ALBANY, N.Y. Dec. 6, 2016 — New York State United Teachers announced today the statewide union would mobilize to combat federal policy under the incoming president-elect and his administration that would aim to dismantle public education and harm the nation’s students.
Under a resolution passed Saturday by NYSUT’s Board of Directors, the union will take part in a Jan. 19 national Day of Action organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a nationwide network of community groups and unions promoting educational and social justice.
The NYSUT board’s resolution comes on the heels of the controversial nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. secretary of education. DeVos — who has no experience or expertise in education — has used her family’s vast fortune in Michigan to push for the proliferation of for-profit charter schools and the implementation of voucher schemes that have siphoned millions from public schools.
“Betsy DeVos has spent a lifetime using her family’s billions to push for policies that would systematically destroy the nation’s public education system, including institutions pre-K through higher education,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “Her nomination defies logic and represents the potentially destructive path on which our next president could set this nation. NYSUT will not relent in its fight to protect students, families, schools and communities against the threats posed by the policies of such dangerous ideologues.”
NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale, the union’s liaison to AROS, agreed.
“Betsy DeVos is an anti-public education zealot, who in Michigan has been a major player in what has been called ‘the Wild West of Charter Schools’ — 80 percent of which are for-profit,” he said. “She has no meaningful background in education and has a long history of waging war on public schools. Her philosophies, if carried forward, would threaten our students and their futures. It is imperative we stand up to the danger this presents to public education.”
The comments by Magee and Pecorale align closely to the concerns expressed by leaders of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, NYSUT’s national affiliates. AFT President Randi Weingarten called DeVos “the most anti-public education nominee” ever put forth since the creation of the U.S. Department of Education. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said by nominating DeVos, President-elect Trump has demonstrated just how “out of touch” he is “with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”
The issues NYSUT will be advocating during next month’s Day of Action include: fully funded community schools, limited standardized testing, protecting undocumented students, ensuring access to affordable higher education and living wages that lift working people out of poverty.
NYSUT, according to the Board’s resolution, “will join with AROS to lead the resistance to efforts to attack public education, immigrants, worker rights, and lift up our positive vision to protect and improve public 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.