Dec. 15, 2015

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Green energy, diversity in teaching at fore of UUP’s new legislative initiatives

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Watch a video of UUP's press conference on new legislative action items

Read the press release on UUP's new legislative action items

Read detailed fact sheets on UUP's legislative action items

Plans to create and expand green energy programs at SUNY technology colleges and launch an opportunity program to attract underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students to become teachers highlight UUP’s new slate of legislative action items.

UUP President Fred Kowal, above, announced the proposals at a Dec. 15 press conference in Albany. Also pictured, from left, are VP for Academics Jamie Dangler, Secretary Eileen Landy, Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Colonie) and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D-Albany).

The union’s plan also includes establishing a Teaching Health Care Fellow program at the University at Buffalo’s medical school, and changing the state’s procurement law to stop for-profit testing companies from profiting off of future teachers by charging and recharging them to take mandatory exams.

“These initiatives look forward, not backward, and they are indicative of the leadership and foresight UUP brings to public higher education in New York State,” Kowal said. “We look forward to working with state lawmakers to make these proposals a reality.”

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Fahy, a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education, and Steck spoke at the press conference and expressed strong support for UUP’s plans.

“Initiatives like this that keep SUNY at the forefront of green energy are terrific,” Fahy said of UUP’s Green Energy Intellectual Capital Investment Fund. “UUP should absolutely be commended for the creativity of this initiative.”

The Green Energy Intellectual Capital Investment Fund would provide funding for SUNY technology campuses with green energy programs to hire more faculty and staff and buy lab equipment and machinery. Those campuses would be required to create and expand clean energy course offerings.

Private renewable energy businesses on or near SUNY campuses as part of the START-UP NY program would pay a percentage of the cost to fund the program; the state would match that contribution.

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Steck lauded the union’s Recruiting and Educating Teachers for All proposal, which would provide financial assistance and support from counselors to help future teachers earn their teaching degrees. Students would have to be state residents and meet strict income guidelines.

“This initiative by UUP to make it possible for (economically disadvantaged) students to enter the teaching profession is right on point,” he said. “It’s exciting to see UUP take leadership on these proposals.”

Help for future teachers, Western New York

UUP will also push legislators to amend the state’s procurement law to require the State Education Department to pay testing companies for developing tests; SED would also collect test fees from students.

The law allows testing companies to enter into contracts with the state to develop and assess tests for free. The testing companies profit by charging future teachers to take the exams; students can end up spending $1,000 or more to take and retake tests. The test companies have little incentive to fix flawed exams, since they profit each time a student takes a test.

“Testing companies like Pearson are taking advantage of struggling students,” said Kowal. “This is unfair and it must end now.”

UUP is also proposing a new Teaching Health Care Fellow program at the University at Buffalo’s medical school. It would fund new positions for as many as 75 health care teaching fellows—medical and osteopathic doctors—who would be SUNY employees. They would teach, mentor and work with 750 resident physicians at nearly a dozen Buffalo area hospitals.

The program would help stabilize the relationship between the medical school and Buffalo area hospitals where it would place resident physicians. The university is the only SUNY medical school without an attached hospital.

“When I became president of UUP, I resolved that this union would do more than just support positive change,” said Kowal. “We would be a catalyst for positive change.”

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