PCT PLEDGE

THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF

THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS 

VOL. XXXXII, NO.4  OCTOBER 25, 2004

 

ELECTION 2004

By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

The PCT Executive Board has unanimously endorsed the Kerry/Edwards ticket in the presidential election. That in and of itself doesn’t count for much unless you vote that way and maybe even influence family and friends to do the same. I implore you to do so. Even if you are a life-long Republican, I believe you can comfortably do so.

As people employed in education, wouldn’t it be better for us if we had a president who was committed to increase federal funding of the special education mandates and the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act? John Kerry supports that. George Bush doesn’t.

Wouldn’t it be better for us if we had a president with a foreign policy that sought to lead and unite us with democratic people throughout the world to combat threats to world peace? John Kerry is pledged to do so. George Bush isn’t.

Wouldn’t it be better for all of us if we had a president who had some new ideas for extricating the United States from the mess in Iraq? John Kerry offers us a new approach. George Bush rigidly sticks to his failed policy.

Wouldn’t it be better for us if we had a president who was committed to solving the health care crisis and curbing the escalating costs of care and the insurance to pay for it? Haven’t our wages like those of most American workers been depressed in part because of the cost to employers of health insurance? John Kerry offers us a plan to expand coverage and reduce costs. George Bush offers us nothing but the specter of a government run health system.

Wouldn’t we be better off with a president who saw himself as a steward of our environment rather than the agent of rapacious corporate interests? By any reasonable measure, environmental safeguards have been rolled back over the last four years. John Kerry is committed to reverse this trend. George Bush will continue the roll back of environmental protection.

Wouldn’t we be better off if we had a president who was committed to returning us to fiscal sanity instead of one who has squandered an historic surplus? John Kerry’s economic plan harkens back to that of the Clinton era when working people saw the deficit eliminated, real wages rise and interest rates fall. George Bush promises us deficits as far forward as we can see, deficits designed to discredit government as a agent for the welfare of people.

Wouldn’t it be better for us if we had a U. S. Department of Labor that made it easier for working people to join unions. John Kerry supports that. George Bush doesn’t.

In a recent oped piece in the Manchester Union Leader, John Eisenhower, son of President Eisenhower, and a life-long Republican who has served our nation in various capacities, wrote of why he had changed his registration to Independent and why he was going to vote for John Kerry. After enumerating his many disagreements with today’s Republican Party and the Bush administration, Eisenhower concludes with the following words which must have caused him great anguish to write but which obviously spring from the depths of his conscience. He writes:

Sen. Kerry, in whom I now place my trust, demonstrates that he is courageous, sober, competent, concerned, and able to confront the
dangers associated with the widening socio-economic gap in our country, and especially the tragic loss of respect of our closest allies. This must
be reversed, and I believe Sen. Kerry is now the only means of so doing. I will vote for him enthusiastically
.

I urge you to do the same. I further urge you to vote for the following candidates endorsed through our membership in NEA/New York.

United States Senate - Charles Schumer

Congress - Timothy Bishop, Steve Israel, Carolyn McCarthy, Gary Ackerman

State Senate - Dean Skelos

State Assembly - Patricia Eddington, Steven Englebright, Robert Sweeney, Thomas DiNapoli, Maureen O’Connell, Earlene Hooper, Harvey Weisenberg

In the 13th Assembly District, I will be voting for David Sidikman on the Working Families Party line of the ballot. The PCT endorsed David in the Democratic primary which he lost by some two hundred votes. I frankly doubt that David can win, but he has been a very good friend of the PCT and neither the Democratic nor the Republic candidate has reached out to us as we might have expected.

TIME TO TEACH

By PCT Vice President Vicki Ahlsen

Today is Tuesday, October 5, 2004. It is the 19th day of the 2004-2005 school year. Today is also the 10th time that classes at POBMS have been disrupted in some manner. Charting my lessons, I note that I am already a topic behind, compared to where I was at this point last year. How is it that it has taken so much longer to cover the material? Where does the time go? Is it me? Are the kids this year really that different, or is it the system?

