June 1, 2015

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Western New York UUPers push for change

uupdate 6-1-15

UUP advocates from five Western New York chapters pushed lawmakers June 1 to adopt a true Maintenance of Effort and create a permanent endowment for public higher education.

The event, which drew members from Alfred, Buffalo State, Buffalo Center, Brockport, and Fredonia chapters, is the second in a series of five spring regional advocacy days at the Capitol. VP for Academics Jamie Dangler, a Cortland Chapter member, and other members from Cortland also took part.

“SUNY ensures access to a public higher education, but New York state seems to want to turn its back on that promise,” Alfred Chapter VP for Professionals William Schultze, left, told Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R-Pittsford). Also pictured are Alfred Chapter President Joe Petrick, right, shaking hands with Nojay, and statewide Executive Board member Ray Gleason of Alfred.

Advocates visited the offices of 17 Western New York lawmakers and urged them to change the current MOE definition to include SUNY’s hospitals and mandatory and inflationary cost increases. The current MOE only requires the state to provide the same level of funding and fringe benefits of the prior state fiscal year.

“The state budget does not fund contractual salary increases or mandatory costs for SUNY, so it amounts to a campus budget cut in disguise,” Dangler told Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia).

UUPers asked lawmakers to approve a permanent endowment for public higher education and pass legislation that would require CUNY and SUNY to produce an online report disclosing financial records—including data on vendors, employees and general accounting information—for CUNY and SUNY research foundations, campus foundations and their subsidiaries.

“As an agency that spends taxpayer dollars, the SUNY Research Foundation should be subject to oversight,” Schultze said.

Teacher education was also a topic of discussion. Brockport Chapter member Jack Casement said the number of student teachers Brockport has in the field has dropped by half since last year; the drop coincided with new, deeply flawed teacher certification exams instituted by the State Education Department.

“We see the plummeting of interest in teaching,” Casement said. “Imposing external forces on what teachers should be deciding is to blame.”

Casement told legislators about UUP’s call for SED and the Board of Regents to investigate the new exams, which were created and administered by corporate education giant Pearson Inc.

UUPers from the Capital Region and Mid-Hudson Valley took part in an advocacy day June 2. Advocates from Long Island and New York City visit Albany June 9, followed by Central New York activists June 10.

There’s still time to take part in a spring advocacy events. Click here to sign up.

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