April 05, 2014

Neira: Fight hard and fight smart

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: RA Reporter

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira began her speech by talking about the elephant NOT in the room: State Education Commissioner John King.

"The commissioner is not here because over and over again, he ignores the voices of parents and educators," Neira said.

"The commissioner is not here because, when it matters, he isn't there for our students ... and he isn't there for us."

So this year, for the first time in the union's history, "instead of an invitation, we sent him a message: Commissioner King - enough is enough!" Neira said.

Earlier in the day, delegates sent King another message - an even louder one.

In a unanimous vote, RA delegates voted to condemn the State Education Department's disastrous approach to the Common Core and agreed to withdraw the union's support for the Common Core as implemented.

They voted "no confidence" in the commissioner's leadership and called for his immediate removal.

"Our message is loud and clear," Neira said. "He's got to go."

Neira said the union's escalating pressure in the past three years is getting results.
"As a result of everything we have done together, the so-called education reformers are on the defensive," Neira said, citing shifting public opinion.

"Look at the growing number of parents around the state who are working closely with us to preserve and protect their children's public education. Look at the editorials and the growing number of elected leaders who are now singing our song!"

Despite the progress, there are larger struggles ahead, Neira said. She quoted Nelson Mandela, who described his long walk to freedom by saying: "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."

Neira urged delegates to fire up the passion in each of them to climb the hills that lie ahead.

"We must fight hard. We must fight smart and we must hold the policymakers accountable every day," Neira said.

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