DRAMATIC DEVELOPMENTS IN NYSUT
By Bruce Altschuler
The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Representative Assembly met in New York City April 4-6 with Steve Rosow and I serving as Oswego’s UUP delegates. The approximately 2500 delegates included members from K-12 public schools throughout the state as well as CUNY and SUNY unions. Ordinarily, the most interesting parts of these meetings are the guest speakers and the passage of important resolutions about a variety of issues. This year, however, was dramatically different, as the usually uncontested statewide officer elections featured a challenge by an insurgent slate which criticized NYSUT President Dick Ianuzzi as insufficiently aggressive in fighting challenges to public education. When a resolution calling for the ouster of Commissioner of Education John King over the implementation of the Common Core standards came to the floor, where it was passed without dissent, supporters of the challengers asked why a similar resolution was not considered last year. Officers of UUP and CUNY’s PSC supported the challengers, arguing that NYSUT had not adequately supported higher education on issues such as opposing the privatizing of SUNY’s hospitals.
When the election results were announced, all but one of the officers were defeated. The only officer who was reelected was Executive VP Andy Pallotta, who supported the challengers. Karen Magee, the new NYSUT president will be its first female president. You can learn more about NYSUT’s new leadership, including a video of Karen Magee’s speech to the RA at:
Because I have retired, when my term expires next year I won’t be running for reelection. I hope some of you will consider running for delegate to the NYSUT and AFT RAs. It’s a minimal commitment as NYSUT meets once per year, usually in April, and AFT every two years in early July and in some interesting cities (LA this summer). It’s a great way to have a voice in the making of statewide and even national union policy, meet with and learn about other educators and hear speeches by major politicians as well as activists and authors who in the past have included Bill Clinton, HIllary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry (when he ran for President), Frank McCourt (who read from his book, ANGELA’S ASHES), Jonathan Kozol and this year, a very inspiring teacher of the year. Because Oswego hasn’t filled all of its slots in years, anyone who runs is likely to be elected without even a vote. If you would like to know more about what this entails, please feel free to contact me.