THE PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE
PLAINVIEW -OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXV No. 13 Mar. 3, 1997
ON THE PASSING OF
The teacher labor movement has lost one of its giants with the death of Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers and Vice-President of the AFL/CIO, on February 22, 1997. From the 1950's to the present, he was at the forefront of the struggle to win fair treatment and respect for workers in the public schools of this nation.
As a leader in the first strike for collective bargaining in New York City in 1960 to his more recent crusade for the elevation of academic standards in America's schools, Shanker's was an eloquent voice for the problems of teachers and the children they teach. While leaders of the PCT had their differences with him, sometimes strong differences, none would deny his contribution to our cause. Our own Paul Rubin, who broke with Shanker in the 70's, was often heard to say that Al Shanker was the smartest person he had ever met.
For the past few years Shanker was a prime mover of the attempt to merge the American Federation of Teachers with our own National Education Association. He, like many of us, realized that a merged organization of over three million members could better serve the memberships of both organizations in these time of crisis for American education.
We have lost a brilliant and powerful leader. His efforts are a challenge to all of us to continue the battle to keep our movement strong and to continue the struggle for the rights and dignity of all of those who work in education.
By Morty Rosenfeld
Those of us who do union work are often accused of being haters of authority. How else, it is reasoned, could we confront our bosses in the way we do - challenging their authority - demanding - challenging - cajoling - doing whatever it takes to move the agenda of the membership.
Contrary to how I may be viewed by some, I don't hate all authority, only some. There is, it seems to me, a common confusion concerning authority. Like most people, I respect the authority of people who know a great deal about something,
people who have committed significant portions of their lives to gaining command of a field or discipline. Most of us also respect the authority of individuals who convey to us some vision that if achieved would improve something of importance to us or others. Such people are leaders whom most of us willingly follow.
There is, however, another kind of authority worthy of being hated. This is the power gained by some people who are devoid of any meliorative vision for its use or any moral conviction concerning its purpose. We all know some of these people. We meet them every day. They are the people who seek authority simply for the perverted pleasure of being able to compel others to do their bidding - empty people whose official authority is often the sum total of their petty existences. Such people lead no one and have no one's respect. Those who do their bidding do so only out of fear, at best grudgingly.
Sadly, a climate appears to be developing in our district that has encouraged this destructive kind of authority. Suddenly some of our supervisors are writing directives when a simple conversation would be more useful, placing things in employee files that do not belong there, using the observation system as a means of coercion rather than a tool for the improvement of instruction - in short, throwing their weight around simply to prove they can, without any other discernable purpose.
The officers of the PCT have raised this issue several times with the Superintendent of Schools. He would have us understand that he believes that our district will run at its best when workers and supervisors solve problems cooperatively. It's time for him to say these words unequivocally to his administrative subordinates. We too seek an work environment in which we all cooperate to do the best job possible. If, however, our supervisors continue to push us and are licensed to do so, we have a long and proud history of pushing back - hard.
PCT WEB PAGE UPDATED
Several weeks ago, the PCT entered cyberspace with the launching of a World Wide Web page. Within the past few days, we have significantly improved on our initial experiment. Designed to be of interest to both the community and the membership, our web page offers information about the PCT Paul Rubin Memorial Scholarship, links to LaborNet (a phenomenal resource for unionists) and other labor resources as well as links to useful education Internet resource of interest to parents and educators. In addition, the Pledge can be accessed.
In the planning stages are pages on school district news briefs and tips for parents on how to be appropriately involved in the education of their children.
The PCT Web Page can be accessed at:
Use the e-mail link there to let the PCT know what you would like to see on your Web Page.
If you have a on-line service and an e-mail address, please send you address to the PCT at firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail gives our union an inexpensive private method of communicating with the membership. It permits the officers to bring to your attention information for which there is no space in the Pledge and other items which discretion demands appear in a private format.
For years the PCT has been attempting to work with the District to develop a technology plan that makes economic sense and that is designed to facilitate the job of teaching children. To help teachers and students, teachers must be directly involved in the plan's design. They alone know what they need to do the job for which they are responsible - teaching.
This year it appeared as though we were finally going to get what we needed. With the support of the Superintendent, we were able to establish a District-wide Technology Committee as well as building committees. It appeared as though the long searched for process was in place which would yield a technology plan that was good for students, staff and the District.
Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly clear that the District does not want to develop a technology plan cooperatively. Our District-wide Committee has broken down into sub committees which appear to be reporting to the Superintendent. He, in turn, takes their input and does exactly as he pleases.
The results of this sort of operation are predictable - wasted money, a frustrated staff and little benefit for the students. Why the policy makers of the District wish to run things this way is for them to say. We will continue to demand better.
WELFARE FUND REQUESTS
The Welfare Fund has requested that members filing claims for any benefits be sure to use current forms. These are available from all building reps or from the Welfare Fund Office.
Some members have been filing claims on forms with the old address of the office. This has delayed payment of many claims when the forms have been given to dentists to mail.
Members are also reminded that all claim forms must be signed by the member for their protection. Unsigned forms are routinely returned thereby delaying payment.
SIGN IN/ SIGN OUT
A minor stir was created recently when Central Office issued a memorandum concerning procedures for signing in and signing out. This was further complicated when the administration of at least one building issued a memorandum stating that individuals who were late in the morning would have to speak with an assistant principal.
We are pleased to report that the Central Office memorandum is simply a recapitulation of the contractual procedures in place for the past 20 years. It was apparently issued to be sure that all buildings were on the same page. As for the memo calling for late arrivers to see an assistant principal before going to class, we understand that it has been withdrawn. The end result is that nothing should have changed in the way we sign in and out.
WELCOMING PLANNED FOR
The officers of the PCT have announced plans to hold a welcoming breakfast for the members of our newest unit, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Association.
Members of the PCT Executive Board and the librarians will have a get-together on Sunday, March 16, 1997, from 11:00AM to 1:00 PM in the PCT Office.
On another note, the PCT continues its work to organize a clerical unit at the Plainview Library. Our organizing committee continues to make personal contacts with the library clerical staff helping them to understand the benefits of forming a union. The committee reports that a recent mailing asking library clericals to sign representation cards yielded good results, although we still need some more signatures before we can petition for a representation election. The mailing is being followed up with individual phone calls to people who have yet to return their cards.
If you know a member of the library clerical staff, it would help our effort if you would put in a good word for the PCT.
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