May 4, 2014

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UUP partakes in ‘Picket in the Pines’

uupdate 5-4-14

Cold weather and heavy rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of nearly 500 activists who trekked to Lake Placid to oppose billionaire reformers bent on taking the “public” out of public education.

Unions and community groups from around the state—including UUP members from the Capital District, Brooklyn, Plattsburgh and Cortland—assembled in the quaint Adirondack community May 4 for “Picket in the Pines,” a protest against the Wall Street anti-union group Education Reform Now and its powerful PAC, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). The group was meeting at the Whiteface Lodge for Camp Philos, billed as a “philosopher’s camp on education reform.”

Picketers, dressed in winter coats and hooded clear and yellow rain gear, lined the street between entrances to the posh Lake Placid hotel. They chanted, “2-4-6-8, we’re the ones who educate,” and “Public education is not for sale,” their voices growing louder as limousines carrying DFERs (pronounced “Dee-fers) passed by.

Watch video of the "Picket in the Pines" protest below!

“UUP will not sit idly by and watch the so-called education reformers damage public education,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “We stand for public education, public health care and a future for everyone. We will teach. We will heal. We will make the future.”

More than a dozen UUPers spent nearly five hours on a bus to take part in the event, which included speeches by Kowal, AFT President Randi Weingarten and NYSUT President Karen Magee. The rally followed UUP’s two-day 2014 Spring Delegate Assembly, held in Albany.

Weingarten said the DFERs prefer to close their ears to those invested in providing quality education, from pre-K to Ph.D.

“They don’t want to hear from parents. They don’t want to hear from educators,” she said. “They want to privatize, deprofessionalize and starve our schools.”

Magee pledged to keep up the fight, for as long as it takes.

“I don’t care if its rain, snow, sleet or hail, we will be there,” Magee said. “Every student has a right to a fair and equal education. We will move about this state and, then with Randi, throughout this nation. And we will continue the fight until we prevail.”

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