Volume XXXV, No. 12 Mar. 7, 1998



By Morty Rosenfeld

The Substitute Unit of the PCT recently held a general membership meeting primarily to deal with problems relating to the service the district employs to provide substitute coverage for absent teachers. After we had discussed the very significant shortcomings of the service and the need to work with the district to provide a new one as soon a it is practical to do so, the discussion turned to the treatment of the substitute teachers in our district.

The assembled members uniformly reported that they are treated very shabbily. They report that they receive very curt treatment from the administrators who very often simply want to know that there is a warm body in the classroom and are uninterested in the problems substitute teachers experience in terms of finding materials and dealing with the inevitable discipline problems that our students manifest when their teacher is absent. To put matters bluntly, our substitutes often find themselves in what they see as a hostile environment with a very inadequate support system.

One of their deepest concerns strikes closer to home. They report all to often they are not left appropriate lessons and/or materials for them to conduct a meaningful class. They well understand that it is sometimes the case that teachers do not know in advance that they will be absent. However, when we know that we will not be in, it is our responsibility to our colleagues, fellow union members, to proved them with the things they need to make their day a trouble free as possible. It is very difficult for them to keep the students focused and out of trouble if they are left pap to teach. Their jobs are made infinitely more difficult if our students know that assignments which we leave are not going to be graded and counted and if we are not going to follow up on behavior issues that arose when we were out.

Our substitute teacher colleagues deserve better. I would ask every teacher to give some thought to making the job of our substitute colleagues easier. Think about what you would need to do the job you expect of them and do what you can to see that they have it the next time you are absent.



Both the New York State Assembly and Senate have passed a legislative retirement incentive which Governor Pataki is expected to sign. The bill is essentially the same as that passed in the last session, providing one month of additional service credit for each year of service to a maximum of 36 months. This year's bill again contains the controversial provision that ties the incentive to employers saving "50%" of the difference between the salary of the retiring employee and his/her replacement. The new legislation still does not make it absolutely clear the period of time over which the savings must accrue to the employer.

The PCT has informed the Superintendent of the passage of the retirement incentive. We have been advised that the Board of Education will consider this matter at their next meeting. There is the possibility that while the Board still does not like the legislative incentive, they will consider offering a local one. Watch the Pledge for further developments.



On February 28, 1998, members of the PCT descended on the local shopping centers to distribute their reportcard on the performance of U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato's performance on issues of public education. Inspired by D'Amato's outrageous attacks on teachers and their unions, PCT members sought to educate the citizens of the community to the hypocrisy of D'Amato who has done almost nothing to support public education while he attempts to blame its problems on the dedicated people who work in the schools of our state, often under the most difficult circumstances.

Operation Fight Back was our first chance to answer D'Amato's attacks. Ten thousand copies of our reportcard on his performance were distributed to members of the community. Meeting the citizens of our community in the process gave our members many opportunities to talk about New York's need for a senator who will represent their interests rather than an individual who, throughout his career, has sought headlines without accomplishment.



Each spring, the NEA/New York locals on Long Island hold a legislative function at which members have the opportunity to engage members of the New York State Assembly and Senate. This year's function will be held on Thursday, March 26, 1998 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at the Maine Maid Inn in Jericho. A training session for attendees will be held a week before on March 19th from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Holiday Inn in Plainview.

Any PCT member who is interested in attending the Legislative Cocktail Party is asked to contact the PCT Office. We have a few places open for interested members. Keep in minf that attending the party obligates you to attend the training session so that you can be a knowlegeable participant.



For almost a year the PCT has had a presence of the Word Wide Web. We have tried to fashion our web page to be of interest to our members and citizens of our community. The general goal has been to try to present the work of our union in all of its complexity. We attembpt to keep our site up to date with major revisions monthly with mid-month revisions when events warrant.

As of this date we have had over 700 hits at our web site. One of the msot positive way we have found to advertise the existence of our web site has been to send e-mail messages to members of the community letting them know of our presence and offering some teasers to get them to visit our site. To keep doing this we need your assistance. If you have the e-mail addresses of people living in Plainview-Old Bethpage whom you think might be interested in receiving an invitation to visit us, please send send them to the PCT Office or e-mail them to us at pobct@aol.com.

While we are on the subject of e-mail addresses, if you have an email account, we would like to have your address too. We are looking forward to a when we can use thios powerful tool to communicate with the whole membership in ways not permitted by public vehicles like the Pledge. It would also save the organization considerable expence if some of our routine communications with the membership could be conducted via e-mail. If you haven't already done so, please send us your e-mail address today.



By popular demand, the PCT has made arrangements to hold a spring session of our safe driver course. Participants in the course receive a 10% reduction in the cost of their liability insurance as well as the removal of up to 4 violation popints from their licenses.

The spring safe driver course will be held on May 27 and 28 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. If you are interested, mark your calendars now and watch for enrollment flyers in your building.


On February 18, 1998, union members lost a pioneer of the teacher labor movement when Charles Cogen, founing President of New York City's United Federation of Teachers, died at the age of 94.

It was Cogen who led the UFT in a 1960 strike that won for city teachers recognition of their union and the right to bargain collectively on issues of salary and working conditions. This historic strike and the public reconition it received in turn led to the energizing of other teacher locals and the spred of collective bargaining for education employees and other public sector workers. In 1962, when talks between the city and the UFT for a first contract broke down, Cogen led a second strike that won an average salary increase of $1000 (1962 dollars), a grievance procedure with binding arbitartion and many other benefits. Cogen went on in 1964 to assume the presidency of the American Federation of Teachers where he focused on organizing the teachers of America.

Every worker in public education owes Cogen a debt of gratitude for his perseverence and courage in the struggle to bring dignity to those who work with America's children.



On March 11, 1998 the district will hold the second half day staff development program of the year. The PCT members of the Staff Development Committee have been working hard to insure that this will be a better day than the one held earlier in the year when the administration essentailly bypassed the committee and put on its own program. While there still appear to be kinks in the way the committee is operating, there is good reason to believe that much of the agenda of the day will have come from the teacher members of the committee and will address real problems and issues brought to the committeee by the staff. Some of our members will be going on professional visitations, while others will be attending workshops conceived by members of the staff. The officers of the PCT hope that this day will be a giant step towards building a better staff development program than we have had in recent days.


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