Volume XXXX, No. 5 February 6, 2003


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    As I write this, the rhetoric of the leaders of the United States grows more and more bellicose.  We are being martialed to view the impending battle against Iraq as part of the ongoing struggle between the forces of good and evil.  Once again, America must cleanse the world of an insidious evil.

    Paralleling the escalating rhetoric is a huge buildup of military forces in the Middle East .  It seems quite clear that our country is about to go to war on what seems to be essentially a presumption that Iraq poses an imminent danger to us.   Perhaps even more frighteningly incomprehensible is the new foreign policy doctrine being enunciated by the administration that says we have the right to remove from power regimes that we believe to be inimical to the welfare of the United States or others.  Other countries are either with us or against us.  There doesn’t appear to be any tolerance for thoughtful analysis.

    It all has such a familiar ring to my ear.  Yet another generation of American youth is being told that, “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”  When I was young, we were told that if Viet Nam fell to the communists, it would be the first of a series of dominoes to fall in Southeast Asia .  If unchecked, all of the countries of that area would fall to the red scourge.  Today, can any of my generation stand beside the monument to our Viet Nam dead in Washington without breaking down at being confronted with the staggering waste of so many young lives?  Can anyone look back to those days and still believe that they died in a noble cause? 

    You and I have to organize to oppose this outrageous misapplication of American power.  While the regime in Iraq is despicable, there are many in this world as bad or worse.  Are we to send our youth to remove them all?

     At the next meeting of the PCT Executive Board, I will ask the body to vote a motion to oppose a U.S. attack on Iraq.  Some among us will wonder what American foreign policy issues have to do with an education union.  I will answer that unions across this country are debating this issue. In so doing, they are doing what unions have always done, used the workplace to organize members to act in their self-interest and the interest of society.  The only difference today is that there are many fewer unionized workplaces in which to do so.


    On Wednesday, January 29, Governor Pataki unveiled his 2003-04 Executive Budget for the state.  Faced with a projected revenue shortfall of some twelve billion dollars and his unwillingness to face the need for state tax increases, the Governor slashes many areas of his budget, primarily education and health care.

    Plainview’s share of the $1.2 billion cut from education amounts to $1,122,949, or about 8.7 percent.  Keeping in mind that a school district’s costs for the supplies and services it needs increase each year, a budget cut of this magnitude has even a greater impact than might at first appear.  

    The PCT has already begun to mobilize along with other education unions to oppose the Governor’s budget and demand more money for education.  As recently as January 30, officers and members of the PCT met with legislators from the Long Island delegation to demand restoration of education funding.

    Our sense from these discussions was that the legislators were not buying the Governor’s budget proposal.  Yet, just as clear was  the belief of many of the legislators that they would consider themselves lucky if they could get us back to the same amount of state aid we received this year.  That level of funding, keep in mind, is a defacto cut.

    On March 3, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and Secretary/Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson will travel to Albany with a contingent of our Retiree Chapter to meet with our representatives again to demand an adequate level of state aid.

    While the state is obligated by law to have a budget in place by April 1, this will almost certainly be the nineteenth straight year that the state budget has not been in place for the start of the new fiscal year.  With New York facing one of its worst  financial crises ever, it’s anyone’s guess when the legislature will finally adopt a budget.

    Watch the Pledge for state and local budget developments.


    The Welfare Fund has informed us of some changes in the  Dental Plan.  As of January 1, 2003, implants and the crowns that cover them will now be eligible for reimbursement at the rate of 60% of reasonable and customary charges.

    In addition, effective February 1, 2003, the amount considered to be reasonable and customary has been raised in keeping with the higher rates now being charged by dentists in the zip codes where our members live.


    At the January meeting of the PCT Executive Board, upon a recommendation of the officers, Michele Macedonio of the Pasadena School and a member of the Executive Board was named a trustee of the Welfare Fund.  Macedonio replaces Diana Haber, a trustee of the fund for many years who recently retired.

    The Welfare Fund is overseen by a governing body of six trustees, three selected by the PCT and three selected by the Board of Education.  The PCT Trustees are Morty Rosenfeld, Chair, Sharon Lasher and now Michele Macedonio.  The Board of Education Trustees are Jon Mosenson, Ginger Lieberman and Sharon Dinkes.


    The Staff Development Committee has announced that the staff development course catalogue will be online at mylearningplan.com by June.  For next year, there will be no printed bulletin.  Members are urged to watch for the announcement so that they can sign up for next year’s courses.  Registration for staff development courses will only be done online.

    The Staff Development Committee has also announced that members will soon be able to apply for conferences and approval for graduate courses through mylearningplan.com.  Members are urged to watch for the official announcement.


    The Pledge is pleased to report that Kennedy High School graduate Greg Nizewitz, son of PCT member Barbara Nizewitz has been awarded a $1,000 NEA/New York Scholarship.

    Each year our state organization awards a number of scholarships to the children of NEA/New York members who have had outstanding academic accomplishments.

   Congratulations to Greg and his family.  


    In an effort to re-establish harmonious relations between the PCT and SEPTA, the second in a series of meetings between leaders of the two organizations took place on the evening of January 29.  Representing the PCT were PCT Vice-Presidents Cindy Feldman and Lori Stitt and Executive Board Member Denise Siele.

    The meeting produced agreements to have SEPTA representatives give a staff development course on the issues facing the parents of  special education students, the distribution to staff of the SEPTA newsletter and the participation of SEPTA representatives in the informal meetings between the PCT and the PTA in most of our schools.  The meeting also produced an invitation by SEPTA to PCT member Jane Weinkrantz to speak about her PCT Web Page article “The New Meanness.”  Also discussed was a future address by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld.

    The PCT representatives at this meeting were very pleased with its tone and substance.  Said PCT Vice-President Cindy Feldman, “I think we’re making some real progress in getting the relationship between the PCT and SEPTA back to what it should be.”  


    Recognizing that many districts on Long Island were moving to the internet as a vehicle for communication information about students to their parents, the officers of the PCT asked the PCT Executive Board to form a committee to make recommendations to the officers and Executive Board on how we would be willing to use the new technologies to better inform parents and make our work less burdensome.

    To date, the Committee has held two meetings and has conducted a survey of our membership in each building.  They have also scheduled, with the assistance of the district’s Director of Technology Guy Lodico, a series of workshops by the vendors of various programs that facilitate parent/teacher communications.  The first of these workshops is scheduled for February 26.  Watch the Pledge for further developments.


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