NFT Community ARCHIVE

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January 8, 2012

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT


Dear Editors, Producers and Reporters,


We've noticed numerous news broadcasts and print articles that have inaccurately reported or perpetuated the fallacy that the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT) is unwilling to pay for healthcare benefits.


To be clear, that is 100% INCORRECT.  In fact, the NFT has offered numerous concessions on its healthcare package and has offered to pay 8% of its healthcare premiums.  The combined recommended health plan changes and the 8% contribution offered by the NFT would lead to millions of dollars in savings to the District and push the savings to the District beyond the Board's 15% position.


We understand many of the issues at hand are complex and often difficult to report on tight deadlines or in tight space.  However, we strongly believe that any misrepresentation of these two critical contract issues by the media leads the public to falsely believe the NFT is inflexible, greedy and unwilling to negotiate.


Moving ahead, we implore you to PLEASE fact check and report these two issues accurately.  In fact, if at all possible, we believe if you HIGHLIGHT the fact we are willing to compromise on these issues, it will go a long way in quelling public fear and concern.  And hopefully will help stem some of the hatred being unfairly directed at our members by a confused or misinformed public.



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January 6, 2012

NFT PRESIDENT LOUISE BOYD’S PRESS CONFERENCE STATEMENT 



Good afternoon - thank you for joining me today.

My name is Louise Boyd. I am a teacher and the President of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, the union representing the 654 certified staff of the Neshaminy School District.

I have a brief announcement, followed by several comments for background purposes, and will then answer questions.

We have just informed the District that, effective Monday morning, Neshaminy teachers are on strike.

We've done everything possible to avoid this action, but the School Board has left us no choice. Neshaminy teachers have endured nearly four years of negotiations and salary freezes. Through six contract proposals we've offered ever-increasing financial sacrifices totaling millions of dollars. Through all these months and years of negotiations, the Board has stonewalled.

This strike could easily have been averted if the Board had negotiated with good will and in good faith. They haven’t. In fact, as teachers have moved closer and closer to the middle, the Board has moved farther and farther away. Every time we've come back with a counter proposal, the district has piled on more new demands - 60 plus at last count. It’s become clear to us that this is NOT a Board that is committed to reaching an agreement.

Our latest proposal, offered more than two months ago, would save the District millions of dollars through changes to the teachers' health care plan, prescription coverage, and retiree health benefits. Instead, the Board continues to stir up hard feelings in our community with hurtful rhetoric and divisive attacks on our teachers and our schools.

Teachers deserve better from this Board. Our community deserves better. Most of all, our students deserve better.

Let me add that there is not a single teacher in Neshaminy who wants to be out on a picket line on Monday - not if we had any other choice. We want to be in our classrooms teaching. Sadly, a strike is the only way left for us to persuade the Board to reach a fair settlement. We urge the Board to come together with us to reach a compromise. Our students can’t afford to wait any longer.

I'll now answer questions.


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January 30, 2011

Matters of the Heart

by Bob Schiers


When Maple Point Middle School health and physical education teacher Ossie Reichert and her husband were preparing to go to the weekly dance at Adath Israel Synagogue on The Main Line, on that night of December 30th, 2010, they never imagined how their night would turn out. 

 

Born and raised in Israel, Ossie always loved the outdoors and physical fitness.  Like all Israeli’s Ossie served in the Israeli Army.  And she attended the world-renowned Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel, and earned her college degree in health and physical education before moving the United States.  Once here, she attended Temple University in Philadelphia where she earned her  degree in teaching health and physical education, and Master degree in Education. She began teaching at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Colonial School District in 1999 and transferred to the Neshaminy school district nearly 11 years ago.

 

As was customary on their weekly dance outing, Ossie and her husband  were  greeted by scores of friends when they arrived at the synagogue.  The group of 80 to 90 regulars consists of a wide range of professionals including educators, attorneys, doctors and nurses among others.  The atmosphere is always festive and this night was no different – at least for the moment.

 

The group danced to a host of tunes and the fun was in full swing.  Suddenly, one of the gentlemen on the dance floor, a 55-year-old, collapsed on the floor.  Several doctors in attendance rushed to his aid as Ossie made her way across the dance floor to his side.  “The doctor immediately began performing CPR,” she recounted. “But it was quickly apparent the CPR was having little or no effect.  The victim’s color was rapidly changing to a chalky blue, a clear signal he was not getting enough oxygen and that his heart was failing.  In fact, his heart had stopped.    In less than 60 seconds, the victim had gone from dance floor to the doorstep of death. Something had to be done – fast.

