Mideastern Region PSEA

November Newsletter

Welcome to the Mideastern Region newsletter! Each month we will be featuring information to help our members stay informed, get involved, and advocate for our profession.

Our region represents the 15,168 public school educators across the 35 school districts and two intermediate units of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Your hard work and the power of collective bargaining help to bring an exceptional education to the 195,426 students in our buildings.

Fall Leadership Conference

Thank you to all of our members, staff, and guests who traveled north to Skytop Lodge for our Fall Leadership Conference this past weekend! Attendees enjoyed engaging sessions as well as time to network and strengthen their connections with other local leaders. Save the date for next year's conference, which will be in our own backyard at the Bucks County Sheraton (across from Sesame Place) on November 14, 2020.

National ESP Day!

National ESP day is on Wednesday next week! Come out to our office in Montgomeryville on Wednesday, November 20th between 5pm-7pm to celebrate National Education Support Professionals Day! Meet, greet, mingle, and enjoy food/beverage with our division officers and other ESP members Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Pre-registration is required and limited to the first 100 guests.

PACE-recommended Candidates Score Big Wins

"If you had the ability to elect your bosses, why wouldn't you??"

Ten MER locals and the MER PACE Committee recommended 53 candidates (including 2 more than there were seats open) in last week's general election. We are happy to report that 41 of those individuals won their elections and were big wins for public education. It's never too early to start thinking about your next school board election: if you would like details on what the recommendation process looks like, please reach out to our region PACE director, Theresa Prato.

Some testimonials from Local Leaders and PACE Chairs:

“All 4 HH recommended candidates won for school board. This is Hatboro-Horsham history!! Thanks for your help and support!!” (Hatboro-Horsham)

“All 3 endorsed Jenkintown Candidates won!!! Our goal is to get more in next round! Thank you for your guidance and support!” (Jenkintown)

“Our 5 recommended candidates won big! The candidates were very appreciative of the money because it gave them enough money to pay the postage on one last mailing.” (Perkiomen Valley)

“We won 2(out of 4) - one by only 23 votes! Over the past 2 years, with PSEA’s support, we went from an 8-1 unfriendly majority to a 6-3 pro-public education majority in a pretty tough environment. Finally, the future looks favorable. Thanks so much for your support!” (Quakertown)

“This year all 6 school director candidates made history winning their races, flipping the board to all pro-public education members, including two women of color and becoming a female-majority board.” (North Penn)

Manna on Main Street

Calling all delegates to our Fall House - we are asking attendees to consider bringing a donation to Manna on Main Street to our event in Valley Forge next week. Please visit this website for a current list of their needs. Coordinate with your local president and fellow attendees to make the most of your generosity! In the Spring when our House is in Bucks County, we will collect donations for a Bucks County organization. Thanks for your consideration!

Subcontracting - Friend or Foe?

Foe! Here’s why:

Some methods of outsourcing the work of our ESP members is deliberate and in plain sight: a district announces that they are looking into turning over the work of one classification of employees (drivers, custodians, etc) to a for-profit company.

Some other methods are just as deliberate, but more difficult to spot in EA locals. For example, if someone is only in your building a few times a month to work with a student or students, you might not have a relationship with that person – and may not think too much of it the following year when a different adult shows up to work with students – but who does that adult work for? In some cases, it’s no longer a fellow PSEA member, but an employee of a for-profit company, or even a well-meaning volunteer.

“But this new person is nice! And helpful!” We aren’t saying that he or she is a terrible person, we are saying that it’s our responsibility to make sure that the district isn’t giving our work away. What the district -should- be doing is hiring that nice, helpful person as a member of your bargaining unit and providing them with the wages, benefits, and working conditions that your local has been bargaining since the passage of PA Act 195 in 1970.

