April 2015 Issue
March 25, 2015

Locals in Action: Central New York locals

Source: NYSUT United
Joy Martin, a literacy coach and president of the Geneva Teachers Association, helps box up apples. The fruit is being sent to Gov. Cuomo in an effort to draw attention to the Finger Lakes region. Union leaders want promised funding back for schools. Photo by Lauren Long.
Caption: Joy Martin, a literacy coach and president of the Geneva Teachers Association, helps box up apples. The fruit is being sent to Gov. Cuomo in an effort to draw attention to the Finger Lakes region. Union leaders want promised funding back for schools. Photo by Lauren Long.

Fourteen NYSUT locals from four counties banded together for an apple gathering in the Finger Lakes. The locals met at Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva to pack 1,000 apples they purchased to send to Gov. Cuomo, who has refused to visit their schools, gutted funding for public schools and proposed to reduce or take away local control of education decisions.

"Apple growing is a big part of our agriculture," said Geneva Teachers Association President Joy Martin. "To run these small businesses we need well-educated people. We're struggling to provide programs our children need to be college and career ready." In Geneva, the business program was eliminated and less than half the students who require Academic Intervention Services are being served.

"School funding in the region has been reduced by $73.3 million since 2009," Martin said. "Before we were bleeding; now we're hemorrhaging."

The apple-packing idea came from Canandaigua TA member Todd Feldman, who shared it with CTA President Mike Pruzinowski.

"In Wayne County we have excellent apples and schools," said Wayne TA president Michele Farley. "We want the governor to have a clear demonstration of our products in both areas."

Buffalo Teachers Federation

The Buffalo Teachers Federation has long advocated for a reduction in class sizes to improve student outcomes. Perhaps the district is finally listening. The Buffalo Board of Education unanimously approved a proposal Dec. 2 to spend $1.6 million to reduce class sizes in kindergarten. In October, BTF President Phil Rumore wrote to the superintendent and school board about what he called, the "educationally destructive class sizes and substantial reductions in student support services." A BTF survey revealed classes of up to 31 students in kindergarten without a teacher aide or teaching assistant.

Chatham Central School Teachers Association

Members of the Chatham Central School TA, led by Jean Waggoner, showed their support for a colleague in a big and bright way. CCSTA members at the Mary E. Dardess Elementary School purchased custom-made turquoise T-shirts in support of a member whose daughter is battling cancer. The educators wore the colorful gear on the day the student was scheduled to have surgery. T-shirt sales raised more than $1,800 for the student's family.

Valley Central Teachers Association

Valley Central TA members started contributing cash to the Montgomery Food Pantry via a dress-down initiative in 2006. Over the next six years, the VCTA raised between $1,100 and $1,600 annually. Then the local, led by President Tim Brown, successfully negotiated with the district for pantry contributions via payroll deduction. In 2012, VCTA members gave more than $3,000. By 2013, the amount rose to $8,500. This year, 161 members are expected to give more than $14,000.

"The philosophy behind the VCTA's food pantry initiative is basic — children need to eat," Brown said. "Many of our students and their families struggle throughout the year, including the summer months, and it is our intention to fill this need with year-round support."

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