Karen Magee, an elementary school and special education teacher in Harrison for nearly 30 years, became NYSUT's third president - and first woman president - earlier this month. Here are some excerpts from interviews and speeches she has given in her first two weeks leading the 600,000-member union.
What will be different at NYSUT under the leadership of you and your team?
"We're going to turn this into a bottom-up, grassroots organization where our members will be engaged and we identify their needs. From now on, when we speak, we speak with a collective voice that is representative of our members and backed by the data and understanding of what our members are going through in the trenches every day."
How will you approach the issues of the Common Core and APPR?
"First and foremost, we will continue to press for a moratorium on the use of faulty student test scores to evaluate teachers. This will allow us to revisit what the evaluation plan looks like — not to back away from accountability in any way, but to create a process that is valid and legitimate and serves the different disciplines we represent."
Will you work with Gov. Cuomo?
"He called to congratulate me. I'm looking forward to working with him. The governor is the head of this state and he's important to us, but we're important to him."
How will NYSUT be more proactive?
"You will see rallies that fill the streets of Albany. Our shared commitment and passion, supported by solidarity, will carry us forward into a new age of activism."
What does it mean to you to be the first woman president of NYSUT?
"Seventy percent of our members are women, and I look forward to joining so many of [them] in reinforcing the message to our next generation of activists that, yes, a woman's place is in her union - our union."
Tell us about your family.
"I couldn't do this without my children Caitlyn, Max and AJ. (They are) always there for me, allowing me the time to do what I am most passionate about - being a labor leader."