NYSUT President - Michael Lillis
Mike Lillis has been teaching physics in the Lakeland Central School District for 23 years. He has been President of the Lakeland Federation of Teachers for 16 years.
Mike has witnessed, first hand, how the jobs of teachers and teacher unionists have become more difficult. He has seen such education “reforms” as the APPR, tax cap, tests with abusive benchmarks, and a Common Core curriculum untethered to the developing brains of our students, diminish and marginalize teachers.
For the last several years, Mike has made pushing back against corporate reform central to his activism. He has travelled the state speaking at NYSAPE forums and educating teachers and parents on the metrics behind New York’s abusive 3-8 Math and ELA assessments. He has also served as a member of the Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council since its inception.
Mike knows it is no mystery why enrollment in teacher training programs is down 40% - we have failed to defend the profession.
At a recent workshop with fellow presidents, Mike said, “Educators face an existential threat like no other; NYSUT’s only course of action is to educate and empower members by mobilizing around issues that matter to teachers.” He believes that what has been missing from NYSUT’s activism is clear, high-quality information. Arming our members with the information they need about abusive tests and invalid teacher evaluations will help turn the tide and reclaim our profession. Mike believes one need look no further than NYSUT United or NYSUT’s website to understand the roots of the problem. As an education activist, he points out, NYSUT’s publications are the last place educators look for informative content to educate legislators, the Regents, or parents.
Mike refuses to accept NYSUT’s ineffective action on issues which are critical to our profession. To help organize teachers and make NYSUT more responsive to their needs, he was a founding member of the Stronger Together Caucus, and is the current Chair. Under Mike’s leadership, the caucus has taken a strong position on amending NYSUT’s Constitution to expand the ability of all NYSUT delegates to vote. He has also worked with the Caucus to promote and endorse Chancellor Betty Rosa, oppose SED’s flawed College and Career Readiness Benchmarks, support the Opt-Out Movement, and fight to improve graduation rates.
Mike recognizes NYSUT’s great potential to improve the lives of teachers and students. To do so, however, NYSUT must effectively engage and inform the membership. Mike co-founded the ST Caucus to provide a platform for issues related to testing and teaching on the state level, and will only increase this activism as NYSUT’s next president.
President of Lakeland Federation of Teachers