A tough resolution calling for the ouster of State Education Commissioner John King Jr. was made even tougher when delegates demanded his "immediate" removal.
In a historic move, more than 2,300 delegates unanimously voted "no confidence" in King, withdrawing the union's support for the Common Core standards as interpreted and implemented in New York and calling for the Board of Regents to remove him.
Delegates said King's rushed implementation of the Common Core standards, a State Education Department agenda that puts more emphasis on testing and data than teaching and learning, and King's failure to listen to classroom teachers on professional issues had evaporated all confidence in the commissioner's policies and ability to lead.
In a separate resolution, delegates supported the rights of parents and guardians to opt their children out of high-stakes tests. It calls for NYSUT to encourage its local affiliates to "work along side student and parent leadership groups in promoting opt-out options wherever possible."
Connetquot TA's Tony Feliciano said the resolution culminates the growing drumbeat against SED's failed policies.
"Months and months ago, it would have fallen on deaf ears. It would have felt great but would have accomplished nothing," Feliciano said.
Valhalla TA's Steve Reich spoke in favor of the resolution, saying the commissioner's policies have proven to be "truly damaging" to New York education.
One delegate called the resolution a rallying cry that can bring unionists together. "We can really be united on this," he said, "against a commissioner who has hurt us so much."
"NYSUT and our members have consistently done everything to convince SED to avoid the train wreck they have engineered," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira after the vote.
"Our message is loud and clear: Commissioner King has got to go."