THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF
THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
VOL. XXXXIII, NO. 5 DECEMBER 5, 2005
WE CANíT BLOW OFFTHE SCORES
By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
We can lament the advent of the No Child Left Behind Law all we want, but the fact of the matter is it will be with us for sometime. We can grumble and groan forever about how some of our students perform poorly because of parents who donít support our efforts to educate their children, their low socio-economic status or serious learning disabilities. Itís not going to matter. In fact, things are about to get worse with tests this year in grades 3 through 8.
The simple fact is the public expects us to respond to the challenge of teaching even the most difficult students to reach minimal levels of competence, seeing it as our professional responsibility to help the communityís children compensate for whatever adversities impede their ability to learn. We will either accept that responsibility or face the very real risk of losing the publicís confidence in our schools. Should one or more Plainview-Old Bethpage Schools fail to meet its progress target set by the No Child Left behind Law (as is distinctly possible), there will be nothing short of hell to pay for us and the residents of this community.
It is no exaggeration to observe that our school district is what gives the conglomeration of houses and strip malls we call POB whatever sense of community it has. Damage to the reputation of our school district can have profound consequences for the value of homes in the community and the willingness and/or ability of taxpayers to finance the schools.
The good news is that we can raise our test scores with some refocusing of our energies and a determination to overcome whatever resistance we get from those whose politically correct beliefs demand that they turn their noses down at the mention of uniform tests, brushing them off as "inauthentic assessments." A recent and much commented upon study of Californiaís schools found that prioritizing student achievement by administration and staff correlated more highly with student achievement than parent involvement in the education of children.
If raising our scores requires convincing our students to take the tests seriously, Iím sure we have the imagination to see to it that we get their best efforts. If we have to correct weak skills with some old fashioned drill work, so be it. If we have to change the focus of some of our lessons to have them reinforce the skills measured by the test, we must do so with clear consciences, knowing that should we fail in this endeavor we will completely lose control of what we teach. If we have to do these things subversively because the administrator we work for is against them, we must do so until such time as we get an administration supportive of our efforts.
With whatever it takes, we must do whatever is necessary. Nothing I know of is potentially more inimical to our welfare than failing in this endeavor. We have the solidarity of the PCT behind us. We will not be moved off course.
As of this date, the Board of Education has not yet answered the PCTís call to extend the existing contracts for at least another year. While we await their answer, the PCT is making its preparations for either extending or negotiating new agreements. The following calendar has been established for member involvement in the pre-negotiations process.
January 3, 2006 - Distribution of Demand Questionnaires to all school bargaining units along with copies of proposed demands from 2005 round of negotiations.
January 20 - Demand Questionnaires due back to PCT. Editing process begins.
January 30 - Officers and Head SRC Reps meet to put together proposed packages.
February 7 - President recommends Negotiating Committee to PCT Executive Board. ExecutiveBoard considers proposed packages and makes recommendations.
March 1 - Clerical Unit General Membership Meeting (4:15 P.M., Library POB Middle School) considers proposed demands and votes final package.
March 2 - Teacher Unit General Membership Meeting(4:00 P.M., Kennedy High School Auditorium) considers demands and votes final package.
March 8 - Substitute Unit General Membership Meeting (4:00 P.M., PCT Office) considers demands and votes final package.
Members are asked to mark their calendars for their General Membership meeting. They are also asked to make whatever child care arrangements they may require to ensure their attendance. A successful round of negotiations requires the active participation of our membership. Without their support, the power and authority of the Negotiating Committee is severely reduced.
MIDDLE SCHOOL CRISIS AVERTED
The Pledge is pleased to report a good resolution to the middle school hall duty issue has been found. A way has been found to include non-team teachers on academic teams thereby obviating the need for wasting their time on hall duty. The PCT and Central Office have further agreed to look at the middle school schedules carefully in the spring to determine if it is possible to more fully include the heretofore non-team members on a specific team.
CURRICULUM MAPPINGISSUE ALSO RESOLVED
We are also pleased to announce that our concern about universal access to individual curriculum maps has also been met. Members who do not wish to share their work will be able to do so. They will be able to contribute to the districtís mapping project by logging in with an administrative account and removing their personal account from the system.
2005 PROGRESSIVELEADERSHIP AWARDS
On the evening of December 1, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld, Vice-President Cindy Feldman and Secretary Judi Alexanderson represented NEA/New York and the PCT at a Citizen Action ceremony honoring NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi and soon to be president of the one education union in New York, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Michele Maglione, a former director of Citizen Action of New York. The PCT has worked with Citizen Action through its Long Island affiliate the Progressive Coalition. Citizen Action was a major player in the campaign to kill the attempt to privatize Social Security. All of the speakers at the event were focused on the need for progressives to take back the Congress in 2006.
RETIREMENT SYSTEM MEETING
The Annual Delegate Meeting for the New York State Retirement System was held on November 13-14th in Saratoga Springs, NY. The meeting was attended by our retirement delegates Nikki-Lynn Guerin and Lina Seaton from POBJFK. The following legislation regarding the retirement system was passed in 2005 by the New York State Legislature:
New Legislation for 2005
* Chapter 105 - Killed in Active Duty: Provides death benefits to survivors of public employees ordered to duty who die on active duty.
* Chapter 326 - Cost-Free Military Service: Provides up to 4 years of cost-free military service to members called to active duty between 9/11/01 and 12/31/05.
* Chapter 497 - Date New Legislation Takes Effect: Provides that any legislation affecting System benefits will take effect no later than 6/30 of the year in which the legislation is enacted, unless it specifically states it bypasses Chapter 497.
Other Changes for 2005:
Loan Application Flexibility:
Tier 1 & 2 members can now apply for a loan once from January to June and once again from July December, as opposed to once every 6 months since the last loan was issued.
Tier 3 & 4 members can now apply for a loan once each calendar year, as opposed to once every 12 months since the last loan was issued.
Monthly Employer Reporting began for most districts 7/1/05. Long term, this should allow the system to more accurately calculate benefit estimates and finalize pension calculations quicker.
If you have questions concerning your tier membership benefits or the retirement process, the NYSTRS web site (www.nystrs.org) is a helpful resource. This is your best source of up-to-date information about your retirement benefits. It is also a convenient way to calculate your benefits, view schedules, and print forms and publications. In addition, you can reach an NYSTRS representative willing to work with you on an individual basis at 800-348-7298 ext. 6250.
Please help the children at P4K in Brooklyn this holiday season. The children of P4K are special education students from some of New York City's most impoverished areas. Some are even homeless. For the last few years, PCT members have contributed money and gifts to make the holidays a little happier at P4K. Most often, the children need things like coats and shoes. Toys are a real luxury. If you are interested in contributing in some way, please contact Jane Weinkrantz at POBJFKHSat 937-6380.
DEFENSIVE DRIVING COURSEMarch 15 & 16 The PCT will offer a Safe Driver Course on Wednesday and Thursday, March 15 and 16, from 4 to 7 PM in the Choral Room of the PMS. A check for $30 should be made payable to the PCT.