“Look around at the azaleas making fuchsia star bursts in spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in the black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about goodness that you want to spread it around.”

-Anna Quindlen

March 5, 2016, at Utica College

We would like to have Utica Teachers form a team! Please place “UTA” on your pledge form under team name….

Not a runner or a walker?
Join us at the side of the course to cheer on the participants and pass out goodies that day! (we have an outdoor heater, btw!)

Please email Sarah Kilian at uticatavpsa@gmail.com for posters, pledge forms, to let me know you’re on our team and/ or to volunteer to be a cheerleader!!!
Thank you!!!

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy New Year!

In November 2017, a simple question will be asked of the citizens of New York state: “Shall there be a conven- tion to revise the constitution and amend same?”

The answer we give to this 12-word question will have a huge impact on every person living in the Empire State and generations of citizens to come.

We, as citizens and voters, need to ask ourselves a few questions before we decide which way to vote on this important issue:

Do we want the same politicians who are sitting in Albany to rewrite the legal document that governs every other law currently on the books and any law that will come after? It could happen, as the rules for holding a constitutional convention allow sitting elected officials to be delegates to the convention at the same time. Put simply: The foxes will guard the hen house and get paid double for it.

Do we trust these delegates-politicians to protect things important to all New Yorkers?

Will these delegates-politicians protect environmentally sensitive areas, like the Adirondack and Catskill parks, which are currently protected under the state New Constitution, or let out-of-state or foreign companies come in and “develop” them?

Would we support changes to education policy that would affect all our public schools? What if the delegates- politicians called for more unnecessary testing of our school kids or weakened the protections for a “sound and basic education” for all students?

Would you, as a taxpayer, vote to allow the state’s debt limit to be increased? If you vote for a constitutional convention, you could be doing just that if the delegate-politicians in Albany go that way.

Just how much would this convention in Albany cost the taxpayers anyway? No one seems to have a clear answer.

Do you support giving more power to the state government and less to the local government? In other words, less local control and more power centralized in Albany? Or would you be in favor of giving more power to one branch of government, say the governor, to decide what’s best for your community instead of your local town board, city council or county officials? A vote to hold a constitutional convention could lead to that outcome.

Hard questions for sure, but it will be up to all of us to ask ourselves these and many other questions before we decide how to vote in November 2017 on a constitutional convention. We must start thinking and talking about the answer we will give, now!

In Unity, Cherie

One of the most commonly questions asked about VOTE-COPE is, “Where does the money go?” As many of you know, some of the money contributed by the Utica Teachers’ Association comes back to us in the form of a rebate. This money can then be used for our local political activism. This includes anything we need to spend to support our local school board candidates, to fund Vote- Cope rallies and prizes, to buy shirts for our membership so that we may show solidarity, and the like.

According to Ed Blake, our regional Vote-Cope director, as of September of 2015 approximately 3 million dollars of Vote-Cope money had been invested in the fight to better public education. See the following list to see what is funded by Vote-Cope at the state level.
Forums: NYSUT helped to coordinate nearly 70 forums that took place across the state with thousands of parents and members attending. We produced life-sized cardboard cut-outs of Governor

Cuomo that were in high demand across every region of the state.

Faxes: This year we saw a 138 percent increase in the numbers of faxes sent to legislators (over 600,000 faxes sent!). At times we have shut down the machines. The number of e-activists receiving our call to action emails increased by 49 percent (up to almost 85,000 users) and we have 20,000 new Facebook “friends” on the NYSUT Action Center (over 60,000 in total).

On-line Ads: We produced many on-line ads that have been shared throughout social media. They include “It’s a new year,” “White Board,” “Dream,” “”Call Out Cuomo: Get Involved,” “Toxic,” “Put Our Kids First,” and “Piggy Bank.” These videos can be viewed and shared from the Online Media tab on the MAC.

TV and Radio Ads: We ran two-ten day television ads that were
viewed in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown, Long Island, and NYC.

Other Media: We have placed 20 billboards around the state as well as signage at bus shelters throughout Albany and the train station. Nineteen buses that run throughout the Albany area carried our “Call Out Cuomo” theme. We have placed 3 “Call Out Cuomo” ads in the Legislative Gazette and 2 ads via the NY Press Service as well as the CapNY, City and State Magazine, and Ed- ucation Update.

Anti-Voucher bill postcards: Over 35,000 postcards were sent to legislators in opposition to the “Education Investment Tax Cred- it”. Together with our coalition of over 50 organizations we successfully fought off attempts to force this bill through the legisla- ture.

Reclaim the Joy Sign-on Letter and Rallies: Rallies were held all around the state and many legislators signed on to NYSUT’s Nine-Point plan to “Reclaim the Joy” of Teaching and Learning.

Ambassadors for Public Education / Education Summer: NYSUT members have been working as canvassers this summer knocking on doors in the Capital District and on Long Island. Collectively, they have spoken to thousands of voters on education issues that concern them.

“Be Fair” to Public Education: The opening day of the New York State Fair was declared “Governor’s Day.” Last week, thousands of parents and teachers showed up to protest asking Governor Cuomo to “be fair” to public education (#CuomoBeFair).

Campbell Brown/Business Council Protest and Picket: Anti- public education spokeswoman, Campbell Brown, will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Business Council’s Annual meeting at the Sagamore Resort in Lake George on Wednesday, September 16th. We will be out in force to picket this event by land, air and sea! Stay tuned for details!

Education, Inc.: Coming soon to a theatre/auditorium near you… we will be featuring a film, Education Inc., through- out the state this fall. This informative documentary, produced by a parent from Colorado, explores many of the different ways that millionaires and billionaires are influ- encing public education and working to privatize schools, and support the proliferation of excessive testing. The showings will include discussion to follow and opportunities take action!

#IAmPublicEd Campaign and the Public Education “NaeNae” Challenge: We will be hitting social media, once again, to ask community members to tell us their pub- lic education success story, and then challenging others to do the same (similar to the ALS Ice-Bucket Chal-

lenge). People will be asked to post videos where they state their name, and that they are taking on the “Public Education NaeNae Challenge” and why public education has been important to them—challenging 3-5 other friends to take the challenge before dancing the “NaeNae”.

Report on School Funding “Delinquency”: We will once again be highlighting numbers from a report produced by AQE that call attention to the monies owed by the state to schools and students. Districts will be asked to help spread the word and also tell the public how they would spend these promised dollars if the state provided them.

Just a reminder that you’re almost half way there!

Don’t forget about the UTA’s 20/20 Party 

Friday, January 29th from 3-7pm 

at the Radisson

Drink specials, Complimentary Hors D’oeuvres,

Assorted pizzas, Cheese and veggie display

Music by DJ Tony Adamo