While cleaning out some file cabinets, we came across this teacher's contract (shown at right) from 1940, some 30 years before NYSUT was born. The last line reads: "I further agree that if marriage is entered into after signing this contract, contract will be cancelled as of date of marriage." We posted the contract on Facebook as a reminder of why unions are so important. Here's what some of our Facebook fans had to say:
• When my wife began teaching in 1967, you could be married but any teacher becoming pregnant would be terminated as soon as she "showed." No such thing as a maternity leave, your job was gone. This was pre-NYSUT and my favorite example when young teachers ask why a union is needed!
— Richard Steinfeldt
• OMG!!! Wonder what happened if a man got married after signing a contract or if he impregnated his wife? This is unbelievable and worth each of my union dollars!
— Lisa Cerullo Sisino
• This is why we needed and still need unions! Not so long ago!!!
— Rob Pearl
• I was the cause of my mother losing her teaching job. She used to tell the story that she was responsible for lighting the fire in the classroom stove and keeping the room warm throughout the day by stoking the fire.— Jim MacArevey
• We have certainly come a long way ... because of people like you and many others who have fought tirelessly for fair working conditions all teachers deserve!
— Rose Hoeflein Salazar
• My mother had to leave teaching because of me! She went back many years later. How silly this was.
— Mary Grebe
• Thank you, Union!
— Tahira Faune Alford
Let's keep the pre in pre-K
Though I'm elated that politicians wish to include universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds in our schools, I worry about what and how these children will be taught.
When my family and I moved to Long Island, I was blessed to find my town, Great Neck, partnered with New York state to include in our budget an "experimental pre-k program." I spent 20 blissful years leading children from "less advantaged homes" to love learning by acting out Maurice Sendak stories, planting vegetable gardens, producing their own circuses, building their own musical instruments from wood and publishing their own books.
Happily, I retired in time to miss the era when politicians gave the name No Child Left Behind to a standards-based educational reform in which the focus on assessing learning through test scores disregarded an understanding of children's developmental stages.
Kindergarten-aged children were expected to learn through a structured academic setting with first-grade-appropriate worksheets rather than through play, and children in pre-K had the kindergarten emphasis on the three Rs thrust upon them.
Today I am grateful that pre-K is finally recognized for its worth and will be incorporated into New York public schools. I implore the designers of its new teacher trainers' curriculum to recognize that rote learning, drill sheets and pressure to perform beyond a child's intellectual and emotional ability are not appropriate pedagogy.
Leave room for a teacher's creativity in helping young children develop a love of learning through play and immersion in the arts.
Barbara Sutton Masry | Great Neck
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