Volume XXXXI, No.10 June 16, 2004


by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

With everyone’s focus on the end of another school year, I hesitate to talk about a subject as serious as academic standards.  However, the very recent news that our district’s ELA examination results were very much lower than expected and the concern expressed by some residents at the last public meeting of the Board of Education obligate me to remind us of a fact we must never allow ourselves to forget.  It takes only the commonest of sense to understand that no community is going to support a public school system that doesn’t produce good results, good results as measured by instruments conventionally understood to glean student achievement, whether they actually do or not.

  I’ve been sounding the alarm for some time that the academic standards of our district  have been falling.  This year the staff of Kennedy High School met with their principal and the Superintendent of Schools to explain their concerns for the academic health of our schools. More and more it has seemed to this veteran of thirty-eight years of teaching, we have lost confidence in what we should be doing as teachers, teaching young people the basic skills educated people are expected to have, passing on to them our cultural heritage, inculcating principles of democratic citizenship and cultivating in them the disciplined habits of mind that make them life-long learners and problem solvers. 

  For much too long, we have allowed ourselves to demand less and less of our students, focusing more of our attention on how our students feel rather than on what they know.  We have permitted an environment to develop in which to criticize students, to hold them accountable for an age appropriate body of knowledge and to expect them to take responsibility for their behavior is to be seen by too many administrators and parents as cruel, unfeeling and destructive to the welfare of children.  The culture of our schools has become such that awhile ago a parent felt completely justified calling the administration of our high school to complain about a teacher who had the audacity to praise a student in her class for writing the best response to an assignment.  Bizarrely, the parent construed the teacher’s sincere complement to her student as humiliation because her child was embarrassed.  The parent maintained that her child no longer wanted to go to school. 

   I believe we have to take the offensive.  We have to use our union solidarity to insist that we be permitted to teach. We must fight the temptation to see the decline of standards as a foregone conclusion, a problem that cannot be tackled in one school district. Rather, we must demand to bring our skills to bear on the academic issues facing our district, believing that we can make a difference.  We must fight the idea that good standardized test scores are antithetical to quality education. We must refuse to be the slaves to  trendy programs marketed by people who fled the classroom.  In a time when it is increasingly difficult to finance our academic program, a time when in some schools class size is on the rise and we don’t have the materials we need, we must demand that the enormous sums of money spent on consultants and training programs that take us out of our classrooms be put to better use, teaching the wonderful young people of this community.

   I ask you to take a little time this summer to think about what you can contribute to the battle to raise our district’s academic standards and continue to have the community support we have always enjoyed.


   As of this date, the State of New York still lacks an approved budget.  Complicating the normally contentious budget process this year, is the decision in the Coalition for Fiscal Equity law suit that obliges the state to change its funding formula so as to provide a constitutionally mandated basic education to the children of New York City and other depressed areas of the state.  Should the Governor and Legislature fail to act, the court will appoint a master to fashion a funding formula that will then be binding on the state.  The education community is hoping that our state leaders come up with a solution in that a politically determined plan is unlikely to diminish state aid to wealthier districts but rather level state aid up.  What a court appointed master will do is anyone’s guess.


   June 10, at the Kennedy High School Awards Assembly, the PCT President Morty Rosenfeld awarded the first Miriam and Leonard Berkowitz Scholarship to Lindsay Fourman, a graduating senior.  This $5000 scholarship is provided by a trust established by Lenny Berkowitz, for forty-five years a psychologist in POB, and provides a companion scholarship in the Syosset School District where his wife Miriam taught for many years.  Lenny left a substantial part of his estate for this purpose.  The trust is overseen by the presidents of the Plainview and Syosset unions and Joe Bruzzese, a retired guidance counselor and a long-time close personal friend of Lenny’s.       

  Also at the awards assembly, PCT Vice -President Cindy Feldman awarded this year’s PCT Paul Rubin Memorial Scholarship, named for a former President of the PCT and a pioneer in the education labor movement, to Scott Cohen, also a member of the class of 2004.  The Rubin Scholarship is awarded each year to a student who shows promise of living a life committed to helping others.  $500 of each year’s scholarship is contributed by the PCT with the remainder coming from a fund established by collections upon Paul Rubin’s death.

   In addition to recognizing the achievements of outstanding students, the Berkowitz and Rubin Scholarships project a very positive picture of our union to the community.



   All buildings have now elected their SRC Representatives for next year, with each building also designating a Head SRC Representative. All of the SRC Reps meet once a month at the Executive Board of the PCT in addition to their day to day advocacy role in our schools.  The results of the building elections are as follows:

 2004-05 SRC REPS

BUILDING                 REP


                                    Nina Melzer - Head

                                    Ingrid Gurzynski

                                    Michele Harding


                                    Lauren Pollack - Head

                                    Michele Patterson

                                    Joanne Levy


                                    Jaclyn Morrison - Head

                                    Joe Sidito

                                    Marcia Sterenbuch


                                    Maureen Egglinger- Head

                                    Jennifer Temkin

                                    Karen Bordin


                                    Shari Kunoff - Head

                                    Stephanie Plunkett

                                    Lorraine Cullen


                                    Kathy Abbene - Head

                                    Richard Olivari

                                    Louise Cataldo

                                    Karey Yanch

                                    Dawn Cardone


POB MS                     David Gestwick - Head

                                    Carolyn Arcuri

                                    Stacey Bowden

                                    Bruce Gordon

                                    Lisa Lynch


                                    Jane Behrens - Head

                                    Maureen Avione

                                    Dave Herrmann

                                    Michael Wyler

                                    Warren Jacobson

                                    Rhea Karr

                                    Lina D’Andretta

                                    Neil Lasher

                                    Kevin Dugan

   The PCT will be holding SRC Rep training on Monday and Tuesday, August 23 and 24 or Wednesday and Thursday, August 25 and 26.  Reps have their choice of which pair of sessions to attend.  All sessions will begin at  9:00 A.M. and conclude approximately 12:00 P.M.  This will be the beginning of an ongoing training process outlined during the spring when the PCT budget was developed.



   The PCT and the District are still attempting to arrive at an agreement on the working conditions of  those who have volunteered to be a mentor to a new teacher in the fall.  The outstanding issue is the salary of mentors.  As soon as these negotiations have been concluded, the PCT Office will notify all mentor volunteers.

    Given the fact that an agreement is not as yet in place, there is still time for members to volunteer.  Simply drop a note to that effect to Judi Alexanderson at the PCT Office.




  PCT members who will be moving this summer or getting married are asked to notify the PCT Office of those changes.




  During the months of July and August, the PCT and Welfare Fund Office is open Monday through Thursday, between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:30 PM. 


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