NYSUT Communications |
Friday May 03 2024 3:02 PM

Person encourages members to advocate, stay engaged

NYSUT members matter. That was the message of NYSUT President Melinda Person’s Friday opening address to delegates at the 2024 NYSUT RA. “You’re the architects, the engineers and the builders of greatness … shaping minds and our future.”

She noted the many wins the statewide union achieved this year thanks to member activism: from getting Proposition 1 approved to supporting small city school districts, to passing the Workplace Violence Prevention Act, to fighting for and winning $430 million in additional Foundation Aid and adding more than $100 million in operating funding for SUNY, CUNY and community colleges.

“We saved SUNY Downstate hospital … again,” said Person. “And in a major win we successfully advocated for the next step in fixing Tier 6!”

Changing the Final Average Salary contribution for Tier 6 members from five to three years is the most significant improvement to public pensions in more than 20 years, Person explained. She pledged to continue fighting for pension equity for Tiers 5 and 6 members. Other policy goals include pushing back against punitive testing, and this year, after 14 long years, finally fixing APPR.

Person also pledged to address the impact of poverty. “Our schools have become the social safety net for our communities, but we can’t do everything,” she said noting that one in five children live in poverty, a statistic that led the union to launch its 1-in-5 anti-poverty campaign, which calls on lawmakers to address the root causes of poor academic performance — childhood poverty and inequality.

With the school budget votes and state and federal elections on the horizon, Person called on members to be politically engaged by getting to the polls and teaching their students about democracy. “You have a pivotal role as educators … teaching critical thinking … teaching how to question what is true … teaching students how to disagree while being civil,” she said.

“Our world needs you more than ever and your participation matters!”