ALBANY, N.Y. April 23, 2012 - New York State United Teachers today launched a three-week, statewide $2 million radio and television ad campaign to tout the good work of teachers in improving student performance in our public schools, and to urge voters to avoid deeper cuts to school programs by approving local school budgets on May 15.
The radio campaign, which begins today, and the television ads, which launch later this week, both focus on the run of excellent news about public school performance. Last month, America's Promise Alliance reported that New York was one of only two states to have increased graduation rates by double digits. The report, presented at a national summit on increasing graduation rates, showed New York's graduation rate climbed from 60.5 percent to 73.5 percent over a seven-year period, even with the state's more rigorous standards and graduation requirements.
"Despite assertions by some in public office, New York is clearly moving in the right direction, and that's a credit to the hard work and dedication of teachers and students across the state," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "The challenge now is to continue making progress despite the cumulative impact of devastating budget cuts. These cuts - along with reductions being implemented around the state because of the new, horrific tax cap - are resulting in a new round of program cuts as well as reductions in teaching staff and support personnel. Together, these cuts are hurting every public school student in New York."
Since Wall Street's recklessness crashed the economy in October 2008, school districts have eliminated more than 30,000 teaching and staff positions. Despite a small funding increase in the recently adopted state budget, most school districts are operating with less state aid than in 2008-09 - and many school districts are adopting budgets with additional layoffs and program cuts.
Despite the widespread pain, other indicators also show New York moving in the right direction. Just before America's Promise Alliance hailed New York's gains, the respected Education Week magazine ranked New York third in the nation, based on six educational criteria. At the same time, cable station CNBC issued a report that New York's public education system was No. 1 in the nation in terms of providing businesses with the skilled graduates they need. And, New York again was a national leader on Advanced Placement exams, and with more than 100 students being named semi-finalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search.
The television ad will feature Debra Calvino, the 2010 Teacher of the Year for New York state who says, as a school bell rings: "New York's public schools are the strongest they've been in years." Calvino, a math teacher at Valley Central High School in Orange County, then asks: "But if we cut academic programs and lose more teachers, will graduation rates keep climbing? Will we still lead the nation in science scholars?"
As the May 15 school budget voting date nears, the ads will ask New Yorkers to support local school budgets. A narrator adds: "Thanks to great teachers like Debra Calvino, our public schools are something to be proud of. But they need your help to keep it going," as on-screen graphics urge New Yorkers to vote "Yes" on school budgets.
The NYSUT television ad promoting the school budget votes will air on network affiliates in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown. It will also be shown on News 12 stations on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs, as well as on major cable channels. The radio ads are also being heard on major stations in every part of New York state.
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.