A newly formed group is reaching out to public sector union members in New York, informing them of their rights, under the recently decided US Supreme Court Janus case, to opt out of their unions. Union leaders say the organization is a front group for anti-union billionaires.

New York’s union leaders are condemning the U.S. Supreme Court decision which upheld the right of a worker not to pay union dues. However, a newly passed state law might mitigate the effects of in Janus v. AFSCME.

Brass band with NYSUT President Andy Pallotta
Karen DeWitt

New York’s largest teachers union brought bagpipe players and a brass band to the Capitol Wednesday to push for a bill to decouple teacher evaluations from the results of standardized tests.

New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The business of the evenly divided New York State Senate remains stalled, as advocacy groups press for their bills to be acted on before the session ends in two weeks.

New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Tim Kremer
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Voters in New York approved nearly 98 percent of school district budgets this week.

This is a picture of a teacher's classroom desk
WAMC file photo

The head of New York state’s largest teachers union says arming teachers won’t make schools safer, but he says schools should have more protection.

NYS Ed Leaders Say They Aren't Lowering Standards

Sep 13, 2017
MaryEllen Elia
Karen DeWitt

The state Board of Regents is taking steps to make it easier for teachers to become certified in New York. But the state education commissioner denies that it’s a lessening of requirements.

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

After voting Tuesday, it appears 2017 was a great year for the passage of school budgets, according to preliminary reports by New York State United Teachers and the New York State School Boards Association.

Andrew Pallotta: The Con Job

May 2, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about a really scary poll number:

89 percent of New Yorkers say they have heard little or nothing about a ballot question coming at us this November.


We talk a lot about heroes in today’s culture. In fact, the word has lost a little bit of its luster. But the world lost a hero a few weeks ago…someone whose name you may not know. Let’s just say if you woke up this morning and you didn’t have smallpox, thank Dr. D.A. Henderson.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll dip into the archives and replay my interview with Dr. Henderson who passed away last month at the age of 87.

We’ll also hear commentary from the head of the New York teachers union about ways to solve the ongoing teacher shortage.

Karen Magee: Thoughts On Back To School

Aug 25, 2016

In just a few weeks, parents will send their children back to school. Already, we see vans and S-U-Vs on the Thruway, packed to the gills with the belongings that college students need to fill their dorm rooms and start the semester off right.

NYSUT LinkedIn

New York's largest teachers union is suing the state over changes to the teacher evaluation law.


When John King, New York's top-ranking education official, left his post for a federal position, many New Yorkers breathed a sigh of a relief. That relief is short-lived, now that King is succeeding U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The teachers union and its allies will protest outside New York’s annual Business Council meeting in Lake George on Wednesday.  The union is upset over a speech to be given by former CNN anchor and now charter school advocate Campbell Brown.

Karen Magee: Why Do The Rich Need More Tax Credits?

May 21, 2015

Two recent events — one political, one cultural — offer a glimpse into two worlds.


  Less than a month after it was enacted, Governor Cuomo’s new teacher evaluation plan seems to be in jeopardy, with the Regents Chancellor calling for a year’s delay and a key Senator saying the legislature needs to revisit the issue.

When Cuomo convinced the legislature to approve a new teacher evaluation system that relies more on standardized tests, his administration said that the State Board of Regents would have very limited power to make any changes including compliance with a November deadline to come up with new performance reviews.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature approved some significant changes to the state’s education system and how teachers are evaluated going forward. But, before all that can be implemented, the new system faces a big test, literally, later this month.

With education in flux across New York thanks to the Common Core, there's a mixed reaction to Governor Andrew Cuomo's provisions for it in the freshly finished budget.  

$1.6 billion has been allocated for education in a spending plan that includes several reforms. The budget negotiations are only the latest fault line between the governor, legislative leaders and the powerful teachers’ union.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature are considering a  commission to design a new teacher evaluation plan, in order to break an impasse over the state budget. But even some lawmakers admit that the compromise is just kicking the can down the road.

Cuomo has demanded that education policy changes be passed along with the state budget, or he’ll hold up school aid increases.


  One of the most polarizing issues in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget is an education tax credit that would allow donors of up to $1 million to public and private schools to receive a tax benefit. Opponents say it benefits the rich, supporter say it helps poor children.  


The New York State United Teachers union is criticizing charter schools for taking children out of the classroom to rally at the New York state Capitol later this week.

NYSUT wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state education officials expressing concern about Success Academy Charter Schools' plans to bring some 8,000 students, parents and teachers to Albany for Wednesday's pro-charter rally. Cuomo has called for an increase in the number of authorized charter schools.

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Hundreds of teachers are rallied at the State Capitol late Monday, saying they are calling out Cuomo for what they say is his anti public school agenda.

The teachers, including New York State United Teachers Union Vice President Andy Pallotta say Governor Cuomo has declared a “war” on students, parents, and teachers, and is advancing a “test and punish” agenda.

“The has no respect for public education, ” Pallotta shouted, as the crowd cheered.


Teachers have been holding rallies all around the state protesting Governor Cuomo’s education proposals, and hundreds are expected to converge on the Capitol late Monday to protest over reliance on standardized tests,   and other issues.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state Education Department should investigate the results of teacher evaluations to see whether the process is skewed to favor teachers.

The administration sent a letter to acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin on Sunday. That followed a Newsday report that said the portion of teacher evaluations controlled by districts is weighted in most Long Island districts toward ensuring teachers score high enough to get favorable evaluations.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

With less than two months before the state budget is due, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and education groups remain at odds, with the state teachers union calling the fight a “war,” and Cuomo calling the teachers and their allies a bloated bureaucracy.

Karen DeWitt

Hundreds of school children, parents and union organizers and leaders came to the Capitol to rally for more money for New York’s schools. The event was part of what’s become known as the Moral Monday movement.

Ark Charter School

  Education will be a big issue in 2015, with lines already drawn between teachers at public schools, and Governor Andrew Cuomo and the charter school movement.

Before the New Year even began, the state’s largest teachers union was already making its displeasure with Governor Andrew Cuomo known, by protesting outside the governor’s mansion.

New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee says teachers are angry over what they see as Governor Cuomo’s increasingly negative view of their union, and the public education system in general.  

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Teachers union members and pro-charter school advocates demonstrated outside the governor’s mansion on New Year’s Eve, as inside, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee greeted guests who won a lottery to attend an annual open house, one day before the governor is to begin his second term.

Around 100 teachers from several regions of the state gathered in the biting cold to protest what they believe is Governor Cuomo’s unfair stance against teachers and the union that represents them. They even wrote a song, that in part, labels the governor “clueless.”

Karen Magee: Tearing Off The Gag

Oct 23, 2014

Every spring, New York students must sit for hours on end, filling in bubbles on standardized tests that purport to measure their progress in English Language Arts, science and math.