The New York State United Teachers union offered praise to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino in an “open letter” last night and offered scorn to Cuomo, who has warred with public unions since taking office in 2011.
The union’s “thank you” to Astorino comes after the Westchester County executive wrote his own letter yesterday to “our esteemed teachers” and said, “Mr. Cuomo’s adversarial stance toward teachers borders on disdain.”
Earlier this week, Cuomo said he would push for reforms to the teacher evaluation system and seek more charter schools.
“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said at a Daily News editorial board meeting earlier this week, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”
NYSUT hasn’t made an endorsement in the governor’s race, in which polls have shown Cuomo as a heavy favorite.The union has put its money into backing Democrats’ bid to control the state Senate, and now it’s chiding Cuomo.
“On behalf of NYSUT’s 600,000 members, we thank Rob Astorino for his Oct. 29th open letter expressing support and respect for teachers and public education in New York state,” union president Karen Magee and vice president Andrew Pallotta wrote.
Here’s NYSUT’s full letter and then Astorino’s letter:
“On behalf of NYSUT’s 600,000 members, we thank Rob Astorino for his Oct. 29th open letter expressing support and respect for teachers and public education in New York state.
“While we differ on a number of issues, we wholeheartedly agree with his statement that teachers deserve respect and that strengthening New York State’s public school system should be our shared focus. And we pledge to acknowledge all leaders who similarly commit to statements of respect and support.”
Gov. Cuomo’s remarks disrespect teachers, parents and the democratically elected school boards who ensure local schools are the farthest thing possible from a “monopoly.” We thank Rob Astorino for acknowledging that New York State has one of the finest teaching forces in the nation. Teachers’ commitment to fair evaluations that improve learning — instead of playing “gotcha” — is clear, consistent and on the record. We are dedicated to working with parents and elected leaders to ensure that every child receives a high quality education in a strong public school.
NYSUT today calls upon elected leaders and candidates in all parties to reject gratuitous bashing of teachers and public schools; to stand with teachers and parents against over-testing and to improve learning; and affirm respect for teachers as indispensable partners in advancing learning and strengthening schools.
Reclaiming the promise of public education should and must be our singular focus.
Karen E. Magee, NYSUT President
Andrew Pallotta, NYSUT Executive Vice President
October 29, 2014
To Our Esteemed Teachers:
New York public school teachers deserve respect for their day-in-and-day-out dedication to our children. I know, I have three young children in public schools; I went to public schools, and I served as an elected public school board member. My wife Sheila is a special ed teacher.
Mr. Cuomo’s adversarial stance toward teachers borders on disdain. I simply cannot understand it. All I can say is that, as governor, I will treat you, as teachers, with the respect you deserve as educational professionals, and with which I treat all public servants. We may not always agree on everything, but our goals will remain the same: Strengthening New York’s public school system to better prepare the children we love for the future.
I am deeply committed to public schools in New York, as is my running mate Sheriff Chris Moss. Public schools are in my blood. I am also a card carrying union member, so I understand the need for and benefits of collective bargaining.
I have heard your concerns over charter schools, and I agree that accountability within them is a must. I have supported charter schools in New York’s inner cities, but I recognize that better public schools must ultimately be the answer to New York’s education challenges. Governor Cuomo has taken millions of dollars from charter school backers and has no interest in accountability.
As a parent, first and foremost, I am committed to getting rid of Common Core in New York, and as governor, I will pull New York from the program. No K-12 teachers were involved in writing the developmentally inappropriate experimental standards; they were conceived in secrecy and never tested, and the math and English content experts on the validation committee both refused to endorse the standards saying they were of “poor quality.” We’ll replace it with better standards set by New York education experts with input from teachers and parents. And through the same approach, we’ll develop proper assessments for our students, teachers, and schools, of which testing will only be one piece of the puzzle. Our teachers are not test-giving automatons and our children are not guinea pigs. Each deserve better, and they’ll get it under my administration.
I have twice been elected by wide margins in a 2-1 Democratic county. That happened because I am willing to listen and to reach out to everyone, in a respectful manner, to find common solutions. I stand on principle, but I also understand that compromise and good will are how we move forward together as a society.
I would be honored to have your support on Tuesday. I promise you’ll have a respectful governor in me, willing to work with you honestly and constructively to protect and better New York’s public schools.