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THE TORCH: November 2005

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

                                      “The New Student Insurgents”

     The bell rings and I know that he is about to enter the room. He enters, and as it is with every day, he has an angry, menacing appearance characterized by a long red tee shirt of dress code length and baggy jeans.  He sits and slouches and puts in his 40 minutes. I know that when spring rolls around, if he’s still here, he will miss the exams and will be remanded to summer school. And, when he’s old enough, he’ll be gone from school, but he will still be among us.  While the bogus No Child Left Behind Act, with all of its statistical standards and lack of support money, supposedly targets ALL CHILDREN, there is a group that has become the throwaways. These students could care less about standards and measurements and political agendas that don’t pertain to their lot in life. They are the 15% that has become the forgotten, the dispossessed. And, in the very near future, they can become the enemy within.

     The Federal education agenda championed by President Bush, and supported by a spineless Commissioner in New York who has yet to provide independent leadership, fails to address the problem. Students in the 1950’s,usually males, who exhibited disruptive or delinquent behavior, were given a choice. Attend and succeed in school or join the military. The army or navy became their family. They were introduced to a life of structure and discipline, complete with character values. In the 60’s and 70’s, with a conflict in Viet Nam and a draft in place, special programs were instituted in schools. Through it all, we were talking about a very small portion of the student population.

     Today, the population is larger, more defiant, and angrier. The gang has become their family. The dropout rate in large urban areas, like Houston, where the state claims a 1.6% dropout rate, in reality, according to published reports, is between 25% and 42%. The state rearranges figures to address pregnancies and other “acceptable dropouts” so they don’t become part of the embarrassment. Thus, we have higher scores because only those who can pass the tests take the tests, low dropouts, and what George Bush called the “Texas Miracle.’ No Integrity, no truth. Sir Walter Scott stated, “Without courage there can be no truth, and without truth there can be no other virtue.” Immigrant and generational poverty grow exponentially and now, instead of addressing the issue, government has given us a system with all the credibility of the ‘domino theory’. The only courage that exists is within the schools where teachers and assistants and administrators work the battles every day.

     The 15% population is growing. The fail in school, they fail in life, and, as adults, they will believe that America has failed them. We need new leadership and an educational compass that points us in a realistic direction. As the distance between the haves and the have-nots lengthens, these students will become the adult insurgents in America.

And, that’s the Bottom Line.

  

                    THINKING OF RETIRING THIS YEAR?

        KTF Teacher members who are eligible for the Retirement Incentive Plan must file a binding letter of intent with the Superintendent by January 30, 2006. The NYS Teachers’ Retirement System suggests that members consider their decision using these guidelines.

     Beat the spring rush and schedule a personal or video consultation with a NYSTRS representative and consider attending a Preretirement Planning Seminar. Notifications are available on the web at www.nystrs.org or in school building main offices.

v     Claim and purchase, if required, credit for prior state public employment or military service. Do this now so your records will be complete when you retire.

v     Discuss your finances with your financial advisor.

v     Determine your life insurance needs in retirement and make any necessary adjustments. Don’t forget to factor in your NYSTRS death and disability benefits.

v     Review the NYSTRS benefit payment options if you intend to provide income to a surviving beneficiary.

 

                               EDUCATION NEWS

     Governor Perry of Texas has instituted merit pay for teachers in the state. His executive actions are in contrast to the state legislature that had rejected the idea of merit pay. This occurs in a state where the median salary is $40,000 and which is the birthplace of the No Child Left Behind Act. The NCLB was based on the great gains made in standardized test scores for Texas students. Unfortunately, the data is flawed as Texas tested only those students they believed could pass the test. Now, several years later, those who were actually left behind have reached a point where testing can’t be avoided any longer. The resulting state of education is in disarray and it is the students and the teachers, and society, who will suffer.

     In California, there has been a movement toward larger class sizes. It is not unusual for a teacher, at any level, to have 40-45 students in class.

     And. In Chester, PA, outside of Philadelphia, a student accused a Principal of a sexual act. The Principal was fired before an investigation in which the student admitted to fabricating the story. Without a union to represent him, he has no recourse and remains unemployed.

     And New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer noted that last year China graduated 600,000 engineers. India graduated 200,000. The U.S. graduated 70,000. The ‘one size fits all’ approach to education in America, at all levels, is missing the mark completely.

                             WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Art Stellar—Superintendent, Taunton, MA

Joanne Lowenthal—Superintendent, Hampton Bays, LI, NY

Nick Dyno—Principal, Southampton High School, LI, NY

Frank Ruggiero—Asst. Supt. for Business, Lawrence, LI, NY

Kate Farrell—Superintendent, Catskill Schools, NY

Ca                               Carol Pickering, Superintendent, Hyde Park, NY

                            FEDERAL DRUG NOTICE

Phenylpropanolamine: As was the case last winter, all drugs containing PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE are being recalled. It is found in many cold remedies. You may want to try calling the 800 number listed on most drug boxes and inquire about a REFUND. Call  800-548-3708 with the lot number on the box and they will send you postage to send it back to them and they will issue a refund.

