THE PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVI, No. 1 September 2, 1997
NEA CONVENTION THE "NEW UNIONISM"
The hot item at this year's NEA Convention, held in Atlanta the first week in July, was a proposal from NEA President Bob Chase to lift the organization's policy ban on peer review programs. For many years, our national union has had a policy position in opposition to peer review and peer assistance programs.
Orchestrated as a first step in his program to "reinvent" the NEA and create a "new unionism," Chase proposed a resolution that not only withdrew the NEA's historic opposition to teachers evaluating teachers but also touted peer evaluation as an important educational reform that would facilitate the removal of incompetent teachers from the profession.
If you read the newspapers or watched TV in the days leading up to the vote on peer review, you are aware of the enormous hype given to this proposal. The media were quick to jump on a story that had teacher unions abandoning their role as defenders of their members and becoming instead their evaluators. If you had followed the story in the media since, you would be convinced that Chase and the "new unionism" he espouses had won a great victory.
The facts, although they do not appear to matter anymore, are all-together different. Many at the NEA convention opposed changing the organization's position on peer review; many expressed outrage at what is being called the "new unionism." PCT delegates Morty Rosenfeld, Judi Alexanderson and Cathy Regan were among many union activists that worked to defeat the Chase proposal and to give the "new unionism" a severe body blow. In the spring, the PCT delegation brought a resolution to the NEA/New York convention calling on our state organization to oppose Chase's efforts. Our motion passed, arming our state delegation to the NEA convention to work to oppose Chase.
When the peer review resolution was brought to the floor of the NEA convention, it received some of the most spirited debate in recent memory. Leaders from across the nation rose to denounce peer review and the new direction for the NEA that would have us "collaborating" with management. It appeared toward the close of debate that the outcome would be close. At this point a substitute compromise motion was offered that would make peer review and peer assistance programs local options. The substitute motion deleted much of the language of the original that proclaimed peer review as tantamount to a panacea for the ills of contemporary public education. This compromise motion passed easily - the delegates seeking a way to leave the convention without division.
Any sane interpretation of the vote would have Chase a political loser in the debate. Sadly, the media, rarely our friends, have painted a different picture. Almost all of the stories following the convention make it appear as though the Chase position prevailed. More sadly, Chase has since repeatedly broken his promise to the convention that he would tell inquiring journalists that the vote on peer review left the NEA with no position on the subject - that peer review was simply a local option. As recently as his August 5,1997 speech to the Urban League Annual Conference, Chase was crowing about the benefits of peer review and his "new unionism."
Thus, the battle against the "new unionism" will continue. The PCT is attempting to spearhead the formation of a new caucus in the NEA that would bring together the opposition to Chase and organize for defeat of a policy that raises the specter of losing all the teacher labor movement has fought for over the past forty years.
PUBLIC LIBRARY TO CLOSE
The Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library will be closed from Wednesday, September 3, 1997 to Wednesday, September 24, 1997 to allow for the reconstruction of the roof of the library building.
Members will be glad to learn that their colleagues at the public library will be relieved of their duties during the roof repair and will continue to receive their salary and benefits, including their premium pay for Sunday work.
Library members are to report for work on Tuesday, September 24, 1997 to prepare for the opening of the library to the public the following day (That is unless bad weather changes the schedule of the repairs).
CENTRAL OFFICE MOVES
Several weeks ago Central Office moved from its home in the Jamaica Avenue School to C-House in the Mattlin Middle School. The Central Office Staff is now housed in attractive, modern offices, a tremendous improvement over the rather dilapidated conditions in their old quarters.
As we in the PCT Office know, it takes some time to adjust to new offices, unpack everything and return to a normal routine. Members are asked to have patience if requests to Central are delayed.
TEAMING TO BEGIN AT MIDDLE SCHOOLS
For over twenty years, the PCT has advocated for the organization of middle schools into interdisciplinary teams. Long before it became a popular educational reform, PCT middle school activists saw the utility of this approach to the teaching of young adolescents. In fact, were you to read the report of our committee of decades past, you would think you were reading the latest in educational thinking.
Finally, we have the commitment of the Superintendent and the Board of Education to implement the program which begins this fall. Over the summer, a memorandum of agreement was negotiated to cover the changed working conditions of middle school interdisciplinary teams, a memorandum to be submitted to the middle school teachers on the first day of school.
There will, no doubt, be some bugs in the interdisciplinary team program, but middle school teachers are hopeful that they are implementing a new and exciting approach to the teaching of middle school children that will be more academically challenging and interesting as well as providing much closer supervision of the student body.
NEW EMPLOYEES' MEETING
With 16 teachers and 11 clericals having opted to take the retirement incentive the PCT negotiated with the District in June, we have many new faces among us at the start of this school year. To those who are reading their first edition of the Pledge, we welcome you and look forward to working with you in the years ahead.
To meet our new employees and to explain to the many benefits of PCT membership, the officers will be hosting a meeting for them on Monday, September 15, 1997 at 3:45PM in the Library of Kennedy high school. PCT and Welfare Fund staff will also be available to help new employees put their benefit package in place. Old-timers are asked to encourage new hires to attend.
PCT WEB PAGE
Have you checked out the September edition of the PCT Web Page? The index page has been redesigned, and there are new sections and graphics.
Connect to the PCT in cyberspace at http://members.aol.com/pobct/index.html. Bookmark our site and check frequently.
Members who are interested in working on our web page are asked to contact the PCT Office. Ideally, we would like to have a member from each building to help us report on what is happening throughout the district.
OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD DENTAL & EXCESS MAJOR MEDICAL
September is your opportunity to change your individual dental and excess major medical coverage to our family plans. Forms to effect such changes will be in the buildings the first week of school. If your needs for coverage have changed, please complete the form, sign it, and return it to the Welfare Fund Office.
ROBERTA KAUFMAN AND HOWIE WEINSTOCK
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