Volume XXXVIII, No. 6 January 24, 2001



by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    While there was a minor earthquake in Manhattan the other day, the ground of New York State shook much harder on January 11, 2001 when State Supreme Court Judge Leland DeGrasse declared the state’s method of financing public education unconstitutional, finding that it fails to provide the "sound, basic education" guaranteed by the State Constitution. The aftershocks of this historic decision will be felt for a long time to come. While this was a New York City case, it will have ramifications for the entire state if the decision stands, and it almost certainly will.

    Unless Governor Pataki appeals, which is uncertain at this time, Judge DeGrasse has given Albany until September 5, 2001 to come up with a constitutionally correct funding formula or face having the court develop and impose one.

    Assuming that Governor Pataki chooses not to appeal, the hot political issue in Albany this legislative session will be the funding formula. How do we go about changing it? Do we take resources away from successful and relatively wealthy districts like Plainview-Old Bethpage - level down, or do we appropriate more state revenue to bring districts like New York City up to the financial conditions that we enjoy - level up?

    As people working in education, we know that the only answer is to level up. But we must do more. We must once and for all end our dependence on the highly regressive property tax as the principal source of the local dollars that finance the lion’s share of the education in all of our school districts. The PCT has fought for over twenty years to finance education more equitably by raising the necessary revenue through a progressive income tax. We have always believed that it is only in this way the Roosevelts, Wyandanches, Buffalos and New York Citys can educate their children with even the hope of competing with the more affluent districts of the state and nation.


    Faced with the reality that they would be unable to arrive at anything like a merger agreement prior to the NEA Convention in July, the negotiating committees of both the NEA and AFT (American Federation of Teachers) ended their formal merger discussions with a document which outlines a "partnership" between the two unions on issues of common interest, with both retaining the right to act independently on any issue.

    What the NEAFT Partnership Document calls for is developing models of cooperation between the two organizations at the national, state and local levels. It envisions unions, at all levels, working together on joint projects where their interests coincide.

    The decision to pursue partnership rather than merger at this time comes after years of failed attempts to put the organizations together. In the latest round of merger talks, a Harvard consulting firm was brought in at an unknown expense to facilitate bridging the differences between the two. Responding to the announcement of the partnership agreement PCT President Morty Rosenfeld said, "If the leadership of the NEA and AFT had even had the slightest notion of how to merge two historic enemies back when they began their discussions, they would have started with something like this partnership agreement. Where it will lead us now after a formal merger has been rejected remains to be seen. With this approach, there is at least some hope for a merger in the future."


    Warning!!! What you are about to read is probably boring, probably very boring. But if you are ever injured on the job, you will need to know the following information. Not knowing can have serious economic consequences for you.

    If you have an accident and/or are injured while you are at work, a percentage of your wages are covered by Workers’ Compensation. As a member of the PCT, you have an additional protection in that our contracts with the school district provide for full pay for 180 consecutive working days without having to use your sick leave, provided certain rules are followed.

    Whenever an accident or injury happens while you are at work, you must file with the Business Office a Workers’ Compensation Form within two (2) working days after the date of the accident or within two (2) working days after you are physically able to file such report. These forms are available in all buildings in the main offices and often in the School Nurses Offices. Remember you must send the form to the Business Office. Giving it to the principal, an office secretary or a school nurse is not good enough. You must follow the letter of the contract here.

    Additionally, to participate in this contractual benefit, you must begin utilizing it within fifteen (15) working days of the accident. For example, a member who has an accident at work and who is absent on the 16th working day after the accident due to an injury sustained during the same accident is not entitled to the contractual benefit and would be charged with using sick leave. Such a person would, however, collect whatever Workers’ Compensation provides.

    There’s one other thing that you must know about our contractual Workers’ Compensation Benefit. Let’s assume you have been injured on the job and you have been absent from work immediately following the injury. You have immediately filed your Workers’ Compensation Form with the Business Office and are receiving the contractual benefit of full pay without loss of sick leave. When you come back to work, should you need to be absent again due to the same accident, your absence must take place within fifteen working days of your return to work. After fifteen (15) days, your absence is charged to your accumulated sick leave and you receive whatever Workers’ Compensation pays.

    Although complicated, our contractual Workers’ Compensation Benefit is a very good one if you understand it and act appropriately should you be injured on the job.



    Each year at about this time, the NEA local unions on Long Island hold a meeting with the members of the area’s Assemblypersons and Senators to discuss our political agenda for the year’s legislative session in Albany. This year our meeting was a cocktail party held at the Maine Maid Inn in Jericho on January 11, 2001. The PCT was very well represented this year by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld, Vice President Cindy Feldman, Secretary and Chair of our NEA/New York Political Action Committee Judi Alexanderson, Clerical Unit President Lillian Feigenbaum, CUPCT Vice-President Cathy Regan, CUPCT Treasurer Lucy Pedone, Retiree Chapter President, Vice-President and Treasurer Helen Cohen, Jackie Pekar and Ellen Smyle and members Carole Green, Renee Eliasberg, Dan Rehman and Irv Smyle. Also joining us for the evening were NEA/New York President Greg Nash, Vice-President Robin Rapaport and lobbyist Dennis Butler.

    The hot topic of the evening was the court decision declaring the State’s funding formula unconstitutional. Our representatives impressed upon the legislators the need to implement the judge’s decision by leveling up rather than taking needed resources away from districts like Plainview-Old Bethpage.

    PCT Representatives also took the opportunity to promote our legislative priority for the year, passage of a law that would increase state aid to districts that reduce the number of administrative positions on their tables of organization and commit the dollars saved to reducing class size.

    Later this spring, PCT representatives will travel to Albany to again meet with our representatives.


    The world of education is literally buzzing with talk of the perceived need for staff development in our public schools. At collective bargaining tables, in state legislatures and in the Congress of the United States, educators, business persons and lawmakers decry the inadequate staff development offered to the people working in our nation’s schools.

    Along comes a study by a Massachusetts research outfit, Capital Works, which looked into how workers learn the things they need to know to perform their jobs. The study found what simple common sense should have told us. It is not employer provided staff development sessions that best prepare workers for their jobs. Rather, the study concluded that about seventy-five percent (75%) of what employees need to know is learned from discussion with co-workers and mentoring by them and others.

    Workers in public education are left to wonder what might happen if time were provided for collegial interaction and mentoring in our schools.



    Next year the recently opened Pasadena School will add fourth graders to its student body. As it did last year, the PCT will attempt to place existing staff who wish to transfer to the Pasadena building. Members considering such a move who prefer to explore the possibilities prior to informing their principals are asked to call PCT President Morty Rosenfeld in the PCT Office. The officers of the PCT have expressed the hope that there will be sufficient volunteers to prevent involuntary assignments to these positions.


    Come to the Nassau TRACT Satellite Center at Plainview Middle School Library Wednesday, 2/7 and Thursday 2/8 3:30-5:00 p.m. Watch for the banner in your building announcing the Grand Opening. Our facilitator, Frank Saladino, is at www.erols.com/fsracer.



    Now that building technology committees have been established in each of our schools, PCT and Superintendent Brooks have agreed to reconstitute a district-wide technology committee. Members with an interest and expertise in the use of educational technologies are asked to volunteer for this important committee by calling the PCT Office.


Adelphi credits available. Contact Lori Charletta at 631-979-7451.

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