Food for Thought: Retiree Leaders Speak Out
A Message From President Joan Perrini
If not you, then who?
Recently while talking to a retired teacher, she told me how happy she was that the new 2% tax cap would keep her taxes from going up. This viewpoint concerns me for I fear what this teacher and others like her don’t realize are the negative effects this has had on our schools and what it means for the future education of all children.
It’s an illusion that the 2% tax cap is a benefit. People respond whenever they believe they will save money and this is exactly what our NY State legislators hoped for. The states where a tax cap on local taxes has worked are states that countered with an increase in state aid to schools. And though there was an increase this year, state aid to New York schools is still below where it was in 2008. With a property tax cap and less aid, there is naturally less money in the school budgets, with the result that something has to go. And that “something” turns out to be the vital programs for students which get cut without regard to consequences. Sadly many of these programs are necessary to prepare for and enter college.
Further, our legislators want to establish that New York State has a high standard of educational quality and always has. To achieve that standard but also adding to the problems mentioned, they now impose state tests as a measure of educational improvement and evaluation of teacher effectiveness.
Respected experts agree that these measures don’t work and have put education in this country at risk. I recently had the privilege of hearing Diane Ravitch, education historian and Research Professor of Education at NYU, speak at the Take Action Long Island conference. She confirmed my concerns and warns us to end the pressure on teachers to teach to the test. She promotes support of teachers with creativity and passion, and warns about evaluating them on the test scores of their students. She says we must make public education better, not privatize it. And we will im-prove education by improving the lives of children since this country leads all advanced nations in child poverty.
By now you’re probably saying, “That’s terrible, but what can I do? I’m retired and have no voice in these problems.” Well you couldn’t be further from the truth. You do have a voice and it has power and we need you to use it at the NYSUT Rally to Fight for the Future of Public Education. That rally will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013 at noon at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Retiree buses will leave from the NYSUT Hauppauge Office at 7:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served and there will be special parking for retiree buses.
Richard Iannuzzi, President of NYSUT, made an impassioned appeal at the Representative Assembly in Washing-ton DC in April encouraging all educators, in-service and retired, as well as guests, PTA and concerned community members to attend the Rally. (For more inspiration you can hear his talk by visiting this website - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDbl6hxkJq8.)
It’s our responsibility to do what we can to fight back against a plan that has and will continue to hurt education on Long Island and in the State. I beseech you to sign up and come. Information on how RC21 members can join us can be found below. Others who wish to attend should go to the One Voice United section of NYSUT.org.
It's time to raise all our voices in unison to support public education. Educators, parents, students and community members will have the opportunity to speak as one on Saturday, June 8, at the Capitol in Albany.
Thousands of New Yorkers are expected to join together on that day in a Fight for the Future of Public Education. Their voice - your voice - needs to be heard in this era of attacks on our profession and on what's good for students.
RC 21 members can sign up for a seat on the retiree bus at your local retiree chapter meetings or contact Joan Perrini at:
(631) 587 - 1151
The rally is from noon to 2 p.m.
The bus will leave from the NYSUT Office:
150 Motor Parkway
Hauppauge, NY 11788
@ 7:30 a.m. sharp