ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 4, 2018 — As the new school year begins, New York State United Teachers and its local affiliates will be ratcheting up their efforts to protect students from unreliable and invalid standardized tests, while ensuring that teachers are evaluated fairly and win good pay and benefits for the important work they do.
“Strong unions are good for workers, for students and parents, and for our communities,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “At our public schools, colleges and hospitals, we will again be out front with a loud, clear voice on the important issues facing our members — winning good contracts that help NYSUT members make economic gains, ensuring patient and worker safety, and fixing the state’s broken system of testing and evaluation.”
As schools open, Pallotta said educators will continue the fight to end the state’s over-reliance on standardized testing, which has sucked the joy out of teaching and poisoned the learning environment for students. He said NYSUT and its activists will work with both the Board of Regents and state lawmakers to reform testing and evaluation.
“Teachers want to teach. Students want to learn. Instead of using bogus mathematical algorithms and discredited standardized test results — which many parents rightly do not trust — the state should get out of the way,” Pallotta said. “Teachers and local school boards know best how to evaluate their educators and nurture student learning. It’s time for Albany to let teachers teach and let students learn.”
On other fronts, Pallotta said NYSUT and its local affiliates will continue to press for fair labor agreements that reflect the challenges and demands that teachers, school-related professionals, health care professionals and those in higher education face every day. While scores of local unions and their employers reached contract settlements in 2018, the new school year begins with tens of thousands of educators returning to their classrooms and job sites this week to work under the terms of expired labor agreements.
“In districts that have reached contract agreements, we see enthusiasm, excitement and increased cooperation as educators and school boards work together toward common goals, such as winning community support for school budgets and new programs,” Pallotta said. “However, despite the improving economy, some school and college boards still stubbornly refuse to recognize the important contributions of teachers, school-related professionals and college faculty by coming to the table with fair contract offers.”
In fact, Pallotta said educators in nearly two dozen school districts across the state are now working at least two years without a new labor agreement. “It is unconscionable that these employers are failing to recognize the hard work and dedication of their educators with a fair offer at the bargaining table,” he said.
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.