ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 3, 2015 - New York State United Teachers today launched a statewide, multi-media campaign that hammers Gov. Andrew Cuomo for offering failed gimmicks instead of real support for New York's teachers and public schools.
The campaign - featuring television ads airing on commercial and cable television throughout New York state - as well as billboards, print and social media advertising - calls out Cuomo for seeking to more than double the weight of standardized testing, increasing the pressure on students at a time when other national leaders are turning away from high-stakes tests.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the ad campaign is designed to educate New Yorkers about the damage the governor's "billionaires' agenda" would do to teaching and learning. "The governor should be listening to the true experts - students, parents and educators - about what's really needed. It's not more emphasis on standardized testing, but fair and equitable funding that benefits every child in the state and more support for our already strong public education system," Magee said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the governor should be visiting public schools and attending community forums, where educators and New Yorkers with children in public schools can speak to the devastating impact of over-testing, poverty, budget cuts and funding inequality. "The governor should be attending community forums so he can hear firsthand what's on the minds of parents and teachers," Pallotta said. "Instead, the governor's 'test-and-punish' education agenda is being driven by hedge fund billionaires who, frankly, have never set foot in our classrooms and don't have a clue how public schools work."
A television ad running in upstate markets makes that point, with a parent speaking to the camera, saying: "Gov. Cuomo talks about improving our schools, but the testing is out of control and now he wants to make it even worse." NYSUT's largest affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers, is airing a similar commercial in New York City with more of a focus on equity.
Daphna Arm, a teacher in Merrick, Long Island, adds: "We all want good schools. But, Gov. Cuomo, your priorities are wrong. You blame teachers instead of supporting us. And you offer up failed gimmicks instead of fairly funding our public schools. Governor, tough talk isn't the answer. Come and visit my classroom to learn what all kids need to get a great education."
As Arm speaks, the hashtags #InviteCuomo and #AllKidsNeed appear on screen. NYSUT, the UFT and local unions throughout the state have been spearheading a social media campaign in which parents and educators invite the governor to visit schools, attend forums and learn what "all kids need" to continue to receive a great 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.