Funding for higher education, advocacy for all students and preventing terrorism took center stage Saturday as delegates to the 38th NYSUT RA completed work on a bold agenda for the statewide union.
Delegates supported a resolution urging NYSUT to announce its intolerance to any further cuts in state operating aid to SUNY, CUNY or public community colleges.
"Higher education has been attacked year after year," said Steve London of the PSC.
"We're now facing more than a half billion in budget cuts in the last two years."
The union also will oppose the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act and share with the union's endorsement conference in August how lawmakers voted on the bill.
Delegates also supported a resolution seeking legislation to require the state to supply mandated funding for community colleges.
"We've never received proper funding," said Kevin Peterman of the Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College, adding that the burden unfairly falls on students.
Delegates directed the statewide union to work with its national affiliates and urge Congress to support traditional formula funding vs. competitive grants for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and return to the law's core mission of educating all students.
NYSUT will support legislation calling for the timely review of the Languages other than English (LOTE) standards and urge the state Education Department to provide specific support for LOTE.
Delegates passed two resolutions calling for lawmakers to make education accessible to all students. NYSUT was directed to lobby the state's Congressional delegation for passage of federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act legislation. The law would make college more affordable for students while also allowing them the opportunity to legalize their status in this country.
The statewide union will educate members about comprehensive immigration reform and oppose any legislation containing punitive measures against immigrant workers.
"Regardless of immigration status, stand strong in protecting the right to free education," urged Janella Hinds of the UFT.
Delegates passed a wide-ranging resolution calling for the union to oppose further escalation of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. "It's very important to understand (the resolution) makes a strong statement in support of troops still deployed," Bob Zuckerberg of the UFT said.
Sandy Carner-Shafran of the Saratoga-Adirondack BOCES EA, urged delegates to support a resolution expanding the union's focus on women's rights.
"As a victim of domestic violence I thought I'd put a face to this issue," she said. "Anyone can be in this position. You should speak up, speak out and stand up for women's rights."
The resolution, which passed, directs the union to support pay equity legislation and the pursuit of universal child care.
Health and safety
NYSUT will lobby for funding and mandating of school-based health clinics as well as go on record against new federal cancer screening guidelines. Delegates referred to the NYSUT Board resolutions on minor detoxification and workplace programs to control H1N1.
Delegates passed 37 resolutions and four special orders of business over the three days of the RA. Five resolutions were referred to the NYSUT Board of Directors. (See the May 20 New York Teacher's full report.)