It's a record!
Never before has the public so vociferously voted its approval of public education in New York State.
More than 99 percent of school districts across the state — outside of the "Big 5" cities — approved proposed district budgets in May voting. Even the districts that sought the 60 percent supermajority required to override the undemocratic tax cap gained impressive support; nine of the 12 passed.
NYSUT was involved in school board races and budget votes across the state and, among scores of victories, helped elect 27 NYSUT members to school boards via its Pipeline Project.
Make no mistake, it's all due to ever-increasing member involvement, said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.
"This was an outstanding year in terms of NYSUT's involvement," he said. "We have shattered last year's totals in number of volunteer calls — calls to more than 70,200 households.
That's a 20 percent increase!"
The Pipeline Project, which prepares NYSUT members to run for public office, also made a difference. Ninety-six percent of the union-endorsed member candidates won.
Carol Blumrick, soon-to-retire president of the Royalton-Hartland Teachers Association, went through the Pipeline training earlier this year after deciding to run for school board.
"The best advice I received was to focus on one or two points in my conversations with people," she said. The 25-year teacher focused on the coming selection of a new superintendent and imminent renovation projects, "as well as my obviously lifelong commitment to the district," she said. And it worked. She was the leading vote-getter among five seeking three seats.
All over the state of New York, the hard work paid off, and victories offer lessons for future success.
Here are some highlights:
- The Poughkeepsie Public Schools TA was "all hands on deck" and went after the board president. Union members identified yes voters and got them out to vote, also canvassing on weekends. All the union's endorsed candidates won, and voters ousted the president.
- For the third year in a row, the Newburgh TA made a high volume of calls with 60–80 volunteers per night.
They ran a get-out-the-vote campaign
and had more than 750 identified supporters. All three of their endorsed candidates won easily.
- The Rhinebeck TA attempted a tax cap override and got a supermajority with 60.67 percent of the vote. Volunteer phone banks reached every single NYSUT member in the district making a dramatic impact in a close budget vote.
- The East Aurora Faculty Association ran a budget override campaign, too. Members did mailers, used the latest technology and good old-fashioned Saturday canvassing. They held eight phone banks, making 3,000 calls. The effort was crucial as they won the override by 61.6 percent.
- In Nassau, Westbury TA members distributed fliers, sent mailers and, with a local coalition, held one-on-one conversations throughout the community. They flipped the board and now have four of the seven board members as endorsed candidates.
- In Suffolk, the Riverhead Central FA started with a poll in the community to determine key issues and which voters would be more sympathetic to union candidates. Members mailed and called only those targeted voters. The results were clear as all three of their endorsed candidates won.
- The Central New York region came together to ensure that Auburn passed its budget, 1,673 to 803. Members of numerous local unions made calls and spread the word to NYSUT members throughout the district.
- Endicott TA saw retired math teacher and coach Jim Truillo win 777 to 261 against an incumbent, riding high on more than 3,400 reminder calls and palm card distribution by TA members.
- In the Rochester area, multiple-year efforts paid off for Waverly TA and Rush-Henrietta Educators Association members, who won four seats and three seats, respectively, to put union-endorsed candidates in control of their school boards.
Educators stand up for new contact
Hundreds rally in Lawrence, Nassau County, to support Lawrence TA members who have been working without a contract for the last six years. The local represents about 300 teachers, librarians, speech therapists and social workers. Photo by Kristy Leibowitz.
Stumping for Pellegrino
Long Island teacher Christine Pellegrino, bottom left, is joined by NYSUT Board members, from top left, Don Carlisto and Wayne White, and AFT President Randi Weingarten during a get-out-the-vote effort. Pellegrino is running for state Assembly in a special election May 23. Visit www.nysut.org for updates.