2000-04-22 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

 

Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic district leader, and Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, member New York State Board of Regents, attended the 28th Annual Representative Assembly of the New York State United Teachers which ran from
April 6 to April 8, 2000.

One of the top issues on every educator’s agenda is the need for safe
schools. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver addressed the Representative Assembly on this issue. Senator Bruno told the members that he would be calling a number of statewide public hearings to make people aware of the mounting problem of assaults on public school teachers. He announced that he is moving to make attacks on teachers
and other school staff a felony. According to Bruno over 14,000 teachers and staff have been violated in their classrooms and in their schools over the last decade. He stressed that "every day a teacher is assaulted. It's time for us to do something about it so teachers can teach." Bruno noted that the senate approved a bill that would make attacks on teachers or staff members a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. Bruno also added that the senate would support legislation that would allow teachers to remove disruptive kids from their class.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would also add a ban on assault weapons and trigger locks on guns. Sheldon Silver and Joseph Bruno made wonderful announcements that they expect a record setting amount to be allocated in this year’s budget for education.

Regents Chancellor Carl Hayden praised teachers for working hard to
adhere to the standards set by the Board of Regents. Chancellor Hayden said we must work together to "show improved performance, better results and demonstrate success." Chancellor Carl Hayden "pledges that the Regents would support teacher efforts to innovate -- to find creative new ways to reach those students who need extra time or extra help to get over the bar."

New York City Public Advocate Mark Green told the teachers that he will be holding a class summit of educators and business leaders in the coming weeks. The public advocate’s office has recently published a report entitled "No Room to Learn." He stressed that this is the right opportunity "to find the will and the wallet" to improve the funding for education. He stressed that New York City needs to identify and fund 3,000 more classrooms. Class size is a major ingredient in improving our educational system according to Green.

Eliot Spitzer, the attorney general, thanked teachers for taking on the
most important job of our time - educating our children. Spitzer stressed
safe schools and more restrictions on Internet access. He feels that
Internet access must be monitored very closely. He pointed out that children have great access to websites but that the down side is that we have no safety measures in place. He referred to the fact that children have
obtained weapons because Internet access is not scrutinized.

H. Carl McCall, the NYS comptroller, issued a cry for more resources for our children. McCall is working to achieve "an equitable, reliable school aid system that will be put in place and raised each year."

Thomas Hobart, the president of the New York State United Teachers, which represents public and private teachers throughout New York State from elementary school through Ph.D. programs, medical schools and a law school, called for very aggressive political action. President Hobart gave his "state of the union" address to the assembled delegates. Hobart
recommended several strategies that he feels would help protect education in the state: 1. look to form groups with other political allies; 2. select
specific members as ambassadors and have them address community groups; 3. make sure to elect people who have strong education platforms; 4. look to extend a hand to freshman members, health care providers, school related personnel and those who have chosen to retire.

Hobart celebrated some of the
highlights of the past year including achieving the lowest number of
unresolved contracts in a decade. Hobart reminded all the members that they should take their power to the ballot box and vote for public education.

Denis Hughes, the president of the NYS AFL-CIO, praised the teachers for their work with our children. He encouraged them to continue pursuing high standards of access and excellence. Teachers and other workers in the schools need to be treated as professionals. We must work together to strengthen education according to Hughes.

There were many panels at the convention looking at teacher related
issues. One workshop stressed the importance of professional development. They noted that the union is offering credit - bearing courses through the union’s Effective Teaching Program. Everyone is encouraged to take part.

Regent Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey and I discussed important educational issues with these representatives. We stressed the need for alleviating overcrowding, providing safer schools for teacher and students, and encouraging everyone to take part in professional development programs.

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Please support the bungalow association fundraiser and its president
Richard George by attending the April 30 fundraiser at Baxter's Playhouse. Encourage your friends and neighbors to attend also.

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