ALBANY, N.Y. September 3, 2013 – As schools prepare to open and millions of New York workers return from the Labor Day holiday weekend, New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement today in response to the governor's recent remarks on struggling schools:
"Governor Cuomo's 'death penalty' reference in speaking about so-called 'failing schools' demonstrated disrespect toward New York's dedicated educators, parents and hard-working students. The governor knows better - this kind of language has no place in our society and it only serves to destroy confidence in public education. Every New Yorker, including our elected officials, needs to avoid inflammatory language that does nothing to address the needs of New York's most vulnerable students who suffer every day from inequitable conditions and, most often, are the victims of the social ills associated with poverty.
"What we don't need now is a war of words. Rather, we need a war on poverty and inequality. We need to fix - not close - schools and stabilize - not destabilize - communities. We need to work together to reclaim the promise of public education so that all children can achieve their dreams."
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.
The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and health care workers; and early childhood educators.