Teachers Union Announces Endorsements

The Saratoga Springs Teachers Association, a local of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union, announced their endorsements today for the Saratoga Springs School Board.  They have selected:

John Brueggemann

Dean Kolligian

Natalya Lakhtakia

This now puts the full force of NYSUT ‘s PAC behind them.  Over the years the teachers have established an impressive organization to support their endorsed candidates.  It includes phone banks and mailings to all NYSUT members living in the school district.

Now I applaud the teachers for organizing themselves to be a force in their community.  I applaud them just as I applaud Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools for similarly banding together to communicate their concerns to our community.  It is called Democracy.  Neither of these groups is gathering money from corporate interests. Both have relied on the contributions of many small donations from private citizens.

When John Brueggemann announced his campaign for the School Board he issued a press release in which he stated the following:

 “I’m running the old fashioned way. No PACs. No outside money. No special interests. I’m not beholden to any partisan agenda.”  

He now finds himself in a difficult position.  As the readers of this blog will recall, I have criticized Dr. Brueggemann for what I considered a cheap and exploitive campaign which criticized the money SPSS raised and accused Shaun Wiggins, Ed Cubanski, and Dean Kolligian of lacking independence because they accepted the SPSS endorsement.  In spite of his criticisms of the three SPSS candidates along with Connie Woytowich, Dr. Brueggemann sought and has now received the support of probably the most powerful PAC in the district.



13 thoughts on “Teachers Union Announces Endorsements”

  1. Now you are blaming him for being endorsed? And it’s a little silly to cast the teachers union as a “special interest” in the school board election, isn’t it? An endorsement is hardly the same as seeking or taking taking PAC money. You clearly have it in for Dr. B and are seizing every opportunity to try to discredit him. I don’t wonder that he failed to answer your questions.

    I have usually found your work enlightening, but this is too much. I’m disappointed. You can take me off your list.

    Please regain a sense of proportion and fairness.

    Best, KG

    Sent from my iPad


    1. I have always valued your wise council on my site. I am sorry my post so disturbed you but we are both people of strong opinion and strong principle so we do what we think is best. With regrets.


    2. Sorry Kathryn,

      You are dead wrong in questioning John’s labeling agenda.
      The teacher’s union IS a special interest group.

      They represent their own “special” interests.
      And more than that: They represent the investment options for their PENSION funds.
      Most of which is tied up in overseas trading.

      That’s why everyone seems to be against you-know-who and the tariffs.
      Those tariffs will kill their cash cow.
      They are all just doing what they are told to do.
      AND-America first is not in their fund manager’s best interests.

      So, endorsing Dean Kolligian should give you guys a heads up, eh?
      Isn’t Mr. Koh-lee-gian with the Trust?
      Or, is Mr. Kuh-lig-gan, “the man?” (lol)
      It’s all water under the bridge either way (couldn’t resist!).

      Kathryn, o point in you displaying such seriousness.
      It’s all not so final, really.

      Seriously… (here we go again!),
      Don’t leave the blog.
      Stay and try to understand that John is incredibly forthright and fair in his assessments.
      And, of course, an excellent moderator (wink-wink).

      We all value your input,

      -JC 😉 …(big smile)


  2. Our national response to gun violence should NOT be more guns. I fear living in an increasingly militarized society. Identifying the root causes of gun violence, and working on the social problems that spawn violence is long, hard work. Much easier to just throw more guns at the problem. The more guns we have in our communities, the more likely there will be gun tragedies. More guns in schools is a FALSE SOLUTION, and one that could come back to bite us.


    1. Armed security in schools is recommended by

      The Federal government
      The Parkland Commission
      National Association of School Resource Officers
      National Association of Police Officers
      Saratoga Springs Police
      Saratoga County sheriffs department

      Protecting our kids in the schools seems like a mainstream position to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We protect our banks with armed security. Our airlines have armed security. Theme parks, such as Disney World, have armed plains clothes security walking in the parks. Concert venues, armed security as well. Yet, our most precious commodity, our children are virtually defenseless. Anyone who believes that a tragedy couldn’t befall this community is frankly naive and buying into a false sense of security.


  3. It is a curious mixture of people they are endorsing. I thought both Dean Kolligian and Natalya Lakhtakia were the weakest candidates in terms of things they said. While Kolligian had interesting ideas about the need for a school that is more aesthetically pleasing (I agree with him and hate the institutional look of most schools — finding them off-putting in their message about education), and while Lakhtakia had a great idea about joining forces with the Pitney farm and increasing both food awareness and availability, I thought both of them had the least specific answers. Speaking as a teacher who is part of a different union, I doubt the teacher’s union only cares about their pension fund. We tend to care about our academic freedom, our working conditions, fair pay, health insurance, etc. Let’s keep to the issues — evaluating what kinds of campaign promises make sense given what the board can and cannot do. I thought all the candidates sounded good. But a lot of them seemed to be promising the sun and the moon… Change is usually pretty slow and complicated.


