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    • We are here to stand strong... and call out Cuomo!

      staircase 

      Whipped up by half an hour of raucous chants - "We choose! Public schools!" and "Hey Cuomo! Can you hear us?" and many more - the people were ready to roll.

      "We're here," hollered Andy Pallotta, "to Call Out Cuomo!"

      And more than 1,000 inspired activists lining the stairs and landings of the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capitol called out, too, shaking the foundations.

      No more Cuomo! Chants throughout the million dollar stair case! #CallingOutCuomo @nysut @UFT @citizenactionny pic.twitter.com/6c6DENiIl9

      — KatBrezler (@KatBrezler) March 26, 2015

      "We are here," continued the NYSUT executive vice president, "to reject Cuomo's toxic education agenda... And we are here, to call on the legislators to stand strong against Cuomo and against his toxic agenda!"

      With that, the last-minute NYSUT protest to demand a fair and equitable budget unburdened by misguided education policy proposals was underway. Participants came from every corner of the state, representing union members, parents, students, administrators and board members and NYSUT's many coalition partners.

      Higher ed, SRPs, retirees and nurses were all represented.

      "WE CHOOSE PUBLIC SCHOOLS." RT @ksmith_missy: pic.twitter.com/906zqFwPrg #CallOutCuomo #AllKidsNeed

      — NYSUT (@nysut) March 26, 2015

      The governor has declared war on the public schools," Pallotta said. "He's wrong on all the issues affecting our children, our schools and our communities."

      The event sprawled through the Capitol complex, with participants visiting their lawmakers' offices to leave postcards and signs. An enormous petition hundreds of feet long with 40,000 names was unfurled on the marble staircase in the Legislative Office Building "well," and protesters later delivered hundreds of balloons to the governor's office suite.

      activists in the well 

      After the chanting crowd migrated to the LOB well from the staircase in the Capitol, NYSUT President Karen Magee summed up the mission.

      "We are here for one reason," she said, "and that reason is that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's toxic agenda for public education is just plain wrong! ... Gov. Cuomo, wake up!"

      Magee urged the governor to visit a school or one of the dozens of community forums hosted by NYSUT locals and regional offices over the past two months, so he could see what teachers, SRPs, nurses, administrators and local board of ed members do every day to make schools work.

      And one more thing, she added: "Gov. Cuomo, you keep your hands off my Collective Bargaining Rights!" The crowd erupted in explosive cheers and applause, which soon shaped up into a spontaneous chant, "Hands Off! Hands Off! Hands Off!"

      UFT President Michael Mulgrew recalled how two months ago, in a room down the concourse, the governor "declared war on all of us - on our schools and on our kids. And we said, 'You want a war? You've got it, brother!'"

      As the polls show and as his legislative support has eroded visibly, Mulgrew said, Cuomo "just got taught a lesson! The governor has never understood this one thing: They are OUR schools, and OUR kids!"

      activists in the well 

      Isabelle Pipino, a fifth-grader at Caroline Street Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, said she doesn't understand why the governor wants 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on student test scores.

      While the governor says he wants to reduce the emphasis on standardized testing, his plan would do just the opposite, Isabelle said. "Children actually love their teachers and if they knew their test grades would be used like that, it would put so much stress on us!" Isabelle said. "I'm worried about my fellow students."

      Sandie Carner Shafran, a NYSUT Board member and SRP leader of the Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Employees Association, said she represented not only labor and educators, but also parents and grandparents.

      "Gov. Cuomo, stop attacking our public schools, and stop holding our schools and our students hostage to an agenda that most New Yorkers clearly reject," she said. The governor "needs to stop telling untruths," she said. "We tell our kids that!"

      Iris DeLutro, of the Professional Staff Congress at City University of New York, said the years of "disinvestment in public higher education has taken its toll."

      The PSC has been without a successor contract agreement for five and a half years, she said. The last tuition increase was used to pay mandatory operating costs, although it was to be used for full-time faculty and resources. The state is supposed to pay for the operating aid, but its funding falls short.

      "It is foolish not to invest in education," she said. "Stop defunding higher ed!"

      Seth Cohen, president of the Troy Teachers Association, noted that the governor has called himself the advocate for students, but all of his actions have contradicted that claim.

      "Troy has been underfunded by $52 million in the past six years," he said. "We have had to cut 140 positions, while enrollment has gone up." The student population has increasingly complex needs, as well, for language and for social support. While that need has increased, he said, "We now have ZERO social workers - for 4,000 students!"