Outsourcing is outsourcing, no matter what it looks like. Our members in the classroom would never stand for an employee of Social Studies R Us showing up in a classroom to teach Geography – and other classifications are no different. Keep a watchful eye out for this in your neck of the woods and contact your building rep, local president, or PSEA UniServ if you hear of another company doing the work of your bargaining unit.

PSEA Awards

Is there an individual or organization in your world that has done something incredible for public education? Do you wish there was a way to recognize a person or organization's dedication to our students and communities? Look no further! Consider making a nomination for a variety of prestigious awards from PSEA via this website.

Who Are Your Beneficiaries?

Have the circumstances of your life changed in the last year? Do you need to update your PSERS beneficiaries? The easiest way to do that is to register for a MSS (member Self-Service) Account. The first step of that process is to obtain your PSERS ID. Look for it in the top corner of any recent PSERS correspondence mailed to your home, connect with PSERS at ContactPSERS@pa.gov, or call 1.888.773.7748 to have your ID mailed to you.

Calling All Choirs

Do you have the BEST choir in the area? You may want to consider entering your group in the B101 Christmas Choir Competition! Council for the Advancement of Public Schools is once again a proud sponsor for this event. Take a look at the details on this website and be sure to submit your entry by November 20th at 5pm.

Weingarten Rights: use them!

"Can you stop by my office before you leave? I need to ask you some questions about what happened in the hall yesterday. The assistant superintendent is here and we will take some notes as you talk. It's informal - no need to talk to your building rep first. In fact, let's do it right now - I'll send coverage to your room for you."

Weingarten Rights: use them!

If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my Association representative be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.

(With special thanks to the United States Supreme Court circa 1975 in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, which upheld a National Labor Relations Board decision that employees have a right to union representation at investigatory interviews.)

Calling All Exceptional Student Musicians

Teachers of exceptional vocalists and instrumentalists - the Philadelphia Orchestra’s annual Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition is looking for participants! Please take a minute to help recognize and showcase exceptional student talent in your world.

Removing Barriers to Learning

EA and ESP members are invited to join us at our office in Montgomeryville on Wednesday, November 13th from 5pm-7pm to engage in honest conversations about the needs of students in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. We are especially seeking school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers to help develop a plan focused on community advocacy to remove barriers to learning. To register, please visit this website.

How to Succeed at Difficult Conversations

Presenter, Judith Petruzzi, Director, Education Services, PSEA

This webinar will discuss strategies to have open, honest, and productive conversations with parents. Many times, in regular and special education, teachers find it difficult to deliver information that may conflict with family beliefs and expectations. This webinar will talk about framing conversations that benefit students in order to achieve positive and appropriate outcomes.

At the end if this learning experience, participants will have skills to create a meeting environment in which educators and parents can engage in productive communication to support instruction.

This webinar will take place on November 18 from 7-8pm and is Act 48/Chapter 14 eligible. To register, please click here.

Enter Your Student Work in our Art Show

Calling all secondary art educators! It's time to register your school for the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools 33rd Annual "Touch the Future" art show! Thanks to the hard work of North Penn EA Member Mike Werner, there's a new website with one-stop shopping for all information about the show. Only one art teacher per high school needs to complete the registration form, but it must be completed by November 15th.

Use Your Voice!

“Please don’t use my name. Or say it’s my grade level. Or my building. Or that I said anything. Never mind. Bye.”

Advocating for what’s right can sometimes produce feelings of anxiety for our members, especially if the individual is on the front lines of an issue and it’s the first time they are speaking up about something. It may be even more nerve-wracking if the perception is that the issue pertains to only one member or one classroom.

For local leaders, however, advocacy is a natural response to a bad situation or injustice – “This unpleasant thing is happening, let me reach out to stakeholders to work towards a resolution.” It’s in their bones and it comes without anxiety (most times) because it’s what they have been elected to do right alongside our important work in education.

