ALBANY, N.Y. July 7, 2010 — New York State United Teachers today said it would continue to relentlessly press state legislators to fund the state's Teacher Centers, saying that shutting down the state's most effective program for training teachers "makes no sense."
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said $35 million in funding for Teacher Centers, which provide professional development and training to teachers across the state, is not included in the state spending plan on which the Legislature agreed.
The state's 130 Teacher Centers are being counted on by the State Education Department and local school districts to support educators in using new standards, curricula and assessments; strengthen teaching in the lowest-performing schools; train teachers to more effectively use data, and to help implement the new teacher principal and evaluation system.
"It makes no sense to pass a sweeping and innovative law to improve teacher effectiveness and, just weeks later, eliminate all the funding for a highly acclaimed program that provides professional training to teachers," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said NYSUT is pressing the Legislature to find the funding to keep Teacher Centers open. "We will be doing everything in our power to ensure the Teacher Center network remains viable," he said.
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said Teacher Centers, over the last 25 years, have built strong private-public partnerships with Intel, Microsoft, Verizon and other major corporations and foundations.
"These private-public partnerships help to improve teaching and raise student achievement, and also lower taxpayers' burden by bringing tens of millions of dollars in private investment into school districts," Neira said. "Corporate contributions from Intel, Verizon, Microsoft and others to Teacher Centers more than double the state's $35 million investment in teacher training and are the kind of dollar-for-dollar partnerships the state should be leveraging, not discouraging with senseless cuts."
Neira noted that, in the business world, the most successful corporations recognize the importance of investing in the professional growth of their workers, including keeping them up to speed with the latest developments in technology and other fields.
"Even in the midst of a prolonged recession, New York must continue to invest in the professional growth of its teachers, especially as it embarks on major education reform initiatives. To effectively shut off the professional training offered by Teacher Centers at this critical juncture is short-sighted and counterproductive," Neira 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.
Editors, reporters: For a list of Teacher Centers and their leaders in your communities, call 518-213-6000.