Local presidents lined up at microphones to ask questions of the NYSUT officers for an hour Friday morning. Topics ranged from standardized and Regents testing; vaccinations, masks and COVID–19.
Mike Modleski, Victor TA, cited a lack of young leaders in the union, similar to the teacher shortage. He called for restoration of NYSUT’s programs to develop leadership.
“That’s gone away,” he said. “They cost money, but they are important.”
Ron Gross, NYSUT second vice president, shared the union’s progress to revive the Local Action Project, the Leadership Institute and the New Local Presidents Conference. “They will be back, and in person,” he said.
President Andy Pallotta responded that NYSUT is launching a grant program to fund release time for local leaders who don’t already have it, so that they can work on union business.
“We believe you need the time to serve the members,” he said.
Secretary-Treasurer Philippe Abraham urged leaders to recruit young members for “back bench” leadership roles by appealing to their interests. For instance, he said, social activists might find their way into unionism through Social Justice activities, coordinated by Abraham’s office.
Rich Haase of Half Hollow Hills TA told the officers that his members are being targeted by groups who don’t want schools to teach about the holocaust, race history and other “political” issues.
Pallotta said AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Becky Pringle will speak on this topic tonight and tomorrow during the RA.
Said Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, “NYSUT will always support your autonomy and your ability to speak the truth.”