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UFT seeks support from Albany legislators

El-Wise Noisette Family Child Care Providers Chapter Chair Tammie Miller (left) and UFT Vice President Janella Hinds meet with Sen. Kevin Parker.
El-Wise Noisette UFT Director of Legislation and Political Action Paul Egan and Special Representative Anne Goldman (right) discuss the UFT’s legislative priorities with Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

The UFT needed just one word to spell out for lawmakers what New York City schoolchildren and the educators who teach them need: support.

“It’s that simple,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said to the more than 65 lawmakers at the union’s annual legislative reception that kicks off its budget advocacy in Albany. “We need, and deserve, support. Not accusations and drama and lies.”

The UFT made a special appeal to the state lawmakers to invest in Teacher Centers, which the governor did not fund in his Jan. 22 budget proposal.

“It’s the only way that teachers get the relevant, hands-on professional development we need to improve instruction,” said Vice President for Education Catalina Fortino, who directs the UFT Teacher Center.

The union also called on the lawmakers to support early child care. Union representatives noted that only 27 percent of income-eligible families currently receive subsidized child care in New York City.

Tammie Miller, the chapter chair of the UFT Family Child Care Providers, pointed out that there is “so much evidence of the link between the availability and quality of early child care and achievement in education.”

Mulgrew thanked the governor for setting aside $15 million in his proposed budget for community learning centers, which the UFT has championed.

Mulgrew also asked the lawmakers to support these other legislative priorities:

  • Career and technical education, which the union said is proven to benefit not only students but also business and the state’s economy.
  • Funding for College Now programs so every high school can participate in the successful program.
  • Giving parents and community members a say in school co-locations.
  • Giving low-performing schools the resources they need, rather than closing them.
  • Providing undocumented students who graduate from a New York high school or GED program access to higher education through the state DREAM act.
  • Funding for a statewide anti-bullying hotline based on the union’s BRAVE campaign.
  • An increase in the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
  • Fair elections that are publicly financed.

Mulgrew thanked the lawmakers for the support they have given New York City schools over the years. This year, with the union locked in battle with Mayor Bloomberg over teacher evaluations, that support is more critical than ever, he said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took the floor to tell the group how proud he was to stand with the UFT on the issues that matter to educators and working families. “The Assembly has been your partner because we agree with you that this is about our children and not about somebody’s ego,” Silver said.

Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a former teacher, also pledged support from her conference.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s preliminary budget becomes the basis for intense negotiations with the two houses of the state Legislature, a process that culminates in a final budget due on April 1.

For more detail on the UFT’s lobbying agenda in Albany, go to

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