March 24, 2015

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UUPers make another push for SUNY

uupdate 3-24-15

UUP advocates once again took the union’s message to Albany, this time in an end-game attempt to ask legislators to do the right thing for SUNY in the 2015-16 state budget.

As lawmakers worked to pull together final details for the spending plan, several statewide officers and more than a dozen UUP members urged them to stand up for SUNY, its state-operated public hospitals and health sciences centers.

“We are literally in the final hours at this point,” UUP President Fred Kowal told advocates at a morning meeting before they headed to Albany. “I’m very grateful that you’re here.”

State law requires a new budget to be in place by April 1.

VP for Academics Jamie Dangler led a team of UUPers who pushed legislators to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s damaging plans for teacher education programs. The governor wants to shut down teacher prep programs based on the results of deeply flawed teacher certification exams and weaken tenure possibilites for new teachers, among other changes.

Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) called Cuomo’s move to close teacher preparation programs “outrageous.” Stavisky is a member of the Senate’s Committee on Higher Education and one of four committee members whose offices UUPers visited.

Union advocates said that the continued attacks on teachers and the teaching profession in New York and across the country have taken their toll.

“Disparaging teachers keeps students away,” said Dangler. “The enrollment decline in teacher education programs is dramatic.”

“The technology and engineering education programs art Buffalo State and Oswego used to have a graduating class of 200,” said Steve Macho, a Buffalo State Chapter member. “This year, only seven new students enrolled in the programs.”

New Paltz Chapter member Julie Gorlewski questioned the purpose of the new teacher certification exams, which are administered by corporate education giant Pearson, Inc.

“It's not about high standards,” she said. “It's about profit. There is no evidence that these new assessments measure teaching ability.

Secretary Eileen Landy and Treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud also took part in the advocacy event, dubbed Budget Priorities Advocacy Day.

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