THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERSVolume XXXVI, No.7 March 7, 1999
WHERE ARE THE DISTRICTS PRIORITIES?
BY Morty Rosenfeld
We are given to understand that the district is planning a significant expansion of its administration. Apparently to be added to management are a personnel director, and assistant director of special education, a director of staff development and an additional assistant principal.
That there are very discernable and serious deficiencies with the management of our district is beyond question. What on earth would cause anyone to believe that the operation of the district would be improved by the addition of addition bureaucrats is impossible to fathom. It is also difficult to understand how with some class sizes at historic numbers and with the demands on classroom teachers increasing each year it isnt abundantly clear to the leaders of our district that scarce dollars need to be put where they have the most impact - in the classroom.
While much of the nation has finally realized that smaller class sizes are a vital factors in improving educational outcomes, when leadership on reducing class size is for the first time coming from the President of the United States and many leaders in Congress, it is galling to find our district contemplating adding administrators to the staff. The Superintendent and other are fond of uttering pious platitudes about our need to serv the children. Ive always found that we are what we do, not what we say.
Members of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Association, the newest members of the PCT met with representatives of management on Thursday, February 25, 1995 for the first bargaining session in the current round of negotiations. The meeting was confined to the exchange of demands by both sides and the setting of dates for future bargaining sessions. The next session will take place on March 25th.
Meanwhile, the other units of the PCT await the Board of Education to complete their preparations so that negotiations in the school district can begin. The officers of the PCT have been led to understand that the Board will most likely be ready to begin negotiation around the beginning of April.
MEMBERS SCORE POLITICAL ACTION VICTORY
The vote on the Bond Referendum held on February 9, 1999 proved the value of PCT Political Action. By almost 2 to 1 (2166 YES 1138 NO), voters approved the referendum, thereby permitting the district to fund the opening of the Pasadena School, to enlarge the high school and build media centers and larger all-purpose rooms at the elementary schools. PCT members made a very substantial contribution to this outstanding victory.
There was much at stake for our unions membership in this referendum. Without the money to expand the district to accommodate a projected student enrollment increase of up to 1000 students, how were we to provide the services expected of us? Failure to pass the referendum would have been a disaster for our working conditions and for the learning environment.
Common sense suggested the need to form a broad community coalition in support of the referendum. With PCT leadership, the Enrollment Task Force was formed and a consensus reached on a plan to accommodate the projected enrollment increase. It was rewarding to see groups that have had strong differences come together to deal with this important issue.
Once the Board of Education adopted a plan based on the report of the Enrollment Task Force, PCT members worked diligently to get the voters to approve it. We wrote publicity pieces for our organization and the Task Force, wrote to and called each of the more than 200 PCT members who reside in the district and called the home of every parent with children in our schools, some 3000 phone calls in all.
In the end, the political efforts of all of the organizations represented on the Enrollment Task Force paid off with a landslide victory for the referendum. The tremendous turnout of members willing to work our phone bank revealed, one again, our members understanding of the importance of political action to the work of education.
THE MSTE MUDDLE
There has been a tendency in recent times for members of admi9nistration at various levels to enter into conversations with PCT members centering on the creation of new programs of one kind or another. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these conversations, it is imperative that members realize that the programs under discussion often carry with them changes in working conditions that must be negotiated between the district and the PCT. Too often, our union doesnt find out about these programs until members have volunteered to work them, thereby diminishing the unions leverage in the negotiations.
The National Science Foundation program to improve science teaching in the elementary grades is a perfect example of the need for members to keep the PCT leadership informed of their participation in the development of new programs. From the very beginning, MSTE has served as an example of how not to implement a program. There were no discussions with the PCT about the program with the PCT before the district submitted its grant proposal. There was not an appropriate canvassing of the staff seeking volunteers, members having been arbitrarily selected. More recently, the district sought to have 30 additionally spend 63 hours over the summer without notifying the PCT of the obvious need to negotiate the compensation for this summer work and additional hours to be required during next year. In short, the MATE program has been but one of the latest examples of what has become the all too familiar pattern of top down management that cannot bring itself to recognize the need to confer with the people who provide the essential work of the district.
What might have been a source of interest and pride to the elementary teaching staff has been through inept management transmuted into a serious issue that has yet to be resolved.
LEGISLATIVE COCKTAIL PARTY HELD
On Thursday evening, March 4, 1999, representatives of the Long Island Regional Council of NEA/New York, our state organization, held a cocktail party at the Maine Maid Inn to meet with representatives of the New York State Legislature to discuss our unions priorities for this years legislative session. The PCT was represented by members of our Teacher, Clerical and Retired units.
Chief among our legislative interests for the current session are essential additions to the Governors inadequate education budget, the need for a permanent cost of living formula (COLA) for both the Employee and Teacher Retirement Systems and the need to reform the hastily crafted Charter School Law before it does significant damage to the public schools of New York State.
On March 16, 1999, representatives of the PCT will be traveling to Albany for one- on-one conversation with our Long Island Assembly persons and Senators about these important issues. At that time we will also be seeking support for Tier Reinstatement legislation for the Employees Retirement System along the lines of the recently enacted law covering the Teachers Retirement System.
The PCT Office has been receiving a disturbing number of reports concerning deviations from the standard manner of conducting teacher evaluations. In some cases, the appropriate number of observations have asa yet to be done. In other instances, while observations have been done, there have not been post-observation conferences and the written evaluations have not been written for long periods of time, if ever.
This is a serious issue which the officers of the PCT have been discussing with the Superintendent. If there has been anything unusual about the way in which your evaluations have been done, please let you SRC Rep know immediately.
NEA/NEW YORK RESOLUTIONS
On the weekend of April 23-25, PCT delegates will attend the annual convention of our state organization, NEA/New York. It is at this meeting that the policy of our state union is made. Resolutions are submitted, debated and voted. The PCT has historically been ver active in shaping the policy of NEA/New York. This year will be no exception. There follows a list of the PCT Executive Board approved resolutions we will be bringing to the convention.
NEA/NY supports legislation to earmark all monies which accrue to New York State from the "tobacco settlement" for health insurance for the uninsured of New York State.
NEA/NY urges NEA to oppose the "educational accountability act" in that it does not address the root causes of 1) social promotion; 2) poorly performing schools; 3) lack of discipline; 4) crumbling buildings.
NEA/NY urges NEA to support federal initiatives to strengthen families by 1) providing additional child care tax credits; 2) a tax credit for long-term care within the family; 3) expanding FMLA; 4) prohibiting discrimination in hiring due to having children; and 5) strengthening equal pay laws.
NEA/NY urges NEA to support universal savings accounts (USA accounts) as a pension initiative wherein employees receive federal matching funds.
NEA/NY urges NEA to support "Patients Bill of Rights" legislation.
That NEA/New York undertake to organize workers in educationally related institutions for our mutual benefit.
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