 

In a matter of seconds, Ossie leapt from the victim’s side and ran into the hallway of the synagogue.   Moments later, she returned with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in hand.  She had already begun opening and prepping the unit on the return trip from the hallway and was ready to use the equipment within seconds of sliding back into the cadre of doctors  doing all they could to save the man. Ossie was running on instinct now, her years of training  had taken over – everything was on autopilot.  Without wasting a second of time, Ossie finished prepping the AED for use.  Five seconds later she yelled “clear” to the group, applied the paddles to the victim’s chest and pressed the button that shot a life saving bolt of electricity to his heart – and not a second too soon. Moments later, the doctors detected a pulse – weak, but a pulse nonetheless.  The team continued CPR and within a few more seconds, the victim began to breath on his own.   The victim held his own for the nearly twenty minutes it took for EMTs to arrive.  Once there, they provided critical care and transported him to the hospital where he made a full recovery following surgery.

 

“The doctors who provided him with CPR were stunned that I thought to grab the defibrillator,” Ossie said.  “They were so busy providing CPR they didn’t think to ask if there was a unit available in the building.  But I thought one should be in the hallway and I ran as fast as I could to retrieve it.  It came as second nature to me because I have an AED on my desk at school and I teach our 7th grade students how to use it.    I am a Red Cross CPR instructor, and teach and certified our 7th graders as part of their Health classes..   But honestly, none of that would have mattered if there weren’t an AED unit in the hallway.  It truly was the difference between life and death in this situation.”

 

Interestingly, Ossie’s actions were not  just quick – they were record quick!  As it turns out, a manufacturer’s rep from the company that installed the AED unit pulled the diagnostic chip from the AED used to save the man’s life, and the chip shows that Ossie was able to  start it,  fire the life saving jolt, and get the man’s heart to start working, all in just 16 seconds – the fastest time ever recorded by the company’s equipment.  Indeed, every second counts.

 

Many call Ossie a hero – but she wants none of that.  Her only desire was to help a friend and fellow human being.  If anything, she wants everyone to learn about AEDs and how they can save lives.

 

To that end, please take time to visit the following Wikipedia link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_external_defibrillator) that features easy-to-understand information on AEDs.  You can also check with your local branch of the American Heart Association (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/) for information on AEDs and to learn where you can be trained in their use.



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January 28, 2011

Today Marks the 25th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.  Christa McAuliffe - We Shall Never Forget



January 28, 1986. 11:37 a.m.  The excitement could not have been greater.  In just moments, seven of America's finest would lift off from Cape Canaveral, FL, leaving the bounds of earth on NASA space mission STS-51-L.  Seventy-three seconds later, disaster struck as Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida - taking with it all seven aboard - including teacher Christa McAuliffe.


McAuliffe, born in Boston, MA on September 2, 1948, was a teacher from  Condord, NH.  In 1985, McAuliffe was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher In Space Project and she was scheduled to become the first teacher in space.  As a member of mission STS-51-L, she was planning to conduct experiments and teach two lessons to students on earth from Space Shuttle Challenger.


Born as Sharon Christa Corrigan, the eldest of five children, McAuliffe attended Framingham State College in her hometown, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in education and history.  Weeks later, she married her longtime boyfriend, Steven J. McAuliffe.  She obtained her first teaching position in 1970, as an American history teacher at Benjamin Foulois Junior High School in Morningside, Maryland.  She taught history and civics at Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham, MD.  In addition to teaching, she complete a Master of Arts in education supervision and administration from Bowie State University in Maryland.  She moved to Condord, NH when Steven accepted a job as an assistant to the NH Attorney General.


She was a social studies teacher, and taught courses including American history, law, and economics, in addition to a self-designed course: "The American Woman."


NASA wanted to find an "ordinary person," a gifted teacher who could communicate with students while in orbit.  They found all the qualities they were looking for, and more, in Christa McAuliffe.


As the nation sat stunned in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, it was perhaps most painful for McAuliffe's students and the millions of children around the nation and world who bore witness to the tragedy.  Teachers worldwide, including many of you reading this, sprung into action to do what they do best - help their children, and in turn, help themselves, cope with the disaster as best possible.


None of us will forget the sacrifice that McAuliffe and her crew mates made in the interest of science, education and exploration.  Let us go forth in their memory and continue to reach for the stars as we hold our students hands on the never-ending journey called teaching.


Yours in Solidarity

Louise Boyd

President, NFT



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December 21, 2010

The Philadelphia Inquirer


Special Reports

2010 Teacher salaries, district by district


The Inquirer examined the salaries of full-time “classroom teachers” in the Philly suburbs, by district, for the 2009-10 year. From those salaries we calculated the averages and the pay tiers.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE INFORMATION



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December 20, 2010

Mr. O'Connor:

While I have been reading your Neshaminy Info site and Facebook page almost daily for the past three years, I have never felt compelled to respond to anything that YOU have said, believing that good people could agree to disagree about what is a "fair" contract.  That is until now. 

I'm truly dismayed that yesterday you "crack[ed yourself] up" with your claim that the only reason why nearly 500 people in less than four days have "liked" our NFT teachers’ new Facebook page was to "stop by to see the freak show."

