ALBANY, N.Y. — As the new school year begins this week, New York State United Teachers and its local affiliates will continue their fight for state and local policies that ensure all New York students have access to a high-quality education.

“Throughout my career as an educator, a new school year has represented an opportunity to renew my commitment to my students and implement new ways to engage them with the curriculum they need to learn to succeed,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “As the 2019-20 school year begins, I challenge everyone with a hand in steering public education — from school board members to state education officials and legislators — to consider how we are currently serving our children and set sincere goals for how together we will improve educational outcomes for every New York student in the coming year.”

With the release of grade 3-8 state test results in August showing small gains, NYSUT has renewed calls for the state Education Department to roll up its sleeves and finally Correct the Tests. That includes fixing the invalid scoring benchmarks that have mislabeled our children; creating shorter, developmentally appropriate tests; and addressing the issues with computer-based testing that officials have repeatedly promised, but failed, to fix.

“While testing may be federally mandated, there is no mandate that our students face stress, anxiety and, in far too many cases, tears,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said. “There are seven months until students in grades 3-8 will sit for the next round of exams. That’s more than enough time for the state Education Department to make real progress toward correcting the tests.”

Looking ahead to the 2020 legislative session beginning in January, Pallotta urged state elected officials to take time to carefully review the difficult budgetary decisions many school districts and colleges have been forced to make and consider how New York will boost public education in the next state budget.

“Recent increases in state aid for our schools have helped us make gains, but there is much work left to be done,” Pallotta said. “Many schools have basic needs like new computers, some need additional staff and others are facing multi-million-dollar infrastructure project costs. All students deserve the best public education in New York can provide them, and providing proper funding is essential to having great schools and colleges.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services, and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.