I’ve just returned from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) convention in Buffalo. While in recent years state conventions have served to depress me, for the first time in a long time, I’m encouraged by what happened at this union gathering.
First of all, the delegates unanimously supported a resolution demanding an end to the current state testing system, a system that is thwarting real education and evaluation and one embarrassingly prone to serious error, the recent pineapple fiasco simply a well publicized example of seriously flawed exams. Not only did we demand an end to testing as we know it, but we additionally called for the building of coalitions with other groups concerned with quality education to end the damage these flawed tests are inflicting on the students we serve. In short, we are poised to return to our organizing roots, using our numbers to advantage against our well heeled opposition. The delegates that I spoke to seemed excited at the prospects this effort could bring. They looked forward to beginning the organizing work at home, work which they hope will bring some hope to their dispirited teachers who increasingly are having their teaching turned to test prep. I could sense an energy that has been lacking for some time.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about the second encouraging thing to happen at the convention, the appearance of Commissioner John King and the reaction of the delegates to his presence.