 

Your comments are not only baseless, but they are unbecoming of a School Board Director. To ridicule the collective bargaining efforts of nearly 650 dedicated, professional employees by implying that we are "freaks" will only prolong the labor impasse by further dividing the community and angering your staff, especially when you twist facts around to suit your ends. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to make up your own facts that are misleading and untruthful.


Again, good people can respectfully disagree about issues of mutual concern, but there was nothing respectful about your comments.  I know I am making a difference everyday in my students’ lives—including two of your children--because I care about giving them the knowledge and direction they need to become successful in life. You cannot say anything to take that away from me. However, your disparaging untruths are harmful to our community.

 

I do hope you will be more civil and honest in your comments, for the sake of our children and our community.

 

Jeff Dunkley

Former Neshaminy student, current district resident, taxpayer, proud teacher, NFT negotiator and parent of Neshaminy students



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December 16, 2010

Nearly three years without a contract and the Neshaminy School District's leadership is still hell-bent on failing the students and taxpayers of the Neshaminy community.  Time and again we've asked the district to work with our certified staff to develop an educational agenda that will lead to a better education for our students and eventually a fair and equitable contract for our certified staff.  Unfortunately, the district is happy to keep things the way they are because that's the easy way out.  They don't want to face the reality that we are in this together and that both sides have legitimate issues that need to be addressed at the bargaining table.  But that does not change the fact that they are jeopardizing student progress by "freezing us out" of a decades-long process of educational collaboration in some twisted form of retribution to the NFT for not falling in line with their "take it or leave it" stance at the bargaining table.   I'm disgusted by the politicization of the issues and the way the District demonizes us through backdoor channels as being greedy, selfish and uncaring.  And I'm angered by this District's blatant "look the other way" attitude when it comes to public attacks on our membership.  Enough is enough.  I'm calling on all NFT members to stand up and speak out against the District failing our students by freezing us out of the planning process.  Tell your administrators that they can't go it alone and that we must be a part of a collaborative effort to update and revise the school system's education priorities and policies. Join our new Facebook page and let your voice be heard.  Stand Up and Be Counted!


— Louise Boyd

 President, NFT



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December 16, 2010

FREIND OR FOE: YOU DECIDE


Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com.  He has no problem trashing the NFT and its members in his columns, but when NFT's PR counsel sent the following e-mail to him to open lines of communication and to correct some of his facts in a recent story, well guess what - he never bothered to respond.  So much for journalistic integrity.  We certainly don't have a FRIEND in Freind!


Hi Chris,


My name is Bob Schiers and I wanted to touch base with you to discuss your recent article "Pennsylvania Teachers' Unions Are Losing Their Cool."


In particular, I'd like to open up some lines of communication between you and the NFT leadership and I'd also like to share with you some statistics that differ from those you included in your article - not to criticize but to try to clarify some of the information you used to support your position that PA Teacher's Unions Are Losing Their Cool.


In particular...


Salaries:


The article said PA is top five in salaries.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, PA ranks 11th in average salaries for primary and secondary ed. teachers.

http://www.census.gov/statab/ranks/rank20.html


Health Insurance:


The article claimed that 30-40% of healthcare costs are shelled out by private sector employees.


According to The Commonwealth Fund’s “Realizing Health Reform’s Potential” (December, 2010), 16-17.9% of a median household’s income (under age 65) went towards employer premiums in 2009, up from 14-15.9% in 2003 (page 4).


http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Issue%20Brief/2010/Dec/1456_Schoen_state_trends_premiums_deductibles_20032009_ib_v2.pdf


Single and Family Average Premiums in PA: (Table 1, page 14)

2003: $3,449 (single)

2009: $3,749 (single) a 38% increase

2003: $9133 (family)

2009: $13,230 (family) a 45% increase


The article also claimed that many people bear the entire burden of providing healthcare for their families.


According to AARP, nearly 68% of all PA employees have some form of employer-provided healthcare. Additionally, 11..5% of PA residents are uninsured, compared to 17.3 of Americans nationally. Only 8% of PA residents have private insurance.

http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/health/d19305_healthfacts_pa.pdf


Again - not trying to be critical of your story - but in the interest of fairness, I think you should address some of these discrepancies in a follow-up piece.  More importantly though, I'd like to initiate some ongoing dialog with you and NFT leadership because there are always two sides to every story - sometimes more.


My contact information is noted below.


Regards,

- - Bob

Follow Us on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/NFT4OurKids

On February 26, Neshaminy teachers went door to door in parts of the Neshaminy School District in an effort to speak directly to tax payers.  They handed out the following flyer.

On March 26, Neshaminy teachers went door to door in parts of the Neshaminy School District in an effort to speak directly to tax payers.  They handed out the following flyer.

On April 30, Neshaminy teachers again went door to door in parts of the Neshaminy School District in an effort to speak directly to tax payers.  They handed out the following flyer.