“We stand on the shoulders of giants!” said President Andy Pallotta in his address to more than 1,300 delegates at the 50th annual NYSUT Representative Assembly at the Albany Capital Center.
He urged all the retired members in the audience to stand, spurring an enormous round of applause.
“I’ve been around long enough to agree with history teachers who say: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’” he said, emphasizing the celebration of 50 years as New York State United Teachers.
Pallotta announced a new statewide initiative called “Our Legacy, Our Future” that will document, preserve and share NYSUT’s history. Most importantly, he said, it will include opportunities for leaders and members to share their personal memories and stories.
Two years into the pandemic, he said, "this second year ... seemed even more challenging than the first."
"This year we are fighting to press the pause button on APPR for another year," he said, and promised to continue the fight to return APPR to locally controlled school districts.
Pallotta also reported that NYSUT is fighting for repeal of the receivership law. "This miserable law," he said, takes "a school that is struggling and makes things worse."
He thanked all NYSUT members and leaders for “doing everything you have done, for getting our kids back in the classroom safely.”
Pallotta said the teaching profession faces many challenges in the next 50 years, and the union will lead the way in facing them.
“Much of our advocacy is outlined in our Future Forward Task Force Report,” which declares that returning to schooling exactly as it was pre-pandemic is neither possible nor acceptable.
Pallotta also announced a new NYSUT campaign to “Fix Tier 6!” Noting that after the flawed Tier 4 was enacted 40 years ago, labor worked for 24 years for tier equity, and won. More than a third of the membership is in Tier 6. “It won’t be quick or easy, but that fight begins today.”
Lamenting the increased politicization of our classrooms that hurts public education, the president announced NYSUT would launch a new campaign shortly called “Public Schools Unite Us.”
You’ll see it on TV and on social media, and throughout much of the union’s messaging.