NYSR petition calls on legislators to pledge support for public education

New York Students Rising (NYSR) has started a petition campaign for the NYSR Pledge, a compact with legislators designed to bring more transparency and affordability to public universities. On March 5, NYSR will ask legislators and Governor Cuomo to sign the pledge as part of #M5 actions in Albany.

The full pledge reads:

Public higher education is in crisis. Budget cuts, tuition hikes and threat of privatization threaten the ability of State University of New York and City University of New York to perform their historical mission: to provide accessible, quality education. From President Obama’s state of the union address to student movements across the world, the need for a resolution to this problem is widely understood.

As an elected official who values public education and recognizes its central importance to the future of New York State, I acknowledge the importance New York Students Rising’s demands. Specifically, Iresolve myself to the following pledges:

– I recognize the fundamental responsibility of New York State to fund SUNY and CUNY; to this end, I pledge to work to increase state funding to these important public institutions.

– Acknowledging the lack of transparency on SUNY and CUNY campuses, I pledge to work with the Higher Education Committee to make sure that a detailed line item budget for each SUNY and CUNY campus is readily available for students and parents upon request.

– Recognizing that the current decision making bodies are failing to accurately represent student concerns, I pledge to pressure SUNY and CUNY to increase the number of student seats on decision making bodies from the board of trustee down to local campus committees.

– Given that administrator compensation has risen beyond justification and acknowledging that adjunct and graduate student labor provides the majority of undergraduate education, I pledge to compel the Higher Education Committee to conduct a detailed investigation into administrator compensation as well as the exploitation of adjunct, graduate student, and service sector labor and to work to insure that tuition and tax payer money is being responsibly allocated.

– When considering proposals for additional budget appropriations (i.e. grants, or special appropriations), I pledge to prioritize those proposals that indicate a commitment to undergraduate education and diversity in the classroom and curriculum; in particular I believe that all SUNY and CUNY campuses should have course offerings which reflect the diversity of the students backgrounds and heritage as well as the complexities of the modern world; specifically, I pledge to prioritize proposals that include attention to education in the arts, languages, ethnic studies, humanities, and social sciences.

– Valuing the importance, and the overwhelming success of education opportunity programs like the Equal Opportunity Program, the Tuition Assistance Program and the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge program, I pledge to exempt all these programs from cuts.

– Recognizing that there is a remedial problem in the educational pipeline, I commit to applying pressure upon Administrators to deal with this problem in cooperation with students and faculty and staff unions. Furthermore, I commit to developing a system which will ensure that students only pay once for remedial and secondary language classes so long as their reason for not passing does not involve issues with attending classes and turning in the required assignments.

– Given that tuition increases price students out of public education, I pledge to freeze all tuition increases and work toward the decrease of tuition in SUNY and CUNY by developing more transparent and responsible budgeting and spending practices at all levels of the institution.

– Regarding public private partnerships and recognizing the tendency of public-private partnerships to transfer public resources to private hands, I pledge to work toward the creation an oversight body in conjunction with the State Comptroller to monitor all public-private partnerships and to halt funding to programs which do not indicate a return on the States investment or show promise for intellectually creditable advancements in the body of Human Knowledge.

In all, I recognize that these measures are necessary and essential to the future of public education in New York State. They preserve and protect the purpose SUNY and CUNY’s ability to provide accessible, quality education. They advance the collective interest of New York State by providing the future welfare of all. For these reasons, I sign this pledge and resolve myself to work toward the completion of its goals.

To sign the petition, visit http://www.change.org/petitions/calling-on-legislators-to-sign-the-nysr-pledge