So, few things are more frustrating than when a member lets an association leader know of an injustice, especially involving students, but is then asked to not do anything with the information. "Then why did you tell me??" <argh!>

If something is happening to you or your students, it's happening to someone else, too. Speak up about it. Ask your local leaders to take action on it. In terms of labor law in PA, you are more protected from retribution by bringing an issue to the Association than if you choose to remain silent.

The road to justice is messy and non-linear but it can't begin until we foster an environment where members see positive results from their courage.

We have amazing public schools in PA because we have strong Associations who advocate for what’s best for kids and educators. Help us continue that tradition by being a persistent and powerful voice for students, and help grow that duty of responsibility in your colleagues. If you want your name to be on your paycheck, be willing to put your name on your advocacy. PSEA has your back.

Dear School Administrators, Please Stop Taking Away Teacher Planning Periods

1. We bargained it.
2. Stop making us feel like jerks for pushing back when that time is eroded, modified, or misallocated.
3. See 1 and 2.

What you allow is what will continue. Reach out to your building rep or local president if you are not getting your planning time. Advocating for what’s right doesn’t make you a bad person - it makes you an effective educator. Here's an excellent article on why we need our time!

What is a nisi order?

In short, it’s the document that makes your local union official! Think of it as a birth certificate for your organization.

PA Act 195 of 1970 permitted many groups of public employees to form unions, bargain for wages and conditions of employment, and to strike. Each group had to conduct an election among its potential members to select its exclusive bargaining agent, i.e. the union. The election process through which this bargaining agent was selected was conducted within guidelines provided by state law under the oversight of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. Once the process was complete, the PLRB issued a nisi order, and the union began existing. The next step was to begin bargaining an initial contract between the bargaining unit and the school board, and the rest is history.

Nisi (adj.) – taking effect at a specified time unless previously modified or avoided by cause shown, further proceedings, or a condition fulfilled.

Pictured here is the nisi order for Central Bucks EA.

Thank you to PSEA UniServ Bonnie Neiman and our associate Jill Toy for helping to organize all of the nisi orders in the region so we can start celebrating some bargaining unit birthdays!

ESP Division Holiday Dinner

Calling all ESP members - registration is now open for the next Division Meeting and Holiday Dinner! The event will take place on Tuesday, December 3rd with registration and reception at 6pm, dinner at 7pm, and Division updates at 8pm. The cost is $20. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to Toys for Tots!

Drowsy Driving

Most of us would never drive after drinking or pull our phone out and scroll through social media while behind the wheel, but if you’ve ever been jolted awake as your car hit the rumble strip on the side of the road or you fell asleep at a stoplight, you were engaged in as dangerous a situation as driving while impaired or distracted. It’s important that all of us understand the implications of drowsy driving as we observe Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in November. Click here to read additional information on this topic from our friends at California Casualty.

Save the Date

Calling all DPS members! Save the date for time and space this summer to collaborate with other school counselors, psychologists, social workers/home and school visitors, nurses, and dental hygienists!

Read Aloud with Confidence

Be prepared to get up on your feet and learn how to be clear, engaging, and comfortable reading in front of an audience of your students and colleagues. Through a series of fun exercises and improvisation games you will learn to apply simple techniques used by voiceover artists and actors to hold audience attention and interest. Reading aloud to students both slows down and simultaneously intensifies the classroom experience. In a world of sound bites and half-formed ideas expressed quickly in electronic formats, students benefit from hearing complete ideas, expressed with originality and attention, such as one finds in literary language. Presented by: Emlyn McFarland, Actor/Voiceover Artist/Comedian on Monday, March 9th at 5pm at our region office. Click here to register!

PSEA Mideastern Region

Bill Senavaitis, President (bsenavaitis@psea.org)

Alan Malachowski, President- Elect (amalachowski@psea.org)

Bill McGill, Vice President (wmcgill@psea.org)

Kathy Hornberger, Treasurer

Susan Brown, Secretary

Theresa Prato, PACE Director

Debbie Lee, NEA Director