Volume XXXVII, No.4 December 3, 1999



By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld


    Since November 8th, the nurses at North Shore Long Island Jewish University Hospital in Plainview have been on strike. Their struggle is a difficult one and deserving of our unqualified support.

    When Central General Hospital was taken over by North Shore LIJ, most of us hoped that the standard of care would improve with the university affiliation. We certainly didn’t foresee that the local nurses bargaining unit would be forced out on strike by a management more difficult to deal with than when the hospital was in private hands. Yet, that is precisely what has happened.

    It is vital for us as unionists to support the efforts of the nurses at North Shore Plainview to achieve a new contract that sets a realistic staff to patient ratio. The management of the hospital is clearly endeavoring to break the union. The defeat of any union is inimical to our welfare. There are always forces around that wish to abridge our influence and power and who are emboldened by the success of managements in other places to tame their workforces.

    Colleagues, you and I need to do all we can to help the Plainview nurses win their struggle. Starting immediately, building reps will be asking members for contributions for the nurses. I would ask members to remember that the holidays are upon the nurses too, but they have not had a pay check for weeks. Please give, and give generously.



    The PCT has begun to talk with central administration and the Board of Education about the need to think seriously about how the so-called staff development hours provided for by our recent contract could be more profitably used. At the same time, the state education department has decreed that every school district must have a professional development committee with a majority of its members appointed by the teacher bargaining unit. Here too, our theme has been that what we have done thus far, with few exceptions, has been a cosmic waste of time, effort and money.

    Common to all of our efforts has been the goal of redefining the purpose of these sessions. The term "staff development" implies that participants in these programs are somehow underdeveloped, incapable and less than professional. It appears to bring with it a mind set on the part of the administration, a senseless addiction to "how to do it" programs that are almost always insufferably boring at best and often downright insulting. The PCT has been taking the position that we don’t need to be developed.

    That is not to say, however, that we know what there is to know about everything. Like other professions, we ought to be involved in what is often referred to as "continuing education," a term which conjures up the image of a life of learning rather that the remediation of a deficiency. Continuing education should be about staying current with one’s academic field by listening to someone from a local university who is working in the area, spending some time learning and thinking about subjects related to one work, a knowledge of which would enrich one’s teaching making it more interesting. Continuing education is filled with possibilities. Staff development is restricted to things like the ubiquitous new standards or the latest theory of how to teach something often promulgated by someone who ran from the classroom years ago.

    Continuing education in our district should not be solely an administrative responsibility. It ought to be organized and run by teachers. We know what we need and often know where it can be gotten. Left to the teachers to arrange, we wouldn’t have to suffer the mindlessness that has plagued our programs thus far. In fact, it seems fair to say that much of what has been good so far has come about by the advocacy of the PCT convincing administration to let the teachers develop their own program.

    There is much more that could be done to improve this program. What is needed is rethinking its purpose and structure.



    For some years now, a PCT committee has been working with successive administrations to rewrite the elementary report card currently in use in that its format is no longer aligned with the curriculum being taught and the methodologies employed. Last year, our union thought it achieved a breakthrough with an agreement by the district to pay a subcommittee of the committee to draft a new report card.

    A dispute about pay for this work developed, however, which caused the work of the committee to come to a halt. That dispute has been resolved. The Board of Education has authorized payment to the people who did the work. What remains now is for the district to implement the work of the committee.



    By the time this edition of the Pledge reaches you, there will probably have been a canvass soliciting members to do tutoring work with students who performed poorly on the new state tests last year. The tutoring is probably to take place before and/or after school for 45 minutes, 3 days per week. The PCT has negotiated payment for this work in accordance with our salary schedule. That is, tutors will be paid at a rate derived by taking 1/200's of a member’s yearly salary divided by 7 per 45 minutes of instruction.

    This work is completely voluntary and will be open to all who are qualified. At the elementary level, for example, it will not be limited as has been rumored to reading teachers or some other specialists. Training will be provided by BOCES to give tutors insight as to what the examinations cover. 


    In June, the terms of all elected officers of the PCT, CUPCT, SUPCT and POBLA expire. An election to fill these positions will be held on April 5, 2000.

    To be eligible to run for PCT office, the constitution of our union requires that a candidate submit a petition containing the valid signatures of 25 members in good standing to the PCT Office. Petitions are available at the PCT Office and may be picked up between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM on days when the district is open for business. Complete petitions must be submitted to the PCT Office no later than the close of business on February 15, 2000.



    Our colleague Jane Weinkrantz of the English Department at Kennedy High School brought the following to our attention. We thought our members would like to join her in helping this disadvantaged school.

    Those of you who want to do something kind and generous for needy children this holiday season  or at any other time of the year for that matter – may wish to send donations of new or gently used clothing and toys to P.S.4@P.S. 309 in Brooklyn. P.S.4@P.S.309 is a school for developmentally delayed children. The school itself is so poor that the children cannot have "specials" such as art or music and are confined to their classrooms all day, except for phys. ed.

    A guidance counselor at P.S.4K writes, "The children at P.S.4 nearly all come from poverty level incomes and are severely developmentally delayed along with having emotional difficulties. If you are ever packing up and getting ready to trash any used toys, clothes, electronic equipment etc., please think of us. Classrooms can always make use of used items in decent shape."

    If you would like to send a new toy or clothing to a disabled child who will probably not receive many gifts this holiday season or simply donate old children’s clothing or toys you can no longer use please contact:


749 Monroe St.,

Brooklyn, NY 11221

     If you would like to ask a teacher for the name of a specific child who needs a gift, call 718-574-7994 or guidance counselor Beth Levine at 860-354-5003.


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