Volume XXXIX, No. 9 May 23, 2002



By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    One hears much talk these days about character education. When the subject first came up, I shuddered, since most of those talking were speaking from the hard right of American politics. But I was nevertheless uneasy about rejecting their perceptions of the moral and ethical superficiality of so much of our youth. In time, I’ve come to see that while I still don’t agree with their desire to effectively introduce religion into America’s public schools, I do share their concern for the character development of the young people we teach.

    I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with teenage students who argue that shoplifting is acceptable behavior "...because the stores just rip you off any way." I’m troubled by the number of students I meet who cannot explain the expression, "There but for the Grace of God go I" and who when I explain it to them think it a curious statement from the distant past and without relevance to their lives. A day doesn’t go by that several students don’t ask me to lie for them so as to get them out from under some discipline the school has in store for them. They are often astounded when I tell them I won’t do that for them. I’ve known many students who boast of how their parents have made false claims to their insurance company and how clever they think their parents are.

    The simple truth as I see it is that in our zeal to refrain from imposing our values on our students (In my public school, Christian or not, we read aloud from the King James Bible and sang Protestant hymns), we in effect left them to the four winds morally and ethically. I fear we’ve made a very serious mistake, and we are paying the price. If we don’t instill the core values of our society, who will do it? Many modern parents, for one reason or another, are not equipped to do it. I suspect that in many instances, they have had a values-free education too. The lingering question is do we as teachers and educational support professionals have the know-how and will to think about helping students to develop into decent, compassionate citizens committed to making their contribution to an ever better United States.



    On Monday, May 20, 2002 Governor Pataki signed into law the early retirement incentive recently enacted by the New York State Legislature. The law has two distinct components, one which permits those at least age 50 and with 10 years of service to receive 1 additional month of service credit for each year of employment, and another which permits members in retirement tiers II, III and IV who are at least 55 years old and have 25 years of service to retire without penalty. The latter part of the early retirement law is binding on public employers, while the former is optional.

    The Plainview-Old Bethpage Board has decided to await the data from the ERS and TRS indicating those eligible and the cost to the district for their participation. In the meanwhile, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and Superintendent Martin Brooks have agreed to develop a jointly written questionnaire asking members if they would retire if the Board opted to take the incentive.

    If you are interested in taking early retirement, you are asked to return the questionnaire as quickly as possible.



    In a very difficult budget year and with budgets around us in Farmingdale and Bethpage going down, POB passed its 2002-03 budget by a very substantial margin. As it always does, the PCT played a very significant part in the budget’s passage, proving once again how important it is for our union to be heavily involved in political action.

    In addition to printing 3000 flyers that were distributed by the PTA, our members came out in force to make the over 4000 phone calls targeted at the pro-education members of the Plainview-Old Bethpage community. At the vote tally, Board of Education President Evy Rothman, Vice -President Jon Mosenson and Superintendent Martin Brooks thanked the PCT for the efforts of the membership.


    As this edition of the Pledge was being put to bed, news arrived from our state organization, NEA/New York, that a new no-raid agreement had been reached with New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). A no-raid agreement pledges the parties to neither seek nor accept members from the other organization.

    The officers of the PCT received the news warmly. PCT President Morty Rosenfeld said, " It’s about time NYSUT came to its senses and realized that the members dues dollars should be used to better the conditions of the members of both organizations, not on fratricidal warfare."


    At the May meeting of the PCT Executive Board, the officers of the PCT presented their proposed budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year. The budget calls for an increase in expenditures of $18,669 over last year owing largely to dues increases by the National Education Association (NEA) and NEA/New York, our state and national affiliates and the need to put some money aside for the expenses of negotiations which are slated to begin next year.

    SRC Reps have copies of the proposed budget if members would like to see one. The Executive Board will be asked to adopt a new budget at their June meeting.



    At the May Executive Board meeting, the board also elected four delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly to be held in Dallas in the first week in July. Our delegates are Morty Rosenfeld, Judi Alexanderson, Cindy Feldman and Lillian Feigenbaum. According to the PCT Constitution, NEA convention delegates are elected by the Executive Board from the officers of our union.



    A substantial portion of the May meeting of the PCT Executive Board was spent discussing the report of the PCT Collaborative Committee. Chaired by PCT Treasurer Tracey Gonzalez, the committee spent a year meeting regularly, sometimes with Deputy Superintendent Bob Greenberg, to attempt to develop a policy for our union that would bring some coherence to the way that collaborative classes work throughout the district.

    Among the recommendations of the Collaborative Committee that were adopted by the Executive Board are:

1- The number of IEP/504 students in any collaborative class shall not exceed 25%.

2 - The number of IEP/504 students in a collaborative class shall not be greater than in any other mainstream class.

3 - Ideally, all teachers on a collaborative team should be tenured. When this is not possible, at least one must be tenured.

4 - There shall be an annual articulation meeting between grade levels and collaborative teams before student scheduling for the next year.

5 - Because 4th, 6th and 8th grades are considered critical academic junctures, a collaborative team representative must be present at the annual review.

6- Common planning time, in addition to daily prep periods, must be provided to all collaborative team members.

7 - There shall be no pass/fail option in collaborative classes.

8 - Voluntary summer staff development should be made available summers.

9 - Assignment to a collaborative teaching assignment should, to the extent possible, be voluntary.

    Now that a PCT policy on collaborative teaching has been developed, the officers will begin to work with the district to put these goals into practice.


   On April 24, 2002, the committee, which is comprised of teachers, parents, administrators and retirees, had the pleasure of honoring Joan Kaufman for the LeMay/Watson Obey Award. Joan, with her family, friends and daughter Jenny Su, were there to celebrate her accomplishments as an active and key member of the Title IX committee through the 1980's and 1990's.

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