Frustrated, I confer with my colleagues, many of whom have been working in Plainview for 20 or more years. "This is the worst!" states one. " They keep on causing me to miss my Earth Science classes!" "I can’t believe that we have another (insert any or all of the following) : fire drill, bus drill, assembly schedule, canceled class period (due to a "special program"), school time staff development, half-day, holiday, this week!" Once lost, this teaching time is gone forever! It is absurd that the teachers and students at POBMS have NOT had an uninterrupted week of instruction as yet, and there is not one in the foreseeable future.

State law mandates that there be a certain number of bus and fire drills within a given period of time at the start of every school year. Only God and the government have control over where the holidays fall, but it is the lack of foresight and planning by administrators that accounts for all of the other interruptions. Thus far we have had three days during which we were on special assembly bell schedules which shorten all classes with the exception of the lunch periods. There were two programs, for students that caused the elimination of two instructional periods.

However, the greatest shock of all is the unprecedented amount of mandatory staff development that has been scheduled, during the school day, this year. On September 30th all teachers were required to attend the first of four staff development sessions with Nancy Doda. Seventh and fifth grade teachers attended morning workshops periods 1, 2, and 3. Teachers of sixth and eighth grades attended their afternoon meeting periods 6, 7 and 8. The students were sent to the auditorium to view a movie under the guise of character education. Language arts teachers were encouraged to follow up in their classes. Due to this schedule some students may have missed 3 of their 4 major subjects. How is this educationally responsible? The most ironic part of the experience was when Dr. Doda shared that in order to have good middle schools it is necessary to really know and connect with the students. How is this possible when some of my colleagues have classes that meet only every other day, and they were missing the 8th scheduled class of the year?

The fifth and sixth grade teachers also have been informed that they must attend workshops by Evelyn Sommers. The district has contracted Ms. Sommers for 15 days. That means that the fifth grade teachers will attend seven, three period workshops, and the sixth grade teachers will attend eight. Let’s not forget about math staff development. To date the sixth grade teachers have one full day scheduled for October 13th, which by the way is the day after yet another assembly schedule which also falls in the same week as a holiday.

So, thus far a sixth grade teacher will have 11 disruptions to her teaching just due to mandatory staff development. Let us not lose sight of the fact that each month has holidays and assemblies too. Last year one math teacher lost over 500 minutes of teaching time from his third period Math A class. Now this teacher’s final exam results are being scrutinized by the administration because they  were not as good as in the other Math A class which met period 6 (a lunch period) which is never canceled or shortened.

In conclusion I would like to quote one of my students. "Every kid wants to get out of class now and then, but it is annoying to go to assemblies this much"

EDUCATORS SHOULD SAVE THEIR RECEIPTS

Congress recently passed The Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004. The Act reinstates an educator expense deduction which had expired at the end of 2003. The Act provides for a deduction from adjusted gross income of up to $250 for both 2004 and 2005. The attached release from the IRS describes, among other things, who is eligible for the deduction.

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service today advised teachers and other educators to save their receipts for books and other classroom supplies. They will be able to deduct up to $250 of such expenses again this year, following recently-enacted legislation.

The Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 reinstated the educator expense deduction, which had expired at the end of last year, for both 2004 and 2005. Expenses incurred any time this year may qualify for the deduction, not just those since the Act was signed on October 4.

The deduction is available to eligible educators in public or private elementary or secondary schools. To be eligible, a person must work at least 900 hours during a school year as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide.

An educator may subtract up to $250 of qualified out-of-pocket expenses when figuring adjusted gross income. This deduction is available whether or not the taxpayer itemizes deductions on Schedule A.

The IRS suggests that educators keep records of qualifying expenses in a folder or envelope with a label such as "Educator Expense Deduction," noting the date, amount and purpose of each purchase. This will help prevent a missed deduction at tax time.

For more information, call the IRS Tele-Tax system toll-free at 1-800-829-4477 and select Topic 458. Or go to the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov and use its search engine to find Tax Topic 458.

INSURANCE BOOKLETS

Check your mailboxes for updated insurance booklets.

 

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