THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXV, No. 15 JUNE 16,, 1998
STANDING UP FOR JUSTICE
by Morty Rosenfeld
The end of the school year is at hand, and what a difficult year it has been. Yet, it has been a year of which we as unionists can be extraordinarily proud. For myself, I know that there has never been a time in all the years it has been my privilege to serve the PCT that I have been prouder than I am today. The determination of the members of this union to stand up for justice and decency, to stand by their colleagues in need, is something of which we can all feel justifiably proud.
Monday night's demonstration at the Board of Education meeting is but the latest example of what makes our union second to none. Amid the craziness that accompanies the end of the school year, the membership turned out in large numbers, motivated by an abiding sense that their colleagues were being treated unjustly. Members from the Stratford Road School and Kindergarten Center, many of them new to the experience of protest, calmly and eloquently spoke to the Board of Education of the sterling qualities of their colleagues who have been fired. Surely, within their ranks are some of the future officers of the PCT.
Earlier in the year, we rallied to the support of another colleague who was being stalked by a member of the Board of Education and who was threatened with not getting the tenure that each of his immediate supervisors felt he deserved. Here too, we demonstrated that we demand to be treated fairly and that we will not sit idly by and watch our colleagues treated with a capricious disregard for their worth.
At the building level, our members at the Stratford Road School and Kindergarten resisted attempts by authoritarian building administrations to bully them into a deterioration of their working conditions. Organized by outstanding SRC leadership they repeatedly insisted on their rights and demanded to be active participants in the carrying out of their work. Their efforts are in the tradition of our union that has always understood that we must be strong from the grassroots up.
There is so much more that I could say about the outstanding work of our members. All of it, however, would come down to this simple truth. We have always worked together as people of substance to stand tall for our beliefs, to tenaciously resist those who would bully us into doing their will, to fight those who would rob us of our dignity and the right to work in an environment that we help to shape with the respect that is our due.
Fellow PCT members, I am proud to lead our organization. With the grit and determination that you have shown, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish together.
I wish you all a great summer and trust that we will return in the fall to take up the challenges that lie ahead.
CALIFORNIA VOTERS BEAT
BACK BAD IDEA
California voters said "no" to government intrusion and "yes" to union rights in defeating Proposition 226, a state ballot initiative that would have required unions to get written approval from each member every year to use a portion of their dues to support issues and candidates in the political arena. Presently, union members give their approval by electing leaders and, in the case of the California Teachers Association, voting on the organization's program budget. Proposition 226 was supported by a number of private school tuition voucher advocates, including Grover Norquist, a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who is part of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's "kitchen cabinet," and Patrick Rooney, an Indiana insurance executive who finances numerous political efforts to institute various voucher schemes.
Proposition 226 was just the latest attempt by the ultra-right in our country to hobble the re-emerging power of the labor movement. Had Proposition 226 passed, similar legislation was to be introduced in the Congress of the United States. Its defeat has frightened some of its supporters in the Congress.
Credit for the defeat of Proposition 226 is owed to a coalition of labor unions with the California Education Association (CEA) playing a very prominent role both in manpower and funding. The campaign featured some innovative techniques. For example, union activists were organized and trained to go out into communities and make house visits, talking to union members and other citizens about the threats posed by this legislation. In all, the defeat of Proposition 226 was a giant victory for the labor movement.
"Regents Push for the First R" was the headline in Newsday, June 10,1998. The Board of Regents has realized the need for reading. They have gone so far as to issue a suggested reading guideline list for all students K-12. They have further suggested that all students at every grade level read at least 25 books each year.
Students today have tremendous competition for their time and energies -- computers, TV, sports, religious instruction, music lessons. It is not surprising that in too many cases reading is put low on the priority list of too many students. Books don't come with bells and whistles. One must concentrate and imagine when reading. It is easy to understand why many students need an extra push to read.
But, rather than providing an extra push to read, the POBCSD is in the process of dismantling and eliminating the high school reading department.
Most students have no problem being able to understand and use the material they read. For them, the problem is finding the time to squeeze in reading. Unfortunately, not all students are so lucky. Those students need extra support beyond what a teacher with 25 to 30 in a class can give. They need the help of a teacher who understands that reading is a challenge to them. They need the help of a teacher who is able to spend a few extra minutes explaining concepts that are not immediately clear. They need the help of a teacher able to utilize alternative ways of teaching. These students need the help of a teacher trained to see things differently. These students need the help of a reading specialist.
How did it come to be that the district has decided these students are less important than they used to be -- that they need less support than they used to need?
The district has money to hire an expensive "intern" who will not actually teach a class but will be in charge of winning contests and prizes for the district.
The district has money to hire "consultants" for a variety of issues.
The district has money to hire a second teacher for the gifted program.
While it is commendable to give more able students maximum opportunity, it is unconscionable to do so at the expense of those who already suffer a disadvantage in reaching their potential.
This district has a long and proud tradition of offering all its students the services they justly deserve. We must ensure that this will continue.
KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS PREPARE
Kindergarten teachers prepare to receive books for distribution to your students during the first few days of school.
The Nassau TRACT Teacher Center is working with PTA Council President Debbie Bernstein to encourage parents of Kindergarten children to read with and to their children.
On or about the first day of school, 9/8/98, each Kindergarten teacher will receive books to distribute to their students.
What better way to start your school career and to encourage reading at home than to receive a book of your very own to keep from your teacher?
During the months of July and August, the PCT Office will be open Monday through Thursday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:30 PM.
PCT WEB PAGE STAY IN
TOUCH OVER THE SUMMER
One of the peculiar benefits of the recent crises is the rapid rise in the readership of the PCT Web Page. The recipient of a President's Recognition Award at the recent NEA/New York Convention, the PCT Web Page is catching on with both the membership and the community as a source of up-to-date information about our union, the school district and labor and education issues.
Stay in touch this summer. Visit our web site periodically for the latest news.
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