CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVI, No. 4 November 20, 1998
HOW SWEET IT IS !!!
For months we were bombarded by vile DAmato commercials blaming the teachers of New York for all of the ills of the schools.
How sweet it was on election night to watch DAmato go down in defeat and to realize that we and our colleagues throughout the state were largely responsible for his loss. In fact, if we examine Schumers margin of victory, it is roughly equivalent to the membership of NEA/New York and NYSUT, the two teacher unions in the state. Finally, New York will have two senators of whom we can be proud, two people who will address the need for federal aid to education to reduce class size and rebuild the obscene crumbling of the infrastructure of so many school districts in our state.
How good it was also to see our local New York State Assemblyman, David Sidikman, win re-election, despite the Republican Party throwing $250,000 into his opponents campaign.
The PCT can be very proud of its contribution to these victories. Our small local union generated over three thousand phone calls to our community, specifically targeting the Schumer and Sidikman races. Our financial contribution to the Sidikman campaign coupled with what we were able to get our state organization to contribute were significant in permitting our Assemblyman to get his message out to the voters.
For the first time in memory, we had more members volunteering to make phone calls than we had phones for them to use or lists to take home. We did an outstanding job which must serve as a model for future campaigns. We helped to elect good people whom we will now be able to count on for support.
The PCT Executive Board has received the resignations of Clerical Unit Vice-President MaryAnn Bruder and CUPCT Treasurer Diana Haber. Both resignations were for personal reasons.
PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and CUPCT President Cathy Regan expressed their thanks to MaryAnn Bruder and Diana Haber for their outstanding service to the CUPCT and the PCT.
The CUPCT Executive Committee has appointed Lillian Feigenbaum to fill the CUPCT Vice-President position until an election can be held.
CUPCT members wishing to run for the offices of Vice-President and Treasurer should contact the PCT Office and request a Nominating Petition which must be signed by 10 unit members and returned to the PCT Office by Friday, December 4, 1998.
The unit election to fill the Vice-President and Treasurer positions will be held on Friday, December 18, 1998.
Members of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Association, a functional unit of the PCT, have been meeting to prepare their demands for this years round of negotiations with the Public Library Board. The POBLA membership has been surveyed as to their needs in a new contract, and the Negotiating Committee is in the process of putting the results of the membership survey into a package of demands.
Following the drafting of their demands, a general membership meeting will be held to ratify the demands after which the unit will be ready for negotiations.
Since September, 1993, all provisionally certified teachers in New York State who apply for permanent certification are required to complete an Assessment of Teaching Skills - Performance Video. This is a video tape of a candidates teaching constructed in accordance with very specific criteria set out by the State Education Department.
The PCT is requesting that members who have satisfactorily completed this assessment submit a copy of their videos to the PCT Office so that we can build a library to be of use to newer members who must complete the process.
NEA/NEW YORK TAKES STEP TO OPPOSE REGENTS
In but a few months of mischief, Education Commissioner Mills and the New York State Board of Regents have, in the name of increasing standards for students and teachers, radically transformed education policy in the state. While none of us is opposed to the meaningful raising of standards, most would agree that much of what they have proposed is without an understanding of the conditions we confront daily in our classrooms.
Last spring, when the Commissioner and Regents were beginning their assault, the PCT brought a resolution to the convention of our state Organization, NEA/New York, calling for the abolition of the Board of Regents. Simply stated, our rationale was that this veritable revolution in educational policy was being implemented by a group of people who are essentially answerable to no one and who are, more often than not, unqualified to make the judgements they are making.
After a spirited debate, our resolution was referred to the Board of Directors of NEA/New York which took up the issue at their meeting of November 13-14, 1998. After an interesting and impassioned debate, the NEA/ New York Board of Directors voted to investigate alternatives to the Board of Regents. The intent of the motion was to have the officers of the state organization make a proposal for consideration at the Boards next meeting.
"This was a very important first step for the Board of Directors to take," said PCT President Morty Rosenfeld. "For the first time there appears to be agreement that the present structure for making educational policy in New York State is out of control. What we need to agree on now is how it should be fixed."
LANGUAGE COMMITTEE FORMINGWhen programs are introduced from the top down there are almost always problems that could have been prevented if management had simply taken the time to include those who are impacted by their decisions. The latest example of how not to introduce a new program is our elementary foreign language program.
While it is a superb idea to introduce the study of foreign languages in the elementary grades, and while the District has hired three outstanding teachers to run this program, no one in authority ever bothered to figure out how foreign language was going to be made to fit into the work day of the elementary teachers. Thus while the District loves the media attention the elementary foreign language program has gotten, the classroom teachers are left to wonder how they are to accomplish all that is expected of them with 80 minutes less of instructional time each week. Additionally, no one in authority appears to know whether we are to plan for the expansion of the program to the 4th grade next year.
To get our own thoughts organized on what needs to be done, the officers of the PCT asked the Executive Board to create a committee to study this problem and to make a policy recommendation.
The committee being formed will have 2 representatives from each grade in each elementary building and the 3 elementary foreign language teachers. Members who are interested in serving on this committee are asked to be in touch with their building reps.
PCT SICK LEAVE BANK COMMITTEE
The PCT Sick Leave Bank provides member donated days to tenured individuals who have exhausted their sick leave and extended leave due to illness. This benefit is overseen by a committee appointed by the Executive Board.
Due to the promotion of Georgian Kreps to Acting Assistant Principal of the high school, this committee now has a vacancy. Members who wish to serve on this very important committee are asked to call the PCT Office.
THE TECHNOLOGY HELPS EDUCATE CONFERENCE
On Monday, December 7, 1998, Nassau TRACT Teacher Center will sponsor a full day technology conference for teachers. The goals of the conference are to provide teachers with a "hands on" learning experience with new and emerging technology, and more importantly, to give teachers a chance to experiment with that technology so that they can develop lessons/applications to bring back to their classrooms. Over 300 teachers are expected to attend.
The conference has been offered at no charge to teachers throughout Nassau and Suffolk County. Facilitators of the hands on sessions and workshops include representatives from the business world as well as master classroom teachers who believe in the concept that "technology helps educate."
The conference schedule includes a keynote address, ten workshops running simultaneously during two sessions and a large scale video conferencing demonstration. This will truly be THE conference of the year!
Registration forms should be in mailboxes this week. Register by 11/25/98! Dont be shut out!
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