THE PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No. 3 Sept. 24, 1997
BOARD PONDERS THREE NOXIOUS POLICIES
Scheduled for action at the October 6, 1997 meeting of the Board of Education, are three proposed policies which if adopted signal a profound change in the values which have underlain the policies of our school district from its inception. Two related policy proposals call for testing all student athletes for drugs prior to permitting them to play and giving administration, upon reasonable suspicion, the right to test any student for the use of illegal substances. While probably legal in light of recent federal court decisions, they severely violate the spirit of existing policy which is generally supportive of civil rights.
The PCT has filed the following written response to the proposed drug testing policies:
The PCT is unalterably opposed to these policies which are clearly predicated on what we believe to be some very unfortunate recent federal court decisions. Because the courts have made bad law permitting what we would have thought to be illegal searches does not mean that our district is obliged to trample on what should be the rights of our students to be free in their persons from the intrusion of their schools into the contents of their body fluids. Decency, if not law, obligates us as responsible adults to protect them from such searches and nourish in them a healthy and militant contempt for agencies of government that would intrude into their lives at the molecular level.
While we must as responsible adults deal with the scourge of illegal drugs, the solution to that problem cannot be a wholesale abandonment of our basic notions of freedom and decency. We are, frankly, astounded that the Board of Education would even consider policies that so flagrantly violate what have been our society's core values.
Such policies may be legal; they may be popular; but, they are morally and socially wrong, sending the very worst message to young people whom we are training to be citizens of a democratic society.
Additionally, before the Board is a proposed policy for the use of the Internet by students and staff when they are in school. In its response, the PCT questions the need for such a policy which draws an artificial distinction between information garnered from the Internet and that obtained by conventional means. The policy is additionally objectionable in that it obliges both staff and students to sign a legal document assenting to the terms of the policy.
THE WRONG WAY TO CHANGE OUR STATE'S CONSTITUTION
On this year's ballot in November will be a referendum which, if passed, would authorize the calling of a constitutional convention for the State of New York. At a projected cost of 50 million dollars, the calling of a constitutional convention would put the constitution of our state on the table for wholesale revision - revisions that it is safe to say will not broaden our freedoms, will not protect public education, will not promote racial and gender equality and will not improvethe ability of working people to unite in common cause in labor unions. The potential consequences of opening up the entire constitution to review through a convention are so dire as to summon us to work with other progressive forces in the state to defeat this attempt to curtail the rights of the vast majority of New Yorkers.
Within the next few weeks, the PCT Political Action Committee will announce its plans for opposing the call for a constitutional convention. Members are asked to set aside some time during the week before the election to make phone calls on behalf of this effort.
THE PCT WANTS YOU
There is always more union work to do the we have officers and building reps. Keeping our union strong and on top of the issues it must confront requires the voluntary efforts of many members working on committees.
There is an immediate need to form several committees. With the winds of educational reform blowing full blast, with the New York State Department of Education issuing new standards, it is time for us to resurrect our Educational Policies Committee to hammer out recommendations to the Executive Board on these matters and other matters.
Additionally, to prepare for the next round of negotiations, we should reconvene our Elementary Special Needs Committee to begin the process of thinking through the next step we must take to equalize the working conditions across the grades. We took a giant step last round with the equalization of prep time, but there is much more to be done.
There is also a new committee which needs to be formed. Polling data from studies of the memberships of both the NEA and AFTsuggest that newer members are desirous of having their unions help them with professional issues - the day to day problems they experience in their classrooms. We need a committee to devote some time to thinking out how we may best meet these needs of our newer members.
This is your opportunity to devote some time to the PCT. To volunteer to serve on the Educational Policies, Elementary Special Needs or Member Assistance Committees, simply drop a note to the PCT Office indicating the committee on which you wish to serve.
"NEW UNIONISM" SUFFERS SETBACK
NEA President Bob Chase's call for a "new unionism" that "goes beyond collective bargaining" and is to usher in a new era of labor/management harmony has just suffered an embarrassing set back. In may of his writings and in speeches on the subject of reinventing the NEA, he has singled out the Columbus Ohio local as the model of labor management collaboration to be looked to for confirmation of the utility of the new concept of a union.
How chagrined our prophet of the new millennium of unionism must have been to read, as we did, that as of this writing the Columbus local is locked in a bitter contractual dispute and is on the verge of a strike. The headline in the September 3, 1997 Education Week must have given him fits - "New Style Teachers' Union Resorts to Old-Style Tactics."
This development, of course, was completely predictable. What Chase doesn't understand is that the labor/management relationship is essentially adversarial. That doesn't mean that they must be constantly at war or that there aren't many areas where they can cooperate. For example , there has been a considerable degree of cooperation between labor and management in Plainview in recent times. That doesn't mean that we have forgotten that our interests won't always coincide and that the degree to which we are able to cooperate is directly related to our capacity to defend our turf.
If you examined your paycheck carefully, you undoubtedly noticed a slight increase in PCT dues. At the June meeting of the PCT Executive Board the percentage formula was adjusted upwards from 1.1% to 1.2%. No change was made in minimum dues which for full time staff are $520 for teachers and $260 for clerical.
This increase was necessitated by the very significant changes in staff over the past few years as a result of a series of retirement incentives. With so many newer members at salaries that call for minimum dues, the alternative to the current increase was to run our union at a deficit for several years, thereby depleting the small reserve we maintain to manage the crises that develop from time to time. With salary increases and step and lane movement of newer staff, we should be able to put the percentage back to 1.1% in a year or two.
AFTER HOUR CALLS TO PCT & WELFARE FUND
Many members find it convenient when they want a form or have some other simple request to call and leave a message on an answering machine at the PCT and Welfare Fund office. Members are advised that in our new office the number to use for after hour messages for both the PCT and the Welfare Fund is 349-1310.
PCT members are also reminded that requests for forms and uncomplicated information can be obtained via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have Empire Medical Insurance, it is necessary for them to know of your new baby's arrival so that the baby will be covered. Make sure you send an announcement to Diana Haber at the Business Offices so that your baby will be covered as well as welcome.
For Sale: Steinway Studio upright piano - only one owner (musician) - includes bench and a song! Call Bob Kane - 822-0732.
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