Teach NYS Delegation of Students, Parents and Educators Push for Increased STEM Education and Security Funding
Hundreds of students from Jewish day schools around the state traveled to Albany, NY on Tuesday, March 13 as part of the Orthodox Union’s Teach NYS delegation to advocate for increased and sustainable funding for nonpublic school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programming and additional security. The students hailed from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Westchester and Rockland Counties and Long Island.
Representatives from both sides of the aisle addressed the crowd, sharing their commitment to increasing nonpublic school funding for STEM education and the importance it will have on the future economy of the state. Legislators in attendance included: New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport), Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), Senator Jeff Klein (D–Bronx), Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn), Assemblywoman Carmen De LaRosa (D-Inwood), Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens), Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Queens), David Weprin (D-Queens) New York Senate Finance Chair Cathy Young (R-Olean). Following the speeches, the students and lay leaders broke into groups and went to the Statehouse where they met with more than 60 state legislators.
“What you are doing today will change who you are,” said OU President Moishe Bane. “Torah means we care about everyone, every child, every family. That’s what we are doing here today…We are not just asking for ourselves, we are asking for everybody.”
New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, “I want to impart to you that the work that gets done [here] really is important. Your advocacy – and I am particularly talking to the young boys and girls who are here – your personal advocacy makes a difference. You strengthen my resolve to work with my colleagues to ensure that your trip is productive in the short term and the long term.”
Chief among the issues discussed was additional, sustainable funding for New York’s historic STEM program. The program, which passed last year after a prolonged advocacy campaign by Teach NYS, allows the State to reimburse nonpublic schools directly for the cost of qualified STEM instructors. Also on the day’s agenda was advocacy for increased funding for schools’ security budgets and continued funding for Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) and Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) programs.
OU Executive Vice President Allen Fagin told students, “Today is about how you change the way state government thinks about education and our schools. Today is about hundreds of students coming to Albany to talk to our elected officials, to explain to them that your education matters; that education is a civil right; that your right to choose how and where to be educated, without financial penalty or hardships, is a civil right that every parent and student in this state should enjoy.”
“For years we were told by the leadership here in Albany that lobby missions are a gauge of how powerful an issue’s support is,” said Maury Litwack, Executive Director of the Teach Advocacy Network, the nationwide advocacy effort on behalf of nonpublic schools. Today, we are sending the loudest, clearest message to Albany – our schools are here to stay, and we need full funding of the STEM program.”
About Teach NYS: Teach NYS is part of Teach Advocacy Network, a nonpartisan organization advocating for equitable funding in nonpublic schools. Since launching in 2013, Teach NYS has successfully advocated for significant policy breakthroughs to benefit nonpublic schools. Teach Advocacy Network operates in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and California, covering 186,000 children. Teach Advocacy Network is a project of the Orthodox Union. For more information, visit: www.teachadvocacy.org.