NYSUT offers praise for Astorino, scorn for Cuomo


Cuomo Astorino debate 5Gov. Andrew Cuomo has opened up a wider schism between him and the state’s teachers’ union after he called education a “public monopoly” and vowed in a second term to overhaul the system.

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.


Rob Astorino


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  1. Cuomo took away our school subsidies here in upstate NY and gave the money to NYC charter schools caused by DeBlasio! Cuomo is only out for big business and his political gain! Vote Astorino, Vote responsibly!

  2. Teachers, please don’t be fooled by this desperate character. It’s another vote getting gimmick from Rob Astorino the County Executive of the highest taxing municipality in the United States, and the guy who brought Westchester Taxpayers hundreds of cronies to work on his campaign at taxpayer expense instead of lowering taxes. He tried to phony up lower tax increases by borrowing for current expenses, and got Westchester a lower credit rating from Moody’s as a result. Think he really cares about Teachers? He’s the guy who laid off legitimate Civil Service Employees and hired his own cronies in their place and the same guy who is still planning hundreds more layoffs of County Civil Service Employees before this Holiday season to avoid having to layoff his own cronies or raise taxes. He has little integrity and no record of accomplishment in his 5 years in office.

  3. Joane, just a few words for you. Just why did the primarily Democrat population of Westchester select Mr Astorino twice if he is doing such a poor job. Westchester was the highest taxing municipality long before Mr. Astorino was in office. I could go on but I expect most people get the point without me telling them.

  4. Hello canoe
    Astorino has been in office for 5 years and has done nothing to reduce taxes. He used the tax savings from a NYS sponsored retirement program in 2010, intended to facilitate local tax reduction, and which allowed over 500 County Employees to retire after the fiscal crisis. Taxpayers could have had up to a 20% reduction in their County taxes for the last 5 years with the savings but instead, Astorino filled those vacated positions with hundreds of his own campaign cronies and the tax reduction never got back to the taxpayers. He’s even worse than his predecessor in the way he squanders hard earned taxpayer dollars. Voters have learned a lot more about Rob Astorino than they knew last year during which time they’ve witnessed him spending the entire year on his futile gubernatorial campaign rather than taking care of business in Westchester. Hopefully the voters will send a message next Tuesday by not voting for Astorino.

  5. Joanne is on the Cuomo paid rapid response team that over watches political blogs and spread misinformation about policy and favor Cuomo for reelection. Talk about sleeping in the liars den

  6. This is so fantastic. There is no doubt Cuomo is going to win. The, as usual, disingenuous teachers’ union is lambasting the person who will be in charge of New York for another 4 years. Those of us who are fed up with New York representatives kowtowing to the teachers’ union cannot wait to see what thin-skinned Andrew does to them in retaliation.

  7. frankly i am fed up with the teachers union….they have too much political power, they extract too much from
    elected representatives and too many of them are not
    fit for the job

  8. Nov Bad Choice on Both on

    john s
    Maybe you should be part of a group so YOU TOO could get political power.
    Being on your own you are prey to the boss or to the elected hack who only wants to keep his her self in power
    Dont deny it.
    When no one has power then we all will suffer to people such as Cuomo who seemingly are as false as their shiny cufflinks
    Astorino is a panderer dont you see – Anything Cuomo is for he is against.
    As bogus as he is Astorino gives that media savvy face and lies to your face in his appearances and videos.

  9. Nov Bad Choice on Both on

    ” 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.


    Astorino is the biggest liar there who ever held office in Westchester
    Nothing he says is to be believed especially this hollow generic BS
    Karen Magee and all teachers know that and there fore did not endorse him or arrogant Cuomo
    But thanks for stirring the shhhhttt

  10. In the meantime, my children had to move out of state to find work, we pay $1 more a gallon for gasoline than most southern states, we pay the tax for “startup ny” business’s that pay none, then leave after the freebie is gone. Up here in Northern NY we gave Canadian business’s tax breaks for multi-years only to have them move on as the timeline ends.

    And I don’t like NYC telling me which rifle I can hunt with, telling me a 22 rimfire plinker is now considered a high power assault weapon because the stock is adjustable.

    Then we have the Cuomo-Moreland-Scandal, we must follow his laws, but he refuses to follow them himself long with the NY Constitution…Yeah if you believe in God and are Pro-Life you are not welcome in NYS…says Andy.

    Cuomo and Obama..have divided us by political, racial and geographic differences…like no other dictator has.

  11. Joanne – you are sorely misled, I really hope you’re post isn’t part of the Bloomberg sponsored circus to keep Cuomo relevant.

    I have some facts for everybody to consider regarding Cuomo –

    New York’s GDP growth is the 5th lowest in the nation, thanks to poorly constructed policy

    New York is rated as the second worst tax climate for businesses in the nation, thanks to poorly constructed policy

    New York passed the SAFE Act, one of the first fun control measures that effectively made service weapons for law enforcement illegal, because it was a poorly constructed policy that legislators were not given proper time for review. To try and weasel out of it, Cuomo claimed Bloomberg’s legal time wrote and pushed the bill through, and that he had nothing to do with what was in it.

    And the list goes on…