THE PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No. 5 Oct. 29, 1997
TEACHER UNION VOTE COULD BE DECISIVE ON NOV 4
The 300,000 teacher union members in the State of New York could well decide the outcome of two referenda on the November ballot. We must act collectively to protect ourselves and the children in New York's schools. We need to defeat the call for a constitutional convention and pass the 2.4 billion bond referendum which would provided funds for rebuilding the educational infrastructure of our state.
A constitutional convention poses a clear and present danger to public employees. One need only realize that we currently have a constitutional guarantee that the pension benefits in existence when we began work will be there when we retire. Strong forces within our state would like to change this and other protections of our constitution. We must vote NO on the constitutional convention.
We often complain about the crowded, inadequate physical environments in which we work. It is altogether proper that we work to optimize the conditions under which we work and our students learn. We cannot be unmindful, however, that in too many places in the State of New York, our conditions would be paradise. In the difficult economic times of the late 80's and early 90's, it was impossible to find the dollars necessary to rebuild the alarming number of decaying schools. Then, we had all to do to hold on the staff necessary to provide essential education. Now is the time to begin to address the sorry state of our schools. To postpone this investment would be a disaster. We must vote YES on the School Construction Bond Referendum.
A MALL OR A SCHOOL DISTRICT?
by Morty Rosenfeld
In a recent talk on dealing with parents I gave to new employees of our school district, I called upon them "to be keepers of the magic" - to always convey to the parents of their students their confidence in themselves that they are expert at what they do, that they possess special knowledge and competence about educating children and that their professional opinions are of greater worth than the lay people they engage as parents. If, it seems to me, lay people's opinions concerning the work we do are as good as ours, then we do not do anything very special and our training and experiences do not count for very much. We don't usually tell our doctors how to practice medicine or instruct our attorneys on the intricacies of the law. We hire them because they are keepers of some special knowledge that we need. They have a "magic" that enables them to do things that we cannot do for ourselves.
I believe that those teachers who rarely have difficulties with parents understand that they possess special knowledge and know-how and communicate this in words and manner to the parents and students they serve. They aren't cocky or arrogant, but they convey an air of confidence that does not allow them to be put on the defensive by those who aim to walk over them to get what they want.
If only all of the administrators they worked for understood what they know. Sadly, this is not the case. If it were, we wouldn't have parents shopping for the teachers they want for their children, and hectoring administrators to pressure teachers to inflate grades. We wouldn't have demeaning investigations of wild, unsubstantiated allegations that leave a teachers' reputations tainted even when they are completely exonerated. We wouldn't have, as we recently did, a parent flouting the mandatory attendance laws and withholding her child from attending a class until the child's teacher was changed. We would have a district with values appropriate to a school system and not those of a shopping mall where the customer is always right.
Have you seen or heard Alfonse D'Amato's commercials for his re-election campaign that is over a year from now? Borrowing a page from Bob Dole, the Pothole Senator smears teachers and their unions, blaming them for putting themselves first and the children last. Never fear, however, Senator D'Amato if re-elected will tell us greedy, self-absorbed sponges that it's time to put the children first.
Members may wish to send Mr. D'Amato a message telling him how they feel about his despicable campaign tactics. They may wish to remind him that this approach didn't work for Bob Dole and it won't work for the junior senator from New York. They may also wish to tell him that they will have a stronger message for him next November.
NEA/NEW YORK SCHOLARSHIP
February 6, 1998 is the deadline for applications for the $2000 NEA/New York Scholarship, an award give to children of members of our state organization who are graduating seniors from public high schools.
Applications for the NEA/New York Scholarship may be obtained by calling in a request to the PCT Office.
FLEXIBLE BENEFITS DEADLINE
Members should have received with their last paychecks an enrollment form for the Flexible Benefits Program, a contractual benefit by which members can pay for health insurance premiums, out-of pocket medical expenses (not covered by insurance) and child care costs with pre-tax dollars. These forms must be returned to the Business Office no later than November 24, 1997. Election of deductions made via this form will be effective January 1, 1998. If you are keeping 1998 the same as 1997, no action is needed!
At the very least, anyone who has family health insurance coverage should elect to pay their premium through Flexible Benefits. It is essentially a paper transaction that can save you approximately a third of the cost of your family coverage by paying for that insurance on a pre-tax basis.
To find out more about how you can profit from this benefit, plan to attend a meeting conducted on Wednesday, November 5, 1997, at 3:45PM in the auditorium of theKennedy High School. This meeting will be conducted by a representative of the administrator of the Flexible Benefits Plan. If you have questions in the meantime, call the PCT Office.
PCT WEB PAGE PUBLICITY
Now that our union has a web page of which we can be proud, steps must be taken to build its readership. In the six months or so that it has been on-line, we've built a readership of about 150 hits per month. How much of this is our own membership and how much the community is impossible to determine. Needless to say, however, we need to do better to warrant the effort to keep the page interesting and current.
To attempt to spread the word, we have done a mailing to each resident with children in the schools to inform them of the existence of our web page and the kinds of things they can expect to find on it. Additionally we will be doing periodic e-mailings to the over 700 Plainview-Old Bethpage e-mail addresses we have collected. Have some other ideas for building the readership of our web page? Let us know.
GOING TO A CONFERENCE
There appears to be a misunderstanding in our ranks concerning attendance at conferences. If you are attending a conference approved by the Superintendent, you should not be spending your money to do so! It has come to the PCT Office's attention that some members are of the erroneous belief that the district has a cap on what it will put to a conference. When you submit an application to attend a conference, itemize all of the costs of attendance. If your conference attendance is not approved, don't go. Attendance at a conference is professional work. We should not be paying to do an important part of our jobs.
Last year, the PCT Child Care Committee worked to develop the beginnings of a union supported child care program. With space contractually provided, at no cost, by the Board of Education, we believed that we could meet our membership's child care need at less cost than is generally available in the market place.
Given our need to learn the intricacies of the child care business, by the time we were confident that we had a program to offer that our membership could count on, apparently many members had already made their child care plan for this year.
Which brings us to the question of where do we go from here. If you think that you would utilize a PCT managed child care facility housed in our district for next year, please drop a note to the PCT Office. Please include in your note the age(s) your child(ren) will be next September. If you are currently paying for child care services, please include a statement of your current costs.
A reminder to members that the PCT maintains a Long-Term Care Insurance Program. Through it, members can purchase insurance protection for themselves or their families (including parents) against the staggering financial burden of in-home and/or nursing home care. Our program offers a selection of companies and policies and is available to members at a 10 to 15 discount over market rates.
Interested in learning more about the PCT Long-Term Care Insurance Program? Call the PCT Office for information and arrange a no-cost consultation with our representative.
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