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New York Teacher

Now more than ever, the New York electorate seems open to new voices — the voices of women and the voices of people with deep ties to their communities. We saw it in the election in November of Tish James, the first African-American woman to become state attorney general. And we saw it in the election to the New York State Senate of a group of women who helped flip the Senate to Democratic control. Thanks to that shift, for the first time the Senate majority leader is now an African-American woman, Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

More than 30 of the 51 New York City Council seats — a common entry point into elected office — will open up in 2021 because of term limits. It’s an opportunity to elect more public school educators and other UFT-represented professionals to elected office.

“Stand Up and Run!” was the theme of the town hall at the UFT Spring Education Conference on May 18. When UFT President Michael Mulgrew sat down with the panel of three state Assemblywomen, they discussed the challenges of running for office, including raising money and balancing family responsibilities. All three women spoke of mentors who encouraged them and gave them confidence.

In the end, they said, it was worth the struggle to make a difference in shaping public policies and laws — and to improve the lives of their constituents.

New York City public school educators, if elected to office, would bring their on-the-ground perspective to school funding, charter schools, services for students with disabilities, school integration and much, much more.

This spring, Albany also took the huge step of untying student test scores and teacher ratings. Think about what more could be accomplished at the state and city levels if more public school educators were elected to office.

It’s time for UFT members — and women in particular — to think seriously about running for office in New York City. Change is possible. Are you ready to stand up and run?