THE PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No. 4 Oct. 14, 1997
PROTECTION FROM SLANDER
The October 7, 1997 meeting of the PCT Executive Board featured a spirited debate, initiated by the Mattlin SRC, on a concern of deep and growing interest to all PCT members - How do we protect ourselves from the increasing number of groundless parental allegations made against us?
Although this has been a longstanding problem, in recent times the quality of complaints has grown more outrageous and management appears to have become more willing to treat all such complaints seriously. Thus all allegations appear to warrant "investigation" with accused staff left to feel that their reputations have been sullied even when they are completely exonerated. Many allegations seem to go directly to the top, thereby violating long established procedures requiring that all complaints be made first to the staff involved. In some cases, even after an investigation has exonerated the staff member, disaffected parents spread rumors throughout the district with the result that the oft repeated lie comes to be taken for the truth.
While unions have historically not represented members in tort cases, the PCT Executive Board has authorized a review of this longstanding policy. Accordingly, the officers will be conferring with legal council to the PCT to explore the legal remedies which may be available to us when staff members' reputations are damaged through no fault of their own.
EXEC BD REAFFIRMS POLICY ON PROFESSIONAL COMMITTEES
Also at their meeting of October 7, 1997, the PCT Executive Board reaffirmed its long standing policy against participating on professional committees with representatives of parent organizations. The Board was prompted to take this action in that it appears that there has been some confusion in some buildings causing some teachers to have been snookered into participating on interview committees with parents.
The rationale for this policy centers on our deeply held conviction that the professional work of the district should be done by professionals. To have parents intrude in these matters is to accept the proposition that the knowledge and opinions of lay people is of equal value to that of the staff. The absurdity of this should be self-evident to all.
In taking this position we do not mean to be insulting to the many parents who are sincerely interested in the affairs of our district. We value their ideas, cooperation and support. We recognize, however, that they have a different role to play. We have been trained and are paid to provide a special expertise and to make professional, educational judgements. We must insist that we be permitted to do this work free of the interference that invariably comes when the lines between our roles and those of parents are blurred.
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND ACT LONG OVERDUE
In addition to the referendum on whether there should be a Constitutional Convention, the ballot in New York State this year will also have a referendum which, if passed, would authorize the state to raise 2.4 billion dollars by selling bonds to rebuild the many crumbling school buildings throughout the state. While a passed referendum will have limited, if any impact, on districts like Plainview-Old Bethpage, we cannot be unmindful of the deplorable conditions that many students and colleagues in other districts must confront daily. Leaky roofs, peeling, lead-based paint, uninhabitable portions of buildings, ancient heating plants, these are but some of the horrendous conditions that too many students and teachers face. The deterioration of our state's school buildings has been crying out for remedy for years. Each year that we delay putting our schools in shape increases the eventual cost of this endeavor. The time to do the job is now! The referendum is the best way to accomplish this. It is worth of the active support of every PCT member.
POLITICAL ACTION TIME
With two important referenda on the November ballot, a decision as to whether there will be a constitutional convention and a referendum authorizing the selling of bonds to finance the reconstruction of our state's schools, it is time for PCT members to get organized to do political action in support of our union's positions on these issues. We must do our part to defeat the call for a constitutional convention and pass the bond issue for school reconstruction.
While our political action efforts are still in the planning stages, it is clear that we will certainly be working with others from our state organization, NEA/New York, to call all NEA members on Long Island to turn them out to vote NO on the constitutional convention and YES on the bond referendum. Our calling will be done from the PCT Office on October 30, 32 and November 3 between the hours of 3 and 9 PM. PCT members are asked to volunteer through their SRCs.
PUBLIC LIBRARY REOPENS
Closed for three weeks for a major roof repair, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library reopened on the 24th of September. Although some work at the library continues, all library services are being provided. According to Marilyn Stolove, President of POBLA, the PCT bargaining unit at the library, things are quickly getting back to normal.
Now that the library is back in business, the PCT will be resuming its work to organize the clerical workers into another library bargaining unit. For too long, the fact that the professional librarians have been union while the clericals have not has mitigated against the welfare of both groups and has caused them to see each other as enemies. It has allowed management at the library to pit one group against the other with the result that there is an unwholesome work environment.
Organizing a clerical unit at the library is not an easy task. It will take time and effort to overcome years of rivalry and hostility that have festered. In undertaking to represent the librarians, we quickly saw that the solution to many of their problems was in bringing all workers into the same union - uniting them in common cause, all working together for the common good. We made a commitment to spend as much time as necessary to accomplish this important goal.
Many PCT members who live locally probably have friends or neighbors who do clerical work at the library. The officers of the PCT each of you who has a relationship with a library worker to talk to the about the PCT and the benefits that belonging to a union like ours can have. Our members are the best voice for the quality of our organization.
NEA/NY & NYSUT
TAKE STEP TOWARDS MERGER
For the past few years, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have been exploring merger talks. Those talks appear to be moving along well. It appears to be the intention of the parties to have an agreed upon statement of principles ready for action by the conventions of both organizations in July of this year. That would mean that there would have to be agreement in principle by this coming January.
With the odds clearly favoring a merger, NEA/New York and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have just agreed to the formation of a Joint Council made up of 10 members from each organization to plan joint projects. This is a logical first step in the process of putting the two state unions together. At the September 19th meeting of the NEA/New York Board of Directors, PCT President, Morty Rosenfeld, was named an NEA/New York member of the newly formed Joint Council.
OCTOBER PCT WEB PAGE UPDATE
Since last spring, the PCT, as part of its public relations work in the community, has had a home page on the World Wide Web. Attractively designed, filled with information and opinion of interest to members and citizens of the community, the PCT web page is updated several times a month, with major updates occurring the first of each month.
The October edition of our web page features a TeacherTalk column by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld on the New York State Constitutional Convention referendum and an updated News in Brief page featuring a summary of a very important article by David Labaree, Professor of Education at Michigan State University, on the transformation of the societal goals of American education - from serving the public good to serving private, individual interests. There is also a link to the complete article which is a must read for anyone trying to make sense of the educational scene today.
The PCT web page is located at: http://members.aol.com/pobct/index.html.
October 24th will fall on Friday; it will be a payday. It will also be a great time to get together with PCT colleagues to welcome new members and bid a formal farewell to those who retired last school year. There will be plenty of wine and beer and continuous hot hors d'oeuvres.
Join us on October 24th. The cost is $22 per person. Checks should be give to building reps or sent to the PCT Office.
PCT CONTRACT SURVEYS
Membership Contract Surveys that have been submitted to the PCT Office are being reviewed by Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson. She will be working with building reps to resolve those problems that can be handled at the building level. Those that require Central Office attention will be brought to the Superintendent's attention at one of the monthly, contractual meetings with Central Administration.
Do you have an e-mail address on file with the PCT? If you have an account, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Help us develop the use of this powerful tool to improve our communication with the membership.
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