THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No.10 Jan. 20, 1998
by Morty Rosenfeld
It's been a long time since the statement of a political figure has so outraged and energized people who work in education as has Senator Alfonse D'Amato's attack on tenure and the education unions. From the inception of his negative campaign, the membership has been asking me what we are going to do to respond. My answer is that we are going to get organized to defeat him in November.
Both NEA/New York and NYSUT are gearing up for a campaign to unmask our junior senator to the voters of our state and reveal his record on education and other issues. It is a record that seriously calls into question his credentials to comment upon the condition of education in our state. As always, the PCT will take a very active role in this campaign.
The officers of the PCT, working with our state organization, NEA/New York, are currently planning a literature distribution for the Plainview-Old Bethpage community tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in February, February 7 and 8. The Government Relations Department of NEA/NY has prepared a "report card" for Senator D'Amato, detailing his failure to support pro-education legislation while a member of the Senate. Our literature also reminds voters that the teaching profession of New York has a distinguished record of accomplishment. I'll be sending you an advance copy of this very fine piece in a few days.
Meanwhile, you and I need to plan to volunteer some time to this effort on February 7th and 8th. Political work is very labor intensive. We will need the help of every PCT member if this activity, and others to follow, is to be a success. When your building reps contact you to sign up, I know I can count on you to give generously of your time.
When the concept of staff development came to this district some ten or so years ago, it was as a result of a PCT demand in negotiations. As a result of our negotiating efforts, a clause was added to our contract establishing a labor/management staff development committee, a group charged with the responsibility of generating staff development programs.
While the work of this committee has had its ups and downs, the programs that they developed sprang almost completely from the expressed needs of the staff. In recent times, this has not been the case. The most recent staff development day is a case in point. Much of the program was administratively designed and while even interesting in some places really was not integrated with the real problems needed to be address.
The officers of the PCT have raised this issue with the Superintendent, expressing our dissatisfaction with the way in which the work of the Staff Development Committee has been frustrated. We have agreed that Dr. Cavanna will attend future committee meetings. It is our hope that his participation in the deliberations of the committee will return the process to its former success.
LONG ISLAND REGIONAL COUNCIL
TAKES POSITION ON REGENTS TASKFORCE ON TEACHING
At their meeting of January 14, 1998, delegates to the Long Island Regional Council of NEA/New York approved a motion calling upon both state organizations, NEA/NY and NYSUT, to organize their members to conduct a state-wide strike if necessary to prevent implementation of the Regents Taskforce on Teaching proposal currently before the Regents and scheduled for a vote by that body in March. This is the proposal that would take an end-run around the tenure laws by establishing a satisfactory evaluation by an outside panel every five years for teachers to maintain their licenses. Without a license, tenure is not a very valuable.
The Council's motion followed a presentation by Michael Lynch of the Government Relations Department of NEA/New York on the details of the Regents proposal to "reform" the teacher certification process. Following Lynch's presentation a discussion ensued wherein it became clear to most of the delegates that both state organizations were attempting to negotiate with the Regents and the Commissioner from a position of weakness. We have been simply telling them what we do not like about their proposal. To date, there has been no pressure put on them to listen to what we have to say more attentively.
The Regional Councils motion will now be taken to the Cabinet and Board of Directors of NEA/New York. An attempt will also be made to introduce the issue at an early meeting of the newly formed Joint Council of NEA/New York and NYSUT which is to begin its meetings at the end of January. Watch the Pledge for further developments.
A reminder to members that we are in the final day of our political action fundraising drive. There has been a very positive response this year with some buildings having already reached 100% participation.
If you have not as yet made your PCT/PAC contribution, please do so today. The recommended contribution is $10 for teachers and public librarians and $5 for clerical and substitute teachers. Let's see if we can make this the first year that all buildings have 100% participation.
COMMITTEE FORMING TO STUDY
The Superintendent has announced the formation of a committee to study the impending expansion of the district due to the building 550 new home in the community. In preparation for the beginning of the committee's work the district has hired an architect to study our buildings and the possibilities for the enlargement. A demographer has also been hired in an attempt to get a reasonably accurate projection of the numbers of students we can expect to receive from this homebuilding spurt.
The PCT will be represented on this committee by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld, High School Vice-President Cindy Feldman and Elementary Vice President Jolynn Gabel.
The committee will probably begin its work in the early part of February. Watch the Pledge for developments.
LATEST ATTACK ON SOCIAL SECURITY
Quietly working its way through the Congress is a piece of legislation entitled The Medicare Physician Private Contracting Act, a Republican measure pushed by the American Medical Association which would permit a physician to refuse Medicare insurance and charge Medicare patients whatever the traffic will bear. This would even be true for patients whose physicians currently accept Medicare. Under current law, physicians who enter into so- called "private contracts" are precluded from billing Medicare for two years.
Imagine being a patient of a physician for a number of years, perhaps being treated for a chronic illness. Suddenly, you physician informs you that your Medicare insurance is no longer to be accepted and that you will have to pay a fee that you cannot afford on your fixed retirement income. What do you do, short of shooting the doctor in the head. These circumstances will face many if this legislation becomes law.
Members will be interested to learn that their junior senator, Alfonse D'Amato, is a co-sponsor of this legislation. Members will also want to write or call their congress person and senators to strongly oppose this latest attempt to dismantle the Medicare program. Those who prefer e-mail can communicate with Congressman Peter King and Senators D'Amato and Moynihan through the PCT web page (http://members.aol.com/pobct/index.html).
MIDDLE SCHOOL REPS MEET
TEAMING EVALUATION BEGINS
September marked the beginning of an interdisciplinary teaming approach to the teaching of our middle school population. The advent of teaming necessitated negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the district covering the terms and conditions of employment for middle school members. Our agreement with the district is for this year only. Neither party was willing to commit to a longer agreement, recognizing that there would probably be a need to fine tune the agreement in light of the experiences of the first year.
With half the year almost over, middle school SRCs held a meeting at the PCT Office to begin the process of evaluating our experiences with teaming thus far. They will be returning to their buildings to hold meetings with the membership, seeking their suggestions for any changes that may need to be made. After there have been as many building meetings as necessary, SRCs from both buildings will meet with the officers of the PCT to prepare our demands for negotiations with the district which will take place in the spring.
SPEED CLAIMS PAYMENT
The Welfare Fund reminds members that when they submit dental insurance claims the section of the Claim Form entitled Employee Information must be completed and signed before a claim may be processed.
The Welfare Fund Office will return your claim if accurate information is not provided and if it is not signed, thereby delaying processing and payment.
NEA BENEFITS GUIDE
Our national organization, the NEA, has produced a new booklet describing all of the member benefits available from them. The NEA offers a panoply of insurance and other group benefits available to members at very competitive prices. These booklets will be distributed to the membership shortly after the arrival of this edition of the Pledge.
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