Troy Teachers Association President Seth Cohen knows how to get the attention of students.
The high school science teacher stood on the steps of elementary School 2 at 7:30 a.m. today, May 4, to thank the community for its support of public schools, and to introduce a special guest. The little students' eyes widened as he presented, "the president of all the teachers in all of New York State: Karen Magee."
They clapped and cheered.
"We're trying to make sure your schools have everything they need and to make sure your whole community is supported," said NYSUT President Magee, "so that, when you leave school, you are ready to go out in the world and succeed."
Cohen gave special thanks to the parents who came to school with their kids to participate in this morning "walk-in" under gray, threatening skies.
"Parents are the ones who are supporting our schools," he said. "It's happening all over the city of Troy. This is a great neighborhood school!"
Massena, Medina, Pittsford, Troy, Yonkers and other local unions from around the state joined with thousands of teachers, parents and students May 4 to #ReclaimOurSchools and celebrate the public education system in New York, from pre-K through higher ed, said NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale, who also attended the Troy event.
The New Yorkers joined counterparts in 75 cities, in all regions of the country, to stage the second in a series of school "walk-ins" this year to demand that public schools have the ingredients necessary to ensure all children receive the education they deserve.
The first walk-ins were held on Feb. 17 and March 3 in New York State, and involved nearly 40,000 people at 833 public schools in 30 cities. This month's walk-ins involve a total of 75 cities, including an expansion into many Southern states.
Organized under the coalition Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools - which includes NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers and the Alliance for Quality Education, among others - the series of actions will continue in the next school year. AROS represents a growing movement that advocates "community schools" to counter the discredited corporate reform approaches that feature high-stakes testing, school closings and privatized schools that lack public accountability and transparency.