In a Saturday address before RA delegates, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten praised NYSUT members for their staunch activism against Gov. Cuomo's attacks on public education. "These are trying times in New York state, but it's been great to witness NYSUT standing up," said Weingarten. "I've seen it in New York City at the governor's office, on Long Island, in Syracuse, in the North Country and in thousands of posts on Twitter and Facebook."
That activism, said Weingarten, is why the public understands that the governor has "stacked the decks" against public education, and stands with educators — and not with the governor and his test-obsessed friends. She pledged strong AFT support for NYSUT as the battle for public education continues in New York state. "You didn't pick this fight, but it's not a fight you intend to lose — and we are with you 1,000 percent," said Weingarten.
Citing the unrest in Baltimore, she explained that the nation is currently at an economically and racially fueled tipping point that makes the union's role particularly important. "Although it feels as though the deck is stacked against us," unions can help even the balance by throwing our weight "toward the side of justice."
Weingarten also scoffed at the notion that linking student test scores to teacher evaluation will promote improvement in teaching and learning. "Cuomo's theory that you only need to 'shake teachers up' ignores the other 90 percent of what happens in student's lives," she said. "As important as teachers are, we only account for about 10 percent of a student's success."
She encouraged union members to run for office, and pledged strong union support for those who do. Referencing Al Shanker's famous "Keep the Clock" speech, Weingarten encouraged delegates to continue working to strengthen and support their union through activism. "Thanks to your union and your passion, we will come out of this fight stronger and more united than before!"