      Looking out over the crowd that filled the concourse level of the LOB, Cohen said, "We are the true advocates of the students."

      "Our superintendent understood how important it was and said 'go,'" said Eric Przykuta, president of the Lancaster TA, who came with three colleagues. "He also wanted me to say a few things to Gov. Cuomo - talking to Cardboard Cuomo you never get a response." Cardboard Cuomo was at the recent Lancaster forum where more than 1,000 people showed up to protest the governor's education reform agenda. Since 2011, Lancaster has lost nearly $24 million in state aid due to the GEA. Last year alone it lost $3.7 million.

      "Our budgets are always getting cut - about 10 percent a year," Przykuta said. "The district is trying to play a shell game." It moves money around to patch the holes caused by the lack of state aid, but it can no longer continue to do more with less. "That's why we drove four and a half hours in the rain to be here today."

      Mark Chiarieri, and English teacher and member of the Highland TA, held a sign that said, "The new ABC's of Cuomo's education plan: Abducted By Corporations."

      He said he became an educator "because I believe in reaching children who need help to be successful. … Children who are at risk and underprivileged are hurt the most by these tests. I had seventh-graders in tears about not being able to finish and what it means for them and their education. Any time kids are affected like that it's just horrible."

      Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Schenectady, said, "We need to say NO to this governor who takes progressive, pro-union lawmakers like myself for granted," while courting support from Republicans. "We have to be extra vigilant in protecting your rights," he said.

      Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Saratoga Springs, also said - to great applause - "We have your back! We're going to say NO to the governor's agenda."

      AQE Director Billy Easton reminded everyone "We are winning! We are winning because parents and teaches and students and community members are standing up and demanding that their legislators say No to Cuomo."

      Citizen Action's Karen Scharff noted "parents and working families from around the state are sick and tired of Gov. Cuomo attacking public schools and attacking public school teachers."

      After the hundreds of people delivered their messages to their lawmakers' offices, the protesters reconvened at the Million Dollar Staircase.

      NYSUT Director of Legislation Steve Allinger thanked the participants for their incredible advocacy but warned the fight is far from over. "We are still fighting to stop the tyranny of kill-and-drill state testing," he said. "And we're still fighting efforts to tie educator evaluation to high-stakes, invalid testing."

      activists in the well 

      In a touching closing activity, Allinger invited protesters to blow up a balloon, write a message to the governor, then march over to the "war room" just down the hall from the governor's office. "We've had enough hot air about education," he said. "Tell him how you feel."

      We came by to give you a message @NYGovCuomo NO REST until you listen to us, RESPECT US @nysut pic.twitter.com/UgzuedGyl4

      — KatBrezler (@KatBrezler) March 26, 2015

      "Support, don't belittle education," wrote Brian Westerling, an Amsterdam teacher.

      "Childhood should be a journey, not a race," wrote another.

      Quoting from her favorite Taylor Swift song, Amsterdam teacher Denise Krohn wrote: "Why do you have to be so mean?"

      Marion Shorey, a reading teacher at Ballston Spa Middle School, wrote so much she ran out of room: "I love my students and will do anything for them - including protect them from you …. Stop putting your personal political agenda ahead of New York's children."

      Shorey knows personally about the pain of budget cuts. She was one of six remedial teachers whose jobs were cut four years ago. And she's sorry to say she's the only remediation teacher who's been called back so far. "That's one remediation teacher for a building with a thousand kids - and they need services more than ever with these new tests!"

      Slowly, the protesters filed through the ornate Senate parlor and headed to the war room with their brightly colored balloons. They held them above their heads as NYSUT Executive President Andy Pallotta told them the single word he wrote on his balloon: "Respect."

      "These are for you, @NYGovCuomo!" #CallOutCuomo @AndyPallotta @KarenMageeNYSUT pic.twitter.com/ezYtBNSEEA

      — NYSUT (@nysut) March 26, 2015

      #CallOutCuomo protest at the NYS Capitol ends with a chant of #nomoreCuomo #WeCantWait! @nysut @rweingarten pic.twitter.com/CF6dNALMoZ

      — AQE New York (@AQE_NY) March 26, 2015

      TAKE ACTION!

      call your state reps

      It's important to keep calling your state representatives and urge them to stand strong against the governor's education proposals.

