NYSUT members, supporters and advocates of public education - parents, students, community activists and other unionists - are turning out by the hundreds today for a statewide Day of Action to proclaim their power as stakeholders who demand to be heard.
Marches, rallies and news conferences are unfolding throughout the day, from Long Island to Buffalo, as educators, parents, students and community leaders call for adequate and fair funding K-12 schools and public colleges and universities; a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes consequences of state standardized tests; and a renewed focus on teaching and learning, not testing. They are also signing an open letter to the Board of Regents and Commissioner King to urge their support.
The event is part of a National Day of Action called by NYSUT's national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, and dozens of other groups that are fighting to reclaim the promise of public education.
"Despite the challenges posed by childhood poverty, budget cuts, larger class sizes and excessive standardized testing, to name a few, we are coming together to create great, joyful, engaging environments for all of our students," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "We can do that by focusing on what we know works: early childhood education, project-based learning, wraparound services, teacher autonomy, professional development, parent voice, fair funding formulas and more."
Union members, parents and students across the state are wearing blue - the symbolic color of the day - to show their solidarity as they speak to the inequities of funding and resources their schools and campuses face every day.
NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and Weingarten are opening the day's events at rallies beginning at Nyack High School while educators and parents in Valley Stream are gathering in a sea of blue before the start of the school day.
Iannuzzi said the statewide Day of Action reflects NYSUT's effort to build a coalition of parents, community organizations, businesses and other unions so the public has a stronger say in public education. A number of NYSUT locals and affiliates continue to reach out to other union members who share their concerns on related issues, such as the efforts by United University Professions - NYSUT's largest higher education local - to connect with K-12 colleagues near state campuses to develop a strong response to mandated changes in teacher preparation programs. Public forums about the Common Core curriculum have drawn a broad range of voices, united by a concern over the state's obsession with standardized testing.
"Monday will provide an opportunity for communities to take notice of our support of public education, when a sea of blue will symbolize our solidarity," NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said. "In making this collective statement, we are encouraging teachers, parents and all friends and supporters to stand with us, united, as we reclaim the promise of public education."
Follow updates on the Day of Action today at www.NYSUT.org/dayofaction.