Press Release

National Leaders Praise Syracuse Schools, Urge Community To Fight Cuts

For Release: 

Friday, May 7, 2010


John See

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who visited two Syracuse “Say Yes to Education” schools and praised the educational progress there, urged school and political leaders to do whatever possible to avert the proposed layoff of 236 Syracuse school district employees.

Weingarten visited Delaware Elementary School and Frazer K-8 School as part of the AFT’s “Fight for America’s Future” campaign to raise awareness about the devastating harm caused to students by budget cuts and teacher layoffs. Syracuse Teachers Association President Anne Marie Voutsinas, Syracuse City School District Superintendent Daniel G. Lowengard and other local leaders joined Weingarten for the school visits. Say Yes to Education—a communitywide partnership that includes Syracuse University and the Syracuse teachers union— provides academic supports, social services and subsidies for postsecondary education.

Following the school visits, U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) joined Weingarten and community leaders for a discussion of ways to protect children and their schools from the harmful effects of budget cuts. Teacher layoffs, Weingarten said, result in exploding class sizes, increased discipline problems, and cuts to art, music, physical education, summer school and intervention programs that help kids with the highest need.

“You can’t expect great reform programs like ‘Say Yes’ to succeed with these budget cuts. These devastating cuts pull the rug out from under our kids. We’re harming their education and our next generation,” Weingarten said.

Rep. Maffei is a co-sponsor of a bill that would provide states with $23 billion to avert an avalanche of educator layoffs and slashed programs in the coming school year. Passing the bill is a key goal of the AFT’s “Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” drive, launched on May 4.

Syracuse is Weingarten’s fourth stop on the AFT’s Fight for America’s Future campaign. Weingarten has visited Albuquerque, N.M.; Sacramento, Calif.; and San Francisco. Future campaign stops include Chicago; Minneapolis; and Kansas City, Mo.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.