The national spotlight — and television cameras — has been on the National Education Association’s annual Representative Assembly this week, and NYSUT leaders have been center stage.
Today, the news media focused on Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance at the RA in Washington, D.C. Delegate Susan Brazen-King (at right), a leader from Johnson City in Broome County, was among those tapped for reaction. In an interview with WENY-TV, the ABC affiliate in nearby Elmira, Brazen-King told Southern Tier residents about the Obama Administration's support for middle-class families, and its “open door” to educators.
Brazen-King noted that NYSUT, as well as the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers — both NYSUT affiliated — has had excellent dialogue with the U.S. Department of Education on a variety of issues vital to New York educators. She also acknowledged the importance of the federal government’s support for protecting and saving education jobs as the nation recovers from the economic collapse triggered by Wall Street’s recklessness.
NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi and other union officers are leading the union’s delegation to the NEA RA, and applauded as Biden drew a sharp contrast between President Obama and the Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“There’s a pretty uniform view held by Mr. Romney and the Republicans in the majority in Congress today—they criticize and they blame you, they make you the fall guy,” Biden said, according to Education Week.
“They should be thinking of ways to make your job easier, not more difficult. Instead they hector, they lecture and they blame you,” Biden said. “I can’t think of a candidate for president who’s ever made such a direct assault on such an honorable profession.”
Meanwhile, Iannuzzi took the podium yesterday to accept the NEA’s prestigious Friend of Education Award on behalf of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist. NYSUT had nominated Krugman, who was unable to attend the convention.
“For more than a decade, through his column and media appearances, Krugman has emerged not only as a voice for workers — both public-sector and private-sector — but as a champion of public education and educators,” Iannuzzi said.
He added: “(Krugman) has clearly and unequivocally placed the blame for the nation’s financial mess where it rightfully belongs: at the feet of misdirected economic policies — traced back to presidencies over the past 30 years and culminating in the legacy of President George W. Bush — deregulation, union-busting and blaming public-sector workers while the wealthy greedily increased their own private wealth.”
Also on Monday, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel addressed the delegates and urged them to become politically active in an effort to beat back the naysayers and so-called education “reformers” who demonize the teaching profession and other public-sector workers.
“Let’s use our power as individuals, and let’s use our collective strength — the power of 3 million working together, with passion and commitment — to improve the lives of all our students,” Van Roekel said. “Let’s use our power to change one classroom at a time. Let’s use our power to make public education stronger. And let’s use our power to make our nation a better place, moving ever closer to our great and noble ideal of equal opportunity — not just for a fortunate few, but for every single child.”
For more information from the RA, which ends on Thursday, go to www.facebook.com/ratoday.