    1. Natalya Lakhtakia continues to be unaware of some important information that pertains to her own platform. First, she has talked about the need for a program feeding children on the weekend. Our community has a program that functions in this capacity already, it is called the “Snack pack” program. Many local
      people, including district students contribute and donate their time to ensure it’s continued success. Natalya would do well to check this program out. Secondly, Natalya Lakhtakia continues to insinuate that the grounds monitors play a role in discipline within the school district. They do not. Would love to see a separate blog post in which John Kaufman addresses this because Natalya has mentioned it in print, as well as the debate.
      Finally, while we all would love to see environmental growth within the community, it was concerning at best to hear Natalya mention several times during the debate her hope that the District partner with Sustainable Saratoga and plant trees. With a number of pressing issues facing the BOE, such as budget constraints; increased drug use; overburdened class sizes and lack of security the repeated request for environmental partnership only highlights Natalya’s lack of experience and district understanding. In regards to Dean Kolligian’s remarks regarding infrastructure, it was refreshing to hear a candidate address the need for advancement in this area. Our sports fields, buildings and even parking problems show us as trailing behind other districts. Happy to see a candidate that recognizes this.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree on the general idea that several of the candidates had a bit of pie in the sky proposals several of which were mentioned here. While it is always good to have long term and high goals it is also important to be realistic. Connie Woytowich repeatedly talked about professional development. Now as a substitute in the elementary schools and an instructor of higher education, I think this is wonderful and yes, needed. What was not mentioned is how this would be done and on who’s time. The teachers I work with already come in early to work with students who are struggling or to meet with parents. They stay late to do the same. They have families. They already attend a good deal of meetings if they are truly involved in planning and curriculum. I know this because I get a great deal of work while they attend those meetings. So, my question is WHEN will they receive this professional development above and beyond what they already receive (training on new technology, a few professional development days, when school is closed, and any work they do on their own).

      Again, goals and ideas are great yet we need people who can also look at the nitty-gritty of everyday life in the classroom and the realities of that everyday work.


      1. Hi Gayle!

        You are correct – the timing of Professional Development is crucial and I would have loved to get into more detail at the event, but as you know – our time was limited during the forum. Depending on the career/life stage of an educator – there is NOT a one-size fits all approach to this, and giving educators the ability to personalize their PD in both content and scheduling is key to a successful PD program. SSCSD has made progress in this area as of late, but there is still work to do.

        While the leadership is shared when it comes to how decisions are made, I would like to have a discussion about the two-hour delays and their effectiveness. The district has made Election Day a PD Day (something I brought up when I was PTA President to the former leadership and the NYSPTA as it considers both PD effectiveness and school safety), but perhaps consolidating all of the two-hour delays into ONE day will help our learning community as a whole: the teachers and the families of our district.

        One part of my platform is professional development. The what, when, how and why of current teacher professional development should be considered. The current practice of several out-of class articulation days on top of two-hour delays is a burden on our families (especially at the elementary level – and especially if both parents work) and does not necessarily capture the deep PD needs of teachers. While the district has made recent changes to reduce out-of-class articulation days on teachers, 2-3 hours is a short amount of time for teachers to engage in deep learning, concentrate on a project, or have time set aside to develop curriculum and create materials with colleagues across buildings. Additionally, any time out of the classroom for articulation days is time away from students and erases valuable instructional time in the classroom. Maximizing instructional time and the ability for teachers to collaborate across buildings/disciplines/grade levels/classrooms, along with reducing the burden on families’ schedules, especially at the elementary level, should be considered as PD opportunities are explored.


        Liked by 1 person

  4. HEY–

    It’s 2019 for gosh sakes!
    We’ve had all these years to straighten out all these problems.

    “The more I get to know people,
    the more I realize why Noah only let animals on the boat.”

    This is so ridiculous!
    Want to fix the problem?

    Watch this:

    Terminate those bloated, China-stock invested pensions.
    (Explains the vile focused on Trump & tarrifs — think people; think.)
    Educators should not be retiring rich.

    They are not private but public sector employees.
    That means WE are funding their salaries through our taxes!

    Bring a little humble pie back into the picture.
    My school tax bill is WAY out of control.

    Disgusted, indeed.



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