      It only takes a few minutes: you can look up phone numbers and find more information and guidance at the Member Action Center.

      Make the call and tell a friend!

      Thank you.


      Storify: Your tweets, photos and video clips

    • Calling Out Cuomo: Reports from the Capitol

      7:00 p.m. - Enough hot air, it's time for respect

      Messages to the gov #CallOutCuomo I love public schools and I vote! Common sense NOW fund public schools @nysut pic.twitter.com/rnqam940TM

      — KatBrezler (@KatBrezler) March 26, 2015

      How do you feel about what the governor is doing to your school?

      Well, teachers who've had enough of Andrew Cuomo's hot air are writing on balloons and delivering them to his office in the last event of today's rally.

      Already, the crowds have chanted, hoisted signs and marched to the Legislative Office Building where they hand delivered postcards to the legislators from their area.

      "Trust teachers not corporations," read one balloon.

      "I want to teach, not test," read another.

      "We love our schools and our children!" was the message written on a pink balloon.

      "These are for you, @NYGovCuomo!" #CallOutCuomo @AndyPallotta @KarenMageeNYSUT pic.twitter.com/ezYtBNSEEA

      — NYSUT (@nysut) March 26, 2015

      As the balloons were held aloft in the "War Room" outside the governor's office, NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta said the group will show Cuomo "no rest!"

      Pallotta said he wrote just one word on his balloon: "Respect!"

      The balloons were released and bounced throughout the room, their pastel colors contrasting with the ornate, earth-tone murals of historical battles that adorn the space.

      @nysut floats the message to Governor Cuomo. #CallOutCuomo pic.twitter.com/ifPHQ4Mpbv

      — Walter Mahoski (@mahoski) March 26, 2015

      6:00 p.m. - Why we came

      Teachers and parents came from Long Island, Cohoes, Saranac Lake, Gouverneur, Albany and Lancaster — which is just outside Buffalo. Some used a day of spring vacation and others used a personal day or rushed to the Capitol after teaching all day.

      "I'm here because I care about the destruction of education in New York state and the stress my kids' teachers are under," said Simon Levy, a Guilderland teacher who attended with three of his children: Sean, Ashlin and Bryn. "Teachers are not their students' test scores."

      "I came today because you work all year to build up (students') confidence and then you give them the test and they look like they're drowning," said Lancaster Special Ed teacher Krystel Murtha. "Kids are given tests three or four years above where they are and not given their IEP conditions. It's like child abuse."

      "The premise of public education, pre-K through college, is mass quality," said University at Albany professor Barry Trachtenberg. "If you continue to undermine public education, you get a smaller and smaller number of citizens who have access, and you undermine quality and further stratify class inequities."


      5:00 p.m. - 'Can you hear us?'

      "Hey Cuomo?" 
      (clap clap clap)
      "Can you hear us?" 

      The chant is echoing and bouncing off the stonework of the Million Dollar Staircase of the Capitol. The multi-leveled stairway is full and the crowd is spread further out into the nearby lobby areas for today's rally to protect public education. Demonstrators are piling into the Capitol to show support for legislators who are bucking the governor's attacks on funding, local control and teacher evaluations. 

      This is what democracy looks like, indeed.

      While Cuomo has been whistling his way to work on the downdraft of his big money hedge fund supporters, educators and parents have been getting louder and louder. 

      "Fee, fi, fo, fum…
      Look out Cuomo here we come!" 

      School staff, teachers, parents and college educators are standing side-by-side with signs while media from public and network TV shine their bright lights interviewing people.


      4:20 p.m. - Trekking from Gouverneur with a message for the governor

      Kindergarten teacher Pam Mahay from Gouverneur drove four hours one way, along with two colleagues, to come support her legislators and let them know just how many people are on the side of public education. 

      "We don't believe the governor's personal agenda should be tied to our funding," she said. 

      "We're here to put additional pressure on our Assembly members and senators," said Jerrilyn Patton, a social studies teacher in Gouverneur, noting they are "being bullied" by Cuomo. "Our students have a constitutional right to a sound, basic education. This is a civil rights issue at this point." 

      Kim McEvoy from Rondout Valley, a senior account clerk and NYSUT School-Related Professional, has seen colleagues lose jobs, watched an elementary school get closed and mourned the loss of foreign language at the elementary level. Her son, she said, uses a second language in his job every day. 

      "It allowed him to become competitive in a global economy."


