By Karen Frantz
The United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers joined with Queens Democrats Monday to endorse state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in his bid for re-election, saying he has been a strong advocate for teachers, students and schools during his years in the City Council and now in Albany.
Addabbo is “someone who understand that it is always about the community and that every school is a community,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
“You have to listen to the parents, you have to make sure children’s needs are being met, and you have to listen to those who choose to make a life of helping children, which are the teachers and the educators of this district,” he said.
Mulgrew said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Education Committee, helped secure the first increase in education funding in four years and he is closely involved in city school politics and making sure local schools have a voice.
State Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Electchester) said when the city tried to close Richmond Hill High School a few months ago, “Joe was there on the front lines fighting for our students.”
“Every meeting I went to and every meeting Joe was at that I was at, all we heard in the community was don’t close our schools,” he said.
The city Department of Education tried to shut down Richmond Hill High School over the summer recess and laid off the school’s principal and teachers, but a judge ruled against the plan and many of the teachers were rehired.
Members of the teachers unions and the elected officials delivered their remarks in front of the Joseph P. Addabbo School in Ozone Park, which is named after Addabbo’s father, a 13-term congressman. Among the Democratic Party stalwarts were state Assemblymen Phil Goldfeder, Mike Miller, Edward Braunstein and Michael Simanowitz as well as state Sen. Michael Gianaris.
Addabbo, a father of two children in the public school system, said his experiences fighting to protect education funding during fiscal crises in the Council in 2002 and in the Senate in 2009 make him more qualified than his opponent, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) to make tough decisions.
“One of the most important priorities for anyone in this district is the children,” he said.
His Senate district covers School Districts 26 and 27.
Addabbo has fought to restore yellow bus services for seventh- and eighth-graders in the city and to decrease class sizes, and he backed a 2010 law to combat bullying and discrimination, according to a release from his office. He also secured an extra $292 million in funding for city schools, according to the release.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.