ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 21, 2015 - New York State United Teachers today released the following statement in reaction to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address and budget presentation:
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said: "The governor is misinformed. New York has one of the strongest public education systems in the nation and a professional, highly dedicated teaching force. Gov. Cuomo should be celebrating that excellence. Instead, today we get intellectually hollow rhetoric that misrepresents the state of teaching and learning. Students, parents and teachers, who know better, aren't buying this agenda, which everyone knows is driven by the governor's billionaire hedge-fund friends. The truth is, there's no epidemic of failing schools or bad teachers. There is an epidemic of poverty and under-funding that Albany has failed to adequately address for decades. Nearly 1 million New York schoolchildren - including more than one-third of African-American and Latino students - live in poverty. The state's systemic failure to provide enough resources for all of its students and to do so equitably - while giving all teachers the tools and support they need - is the real crisis and the one our governor is trying to sweep under the rug."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said: "What comes out crystal clear is this governor is misguided about what teachers do, what our public schools do and what our students need. We again invite the governor to attend public forums in our schools. Instead of recycling tired rhetoric and relying on ideas from his billionaire contributors, we want him to listen to the aspirations of students who want to excel but don't have art, music, foreign languages or guidance counselors. We want him to hear from parents who want a greater state and local investment in their public schools, so their sons and daughters can have a full range of services and aren't crammed in classes of 30 or 35 with outdated textbooks. And, we want him to listen to the experts - educators and administrators who love their jobs and are dedicated to their students, know a greater focus on standardized testing is wrong and know that 'opportunity' is just a word unless it's backed by enough funding that goes to the right places.
"The governor's school-aid proposal and his funding agenda for public higher education - SUNY, CUNY and our community colleges - and public hospitals are starting points. Still, in the K-12 arena, the governor's proposal falls short of the $2.2 billion that is needed to begin reversing years of neglect that hit the hardest in poor communities serving the neediest students. There is a lot of fine print in the budget proposal, and we will be studying it carefully and commenting in more detail in the coming days. As always, we look forward to working collaboratively with legislators in both houses and both political parties to ensure that every child gets the best possible public school education.
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.