PCT PLEDGE

THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF

THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS 

VOL. XXXXII, NO. 8  FEBRUARY 9, 2005

                                                

            THE SPECIAL ED PLAN

By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    The release of central administrationís plan to reorganize the Pupil Personnel Department has been met with predictable anxiety and confusion.  Hardly any institution recoils from change more than school districts, which too often prefer the illusion of change rather than basic, structural shifts in their operations.   The irony is that in their hunkering down to avoid change,  they fail to adapt to altered circumstances and thus cannot achieve their goals as they once did.  They are overtaken by change.

   Anyone who cares to look will agree that our Pupil Personnel Department, like too many in our area and beyond, is fundamentally broken.  Just listen with a detached ear to the conversations of those who work in it or the parents of the children it serves, and you know there is something bizarrely wrong.  Itís hard to know sometimes whether one is listening to a conversation about the education of children or a legal symposium on protecting oneís clients from the egregiously litigious who are waiting to pounce at the slightest mistake.  The budget of the department grows without check, services are often handed out unnecessarily and too many students who need our help to live independent and successful lives are wrongfully taught that they will always require assistance to learn rather than strategies to free them from the dependency on what is essentially a medical treatment model of education.

   This is the context in which I believe the proposal to reorganize the management of the Pupil Personnel Department must be critiqued.  When it is, it seems to me we must recognize it as the first serious attempt to rationally organize the work of the department.  Dividing the responsibilities of the three assistant directors by instructional level is not only a more equitable distribution of the work load but a logical way to develop managers with more expertise at each level who will have as a major goal getting costs under control.  Leaving the day to day running of the Guidance Department to a teacher coordinator with the supervision of an assistant director is a small but meaningful step in the professionalization of the counselors' work. Finally, while as a unionist I regret the layoff of the aides in our elementary and middle school collaborative classes,  replacing them with special ed teachers is very big improvement.

           

EXEC. BD. ADOPTS DEMANDS

   At their meeting of February 8, the PCT Executive Board adopted negotiating demands and recommended them to the membership of the Teacher and Clerical Units.  Demands for our Substitute Unit will be developed at a membership meeting of the unit on Thursday, February 10.

   The demands were put together from several sources.  Demands from our last negotiations were examined to determine if unachieved ones are still pertinent.  Member demand questionnaires were carefully screened for ideas by a group of officers and SRC Reps.  Then the officers of the PCT added their ideas.  Finally the Executive Board discussed, debated and amended the package of demands into the final form to be presented to the membership at the Teacher meeting on March 2 and the Clerical meeting on March 3.

 

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS SET

   Mark these dates on your calendar!  Meeting to discuss and debate our negotiating demands is an important initial step in the process of gaining a new and improved contract.  Members need to understand the issues from the beginning of the process to feel that they are part of it.  Donít be left out.  Make  your voice be heard.

 

            TEACHER GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2 4:00 P.M.

  STRATFORD ROAD AUDITORIUM  

CLERICAL GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

THURSDAY, MARCH 3

4:00 P.M.

LIBRARY, POB MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

LIBRARY UNIT APPROVES DEMANDS 

NEGOTIATIONS SET

    The Plainview-Old Bethpage Library Association (POBLA), an affiliate of the PCT, held a general membership meeting on Wednesday, January 26 for the purpose of ratifying its demands for a round of negotiations for a successor contract with the POB Public Library.  Key to POBLAís proposals is a series of demands to raise their salaries from their current embarrassingly low range of $32,000 to a high after many years of service of $74,000.  Members of the unit are determined to gain salaries appropriate to their education and experience.

 

                        KEEP AN EYE ON ALBANY A NEW WRINKLE IN YEARLY  BUDGET BATTLE

   New Yorkers are accustomed to the yearly ritual of the Governor proposing a budget, the Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Majority Leader announcing it dead on arrival, and the three political titans then struggling throughout the spring, sometimes into early summer, to hammer out a budget for the state.   For school districts, this has often meant preparing their own budgets without firm state aide numbers.  Sometimes, local budgets get voted on before the state budget is passed.

   Things are bound to be different this year because of a recent New York State Court of Appeals decision that established that the Legislature does not have the right to increase the Governorís budget, only the power to reject or reduce it. If they reject it, the state is without a budget.  If the state is without a budget after April 1, state law mandates that the legislators cannot be paid. 

   Where is all this going?  No one knows for sure.  Donít skip over the news from Albany columns in the newspaper, however.  This may prove the most difficult year ever.

 

MERGER NEWS

   April 14 is approaching fast.  On that day, 15  PCT delegates along with 10 members of the Retiree Chapter of the PCT who have been elected Region Retired NEA/ New York delegates  will travel to Albany for what will be the most historic convention since the founding of our state union.  On Saturday of that weekend, delegates will vote on the Principles of Merger negotiated between NEA/ New York and NYSUT to create one great education union in the state.  If they approve the Principles, the agreement calls for the creation of a constitutional committee to draft a constitution and by-laws for the merged organization which would open for business in September 2006.

   That is unless the merger plan gets undone by the National Education Association (NEA), the national union with which the PCT is affiliated.  The officers of the NEA have raised an objection to the merger agreement, maintaining that it violates its by-law that mandates that officer elections in any affiliate union must be conducted by secret ballot.  Our agreement with NYSUT calls for local unions to decide whether they want to vote by secret ballot for officers or vote openly as is the NYSUT practice.  To resolve this problem, an amendment will be offered to the NEA by-laws that would permit the merger to go forward.

  Asked what will happen if the NEA does not pass the by-law amendment, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld said,ĒThe merger will take place anyway.  Either NEA/ New York will disaffiliate with NEA and complete its merger with NYSUT, or many locals unions like the PCT will simply join NYSUT, go independent or join some other state union.  This is one of those times when the NEAís preoccupation with rigid interpretation of their rules leaves them poised to hang themselves.Ē  

 

            REGENTS CHANGE REGS BACK TO 5 YEAR MA

   At the January 11 meeting of the New York State Regents, a decision was taken for newer teachers working on an Initial Certificate to have up to five (5) years to complete the Masterís degree to qualify for Professional certification.

   This move by the Regents was prompted  by growing concern in the education community that the recently enacted 3 year period to obtain a Masterís was unrealistic for people having to adjust to the demands of a new teaching assignment.  The Regents also heard from the higher ed community that their graduate programs often made more sense to teachers who had some experience before completing their graduate study.

 

INTERVIEW COMMITTEES FORMED

   The PCT has formed a number of interview committees to interview candidates for several administrative openings in our District.  Within the next few weeks, candidates will be interviewed for the principalship of the Stratford Road School where principal Gail Weinstein has announced her retirement at the conclusion of this school year.  The committee is composed of Stratford volunteers recruited by the building SRC and PCT Elementary Vice -President Robin Glick.  Interviews for the high school principalship will also be conducted by an SRC recruited team and PCT High School Vice-President Cindy Feldman.  The PCT Special Education Committee will conduct the interviews for the position of Director of Pupil Personnel.

 

 

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