Volume XXXXI, No.5 January 16, 2004


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    Once again the cost of our health insurance plans is escalating faster than other items in the cost of living index.  This year’s fourteen percent increase is on top of a ten percent increase last year. Active PCT members who pay twenty-five percent of the cost of a family plan, have experienced a significant increase.  Retired PCT members, many living on an essentially fixed income, pay sixty-five percent of the cost of a family plan.

    School districts  too are buckling under the burden.  Last year in POB, the District’s budget for health insurance increased in excess of a million dollars.  The same thing is happening this year.

    Across the country employers are dropping health coverage for their workers or reducing the quality of the health package they offer.  It probably won’t be long before the State of New York feels obliged to demand changes in the Empire Plan from the union with whom it bargains its provisions. The simple fact of the matter is our nation is going broke paying for a health care system that in no way makes us the healthiest people in the world.  The American health care system makes no sense.  It rations health care to people who have insurance and money.  It is an outrage for a nation which prides itself on its caring instincts.

    We are entering the Presidential election season, starting with the Democratic primaries and building to the November election.  I would ask each PCT member to scrutinize the candidates very carefully, especially where they stand on the health care crisis in the United States.  Spiraling health care costs make it harder to bargain good contracts, make it harder to fund decent schools, make it harder to feed the hungry and do many other things that civilized people are ethically obligated to do. 


    On January 7, 2004 teachers from Mattlin and POB Middle Schools met with PCT President Morty Rosenfeld, Vice-President Vicki Ahlsen and Secretary Judi Alexanderson to begin a discussion of how our union should proceed in light of the Board of Education having set as its one goal for the year a look at the District’s Middle School program.

    Rosenfeld urged the assembled members to develop their own middle school agenda, challenging them to do their own assessment of our middle school program which they teach each school day and from that assessment to dream of the middle schools in which they would want to teach.  “Otherwise,” he said, “Others will determine how our program will change, and we will be left to work to their designs.”

    This was the first in many meetings that will take place.  Morty Rosenfeld will attend the January SRC meeting at each middle school to listen to the members ideas for how we might improve our already excellent program.

    The PCT is also forming a Middle School Committee to work on this project.  If, as the officers of the PCT hope, the Board of Education creates a district-wide committee of teachers, parents and administrators to study our middle school program, the members of the PCT committee will be our representatives to that group.  If a district-wide committee is not formed, our committee will serve as our clearinghouse for ideas about the improvement of the middle school program which will inform any political action work on this issue that we may have to undertake.

    Middle school members wishing to serve on this very important committee, should call or send their names to the PCT Office. 

    Members may also wish to read Morty Rosenfeld’s TeacherTalk article on our Middle Schools at www.pobct.org.


  The New York State Public Employment Relations Board has advised the PCT that a conference will be held on January 26, 2004 on the PCT’s petition to be elected as the union representing the one hundred and fifty-four School Aides in our district.  It is at this conference that a date for the secret ballot election will probably be set.

  Meanwhile, the PCT is making preparations to welcome the Aides into our union.  Work is also proceeding to duplicate their benefit package, as they will also become members of our Welfare Fund.  Members are asked to find opportunities to engage the aides with whom they work and encourage them to vote for the PCT. 


    At its January 13 meeting, the PCT Executive Board voted to conduct a political action collection over the course of the next few weeks.    

    PCT/PAC is the fund that our  union uses to finance the political work it does in support of our membership and public education in New York.  The monies raised in a PAC fund drive are used to support endorsed candidates for the Board of Education, New York State Assembly and Senate and Governor.  The PCT does not use members dues dollars to support its political activities.  It relies totally on the voluntary contributions of its members.

    The PCT is obliged to work politically because of the fact that much of what happens in a public school district is dependent on the decisions of our elected representatives. 

    Soon,  members of the SRC will approach you for a contribution to PCT/PAC.  Collecting money is one of the most burdensome responsibilities our Reps have.  Won’t you make their busy and difficult days a little easier by having your contribution ready for them.  The recommended amount is ten dollars ($10.00) for teachers and librarians and  five dollars ($5.00) for Educational Support Professionals and Substitute Teachers.  Checks should be made payable to PCT/PAC.


   The PCT and the District have agreed to form a committee to “map” the language arts curriculum, K-12.  While some of this work has recently been done at both the elementary and middle school level, there is a need for work on the high school curriculum and see how the curricula of all instructional levels fit together.  It is also a good opportunity to review what we are teaching and make sure we still think it is appropriate.

   The committee will be formed from PCT members at all grade levels and from all buildings.  Further details will be announced shortly.  In the meantime, people wishing to serve on this committee should contact the PCT Office.  It is anticipated that the work of the committee will take place both during and after school.  After school work will be compensated pursuant to the PCT Contract.


   The Welfare Fund has announced that Trustee Chair Morty Rosenfeld will assume the duties of Administrator of the Welfare Fund effective immediately.  Rosenfeld will replace Morris Krapes who retired from many years of distinguished service to the Fund effective December 1, 2003.


   Members wishing to be in e-mail contact with the PCT Office, Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson or PCT President Morty Rosenfeld are asked to use the following addresses: 

             PCT OFFICE - office@pobct.org

             Judi - jalexanderson@pobct.org

             Morty - mrosenfeld@pobct.org  

    While the old AOL addresses will continue to work for a while, we are in the process of working our way out of AOL both for union e-mail and hosting our web page.  Remember, our web page is now located at www.pobct.org.


   A new bipartisan poll commissioned by the National Education Association (NEA) reveals that the more voters learn about the real world impact of the two-year-old federal education law, the "No Child Left Behind" Act, the more they believe changes must be made. A comprehensive survey of voter attitudes on the federal government’s role in education was conducted earlier this month in partnership with a Republican polling firm and a Democratic polling firm. It found that clear majorities of voters see the need to significantly increase federal investment in the nation’s public schools.

   Key findings include: (1) Almost three quarters of voters interviewed (74%) feel that schools nationwide are either improving or already in pretty good shape; (2) More than 70% of respondents prefer schools be evaluated by multiple measures of success -- not just standardized test scores -- including graduation and college attendance rates, the quality of their teachers, and the performance of students in class; (3) Two thirds of voters (67%) believe "No Child Left Behind" is unfair because it labels schools as "failing" even if only one group of students doesn't do well on a test. Three quarters (75%) oppose taking away funding from schools that do not increase standardized test scores; and (4) Voters name education as the top federal budgetary priority, and almost two thirds of respondents (63%) say the federal government should be spending more on the nation’s schools.

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