A state's budget is more than an annual spending plan: it's a statement of our values and priorities. Nothing is more important than to provide New Yorkers with the tools they need to thrive and succeed. That's why it is important for lawmakers to use the budget to declare decisively that education and health care are top priorities.
That's where we come in. We must make our voice and our values loud and clear. Go to NYSUT's Member Action Center — mac.nysut.org — NOW and add your voice. Let's make sure lawmakers hear us and do the right thing.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, left, during a state budget hearing on K-12 school aid, strongly urges the Legislature to provide an increase of $1.5 billion to schools to maintain current academic programs and services for students. An additional $500 million in funding would support struggling schools, meet the needs of ELL students, ensure high-quality professional development, expanded access for college and career pathways and assist districts with growing enrollment. Public schools remain the best investment our state can make and the state must continue to provide the necessary funding to build on the progress that has been made, Pallotta said.
Repeal receivership law
NYSUT calls for a repeal of the Receivership Law, and urges the state to support proven policies to increase student achievement by allowing struggling schools to use realistic, research-based tools, time frames and solutions to properly turn around these schools.
Supports for educators
NYSUT strongly urges lawmakers to allocate $40 million for teacher centers, the only state-funded vehicle that provides comprehensive, ongoing professional development and support services to educators and School-Related Professionals in all school districts. NYSUT requests funding for the Mentor Teacher Intern Program (MTIP) be increased to $10 million to provide additional opportunities and support services for new educators. Likewise, funding to support National Board Certification, the highest credential in the teaching profession, should be increased to $1 million to develop, retain and recognize accomplished educators.
Career and Technical Education
The state should support and expand access to critical CTE programs in BOCES, component districts and the Big 5 school districts. NYSUT fully supports increasing the aidable salary for all CTE programs, including Special Services Aid in the Big 5 school districts since these districts have no ability to raise local revenue and therefore rely heavily on state funds.
NYSUT urges lawmakers to enact an increase of $253 per full-time equivalent student. This would move the state closer to fulfilling its statutory obligation to provide 40 percent of operating costs to community colleges. The state should implement a multi-year plan to meet this funding obligation.
As New York braces for draconian changes and cuts to federal health care reimbursement, SUNY's hospitals must be supported and positioned to continue to provide care to all, regardless of a patient's ability to pay. NYSUT urges lawmakers to maintain the state subsidy to these teaching hospitals and keep them open as state public hospitals staffed by unionized public employees.
NYSUT calls for the elimination of school districts' obligation to fund charter schools. This funding should be provided directly by the state. Districts should not be required to fund charter schools first and then wait for reimbursement by the state the following year. NYSUT also calls for critical reforms to make charter management operators more accountable.
Student opportunity programs
NYSUT urges the Legislature to make a strong investment in student financial aid and opportunity programs. This includes updating the Tuition Assistance Program and enacting the DREAM Act.
NYSUT urges the Legislature to pass a progressive tax plan for the state's highest earners and on corporations, which would raise billions of dollars in new revenue annually to support public education, health care and infrastructure improvements. NYSUT also supports the proposal to treat carried interest, a tax loophole for hedge fund managers and private equity investors, as ordinary income for state tax purposes.
With changes in state standards and testing on the horizon, now is the time to make significant changes to New York State's teacher evaluation system. Teacher evaluations should be returned to local control with no state mandates. The overemphasis on testing has placed an unfair burden on students. Furthermore, changes in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act eliminates the mandate for testing in teacher evaluations. Teacher evaluations should be used for teacher support and development so students have the best teachers possible.
Special education services
NYSUT opposes any proposal that would allow school districts, BOCES and private schools to petition the State Education Department for flexibility in complying with certain special education requirements. Such action would erode the quality of special ed and diminish the protections these critical resources provide in educating students with disabilities.
Community schools are closing the achievement gap; reducing chronic absenteeism, especially due to inadequate health care; reducing grade retention; reducing dropout rates; increasing graduation rates; and increasing student participation in after-school and summer programs. NYSUT urges the Legislature to maintain the $150 million in existing community school funding and allocate the proposed new $50 million in Categorical Aid. We also call for the continuation of $75 million exclusively for struggling and persistently struggling schools.
Special Act, 853, 4201 and 4410 Schools provide unique and valuable services for students with all forms of disabilities. Additional funding for these schools is needed to maintain and expand services for students, and they should receive funding in keeping with surrounding traditional public school districts. To learn more, watch our videos at www.nysut.org/specialact.
SUNY and CUNY
PSC President Barbara Bowen, far left, and UUP President Fred Kowal, representing CUNY and SUNY faculty, respectively, tell lawmakers during a budget hearing that public higher education needs state investment to cover all mandatory costs, estimated to be $300 million. The Legislature should reimburse campuses for tuition credits ($65 million at SUNY; $58 million at CUNY) to help free up funds for reinvestment in the classroom and for new classroom faculty.