Andrew Pallotta

Andrew Pallotta: New Commissioner Offers A Fresh Start

Aug 19, 2019

We got unexpected news last month. New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia submitted her resignation to the state board of regents. She will leave her post at the end of August. We wish her well in her future endeavors.

Summertime means barbecues, sunny days and relaxing visits to the beach. But for education professionals, summer is much more. July and August means professional development, sometimes second jobs and for those teaching summer school, lessons plans and paper grading.

One year ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision in a long-awaited case called Janus v. AFSCME. 

Ask any educator and they’ll tell you — it takes more than teachers to make a school run smoothly. It takes dedicated teaching aides and assistants, who provide help in everything from math, to reading, to science. It takes bus drivers, who safely transport students to school, and back home again. And it takes cafeteria workers, secretaries and custodians.

Andrew Pallotta: It’s Time To Correct The State Tests

May 2, 2019

The month of May brings the first real hints of spring. It also signals the start of the grade 3-8 New York State English Language Arts assessments. Unfortunately, this testing period has been faulty at best, and disastrous at worst. Many of the same testing problems educators faced in past years, reoccurred. After another year of student tears, teacher frustration and parent angst, we’re again left wondering — why is this still happening?

Teachers play important roles in a child’s life. From teachers, students learn how to write their first sentences — or how to master long division, or write up a science lab. From the moment students enter the classroom, to the day they walk across the stage to accept their diploma, educators help provide them with the skills they need for success.

I’m a proud graduate of New York State’s public education system. My early days were spent in Brooklyn public schools, and I earned college degrees from Kingsborough Community College and the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College. These experiences helped me become the man I am today and, for that, I’m grateful.

Andrew Pallotta: On Property Taxes, We Need Cuts Not Caps

Feb 12, 2019

When I listen to politicians in Albany debate property taxes, I am reminded of a famous quote from T.S. Eliot, who said, “Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.” The rush to make New York’s flawed and undemocratic property tax cap permanent is an example of something that started with the best of intentions, but has led to the cruelest of outcomes. 

For many of us, the holiday season and the New Year are opportunities to reflect on the blessings we’ve enjoyed over the past year. For educators and working families, this has been a particularly good year, with much to be grateful for.

When you think about New York State’s public education system, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most people, it’s a teacher standing in front of a chalk board.

When our nation’s founders established the United States of America, they made voting the centerpiece of our democracy.

The recent cover of Time magazine put words and statistics to what New York teachers have been feeling for years.

Driving on the Northway recently, I came up behind a blue sedan – American-made, by the way.

On the rear bumper was a red, white and blue sticker. It read: “The Labor Movement: The folks who brought you the weekend.”

Andrew Pallotta: After Janus, Hope And Optimism

Jul 27, 2018

Late last month, the conservative right wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court did what most expected, ruling 5 to 4 against public sector unions in Janus v. AFSCME.

“The state must end its obsession with standardized testing.  Students are suffering.”

“I stand with parents.  I hear their frustration with testing and will do something about it.”

 “I support teachers.  I love teachers.  We will pass a law this session ushering in a fairer evaluation system that doesn’t rely on flawed state tests.”

Andrew Pallotta: Fix The Broken Teacher Evaluation System

May 25, 2018

New York’s teacher evaluation system is broken – and now is the time to fix it.

Parents and educators remain angry and frustrated.  They are demanding an end to the state’s flawed evaluation system – a system which over-emphasizes standardized testing and which misuses tests to rank and sort teachers.  They want more local control, and a return to the days when schools could focus on teaching and learning … not endless test preparation.

Andrew Pallotta: A National Lesson In Unionism

Apr 19, 2018

You can hear it building: A movement growing from a quiet whisper to a full roar.

In West Virginia and Oklahoma --- and in Kentucky and Arizona – teachers are finding their voices. They are standing with their unions to use that collective voice to improve their lives and their communities.

With the deadline for passing a State Budget right around the corner, our lawmakers are cramming like a student studying for finals. 

Andrew Pallotta: Janus Case An Attack On All Workers

Feb 27, 2018

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may forever change the ability of working people to successfully fight for better pay, good health insurance, job security and a secure retirement.

The coming fiscal year is shaping up as a challenging one.

Let’s be clear: New Yorkers are under attack. The federal tax bill is going to hurt New Yorkers at the same time our State is facing a substantial budget deficit that threatens key services, including education and health care. This is a double whammy that will make negotiating a final state education budget more difficult.

Andrew Pallotta: Albany Must Keep Its Promises

Dec 14, 2017

If you make a promise, you should keep it.

We can all agree on that, right?

Andrew Pallotta: The Republican Tax Scam

Nov 28, 2017

As I record this commentary, the final version – and ultimate fate -- of the Republicans’ tax bill has not been decided.

Andrew Pallotta: Redefining What Is Union Work

Oct 31, 2017

What do you think about when you hear the term “union work?”

“An injury to one is an injury to all.”

That cry is a stirring call to action for the labor movement. Its message of solidarity – of reminding fellow workers that ‘we got your back’ – has reassured ordinary New Yorkers in political battles and resounded on picket lines during contract disputes for decades.

Every child should be taught by a highly skilled, qualified teacher.

Measuring Progress On Testing

Jul 18, 2017

How do you measure progress? That’s great question. In the fight to reduce standardized testing and return decision-making to classroom teachers, some critics say New York is moving too slowly.

Most New Yorkers just aren’t that familiar with charter schools.