      4:00 p.m. - Signs of our time

      Here's a look at just some of the messages on signs at today's rally at the state Capitol to protect public education:

      "My grandchildren need their schools to be fairly funded."

      "Big business has no business in our schools!"

      "NY schools are not failing!"

      "NY teachers are not failing!"

      "Gov. Cuomo is failing our schools!"

      "Cuomo is ineffective!"

      "Reject the status-Cuomo!"

      "Legislators: Stand Strong"


      Storify: Your tweets, photos and video clips

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need

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    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing anti-public education agenda that attacks teachers and hurts students.

    Rather than provide what all kids need, the governor is pushing a Billionaires' Agenda that would decimate the state's public schools. His "my-way-or-the-highway" budget would:

    • hold school aid increases hostage;
    • woefully underfund the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
    • more than double the weight of standardized tests;
    • make permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on school communities;
    • eliminate funding for teacher training;
    • launch a back-door voucher plan that would siphon funding away from schools most in need;
    • underfund public higher education by tying funding to campus "performance" rather than enrollment;
    • smooth the way for the privatization of SUNY's five hospitals;
    • destroy prep programs for future teachers;
    • and fail to fully address the student debt crisis.

    Simply put, Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget - which serves the interests of his billionaire backers - is an attack on public education that fails to address what all students need.

    Things you can do right now to fight back.

    Every NYSUT member is needed to defend public education and the teaching profession from Gov. Cuomo's Billionaires' Agenda.

    Tell the governor to stop scapegoating... stop teacher bashing and focus on what #AllKidsNeed.

    Here's your to-do list.

    Take action on this week's campaigns.

    The latest actions will always be right here in the No. 1 spot.

    Call your state senator. Now.

    • Stop what you're doing and call your state senator with this message: stand up to the Governor's "Bigfoot" tactics and defend our outstanding New York public schools!
    • You can look up the number at the NYSUT Member Action Center.

    Sign up for MAC text alerts!

    Take 10 seconds and sign up for MAC text alerts on your phone!

    Here's how: Text the word "NYSUT" to the contact number 38470.

    Sign the petitions.

    Call out the governor.

    • Invite the governor to visit your class to learn what #AllKidsNeed. Tweet out an invite directly at him and be sure to include his Twitter handle @NYGovCuomo and the hashtag #InviteCuomo if you want your tweet to be seen and heard.
    • Not on Twitter? See step 8.

    Get connected to the MAC.

    • BY TEXT. Get real-time text messages about urgent news and actions by texting the word NYSUT to the number 38470.
    • BY EMAIL. Subscribe to the NYSUT Member Action Center email alerts for updates on this campaign. If you're registered via email as a NYSUT MAC e-activist you'll also be the first to know about upcoming rallies, protests and more.
    • BY APP. Download the NYSUT MAC App for your iPhone or for your Android phone. Be sure notifications are enabled to receive alerts on new action items.

    Get connected on Facebook.

    Get connected on Twitter.

    • Join Twitter and follow @NYSUT to be part of the social media army.
    • Once a day (or as often as possible) tweet your thoughts on what #AllKidsNeed - more science labs, music and art classes, school libraries, smaller class sizes and more. We're reminding the governor to focus on what matters! Follow the conversation in real-time for some great examples from parents and educators.

    Share the poster.

    Wear the button.

    Take part in community forums.

    • Keep an eye on nysut.org/allkidsneed for information on upcoming NYSUT-sponsored Community Forums to Save Public Education in every region of the state.

    Talk it up.

    • Get the conversation going - online and offline. Read "Where We Stand" and use it to craft social media messages, send letters to the editor, and brief friends and colleagues.
    • Circulate and share print materials and videos.

    Support "Take Action Tuesday."

    • Mark your calendar to support NYSUT's "Take Action Tuesday" every week. Be on the lookout for updates.

    Learn more at www.nysut.org/allkidsneed.

     

    Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 March 2015 16:10)

     

    Member Alert Program

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    There are so many member benefits, that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
    The NYSUT Member Benefits MAP (Member Alert Program) email blast service keeps you informed through a brief email message every three weeks.
    You can join MAP on the NYSUT website, at http://www.nysut.org/49.htm

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:58)

     

    Nysut Action Center Mobile App

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    NYSUT action center now has an app for smartphones that makes it very easy to take action. It is available in the app store for free.



    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:38)

     
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