NYSUT Communications |
Thursday May 02 2024 6:05 PM

Diane Ravitch to union leaders: You are on the right side of history

Legendary educator and historian Diane Ravitch saluted the work of unions and educators in a Thursday keynote address at the Local and Retiree Council Presidents Conference luncheon. “I’m really pleased to be here because you’re my people — teachers and union members,” said Ravitch, who called unions the key to building a strong middle class. “You are on the right side of history … you belong to a union that protects students, teachers and academic freedom in public schools.”

Ravitch detailed the misguided, decades-long focus on standardized testing and privatization and its negative impact on student and teacher morale. “A student’s home life [not their teacher] is the biggest indicator of their success,” she said. “Students who are well-fed, secure and have access to medical care will do well in school.”

Smaller class sizes, well-resourced teachers and schools and supporting student families through wrap-around services, like those provided by community schools, are also important, she continued.

Ravitch hopes that recent education wins such as the long-sought APPR reform de-linking student test scores from teacher evaluations, negotiated by NYSUT President Melinda Person and Betty Rosa, New York state education commissioner, signal shifts in education policy. “I hope it will be a new day … the beginning of a Renaissance not only of public schools, but of sanity.”

The pre-RA conference kicked off the work of the statewide union’s annual convention, with leaders attending sessions on artificial intelligence in the classroom, experiential learning, APPR reform, and breakouts for School-Related Professionals, higher education professionals and retirees.