Local Teacher's Union Calling On Senator AksharPosted: Updated:
Members of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) stood outside the state building in Binghamton Friday afternoon in protest, calling on Senator Fred Akshar to put more pressure on pushing a bill to the Senate floor.
The demonstration was in response to a bill Senate Majority Leader Senator John Flanagan failed to bring to the floor. Senate bill S-8301 would repeal the state's current teacher evaluation system.
“The state mandates that standardized test scores be used to evaluate teachers," said Chris Sielaff, Political Action Coordinator for the Vestal Region of NYSUT.
New York State imposed the new evaluation system in 2014 after a push from the governor and state politicians. However, opposers say it's not only hurting teachers, but also students.
"By requiring state tests to be a part of teacher evaluation it pushes teachers to teach more to the test and less the focus on creativity and critical thinking. So we really want to go back to a system that lets teachers teach and students learn," said Sielaff.
Senator Akshar is known for his support of the public school system, and says he's fully backing the repeal.
"I have told them time and again the moment the bill comes to the floor, I’m going to co-sponsor the bill. The moment the bill comes to the floor I’m going to vote for it and we need to do away with it. What I am not pleased with and I don’t have a problem saying this is the tact the local union, the local teachers union has taken," said Senator Akshar.
However, Friday's protesters say they weren't standing outside the state building in protest of the senator.
“The teachers of the local area have always had a really good relationship with senator akshar and that we’re not out here today to oppose him. We’re really thankful that he’s been our supporter and that we’re just really hopeful that we can get this really important bill passed with his support," said Sielaff.
"Akshar is completely on board with voting in favor of the bill to repeal, but as you know we are running out of time in the legislative session and we feel this is the last opportunity this year to get this bill through," said Sielaff.
With time running out, the teachers felt a demonstration would be their last opportunity this year to get the bill through.
“We have collectively as a conference been pushing leadership to bring this bill to the floor allow it to come to the floor. We’re in the waning days of the legislative session and I say with a great deal of certainty that I believe that bill will in fact come to the floor and when it does I’m going to vote for it," said Senator Akshar.
The teachers hope to return to their original teacher evaluation system.
"In years past when principals and other leading teachers would come in in other teacher’s classroom and evaluate teachers on their methods and how well they were able to manage the classroom, and those systems worked much better. They were more supportive of students and teachers and authentic learning and we’re hoping to return that more traditional meaningful system of evaluation," said Sielaff.