January 26, 2022

NYSUT outlines Future Forward priorities in legislative hearing

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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Andy Pallotta
Caption: NYSUT President Andy Pallotta testified at a virtual joint legislative budget hearing on K-12 education that with the state’s finances in a strong position, the time is now for the governor and lawmakers to deliver the funding and legislation needed to support public schools as the center of every community.

NYSUT President Andy Pallotta testified today that last year’s commitment to a three-year phase in of the full Foundation Aid formula, along with the governor’s promise to honor that commitment, is “a tremendous step forward for education in New York.”

However, he said, it will take more than that to meet the needs of students, educators and their communities in the post-COVID–19 future.

Pallotta shared the union’s groundbreaking Future Forward Taskforce Report with members of the Legislature as a blueprint for moving education forward. The report represents ground-level guidance by NYSUT members from every region of the state.

“The issues around schools being the centers of communities and having the wrap-around services that students and their families require, such as child nutrition, mental health and childcare, which we have been discussing for years, have been thrust into the forefront throughout this pandemic,” Pallotta said.

He said the union was pleased to see many of the items recommended in the FF report are included in the executive budget proposal, but his written testimony focused on areas where changes are needed to ensure that programs or services meet the needs of students and help them move forward from the past two years.

“We have a unique opportunity to make lasting change to address the complex needs of our students,” he said.

He called for dedicated funding to expand the number of community schools; new laws to set minimum staffing levels and ensure there’s a social worker, school psychologist, counselor and nurse in every school; support for prospective teachers, particularly educators of color, and restoring funding to Teacher Centers. He also called for repeal of the oppressive receivership law and punitive consequences of flawed standardized tests.

“Returning to ‘normal’ isn’t good enough for our students,” Pallotta said. “Now is the time to redefine public education as a system that truly supports every child and ensures they have the tools to create a brighter future for our nation and our state. Because when students thrive, we all thrive.”

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