PCT PLEDGE

THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE

CONGRESS OF TEACHERS

Volume XXXIX, No. 3    October 24, 2001

COLLABORATIVE CLASSROOMS

By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    Surely one of the great improvements during my career as a teacher has been the passage by the Congress of the special education laws. Prior to their existence, students with disabilities were often considered stupid and were often warehoused in classes that effectively cut them off from the opportunity to learn to their capacity and to become productive citizens of our society.

    Yet, these laws have created new problems, many of which are not often addressed because of the risk of being politically incorrect, even though there are clearly children being victimized by the foolish application of the very laws created to help and protect them. Just as it was cruel to warehouse capable but disabled children in classes where there was little that could be called education, it is just as cruel to force students into regular education classrooms and keep them there when they are objectively incapable of doing the assigned work of the class even when it is modified by a special education teacher.

    Such is frequently the case in some of the so-called "collaborative" classrooms in POB in which teachers with little if any support from the district attempt to do the impossible, get their students to achieve the same standards as every one else. More and more often the officers of the PCT are hearing from our members about the problems they are experiencing. At the October 9 meeting of our Executive Board, SRC Reps spent almost an hour recounting some of the horror stories from their buildings.

    It will clearly take a concerted effort by the members of the PCT if these conditions are to change. That is exactly what we are organizing to do. As I write this, SRC Reps are recruiting members to serve on a PCT committee created to thrash out a policy on this issue for our union. Once that is done, this committee will help us engage the district to demand the changes we need to accomplish our jobs as teachers. The leadership of the PCT has prioritized this issue. We will be reaching out to the entire membership for their help in developing a realistic program in POB. We will also be reaching out to the administration of the district, calling upon them to meet their obligation to the children we all serve. 

OFFICERS ELECTED

    At the October 9 meeting of the PCT Executive Board, PCT Secretary Judi Alexanderson, in accordance with her constitutional duties, cast one ballot for Tracey Gonzalez for PCT Treasurer and another ballot for Lori Stitt for Elementary School Vice President. The election was held to fill the unexpired terms of Claude Szajna and Amy Isaacson who resigned earlier in the year.

    In early 2002, an election will be held to fill all PCT offices, the terms of which expire on June 30, 2002. Watch the Pledge for election details.

PCT PAC ENDORSES SYMONS

    The PCT Political Action Committee has endorsed the candidacy of incumbent Republican Leonard Symons for the Town Council of Oyster Bay. Symons is the husband of Carol Symons, a teacher at the Parkway School and a member of the PCT Executive Board.

    PAC’s endorsement was based on Symons’ long history of support for our school district and for public education. Members who reside in the Town of Oyster Bay are asked to support Leonard Symons on Election Day.

HELEN COHN HONORED

    PCT activist and former Elementary School Vice President Helen Cohn was a special honoree at the recent PCT party at the Woodbury Country Club. Cohn was one of the few brave souls who back in April, 1961 received a charter from the American Federation of Teachers to start a local union in Plainview-Old Bethpage. Cohn and the other union pioneers began the process of building the organization we have today. They did so in an environment that was less than conducive to teacher unions, an environment which saw it as inappropriate for "professional teachers" to organize and make demands of their employers like their blue collar brethren.

    Even after her retirement from the district, Cohn continued to work for our union as an active member and officer of our retiree chapter from which post she continues to work politically for public education and the people who work in it.

    The PCT Special Recognition Award presented to Cohn by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and Retiree Co-President Joe Marcal read:

Presented to Helen Cohn by a grateful membership in recognition of her pioneering efforts leading to the establishment of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Congress of Teachers, her enduring work for the betterment of teachers and educational support professionals and her eloquent and effective advocacy for the needs and rights of retired civil servants in the State of New York.

RETIREES HONORED TOO

NEWEST PCT

MEMBERS WELCOMED

    Also honored at the PCT party were Irene Pelled, herself a charter member of the PCT, Marv Hazan, Elaine Jay, Elissa Gold and Mike Costanzo. PCT President Morty Rosenfeld thanked our retirees for their contribution to the PCT and to the children of the Plainview-Old Bethpage community.

PCT TEACHER SICK

LEAVE BANK

    One of the great protections contained in the PCT contracts with the school district is the sick leave bank clause in our Teacher and ESP contracts. Our sick leave banks provide members who are ill and who have exhausted both their sick leave and extended leave a grant of up to fifty days. Over the years, the sick leave banks have spared numbers of members the terrible circumstance of being ill and losing one’s income.

    The days in our sick leave banks come from deductions from the accrued sick leave of all tenured teachers and clericals. Our contracts with the district require that members of the Teacher and Clerical units give an additional day to the bank when the number of days in the bank falls below a certain level.

    The Teacher Unit Sick Leave Bank is low on days. There will shortly be an announcement from Dr. Greenberg’s office informing members of the deduction of one (1) sick day from the accumulated sick leave of each tenured teacher. While the need to do so is regrettable, members are reminded that their donations to the bank provide a very good and inexpensive insurance policy protecting their incomes in times of prolonged illness.

PCT CONTRIBUTES TO

SEPTEMBER 11 FUND

    The PCT Executive Board has voted to donate $3200 to the newly established NEA/AFT September 11 Fund to help the victims of the tragedies at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The fund is a product of the partnership agreement made this past summer between the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

    The PCT contribution will come from the encumbered money originally collected for the striking nurses at Long Island Jewish North Shore Hospital in Plainview. Members will recall that the strike was settled before our collection was completed.

    In making this donation, the Board asked the officers to convey the desire of the PCT to see to it that the September 11 Fund help the families least able to financially cope with the loss of their loved ones. Many of those lost were low wage earners. This thought has been conveyed to the NEA representatives who are serving on the committee overseeing the fund.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE COMMITTEE TO BE FORMED

    The school district and the PCT have agreed to form a committee to study the district’s foreign language program with a view towards its expansion. The agreement to form a committee is a significant step in the process of allaying the bad feelings generated when the district published a report from its central office that recommended changes in the current program. Not a single teacher was consulted in the preparation of this report.

    Details of the composition of the Foreign Language Committee have not as yet been worked out, but members teaching foreign language and interested elementary and middle school teachers are asked to leave their names with the PCT Office. The goal is to make a recommendation to the Superintendent by the end of the calender year.

PARTIAL DAY ABSENCE

    Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson is interested in hearing from any PCT member who was docked a half-day when the member was late to work. While there was some confusion with the implementation of this clause in our contracts, we believe it has been satisfactorily resolved. We cannot be sure, however. So, if you have experienced this problem, please leave a message for Judi at the PCT Office.

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