THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVIII, No. 1 September 5, 2000
A VERY NEW YEAR
By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
Welcome to the start of what is bound to be one of the more interesting years in the history of the district. With a new central administration, new building administrators in several schools, over fifty new teaching and clerical staff, the opening of a new elementary school and at least some construction in all of our schools, this figures to be a year to test our tolerance, patience and endurance.
Amid all these trying circumstances, which will undoubtedly challenge our abilities to do our important work, we will face the additional challenge of looking out for some of the core interests of our union, this year celebrating its fortieth year of strong advocacy for teachers and educational support professionals.
With a new superintendent and so many other new administrators, all of whom lack our history, even well intentioned attempts to change the way in which we do our work can have a profound and long range impact on our work lives. The way we do many of the things we do didnt come about accidentally but emerged from the engagement of our union and management. Many of these things have been done so routinely and for so long that they have the same effect in law as our contracts. While we are open to change, it must come collaboratively through a dialogue between our union and the management of the district and must not threaten the things it has taken us forty years to build.
In addition to protecting its contract and working conditions, every union worthy of the name union must be involved in politics. Colleagues, for many of you the Presidential and Congressional elections this year may well determine the conditions under which you work for the remainder of your professional lives. For much of my career, public schools inhabited a world of scarcity. Ruinous national economic policies unleashed cycles of catastrophic inflation, stagnating high interest rates, staggering budget deficits at all levels of government, shrinking education budgets and perhaps most importantly waning public support for all government, particularly public education. With all of the problems we still have, these last eight years under the Clinton/Gore administration have opened up possibilities we couldnt even dream about during the previous years of scarcity. We simply must do all we can to elect Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and progressive members of Congress who are committed to the needs and aspirations of working people.
This year we must also continue our on-going effort to train a new generation of union leaders for the PCT. We have some new officers, some new building reps, but we need even more. In a world that gives people less and less time for organizational activity, we must strive to find new ways for people to make contributions to the welfare of our membership. We must expand our use of communications technologies to bring our members together to do the work of our union. If child care needs prevent some of our members from participating in a PCT committee meeting after school, lets have a conference call meeting, perhaps over the internet. One way or another I feel a heavy responsibility to speed the training of a new generation of PCT leaders.
These are some of the things we will be working on this year, all in addition to the day to day work of our union in the buildings of our district. While Im sure we will face many daunting challenges, for forty years the membership of this union has met each and every one.
As a result of the year long efforts of the PCT Reading Committee which culminated in two meetings with the Board of Education last year, teachers in grades three and four will have reading anthologies and related materials to help them with the job of preparing their students for the fourth grade assessment.
It will no longer be necessary for teachers to violate copyright laws to obtain skill development materials or to spend long hours reinventing what already exists. In agreeing to purchase the anthologies, our district has taken a step toward catching up with other districts which from the advent of the high stakes assessments purchased materials for their teachers to use.
Because of the unusually large school budget increase for this academic year, we will have to wait for next year to complete the job of helping our teachers in the other elementary grades have the materials they need to be more effective in the teaching of reading.
In some circles of our school community, the purchasing of anthologies and the part the PCT played in the process leading to buying them is a cause of some significant consternation. In some minds, the union is trying to dictate how reading will be taught. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What the PCT did was simply respond to the expressed needs of the vast majority of our members who were desperate for these materials in their challenge to improve the district results on the fourth grade assessment. Contrary to the mischievous talk of some administrators, these anthologies were never meant to be a complete reading program. They are meant to streamline the task of teaching reading and to give our less experienced teachers a grounding core to their instruction while they develop their own individual approach to reading instruction.
Hopefully these anthologies will be introduced with the cooperation of all administrators and teachers. If any PCT members are discouraged by their building administration from using the anthologies, they must contact the PCT immediately. The Board of Education has wisely gone to considerable expense to buy these books in response to our expressed need. We, therefore, all have an obligation to use them wisely.
