Volume XXXX, No.7 June 16, 2003


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    In my May TeacherTalk column, I offered an analysis of the outcome of our recent NEA/ New York convention and of the officer election that was held during that meeting. My thesis was that all of the business of the convention indicated a reluctance of the delegates to entertain changing NEA/ New York in any way that might improve its effectiveness and bind its membership more tightly to it.

   The Pledge received the following response to the publication of my article from retired PCT members Dolly and John Norman, both former officers of the PCT and both union activists for many years.  Their response has been edited for purposes of brevity. Their argument is the beginning of a discussion that we will have in the months ahead, a discussion that I have already begun to have with the Officers and Executive Board of our union.  In due time I will stake out my own position.  After a very strenuous year, I need some quiet time to reflect on the affiliation question.

   We recently read President Rosenfeld’s reprint in the May 7, 2003 Pledge of his TeacherTalk column, re: the fossilized nature of NEA/NY.

     One of us was a PCT officer, and the other a very active member, at the time the PCT left NYSUT and joined the new NYEA (now called NEA/NY).  We were among those instrumental in asking and persuading PCT members to make that change.  We thought and hoped that the PCT and others could put pressure on NYSUT to move away from the reactionary union it had become under Al Shanker, a cold warrior and right winger who was doing little if any good for educators or education.

    The history of the past 30 years is clear proof that we were wrong in thinking that the NEA/NY could have a significant impact on NYSUT.  Time has shown that such an impact has been negligible, and that only the experiences and active pressure of the members in a united state organization could create such change. Additionally, the NEA/NY has in fact ossified, and any reason for its existence has long since passed.       

     Despite the continuing pathetic weakness shown by the leadership of NYSUT, and of the UFT which is the principal supporter of the current NYSUT officers, we urge the PCT Officers, members of the PCT Executive Board and the membership itself to vote to disaffiliate from NEA/NY and to simultaneously rejoin NYSUT.  It is time to rejoin the much larger and potentially much more effective NYSUT, and try, with others to move that organization forward from within.  Members must, however, avoid the temptation to save dues money by leaving NEA/NY and not joining NYSUT.  It cannot be stressed enough that only a united membership which stretches across the state and the nation has the kind of clout necessary to protect our interests.          


   Often, our lawmakers create legislation that is well-intended in its aim but ludicrously difficult to implement.  That’s certainly the case with the new federal mandate that regular education teachers  have the IEPs explained to them of the students in all of their classes before the start of the school year.

   How to get that herculean task accomplished was the challenge facing the district. 

   Alerted to this problem by some of our Special Education teacher members, the officers of the PCT asked the Executive Board to create a committee of special education and regular education teachers to study the problem of compliance with the new law and to propose a plan for its implementation. 

   The PCT 408 Compliance Committee, chaired by PCT Vice-President Cindy Feldman, quickly recognized that there was no way to provide enough time before the start of school for the IEP of each special student to be explained to his/her classroom teachers with the kind of detail we would all like to see.  They saw that with a half day free of teaching duties, the special education teachers as a department could provide classroom teachers with enough information to bring the district into compliance with the law and, more importantly, give the classroom teachers enough information to allow them to begin the new school year better able to meet the needs of their special education students than would otherwise be the case.

   With the plan developed, the PCT Officers took it to Central Office where it was discussed in great detail.  With the full support of Dr. Brooks, the plan was presented to the Board of Education which approved it.

   This plan calls for intense cooperation of all teachers.  Meetings will be scheduled for teachers to have the IEPs of their students explained.  It will be essential that members get to these meetings on time, remembering that this will be a very burdensome day for the special education teachers  and most of their work must be accomplished during the half-day given by the Board of Education for this purpose.  


  The education community had much at stake in this year’s budget referendum.  With a proposed budget increase of nearly ten percent, there was a good deal of anxiety until the votes were counted on the night of June 3.  By a margin of 584 votes, the budget was passed, and all of the district’s academic programs were preserved.  No one in POB will lose a job as a result of this year’s budget crisis.

  The results of the POB Public Library budget referendum were just as great.  Additionally, the PCT endorsed candidates for Library Trustee were overwhelmingly elected.  Both Michael Polansky and Art Cooper will begin their five year terms on July 1.

  The work of PCT members was a huge factor in these electoral victories.  Over one hundred members including newer ones made over four thousand five hundred phone calls on behalf of both budgets and our endorsed candidates. 

  Our union has once again shown the importance of political action in passing budgets and electing trustees open to our ideas and needs.


   On Monday, June 9, 2003 a memorial ceremony for school psychologist Lenny Berkowitz was held in the library of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School , where Lenny had worked until his retirement last year.  He was eighty-five years old when he retired.

   Lenny’s commitment to the children of POB was legendary.  At the ceremony, friends and colleagues recalled his warmth and humanity  that underlay extraordinary skill at his work.  True to his nature, Lenny’s commitment to the children of Plainview-Old Bethpage and Syosset, where his late wife was an elementary teacher, will survive him.  In his will he has provided a substantial sum of money for a yearly scholarship to a graduating senior in Kennedy and Syosset High Schools.    The scholarships, overseen by PCT members, is expected to be five thousand dollars ($5000) per year.


   The PCT will be conducting a two day workshop for building reps, interested members and leaders from other Long Island unions on Working To Keep Local Education Unions Strong.  The workshop will take place from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Wednesday, August 13 and Thursday, August 14. 

   Among the topics to be discussed are: It All  Depends on Building Reps, Developing Union Issues, Organizing Around Union Issues, Communications and Union Work and Political Action and Education.

   The venue for this workshop will either be the Library at Kennedy High School or the conference room of the PCT Office, depending on the number of members who elect to participate.

   Members interested in attending should contact the PCT Office.  An intention to attend will be understood to mean attendance at both sessions.


   PCT Secretary and Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson will be meeting this week with Assistant Superintendent Pat Kriss to put the finishing touches on a mentor/intern program for our district.

   Because of the late date of its creation, the work of organizing the program and training the mentors will have to take place during the summer.

   Mentors will receive a stipend of three thousand dollars ($3000.00) and will have a prep period in common with the person they are mentoring.

   Members interested in being a mentor to a new teacher should contact the PCT Office.  Those who have already done so need not call again.

   At the moment, it appears that we will be mentoring five (5) new teachers in September.


   Members attending university or in-service courses this summer are reminded to notify the Personnel Office by September 10, 2003 of the completion of any course work and to have the appropriate transcript sent to that office.  Failure to do so will cause members to be unable to apply those credits toward a lane change in September and require that they wait until the next semester to make the move they are entitled to.


   Members are informed that during the months of July and August, the PCT office will be open from 9:00AM to 4:30PM , Monday through Thursday.


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