NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango had two simple words for RA delegates: Thank you.
“For some of you, you’ve heard these words a lot over the past two years for the awe-inspiring work you’ve done to serve New York’s students and patients,” DiBrango said. “For some of you, you haven’t heard those words nearly enough.”
While this year has been the most difficult in decades for public education, DiBrango said members showed the world what public service looks like. “You kept showing up sometimes broken … sometimes because you had no other choice,” DiBrango said. “You never quit on a student or a family even when the situation seems insurmountable.”
DiBrango thanked members for embracing the union’s Take a Look at Teaching initiative, which aims to diversify the profession and encourage more people to consider careers in education. She said more than 35 local unions have received NEA/NYSUT grants to launch Grow Your Own programs across the state.
To expand the educator pipeline, she noted NYSUT activists have successfully advocated for changes to the state’s certification process.
“For years you and NYSUT and our higher ed siblings fought against the edTPA, a test that did nothing to improve the quality of teaching or support aspiring educators,” DiBrango said. “Now because of your collective efforts, the edTPA will no longer be a requirement for state certification.”
At a time when some critics are trying to censor books and control what’s taught in classrooms, DiBrango said it’s crucial for students to learn a complete and honest history of our state, nation and world — and that all people, their contributions and gifts must be taught and celebrated.
DiBrango praised members of the NYSUT Women’s Committee, under the leadership of member co-chairs Aisha Cook and Leslie Rose, for making it a priority to create female empowerment clubs in our schools, on our campuses and in our communities. “NYSUT women are working to ensure that all students learn about girls and women in their coursework and the impact women have made in our society,” she said.
DiBrango said NYSUT members have proven themselves to be heroes with their advocacy and actions every day.
“Christopher Reeve once said ‘A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles,’” DiBrango said. “Because of you, today the image of a NYSUT member is that of a hero.”