December 9, 2013

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UUP, NYSUT take part in Day of Action

uupdate 12-9-13

UUP President Fred Kowal calls for greater state investment in public schools and colleges Dec. 9 as NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira, right, listens.

Kowal met with reporters in Albany Dec. 9 as part of a nationwide “Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education,” coordinated by community organizations and unions across America to demand a greater investment in public schools and higher education. Neira, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) and Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Billy Easton also spoke at the press conference.

“Today, I am joining with my colleagues here, across New York state and the United States in calling for our nation to reclaim the promise of public education,” Kowal said.

UUP leaders, including Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler, spoke at news conferences in Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Thousands of public educators and professionals across the state wore the color blue to work in solidarity with the cause.

Kowal said SUNY and its students are suffering from the effects of major budget reductions and increased enrollments over the past 10 years, a situation that cannot continue. “That imbalance must be righted,” he said.

He said UUP would continue its fight to defend SUNY’s public hospitals and medical schools, which have also been hit by state spending cuts. Kowal backed NYSUT’s call for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes state standardized tests.

“We must reclaim the promise of affordable, accessible and high quality education for all who wish to attend the State University of New York,” he said.

Earlier that morning, Kowal and Neira were interviewed on “The Capitol Pressroom,” an Albany-based public radio show focusing on state Capitol news and newsmakers. The show, produced by WCNY-FM, Syracuse, is broadcast across the state. You can listen to the program by clicking on the play button in the player below.

On the program, Kowal and Neira explained the point of holding a Day of Action: a greater investment in public schools and colleges, a renewed focus on teaching instead of testing, and a three-year moratorium on high-stakes consequences from state standardized tests for students and teachers.

Kowal also talked about the lack of input academics and professionals have had on initiatives such as Open SUNY, START-UP NY and new certification requirements for student teachers.

“We’ve been the ones doing the teaching,” said Kowal. “We know best what works on our campuses and what’s best to meet the academic goals of our students.”

In addition to UUP and NYSUT, the National Day of Action was supported by organizations that included the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

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