Organizers of 'Call Out Cuomo' teachers' rally at Massena High Saturday urging residents to attend
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 2:52 pm

MASSENA -- The Massena Federation of Teachers president is urging district residents to attend a Feb. 28 “Call Out Cuomo” educational rally at Massena High School.

Erin Covell is calling on people to stand up to what she sees as an educational system that is not living up to the sound education guaranteed in the state constitution.

Speaking during a recent MCS Board of Education meeting, she says the rally will drum up support for changes to Common Core standards and the APPR teacher performance evaluations.

“What we are seeing is a massive brainwashing, effectively telling people that our system has failed and children are not learning,” Covell said.

Massena Central alone is owed roughly $10 million in state aid. The state is in debt to the school pursuant to a 2007 court case. When the recession hit, Albany balanced its budget by taking school aid away statewide. They have since repaid some of the money, but nowhere near the whole balance.

Covell said she is inviting local state representatives, even going as far to send an invitation to Cuomo.

She says if Cuomo’s proposed teacher evaluation system passes, students will start getting an education based solely on higher test scores than actual growth and learning.

“We’ll have teachers with one goal in mind: Getting students to pass a junk test so they can keep their jobs,” Covell said. “I encourage all of you to pay attention to what is going on.”

The rally is set for Feb. 28 from noon to 1:30 p.m. It will include speakers and workshops on writing letters to representatives in Albany.

Hundreds of students, parents and educators led by local, state and national union leaders are expected to rally in Massena Saturday in protest against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education proposals.

The “Call Out Cuomo” bus tour will make stops in Plattsburgh, Massena and the Watertown area on Saturday, Feb. 28, said Don Carlisto, a Saranac Lake teacher, political activist and board member of the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.

Carlisto said the “Call Out Cuomo” events are expected to feature American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and others, including United University Professions President Fred Kowal and Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. Coalition partners include the North Country Alliance for Public Education and the North East Central Labor Council. Students, parents, educators, school board leaders and local superintendents are also expected to speak.

The bus tour will reach Massena High School, 84 Nightengale Ave., at 1 p.m.

Carlisto said public education advocates will be fighting back against the governor’s “billionaires’ agenda,” which includes increasing the weight of standardized tests and holding school aid back until the Legislature approves his proposals.

The press release on the rallies says the protesters will speak “in support of a strong public education system that is fairly funded and represents the goal and values of local communities.”

They say the governor’s actions are “stripping away the voice of parents, teachers and local communities in decision-making.”

“The North Country is fighting back, sending a clear message to the governor and our elected legislators that public education is working,” Carlisto said. “The governor’s ‘test and punish’ agenda may play with the New York City hedge fund managers who contribute to Cuomo’s campaigns, but it is failing the test with North Country residents.”