The UFT’s endorsed candidate for New York City mayor, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, spoke about his plans to "smash" the Department of Education bureaucracy "and reallocate money to the school system” if elected mayor during the union’s annual Spring Education Conference on May 15.
Stringer joined UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Milagros Colón, a teacher at PS 19 on Staten Island, and Zelideth Diaz, a paraprofessional at PS 150 in the Bronx, for a morning town hall discussion of issues including school funding, class size, mayoral control and the resources monopolized by the DOE headquarters.
“We’re going to usher in a new day of fundamental change in the education system, starting with dismantling the Department of Education,” said Stringer.
A public school parent, Stringer also emphasized the importance of educators. “Without you, there’s no New York City comeback” from the pandemic, he said.
The Spring Education Conference was streamed live to the 3,000-plus registrants and also had a small socially distanced audience attending in person.
Both Colón and Diaz, members of the UFT team that evaluated the mayoral candidates, discussed what led them to get involved and to support Stringer.
“I wanted to be that voice for my community; I wanted to be that voice for my children,” said Diaz.
Stringer, she said, came before the UFT with a plan. “He already had envisioned how he was going to bring our city back from the pandemic."
Stringer called for putting two teachers in every classroom and reallocating $1 billion now spent on the DOE bureaucracy and redirecting it to the schools instead.
“I believe that your plan is going to help keep families here in the city," Colón told Stringer.
Mulgrew explained the unprecedented member-guided vetting process the UFT employed this year in endorsing Stringer and other candidates in the June 22 Democratic Primary.
"This year we did an endorsement process — despite the limitations of COVID-19 — that we have never even attempted before,” he said. “I don’t even know how many interviews we went through.”
Mulgrew said the union mobilized more than 400 members to evaluate candidates in 58 races.
Colón said UFT members brought multiple perspectives to bear in vetting the candidates. “We’re not only educators. We’re parents and grandparents and we’re active in our communities," she said.
Acknowledging the union’s thorough vetting process, Stringer quipped, “We needed to bring receipts.”