    This ingredient has been linked to increased hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in brain) among women ages 18-49 in the three days after starting use of the medication. Problems were not found in men, but the FDA recommended that everyone (even children) seek alternative medicine.

                                        RIGHT TO KNOW
   
All KIngston employees were notified that the Right to Know presentations were computer video based and were to be completed over a month ago. To date, there are over 600 district employees who have not completed the training video
     Those not in compliance are being notified and will have to complete the Right to Know training by November 30. Failure to comply will result in employee attendance at an after school meeting where the mandated training will be completed. 
                         
PANTRY DRIVE SUCCESS
     The KTF Pantry Drive was another wonderful success. 18 boxes of toilitries and personal hygiene items were donated and were delivered to the Holy Cross church in mid-town Kingston.
     Thanks to program coordinator Joanne Friedman, to the KTF Building Reps, and to the custodial staff at KHS. Special thanks to Jean McGarry, Heather Aiello, Cindy Judge, and Brian Williams at KHS for transporting and delivering all of the goods to the church.
                    
TEACHER'S CONTRACT DUE
     The new collective bargaining agreement for the teachers has been reviewed and edited by the negotiating team during three three-hour sessions. The lead negotiator for the district, Jay Siegel, recently resigned and has moved on. The attorney for the district in all matters is now Michael Lambert and he has to review the document. When he completes his review, it will be ready for printing and distribution. The tentative schedule would have it in your hands in 30 days.
     Among the new items in the agreement are conference expenses. The cost of mileage is determined by the IRS rate. The cost of meals is standardized with the BOCES regional guidelines. It calls for maximum expenses of $6 for breakfast, $10 for lunch, and $30 for dinner; a maximum of $46 for the day.
DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS: The agreement recognizes domestic partnerships. The applications for domestic partnership benefits recognition have been completed and are available from Miriam White at the Trust Office (845-338-5422) or email at KTF781@aol.com. If the application is received by December 10, coverage can begin on January 1, 2006.
                           
STATE SCORING GRADES 3-8
     Students in Grades 3-8 will be tested as part of NCLB and state mandates. This year, the off year tests will be in Grades 3, 5, and 7. BOCES has been delegated by the state to inform teachers of the scoring rubrics and standards. Originally, the "training" was presented as an evaluation of teachers, in that they would be 'tested' and if they didn't score a mark of 80% would be brought back for more training. Then, the state recanted and stated that active teachers would not have to be evaluated and it would be limited to those other than the actives. Now, the latest memo from the state says 'the test materials should be used to train all scorers for the statewide test, familiarizing them with the expectations for being a scorer." A Consistency Assurance Set will be provided for each grade. The 80% rule is NOT a requirement. The training is actually an evaluation of the state questions and scoring system. It is an attempt to have consensus among all of the scorers (inter-rater reliability) under a scoring leader.
     Kingston teachers work under the provisions of the KTF contract. BOCES must honor our contract. It includes time for breaks and lunch and a length work day. Additionally, BOCES does not evaluate KTF members. BOCES has been notified of our concern and the need to honor our contract.

                                 
SUBSTITUTE SURVEY
     The KTF is interested in knowing how many present teachers worked for the district as a substitute teachers prior to being hired to a probationary position.
     Please email your information, including name (former and present), dates and length of sub service, and date of probationary appointment to Kathy Werner at lifeliner2@msn.com. All information is due by the Thanksgiving break.
                   
MOORE SICK DAY BANK GUIDELINES
         As
per the KTF contract, district has appointed Joe Previll as the district rep on the committee. KTF committee members include Chairman Glenn Gallagher, Kathy Murphy, and Jim Mooney.
ENROLLMENT: Members must submit a form donating at least one day to the bank. When a drive is held, another day must be donated. If your donated day is used, you do not have to donate another day at the time. Members returning from a semester's leave must rejoin the bank.
USE: The application form, along with a medical doctor's (MD) note, addressing the illness or disability, the medical necessity involved, duration, and expected date of return, and sent via US Mail from the doctor's office to the Chairman, Glenn Gallagher at the George Washington School, 67 Wall St., Kingston, NY 12401. Under some circumstances, the committee has the right to request an additional note from another medical doctor. Sick Bank applications must be filed and approved PRIOR to any use of Sick Bank days.
Members may use up to 50 days a school year from the bank Days can be awarded only for personal illness, not for family illness.

                           BLOOD DRIVE 

     Have you reserved a time to donate blood at the KTF Blood Drive on Wednesday, November 15 at J. W. Bailey School? It begins at 2:30 pm and continues until all donations are finished. Can’t give blood? The KTF could use your assistance at the event.

     In all cases, contact Suzanne Jordan at JWB to reserve your time of duty. There are always shortages of blood and this yearly event allows us to benefit our community. Please donate.                      

                                 LIFESTYLE HOUSING AVAILABLE
     In
March, 2006 a housing co-op will open in Tivoli, just 20 minutes from Kingston. Located on 36 acres of land, it will provide a “green building” home for 11 people involved in different aspects of life and they are actively seeking educators to join. Call  845-750-6476 or visit www.commonfire.org for more information.
                 

