Volume XXXX, No. 3 November  8, 2002


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

  Working with the Officers and Executive Board of the PCT, I have been attempting to get our membership to begin to think about how we would like to shape our use of electronic communications in providing information to the parents of the students we teach. Iíve been surprised by the response of those who appear to think that they can avoid the discussion, believing that they can continue to simply do what they have always done, fill out report-cards and progress reports and make an occasional phone call to a parent. These members donít understand what should be self-evident, todayís parent and those to follow increasingly look to the internet and other electronic media to obtain the information they require. They wonít want to wait two to three weeks for a paper report-card to arrive when the grades their children have received are in the computer today. Why should they? Why should they wait for a paper progress report that also takes weeks to turn around. By the time it arrives, the utility of the information it contains is often substantially reduced.

  Make no mistake about it. We will ultimately abandon most paper communication in our work as teachers. The only question worth entertaining is how can we harness the power of these new communication tools to better inform parents in ways that contribute to the improvement of education while at the same time liberating people who work in our schools from some of the unnecessary drudgery currently attendant to their tasks. To do that will require that we develop a policy which we then advocate forcefully.

  There are some in our ranks who are concerned about changing the ways by which we communicate with parents. Given our districtís less than sterling reputation in the area of technology and the very demanding nature of many of the parents we engage, it is not surprising to find some of our colleagues ducking for cover at the thought of changing the way we communicate information to parents. But it seems to me that their worst nightmares are more likely to come to pass if the PCT simply leaves it to the administration to determine our future.

  On election day, along with my colleagues at Kennedy High School, I watched a very interesting presentation by Principal Arthur Jonas of a software package designed to facilitate school/home communication. I saw a program with wonderful potential to make parents better partners of their childrenís teachers. I saw, too, some facets of the program I didnít like, things that I thought would provide unnecessary information that would confuse lay-people rather than inform them. I learned that the software can accommodate quite a bit of customization to the specifics of our district. I want us to be players in how such programs are going to be used. Again, they will, it seems certain to me, be used.


  In order to develop a policy for the PCT on how to effectively use new technologies to communicate with parents, a committee has been created by the Executive Board composed of 2-3 members from each of our buildings. Members wishing to volunteer to this committee should phone their names into the PCT Office.


  At the last two meetings of the Board of Education, a group of parents expressed concerns about the districts implementation of the Investigations math program. Investigations is an elementary school math program that seeks to build an understanding of mathematical concepts rather than simply learning to solve problems by memorizing an algorithm.

Chief among the parentsí concerns appears to be their belief that their children are not learning the basics of mathematics like addition, division and multiplication. They also presented the Board of Education with various written materials critical of the Investigations program.

  Superintendent Brooks took pains to explain the goals of the new math program, pointing out that children would, in fact, learn the basics. He asked parents to realize that we are but a few weeks into the program and cautioned them to reserve judgement.


  Talks between NEA/New York and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) to explore the possibilities of a merger of the two unions have resumed in Albany. Currently, both organizations maintain a no-raid agreement whereby they each refrain from seeking to organize the otherís locals.

  The PCT has long had a policy in favor of merger. To date, however, NEA/New York has not been able to muster sufficient support for any merger plan. The PCT has always believed that a merger needed to be built in stages, beginning with getting the members of both organizations working together and building organizational structures to bind both unions together as the level of comfort develops from working in common cause.

  For more on this subject, visit the PCT web page at http://members.aol.com/pobct and read Morty Rosenfeldís TeacherTalk column.


  On October 30, 2002, several generations of PCT members and guests gathered at the Woodbury Country Club to honor those members who retired at the end of last school year and to welcome the newest members of the PCT to our ranks. This yearís party was the most successful ever. Since making the party a more elaborate affair, attendance has been up each year and members report their pleasure in attending. In his remarks at the party, PCT president Morty Rosenfeld pointed out how unique our union is, observing that there were not too many local education unions that could gather so many generations of membership.


  NEA/New York, the PCTís state organization, awards scholarships each year to graduating high school seniors whose parent is a member of the state union. The scholarship is for two thousand dollars, paid out at five hundred dollars per year for four years.

    To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

1- Be a graduating senior

2- Be in the upper quarter of oneís graduating class

3- Be accepted to an accredited post- secondary education program

4 - Be a full-time student (12 credits minimum)

5- Maintain a 3.0 grade point average

    Members wishing an application for the NEA/New York Scholarship should contact the PCT Office.


    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 oneís license.

    This year the PCT Defensive Driving Course will be held from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. on January 15 and 16, 2003. Sessions will be held in the Choral Room of the Plainview Middle School.

    Members wishing to enroll in the PCT Defensive Driving Course should send a check for $30.00 made payable to PCT.


   In response to a request from the new officers of the Special Education Parent Teachers Association (SEPTA), their officers and the officers of the PCT have scheduled a meeting to talk about how the relationship between the two organizations might be improved. In recent years, the relationship has been strained. Historically, however, there have been times when both worked together effectively for the improvement of education in the district. Watch the Pledge for developments.


   A reminder to members that from now until December 15, 2002, the Welfare Fund provides an open enrollment period during which members may make changes to their dental and excess major medical coverages which will take effect on January 1, 2003. Members wishing to make such changes are asked to return the form provided to the Welfare Fund Office.


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