ALBANY, N.Y. March 19, 2014 — Members of New York State United Teachers who teach art, music and foreign languages will hold a news conference today to discuss the importance of those programs in public education and call on the Legislature to increase their school aid proposals beyond what’s contained in their one-house bills.
The teachers from the Capital Region, Hudson Valley and other parts of the state will hold the news conference at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Capitol outside the Senate chamber.
NYSUT is strongly on record as supporting a $1.9 billion school aid increase, and noting that — according to the Educational Conference Board — a $1.5 billion increase is necessary just to avoid more cuts in programs that help students.
“Cuts to music and art programs in our public schools affect our most economically disadvantaged students the most,” said Robert Aronstein, a music teacher in South Colonie. “Public school music programs present the only opportunity for students who cannot afford private musical instruction to learn to sing, master instruments and perform in group ensembles, utilizing collaborative 21st Century skills like problem-solving while putting into practice math.”
Bill Anderson, president of the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers, added, that, “According to the National Research Council, ‘a pervasive lack of knowledge about foreign cultures and foreign languages in this country threatens the security of the United States, as well as its ability to compete in the global marketplace and produce an informed citizenry.’ If we are to implement a Seal of Biliteracy that is both meaningful and attainable, the state must provide adequate support to school districts in order to provide students with the pathways to achieve these crucial benchmarks.”
Diana Zuckerman, a Spanish teacher at Rondout Valley High School, said, “The drastic elimination and reductions of foreign language programs have become an epidemic across New York state due to extreme budget constraints, the Gap Elimination Adjustment, APPR and the narrowing of the curriculum. At this time of an increasingly globalized society, it is our responsibility to ensure that all students are developing global competency through long sequences of foreign language study beginning at an early age.”
“Art is an integral part of a student’s education and needs to be properly funded,” added Melody York, an art teacher in South Colonie.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.