           THE ART of LIVING: EMPOWERMENT SERIES
   The foundation is a non-profit, humanitarian, educational service organization, and is affiliated with the United Nations/WHO. The Art of Living holds adult and youth programs in over 40 countries worldwide.www.artoflivingny.org
     Courses for students ages 14-18 will be held at KHS this week. The next series will be Dec. 5-9 and 12, M-F, 2:15-5:15pm An introductory fee of $100 is avaialable, as well as some student scholarships.
     Courses for adults are also available. Contact M. J. Reiss @KHS for more info.
 

                   KINGSTON TRUST FUND                 

                            PPO PROVIDER RULES: Q and A

1.        Is the member responsible for determining whether or not a Provider is in or out of network?

--Yes.  This may be done by going to the web site at www.nhai.net or by calling the PPO Office (888) 679-2400, Ext 4.

 

2.        Is a Provider operating within a Hospital also a PPO Provider when I see him/her at a different office?

---No.  Providers wear different hats and have different business interests.  Therefore,

you cannot assume that a certain Provider is always a PPO Provider.  A Provider may

be a PPO Provider when he/she is operating within a PPO Hospital; but they may also

be a partner or sole proprietor operating out of different locations as a NPPO (Non-PPO)

Provider.  Providers may have a different status in each location.  You must verify the

Provider’s affiliation based on the location that you are seeing the Provider.

 

3.        How about Emergency Room Providers?

---Most Providers operating out of Hospital Emergency Rooms are not hospital

employees and they, generally, are not PPO Providers.  However, under the NHAI plans,

there is flat copay for an ER visit, provided the visit is truly an emergency, and the

balance of the charges regardless of the status of the Providers is paid at 100% for in

and out of network hospitals. However, if you were to see the same ER doctor at his/her

office, benefits will be basedon their PPO status at that office. Most doctors have more

than one Tax ID #.  They usually have a different Tax ID # number for each practice.

PPO status is determined by the Tax ID # used at time of service and the Tax ID # is tied

to a particular business entity.  Many Providers have more than one business entity.

4.   What if my doctor refers me to the Emergency Room, will it be covered as an ER visit?

--That depends on the purpose of the visit.  Emergency rooms are to be used for true   

emergencies, such as an accident or perhaps what appears to be life threatening   

conditions such as severe chest pain. The ER room is not to be used for colds, flu

symptoms etc.  You should use an Urgency Care facility if your family doctor is not

available or for after hours consultation.  If your child is sick, you should make every

effort to arrange for an office visit during normal office hours with your normal

physician.  Do not wait until the weekend and rely on the Emergency Room for what

can and should be taken care of as a routine office visit.

If the diagnosis and treatment received during an ER visit does not qualify as acute   “emergency”, the facility charge for the ER room (normally $100 to $250) will not be    

 covered and the member will be responsible for that charge in addition to the ER

 copay.

 

5. What if my doctor refers me to the Emergency Room, will it be covered?

   ---Only if the visit qualifies as an Acute Emergency requiring ER services.  Otherwise, you   

      may be liable for additional costs, including the cost of the ER room if it is not

      medically necessary for a non-acute condition.

 

Q6.      6. What if I need a particular specialist and he/she is not in the network and there is no comparable specialist or facility?

-         --There is no guarantee under the plan to have every possible type of specialist in the 

-         network.  If you go to an out of network Provider, the benefits will be paid according to the NPPO Benefit Schedule and you will be responsible for the NPPO deductible and out of pocket coinsurance up to the Out of Pocket limit, as well as any excess UCR (usual, customary and reasonable charges.)  EXCEPTION:  In those cases where NHAI Precertification Dept. is contacted in advance of treatment and a request is made to see if NHAI can negotiate a special fee schedule with the particular Provider and/or facility.  This service is available when total expenses for the treatment are expected to exceed $5,000.  If NHAI is able to negotiate fees which are comparable to the fees charged by other network Providers, the benefits will be paid in accordance with our PPO Schedule and your liability will be based on the same fee schedule.  The discount must be at least 20% in order to qualify.  It is important for members to realize that Out of Network facilities and Providers are much more expensive then network facilities and Providers.  Every effort should be made to use the PPO facilities. 

 

7. What if I think my doctor or facility is a PPO Provider and it turns out they are not?

     ---Your services will be paid according to the Non PPO or Out of Network Schedule.  You 

     will be liable for the NPPO deductible, coinsurance as well as any excess UCR (usual, 

     customary and reasonable) charges. 

Q8.     

           8. What if my primary plan is my spouse’s plan, but I wish to go to an NHAI Provider that is not in the network for my spouse’s plan?

--T     -----The Plan rules require you to utilize your Primary Plan first and your secondary plan second.  If you were to go the NHAI Provider, the maximum benefit paid by the Plan for a service or procedure that would have been covered under your primary plan is 35% of the allowable charge.  Therefore, you would have a significantly greater liability for choosing a Provider that would not be covered by your plan.  However, if your plan permits Out of Network Providers, using an NHAI Provider in that instance is okay.  In this situation, your primary plan will pay the benefit as an Out of Network benefit, and NHAI will cover the benefit as the secondary Provider using the PPO fee schedule.