THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF
THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXIX, No. 2 October 1, 2001
ON THE NEED FOR DISCRETION
By PCT President Morty RosenfeldIn the friendliest manner, the Superintendent of Schools has again announced his desire to meet with us in the buildings to discuss issues of mutual concern. In the abstract, there is nothing untoward about this request. Its probably even laudable that the boss would want to go around and attempt to see the operation for himself at ground level rather than the lofty heights.
Having a superintendent who gets around the way Marty Brooks does brings with it some special responsibilities for PCT members. We need to guard against giving the superintendent the impression that the PCT does not speak for the membership. That is not to say that each PCT member agrees with every position taken by the union. The positions we take, however, are arrived at democratically and as members we support the decision of the majority. To do otherwise endangers us all.
An illustration from actual experience should caution us all. Last year the superintendent met with a department and got them into a discussion of a subject he was also discussing with the officers of the PCT. Out of a sincere interest of improving the district and a desire to help the then new superintendent, a majority of the department told the superintendent that they supported the direction he wished to take on this issue. The problem raised, however, was that the implementation of this plan would have cost one or more members in other buildings their jobs. How would they have felt if that had happened?
Thus, it is imperative that members are careful in their conversations with the superintendent, or any administrator for that matter. By all means seize the opportunity to advocate for PCT positions on the issues. Let Dr. Brooks know that we need to do some serious work on the districts collaborative model which is no model at all but something different in each classroom of each building. Let him know that we still have very significant class size problems in some buildings. Tell him about the awful physical conditions some of us are working in. Show him how in some departments there is one telephone for eighteen or more teachers to use. There are enough things for all of us to talk to him about. We just need to make sure we pick issues about which we are fully informed. We need to recognize that we are talking to the boss and that our words may have unforeseen consequences. He isnt there just to chat. He is there to move his agenda forward. The memberships agenda is often quite different.
INTERIM OFFICERS APPOINTED
The PCT Executive Board has appointed Tracey Gonzalez Interim Treasurer and Lori Stitt Interim Elementary School Vice President. The PCT Constitution provides for appointment by the Executive Board pending a general election to fill unexpired terms. That election is scheduled to take place on October 29, 2001. If by October 5, 2001, there is only one candidate for any position, pursuant to the PCT Constitution the Secretary is empowered to cast one vote for the position at the next meeting of the Executive Board. Members wishing to run for either office are reminded that petitions are due to the PCT Office by the close of business on October 5, 2001. Blank petitions are available from the PCT Office.
At the September 20th meeting of the PCT Executive Board, a discussion took place as to the appropriate response of our union to the recent tragedy at the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C. The officers proposed that the approximately $3200 that was collected last year during the Plainview nurses strike which ended before we could make our contribution be sent to the funds established by the police and fire unions in New York City. Members of the Board deferred action on the recommendation, asking the officers to research the extent to which a way could be found to use the money to help members of some of the other unions who lost members as well.
Since that discussion, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have announced the formation of a fund to help all the families of all of the victims. Each organization has contributed $200,000 to start the fund. The fund will be administered by representatives of both organizations. The officers will recommend that we donate the presently encumbered $3200 to this fund. These national unions have the staff resources to investigate how this money can be wisely used. Let your building reps know how you feel about this proposal.
If members wish to make additional contributions to the fund, they can be sent to the PCT Office. They will be included with the contribution the Executive Board makes.
RED OWL AND STAFF DEVELOPMENT
You probably wondered when you received your letter from the Superintendent about the opening of school and heard about the presentation by Red Owl, "Red Owl who?"
You now know that Red Owl is an articulate, thoughtful Native American who had something important to say to the staff who assembled to hear him. His reminder to us of the impact we have on the lives of our students and the awesome responsibility we have to use that power wisely to promote the healthy growth and development of the children we teach was a welcome relief from the usual nonsense that comes our way under the heading of staff development.
Red Owl had something important to say, and he said it well. One suspects that he was a brilliant teacher before he left for the ranks of college administration. How unlike so much of what our members suffer through in our routine staff development sessions. Where Red Owls presentation was met with thunderous applause, some staff developers have been lucky to escape with their lives for inflicting mind-numbing boredom on people who had already put in a full days work.
Red Owls masterful presentation and the staffs reaction to it ought to cause the administration of the district to rethink what it hopes to accomplish from the staff development program. If they wish to bore and anger us, they are doing fine. But, if the goal is (to quote Dr. Brooks) "have us grow professionally," then they need to hire people to come in who have something of interest to say. Located as we are in the back yard of some of the greatest universities in the country, that should not be hard to do. No one is growing off the diet we have been fed since the advent of staff development in this district.
SAVE SCHOOLS LEGISLATION
The Save Schools legislation was passed by the New York State Legislature out of a belief that they were enacting a series of remedies for the violence that has plagued some of our nations schools. Among the "remedies" it provides is the right of classroom teachers to suspend unruly students from their classes. To effect these suspensions, teachers must follow some very specific procedures designed to protect the rights of students.
Essentially, for teachers in districts like Plainview-Old Bethpage, the new law unnecessarily complicates the process of removing an out-of-control student. Where we have always been accustomed to sending the child to the principal or assistant principal, the Save Schools Legislation provides for cumbersome procedures that in many ways make it more difficult to have a child removed.
Some have argued that the law helps us deal with a principal that does not like to remove children. In POB, when we have had such problems the PCT has usually been effective in helping to resolve them.
At the last meeting of the PCT Executive Board, the officers strongly advised building reps to discourage members from exercising their rights to suspend children under the new law and to instead do as we have always done. Send unruly children to an administrator.!
PCT PARTYIf you havent signed up yet to attend the PCT Party on October 18, there is still time to do so. For the ridiculously little sum of $10, you can partake in a huge assortment of food plus all the beer, wine or soda you wish. More important, you will have one of the few opportunities we have each year for all PCT members to get together and have a good time. We will honor last years retirees, give a warm welcome to our newest members and have a ball.
The Party will be held from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, October 18, 2001 at the Woodbury Country Club. Please plan to attend now.
SAFE DRIVER COURSE
In the fall and spring of each school year, the PCT offers its members an opportunity to take a defensive driving course. Completion of this six-hour course entitles participants to a reduction in their automobile insurance premiums. It can also be used to remove up to three points from ones license.
This fall the PCT Defensive Driving Course will be held from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, October 30, and Thursday, November 1, 2001. Sessions will be held in the Choral Room of the Kennedy High School.
Members wishing to enroll in the PCT Defensive Driving Course should send a check for $30.00 made payable to PCT.
NO WONDER THEYRE TIRED
One of the things that is most difficult to explain to lay people about teaching is just how physically demanding the job is. Unless people have stood on their feet for several hours talking to groups, they cant appreciate just how draining it can be.
Further evidence of the physical demands on elementary teachers was uncovered by Lori Stitt, PCT Interim Elementary Vice President, who decided to wear a pedometer over the course of an average week in school. Her finding? She walks eleven miles in the course of teaching her class for one school week.
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