February 22, 2011

ADVOCACY: NYSUT launches ad barrage to fight education cuts

Source: NYSUT Media Release

Feb. 22: NYSUT launches ad barrage to fight education cuts

New York State United Teachers today launched a new statewide, million-dollar television ad campaign declaring that New York's schoolchildren should not suffer deep budget cuts so millionaires can enjoy tax breaks.

The 30-second ad, entitled "Lecture," features a Wall Street hedge fund manager or corporate executive lecturing someone in an oversized chair in his plush office. He condescendingly says, "Look... the current market environment demands massive budget cuts... tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and powerful... and, yes, some sacrifices from people like you. Is that so hard to understand?"

The camera then pans to two frightened schoolchildren, cowering in the chair. The narrator intones, "Have you ever noticed, in tough times, who's asked to make sacrifices and who isn't?" An on-screen graphic declares: "Tell Albany: Please don't sacrifice their education for tax breaks for millionaires." The ad is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVoJzsnR3Ic and concludes with a little boy angrily scolding the pompous corporate executive, "You need a time out!"

"This ad, in a very clear way, lays out for New Yorkers an absurdity in the proposed executive budget," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. "Schools face $1.5 billion in budget cuts, which would devastate services that students need and lead to the layoffs of thousands of middle-class New Yorkers, while at the same time the Governor and Legislature are considering a $1.2 billion tax cut for wealthy New Yorkers who don't need it and don't deserve it."

Feb. 17: Refuting the claim that New York ranks 34th in educational success

NYSUT placed ads in this week's Legislative Gazette and Capitol magazine refuting the accuracy of the claim that New York ranks 34th in educational success. Both publications are widely read and distributed at the Capitol in Albany.  

Locals are encouraged to download the ad for use in community media.
Download the ad (PDF)
In addition, a Gannett News Service article, "Education advocates: There's More than One Way to Measure Success," explores the limited viewpoint of the governor's argument as well as many other ways to evaluate school and student performance.

Feb. 1: Speaking out early and clearly on the state budget

As the governor proposed the largest education cut in the state's history, NYSUT is mobilizing in unprecedented ways with grassroots member action, extraordinary lobby days and a postcard campaign to convince lawmakers to reject the many devastating proposals contained in the Executive Budget.

NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said the union does not believe the proposed $1.5 billion cut in state education aid can possibly be absorbed without cuts in services and layoffs of teachers and other education professionals. The union also expressed great concern about the proposed impact of across-the-board cuts for the State University, City University and community colleges. Health care funding - along with everything from library aid to BOCES aid to lifeguard services at state parks -- are at risk.

With no time to waste, plans are in the works for Extraordinary Lobby Days at legislators' home district offices on Thursday and Friday. Appointments are already set up from Long Island to western New York. The Extraordinary Lobby Days' theme, "Don't erase our progress," is featured in a full-page ad in this week's Legislative Gazette, widely read around the Capitol, stressing the importance of continued investment in public education. It will appear in other publications and additional ads are planned.

Also on Friday, Feb. 4, United University Professions, NYSUT's affiliate at SUNY campuses, will rally at the Capitol to protest higher education funding cuts.

Another Extraordinary Committee of 100 will bring hundreds of NYSUT political activists to Albany on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in concert with BOCES Lobby Day and United Federation of Teachers' Legislative briefing. This is also the day for testimony to legislators on K-12 education (higher education testimony will be Feb. 10).

We are launching a statewide postcard campaign to personalize the message about what our students need to succeed, an effort that will culminate in one massive postcard delivery to our elected leaders at the March Committee of 100. Postcards will be distributed by NYSUT regional offices, political action coordinators and local leaders. A customized card for retirees will be distributed through NYSUT retiree's leaders. Our grassroots parent coalitions will be distributing similar postcards from parents.

State lawmakers need to hear from educators, community activists and parents about the valuable programs and services threatened by massive cuts to public education.

"We are mobilizing in unprecedented ways for what is shaping up as the fight of our lives," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta. "We intend to speak out early and clearly, as we work with the Legislature to ensure a responsible state budget."


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