrand, a Democrat, thanked NYSUT for supporting her at the very start of her congressional campaign in a heavily Republican upstate district.
Gillibrand is a co-sponsor of Sen. Chuck Schumer's "Keep Our Educators Working" bill. With unemployment statewide as high as 10 percent, and with Albany threatening to massively cut school funding that would lead to job cuts for as many as 19,000 teachers statewide, "laying off teachers and support staff would be a disaster," she said.
Gillibrand said reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is a priority.
"Either fund it and fix it or get rid of it," she said.
She's concerned about the paucity of early childhood education and affordability for higher education, "which is why we put funding into Pell grants." She also raised concerns about childhood obesity and the need to make food in schools more nutritional.