THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF
THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
VOL. XXXXIII, NO. 1 SEPTEMBER 7, 2005
By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
It’s time to pick up where we left off. Before we realize it, we’ll be up to our ears in the routines of our jobs, routines about which we bitch and moan but which blissfully shield us for most of our days from the world beyond.
Before we lose ourselves into the world of advisories, bond issues and the academic standards, the summer has given me the time and space to think what our brave young military people are facing in Iraq and the profound absurdity of the American foreign policy that has sent them there.
We were told they were sent to protect us from a tyrannical regime with weapons of mass destruction that sought to wage a war of terror against us. Now that we have learned that there were no weapons and that Iraq was not a launching pad for terrorist attacks against us. Now that Iraq has, in fact, become a Mecca for terrorists from throughout the region, now the President tells us the reason we have to stay in Iraq is so that those who died in this arrogant adventure will not have died in vain.
In the early 70s when our country was mired in Viet Nam, one of the vehicles I used to discuss the war with a generation of students who faced being drafted to fight it was Wilfred Owen’s famous poem, written in the trenches of Europe during World War I, "Dulce Et Decorum Est." Owen eventually died in the trenches in which he wrote this poem. It seems to me it is time to teach the poem to another generation.
Here it is.
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! --- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime ---
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori. (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country)
CUPCT OFFICE VACANT
In June, PCT Clerical Unit Secretary Ronnie Pearce submitted her resignation for personal reasons.
The Constitution of the CUPCT provides that upon the resignation of an officer, the Executive Committee (the other officers) shall appoint an acting officer until such time as an election can be held to elect a person to serve the unexpired term of the resigning officer.
The CUPCT Executive Committee has met and appointed Diane Guy of the Stratford Road School as Acting CUPCT Secretary.
Any CUPCT member wishing to run for Ronnie Pearce’s unexpired term needs to request a Nominating Petition from the PCT Office. The petition must be signed by at least ten (10) members of the CUPCT and returned to the PCT Office by the close of business on September 15, 2005.
An election will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2005. Only members of the Clerical Unit are eligible to vote in this election. Should there be only one candidate for office, the Constitution provides that the PCT Secretary cast one (1) ballot for that candidate at the first meeting of the PCT Executive Board following the due date for Nominating Petitions.
NEA/NEW YORK OVERCOMES MERGER BARRIER
At the NEA Representative Assembly in July, the by-laws of the NEA were amended to permit the affiliation of the new state organization to be formed in New York by the merger of NEA/New York and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).
In April, delegates to the NEA/New York Delegate Assembly voted to accept the Principle of Merger negotiated with NYSUT. The merger agreement called for members of NEA/NY to become members of the American Federation of Teachers and NYSUT members to become members of the NEA. This put our merger agreement at odds with the by-laws of the NEA in that the new state union in New York will elect its state officers by either a secret or open ballot at the discretion of the local unions participating in the election. The NEA by-laws require a secret ballot for state officer elections.
Opponents of merger at both the state and national levels saw the convention as an opportunity to deal a death blow to merger. In the end, thanks to the hard work of the New York delegation the by-laws were amended, and the merger remains on course for September 2006. That is, until the foes of merger find some other technicality to attempt to derail it.
NEW MEMBER MEETING
Staff new to the Teacher and Clerical Units are reminded of their invitation to attend a meeting at the PCT Office at 4:00 PM on Tuesday, September 27.
Officers and staff of the PCT and Welfare Fund will be on hand to assist new staff to put their benefit packages in place and to find out about our union and the work it does for its membership.
PCT members are reminded that if they completed sufficient course work over the summer to advance a lane or more on the salary schedule, they need to inform Arthur Jonas’ office before September 9, 2005. So long as this notification is made, payment on the new lane is assured as soon as the official university transcript is received by the district.
PCT members wishing to start a 403b account or change their contributions to existing accounts (tax sheltered annuities) are reminded that they have until September 15, 2005. The next contractual deadline for changes is January 15, 2006.
Members should further understand that recent changes in the tax code permit an increase in the yearly amount that may be contributed to an account. Effective for the 2005 tax year, contributions may be increased to $15,000 per year. The contribution limit will increase by $1000 each year through 2006.
NAME AND ADDRESS CHANGES
If your family status changed over the summer, please make sure you give the PCT office your updated information including email addresses.
FLEX BENEFITS CHANGES IN NOVEMBER
Changes in flex benefits deductions are made through the Business Office in November. It is not too soon, therefore, for members to start thinking of changes they may wish to make. Now is a good time to review medical expenses not covered by insurance which could be paid for with pre-tax dollars from one’s flexible medical spending account.
The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program (JFMF), sponsored by the Government of Japan, provides U.S. educators with fully-funded study tours of Japan. The program is designed to increase understanding between the people of Japan and the United States by inviting U.S. elementary and secondary educators to visit Japan and share their experiences with fellow Americans upon their return. JFMF participants travel to Japan with other outstanding educators, learn about Japanese culture and education, and return home to implement a self-designed plan to share their knowledge and experience with their students, colleagues, and the community.
The deadline for the 2006 JFMF competition is December 10, 2005. Those interested may apply via the online application at www.iie.org/jfmf. To request more information, additional materials, or if you have any questions, please contact 1-888-527-2636 or
PCT PARTY SET
On Thursday, October 20, 2005, the PCT will hold its annual party to welcome its newest members and to honor those who retired during the 2004-05 school year.
This year’s party will again be held at the North Ritz Club on Jericho Turnpike in Syosset (just west of South Oyster Bay Road). Speeches and ceremonies will be kept to an absolute minimum, while beer, wine, soft drinks and finger foods and music will be maximized from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M.
There are no school meetings or staff development on this date, so it should be easy for every member to attend. Honored retirees and new members will be our guests. Because of a healthy PCT subsidy, the charge to all other members will be a very low $15.
Our annual party is one of the few opportunities we have for all of us to get together during the year. The officers of the PCT are looking forward to this being the best attended party yet.