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Tier 6, class size wins rally NYSUT

New York Teacher
Tier 6, class size wins rally NYSUT
El-Wise Noisette, NYSUT

UFT Brooklyn Borough Representative Elizabeth Perez (second from left) is congratulated after winning a NYSUT award for outstanding leadership by (from left) AFT President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Melinda Person, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and NYSUT Executive Vice President Jaime Ciffone.

Tier 6 class size wins rally NYSUT

Retiree liaison and Retired Paraprofessionals Support Line coordinator Lorraine Ferrannini is congratulated by Ron Gross, the second vice president of NYSUT, the UFT’s state affiliate, after receiving a Retiree Member of the Year Award at NYSUT's Representative Assembly, which was convened on May 3 in New York City. She was again recognized at the RTC's annual luncheon on May 30.

The 52nd NYSUT Representative Assembly on May 3–4 was a celebration of recent victories, including Tier 6 pension reform, and a rallying cry for the battles ahead.

“We are in a pivotal moment in our nation’s history where public education itself is under attack, and you know better than anyone else that we need public education to keep our democracy alive,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said a lot is at stake in this year’s federal elections. “It’s no longer how do you strengthen and change public education, it’s whether public education, it’s whether democracy, it’s whether people will keep fundamental rights.”

Delegates also heard from Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Attorney General Letitia James, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and other prominent state officials.

The gathering came on the heels of a new state budget agreement that requires New York City to provide each individual school with the proper funding to come into compliance with the state class size law. During a breakfast meeting of the UFT delegation on May 3, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said this funding cannot be taken from a school’s regular budget — it must be additional money earmarked for class size reduction. “So now the job is: Get it done,” he said.

Person credited Mulgrew with being the driving force behind the legislative change to the final average salary calculation formula for Tier 6, which now matches Tier 4.

“You’re lucky to have him,” she said. “When he talks, people listen.”

During the Representative Assembly, NYSUT’s highest policy-making body, delegates, who represent nearly 700,000 teachers, school-related professionals, health care workers and retirees statewide, adopted resolutions urging passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, limiting cell phones in classrooms and advancing career and technical education, among others.

UFT members received four of the 10 awards NYSUT gave out at the event.

Elizabeth Perez, the UFT Brooklyn borough representative since 2015, accepted a “Not for Ourselves Alone:” The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award.

Perez, who began her career as a teacher of bilingual and English language learner students, served the union as a school chapter leader, special representative and political action coordinator in Brooklyn before becoming the borough representative. She described herself as a “servant leader.”

“We are not alone in this,” Perez told delegates. “We should never feel that. So please join me in making sure that if someone is down, extend a hand and say, ‘I am here for you.’”

Mashantuck Bell, the Brooklyn borough coordinator for paraprofessionals and the chapter leader at IS 364, received a School-Related Professionals Member of the Year Award.

Retiree Lorraine Ferrannini, the coordinator of the UFT’s new Retired Paraprofessionals Support Line, received a Retiree Member of the Year Award.

Federation of Nurses/UFT member Maria Scudiero, who is the assistant nursing care coordinator at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, was honored as a Health Care Professionals Member of the Year.

State Sen. Robert Jackson, representing upper Manhattan, including Washington Heights, received the Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service, NYSUT’s highest honor, for his lifelong education advocacy. Jackson, then a parent activist, founded the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which filed the landmark lawsuit on state funding for education.