IMPROVED OPTICAL AND LIFE
The Welfare Fund has announced an improvement in the optical and life insurance benefits.
Effective September 1, 2000, members and their families may each receive up to $125 once every two years toward an eye exam and/or the purchase of glasses or contact lenses.
Members are reminded that the Welfare Fund Optical Benefit can be utilized in one of two ways. Members may either go to an optician of their choice and receive reimbursement for up to $125 towards glasses and/or an examination, or they may utilize General Vision Services, the Welfare Funds paid provider. To utilize Vision Services, a voucher worth $125 is obtained by calling the Welfare Fund Office. When presented at a conveniently located General Vision Services store, it can be exchanged for an exam and glasses (including designer frames) worth up to $400 if purchased elsewhere.
The Welfare Fund has also announced that the Welfare Fund Life Insurance Benefit has been increased from $30,000 to $40,000. Welfare Fund Life Insurance is in addition to the PCT Life Insurance Program where each member receives $10,000 of free insurance with the option of purchasing up to $90,000 more at very competitive rates.
PCT TO WELCOME NEW HIRES
There will be over fifty new faces in the schools of Plainview-Old Bethpage this year. Those that belong in PCT bargaining units have already received a welcoming letter from PCT President Morty Rosenfeld along with an invitation to a get-together on September 18, 2000 at the PCT Office when our unions officers and staff will personally welcome them and assist them with the paper work necessary to put their benefits in place, a daunting task.
SAVE OCT 12TH FOR A PARTY
To further welcome new teachers and clericals to our union and to honor our June retirees, the PCT is planning what is becoming our annual Transition Cocktail Party to be held at 4:00 PM on October 12, 2000 at the Woodbury Country Club on Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury. While details for the party are being worked out, members are asked to mark their calendars for this event that they wont want to miss.
The PCT depends on the voluntary efforts of its membership. One of the important ways in which members serve our union and make it stronger is through participation on union committees. Serving on committees gives members a chance to learn more about how our union works and gives them an opportunity to meet people from other buildings and work together in common cause. Committees serve as an important training ground for the future leaders of the PCT.
The officers of the PCT are looking for volunteers for the following committees: Grievance Committee; Staff Development Committee; Educational Policy Committee; Sick Leave Bank Committee; Communications Committee.
Members who served last year on any of these committees are asked to reapply if they wish to be considered for continued committee membership. The application process is simply a note to the PCT office expressing interest. One of the officers will get back to you to discuss your participation.
NEW CONTRACTS READIED
As this is written, work to prepare the manuscripts of all PCT bargaining unit contracts has been completed, and the documents have been sent out for printing. They should be available for distribution shortly.
While it may seem to some that it has taken an unusually long time to get contracts into the hands of the members, historically it has always taken eight to twelve months for this task to be accomplished.
NEW TEACHER COURSE
The contract between the Teacher Unit of the PCT and the school district calls for new teachers to attend an orientation course of fifteen hours duration for which participants receive one in-service credit. The meeting dates for this years course are as follows: Wednesday, September 13; Tuesday, September 19; Monday, September 25; Tuesday, October 3; Wednesday, October 11; Thursday, October 19; Wednesday, October 25; Monday, October 30.
All sessions except October 30th are from 4-6 PM and will be held at the Kennedy High School Library. The meeting of the 30th will be held in the same place between 4-5 PM.
Members who provided additional services to the district over the summer are asked to watch carefully for the districts payment for this work and to notify PCT Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson if they experience any problems. Judi is anxious to avoid the many problems our members experienced last summer, some of which were not resolved until recently because members were slow to inform the union that there was a problem.
DEFENSIVE DRIVING COURSE
A defensive driving course for PCT members will be held October 24 and October 26 from 4-7 PM in the Choral Room at PMS. Cost is $30.00 for the two day course. Call the PCT Office to register.
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