THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVIII, No. 8 March 27, 2001
By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
The Superintendents proposed 2001-02 budget maintains the programmatic status quo. It does little to address what should be the priorities of our school district. It ultimately fails to come to grips with indisputable facts. Students at all levels do better, in both academic and personal terms, in small classes. Sadly, while we will have the space next year to reduce secondary class size for the first time in years, unless the Board of Education summons the political will, we will continue the misallocation of the districts resources away from the classroom, the heart and soul of any school.
The Superintendent of Schools has emerged as a barrier to reducing secondary school class size. In discussion after discussion with leaders of the PCT and at public meetings, he has expressed the view that research has not substantiated similar gains from secondary class size reduction as have been shown to accrue to students in smaller classes at the elementary level. He has also advanced the curious notion that unless teaching strategies change, lowering class size probably doesnt produce significant outcomes.
Teachers know he is wrong. They know that today, more than ever, the number of students in a class and the number of students for whom a teacher is responsible are critical factors in determining what can be accomplished. How many assignments one gives, how quickly they are graded and returned, the number of times a student is called upon each day, the availability of the teacher for individualized instruction, the time and energy that go into classroom management, the degree to which students become known as individual human beings and finally the extent to which teachers are able to practice their craft are all dependent on the size of the groups they are asked to teach. To suggest that it would be unwise to lower secondary class sizes before there is educational research to support that effort, is to mystify the obvious.
TEACHER SENIORITY LIST
Representatives of the PCT have met with their counterparts from the District to review the questions that were raised by the recent publication of a Teacher Seniority List.
Those teachers who raised questions about their seniority can expect to receive a letter from Deputy Superintendent Bob Greenberg and PCT President Morty Rosenfeld answering their concerns.
The PCT wishes to thank Dr. Greenberg and his staff for the very professional work they did in both preparing the first draft of the Teacher Seniority List and in working with the PCT to resolve all questions. Said PCT President Morty Rosenfeld, "This was the most painless making of a seniority list I can remember. Everyone in the process knew what he/she was doing. It was a refreshing change."
CHILD CARE COMMITTEE
Recently, PCT Secretary and Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson, Vice-President Amy Isaacson and President Morty Rosenfeld met at the request of a group of teachers to discuss the possibilities of bringing work-site based childcare to our district. These voiced the need of many to have affordable, quality childcare available to staff who are often trying to balance the needs of their own children with those of their students.
As a followup to this meeting, the officers have decided to form a childcare exploration committee. PCT members interested in serving on this after-school committee should contact the PCT Office.
To facilitate the investigation of the Childcare Committee, a questionnaire has gone out attempting to determine the childcare needs of our membership. If childcare is an issue for you, please return the questionnaire to the PCT Office before April 1, 2001.
Last year the New York State Legislature passed a bill supported by all of the teacher unions that provided for so-called tier enhancement. Under the provisions of this law, Tiers 1 & 2 members of the New York State Teachers Retirement System received an additional one month of service credit for each year of credited service to a maximum of two years. Tiers 3 & 4 received relief from the three percent mandatory contribution after ten years of service.
This legislation was a great victory for union political action. The only problem was that the writers of the bill made one small but serious error. They structured the benefits of the law in such a way that those who were on an unpaid leave of absence last year are ineligible for the benefits. This was clearly not done intentionally but was a matter of oversight.
Legislation has been introduced at the request of the Retirement System in both houses of the legislature to correct this error. It is expected to become law during this session. When it is passed, it will be retroactive for those who were on unpaid leave last year and then retired. Watch the Pledge for news of this legislation.
Each year representatives of the PCT travel to Albany to meet with our legislators to discuss the legislative agenda of the PCT and our state union, NEA/New York. This year, the Governors inadequate education budget and the need for state assistance to reduce class size were high on our agenda.
This years group of PCT lobbyists included first time lobbyists Bob Barca and Rich Antoniello. They were joined by Ellen and Irv Smyle, Jackie Pekar and Joe Marcal.
TRACT MENTOR COURSE
All applications for the TRACT Teacher Center Mentor Training course have been signed by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and forwarded to the TRACT Policy Board for consideration.
PCT members who have applied can expect to hear on the status of their applications shortly.
1 FOR 3 DEADLINE
MAY 15, 2001
Those teachers who are considering retirement this school year are reminded of the contractual requirement to notify the district of their intention to retire by May 15th if they wish to be assured of receiving payment for their accumulated sick leave in the first payroll in July. The district takes the position that if you dont let them know by this date, they do not have to pay you for your sick leave until the first payroll in the July following your retirement. While the PCT does not accept this position, members are reminded that it can take a year or more to get an arbitrators decision on any grievance we might bring on this issue.
NEA/NEW YORK CONVENTION
Representatives of the PCT will be traveling to Buffalo on the weekend of April 27th to attend the annual convention of our state organization NEA/New York. It is at this meeting that leaders from across the state come together to make the policy for our state union. The PCT is always an active presence at this meeting, and this year will be no exception.
Our major initiative this year will be to attempt to amend the constitution and bylaws of NEA/New York to permit the organizing of workers in fields related to education. Currently, our rules only permit us to organize workers in school districts and public librarians who work in libraries tied to public school districts. This severely limits our ability to grow and makes our dues unnecessarily high.
We will also be bringing the following resolutions, passed by the PCT Executive Board, to the Buffalo convention:
1- NEA/NY shall seek legislation to provide increased state aid to school districts that reduce the number of administrators on their tables of organization and use the savings from the abolition of these positions to reduce class size.
2-NEA/NY shall develop a plan for the identification and development of local leaders. This plan shall be presented to the Board of Directors no later than January, 2002.
3-NEA/NY shall continue to support the Campaign for Sweat-free Schools and will urge its locals to support the campaign.
4-NEA/NY shall seek legislation to provide that TRS and ERS pensions have yearly COLA based on the actual cost of living index rather than on a percentage thereof, and to eliminate the 5 year waiting period.
5-NEA/New York shall support legislation to amend the so-called Rockefeller Drug Laws so as to significantly reduce the number of people imprisoned in New York for minor drug offences and to increase the number of drug treatment slots.
SAFE DRIVER COURSE
Flyers are out announcing the spring session of the PCT Safe Driver course. The course will meet on April 30 and May 1 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM in the Choral Room of the POB Middle School.
PCT members interested in participating in the PCT Safe Driver Course should send a check for $30.00 to the PCT Office immediately.
The District has informed members of the teaching staff that there is no longer any funds available for the attendance of teachers at educational conferences. The PCT Office is informed that some building administrators are informing members that they may wish to foot the bill for the attendance fees themselves.
The Officers of the PCT are of the view that if it is important enough for you to attend a conference, it is important for the District to pay the costs. It is not for us to subsidize the school district.
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