Buses on the road to Albany

State Sen. Patty Ritchie was on hand at 5:30 this morning to see off bus-fulls of kids, parents and teachers on their way to lobby for more school aid.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie at Canton Central, 5:30 a.m. (Photo: Carol Pynchon)k

OK — not a great picture,  but it was dark, and just a cellphone shot.

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Ritchie was soon on the road herself, to beat the buses to the Capitol.

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7 Comments on “Buses on the road to Albany”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    Good luck to the students.

  2. Phil says:

    Is this New York or is it Greece? Isn’t today a school day? Who’s in the classroom learning and teaching? Who’s paying for this lobbying effort the buses, the gasoline, the food, etc.? Will we taxpayers be billed for it?

    Is it fair to give kids a day off from school to beg for money from Albany to subidize expensive and often inefficient schools? Will the teachers be paid for a day of real work while for pushing their high salaries, small classes, generous fringe benefits, etc. in Albany?

    What kind of a lesson is this for our young people?

  3. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    Phil has raised some very good questions. Are there any InBoxers who are close enough to the situation to provide answers and educate some of us?

  4. marcusaurelius says:

    Busses and lunch were provided by the Alliance for a Quality Education – no cost to taxpayers. Depending on the school district, some teachers took personal days, some are chaperones of a field trip for Government students (class required for NYS graduation). As far as the lessons for our young people, how about the value of learning how to be an advocate for an issue you believe in, how to develop and present issues to people who have been elected to represent you, how to effectively navigate state government so you can be an informed and productive citizen of New York state. Sure beats complaining on comment boards.

  5. Phil says:

    Thank you MarcusAurelius for answering two of my questions. (1) The Alliance for a Quality Education is an off shoot of the NY State United Teachers – a teachers’ union! This trip was union sponsored and organized to further the interests of the teachers’ union. Students were essentially shanghaied from classes to lobby for teachers. Calling it part of a “required class” only raises the question of the ethics of indoctrinating students in this way. (2) Whether personal leave or chaperoning, teachers were paid by taxpayers to go on this trip to lobby for more and more taxpayer dollars. Are Canton parents aware of how biased this entire outing was?

    There were many demonstrations in Greece to protest the austerity measures needed to address Greeces overwhelming debt. Most of the demonstrators, as most of the population, were government workers who were hit very hard by these measures. They were being paid (personal leave, sick leave, vacation leave, etc.) by the very government they were demonstrating against. Thus the demonstration went on and on.

    By the way, the meetings attended by the Canton students and other students from around the state took place in The Egg (Schenectady Gazette. Weds), an entertainment venue, not in any of the many capital building. What does that tell you about the purpose of the trip?

  6. marcusaurelius says:

    Canton students met individually with 17 different legislators and had an impromptu meeting with John King, the Commissioner of Education. There was a presentation in the Egg because 800 people from all over the state were in attendance. The issue is one of equity – Canton lost $1900 per student in funding last year -the state average was $450.
    I’ll say it again in simpler terms: NYS requires all students take a Government class to graduate. How is going to the state capital, discussing your school with state lawmakers, and advocating for something you think is important “indoctrination”. These kids thoroughly understand the issues, I daresay better than you do.
    Oh, and many of the other people on those busses were parents who are also well informed about the issues and care enough about their community and their children to advocate for them.

  7. Phil says:

    I’m glad to hear students from Cantron met with legislators (not their Betty Little who waved good-bye to them Wednesday morning) and wtih the Ed Commish. What did they say? What did they hear?

    The fact is that about 85% of most school budgets is for personnel. Asking for more money for education really means asking for more money for the education workers – teachers, administrators, custodians, bus drivers, etc. This trip was union-sponsored for good reason.

    State empoyee unions have settled for multi-year contracts with no cost-of-living raises, health insurance changes, and pension system modifications. The reason the unions accepted these changes was that the State is short of money and has been for some years. During the last four years of a recession, most workers found their paychecks frozen or even reduced. Many even lost their jobs. This was not the case for most government employees (including eduction workers) who benefitted from multi-year contracts and the benevolence of the Obama administration who gave gobs of money to state and local governments as “stimulus.” This election year, the Feds are not so generous. In my local school district wage increases for education workers between 2009 -2012 averaged about 7% ( cost of living plus step increases) annually. I don’t know what the circumstances in Canton were.

    Many school districts are now negotiating new multi-year contracts. The unions want more dollars for their members. They don’t care what the revenue situation is for local school districts, but they can lobby for more State dollars, the taxpayer be damned.

    Gov. Cuomo and the legislators 2% cap is Draconian, but perhaps this is the only way to get school boards to listen and stand firm regarding personnel costs. They can either limit the growth of eduator salaries or reduce the number of personnel.

    My main point, however, is how can a union take kids out of school to lobby for their interests and even give them school credit for it? To me, this is unethical behavior. What other lobbying group has this privilege? Perhaps in Canton this passes for a lesson in how government works.

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