"Education is a right, and a moral imperative," NYSUT President Karen Magee told a group of activists Monday near the governor's suite in the state Capitol.
"We have a moral obligation to educate every child in this state, regardless of zip code, regardless of where they live... It's the great equalizer. It secures our democracy and solidifies the American dream."
Bottom line, she said, "The governor's proposals are immoral."
Gov. Cuomo's executive budget proposal favors hedge billionaires over needy children, rich campaign contributors over working families and private education profiteers over public school teachers and staff and public higher education faculty.
Magee, NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta and NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale were among dozens of activists who showed up to support the Moral Monday vigil in the Capitol's War Room. The collection of faith, community and labor leaders said Cuomo's plans fail to address economic and racial inequality. In addition to increased funding for education, the group called for a $15 minimum wage and progressive taxation.
"There is an urgent need for living wages, full and equitable education funding, fair tax policies, adequate health care, and property tax and rent relief," said Sara Niccoli of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York state. She asked the governor to "stand up for the common good and boldly turn his back on the narrow interests of the wealthy and well-connected."
Moral Mondays will continue with vigils at noon every Monday in the War Room until the struggle is won, she said.
It's going to be a long haul, Magee said, but "I have great confidence that the governor will listen to us... I stand here to stop the vilification of our schools."
Check out Magee's "Notes" in the current issue of NYSUT United.