Pat Puleo Statement to BOE, 9-21-11

| September 22, 2011

Yonkers Board of Education Meeting

September 21st, 2011

Saunders High School

[I tried uploading the audio file directly, but Pressible didn’t accept it. Instead, I typed it up below. There are question marks in brackets where the recording was muffled or difficult to understand. Also, some YFT members were sitting nearby, and I included their comments heard on the recording as Ms. Puleo was speaking. The text of the letter she references follows her statement.]

YFT President, Pat Puleo addressed the board during open comments:

“…nail on the head, with lies, that were not there. With lies that we don’t give back. With lies that we don’t volunteer all the time. It’s not gonna resolve, it’s not gonna be better. And you can say to the teachers, and to your leaders, the teachers knew what had happened to them in ’09. Because of the way they were treated in ’09, they were not receptive to giving you a year-and-a-half wage freeze, because that’s what it would have been.

I haven’t received a raise. My members here tonight have not received a raise. Why? Because there is no contract. We’ve asked to meet you to see if we can work on the future and we’ve been told that nobody is available until November 15th. It is what it is. But, you should know, ‘cause recently we’ve been told, [raises voice] the union told teachers not to volunteer! We would not tell teachers not to volunteer, we would not tell them that! [Teachers nearby disagreeing, “Yes, she did.”] You should know we volunteer for parades, we volunteer on Saturdays [Teachers again: “Did you hear that?”], we volunteer to set up our classrooms, we clean our own rooms, many times. We buy lunches for kids who don’t have money. We sponsor trips for kids who don’t have money. We put $6,000 a year for the last 20 years, to my knowledge, into funding for the children of Yonkers! We do a toiletry drive. Who is that for? For the homeless of Yonkers. [3 minute time-limit buzzer goes off] We do a food drive. Who is that for? For the people who don’t have food in Yonkers. We do a toy drive every Christmas. Who is it for? For the children of Yonkers. Thousands of books are given away, every year, from those people to their students. Those people you say haven’t given back and don’t do anything.

Now, I’d like to start the year with a welcome, and a look forward, and it’s a difficult year. But, every time I do that, I wind up seeing in the press that somehow or another we’re slapped in the head. If we’re going to get out of this hole, we do need to do it together. I’ve been told [gets loud again]I haven’t come to the table. How many Sundays, how many weekday nights did I meet? How many days did I [?] meet with members of the Board of Education and PTA ‘cause they asked us to be there? It’s time for us to stop doing what City Hall wants, and that’s make the teachers eat dirt. It’s time to treat us as professionals, and we will treat you as professionals and then we can come together. And then, maybe, we can find some solutions, because what we’ve all been doing hasn’t been successful. So, maybe we need to do something else. Maybe we need to do something else.

Now, Mr. Bennett asked for a copy of the YFT newsletter and I have to say I was in a bad temper when I found out the Board [?] a copy of the minutes of the YFT and so I said “No.” Mr. Bennett, here is the copy of the YFT newsletter, it’ll be out on [?]day.”

Text of the letter sent to YFT members regarding volunteering, sent earlier in the day, referenced by Ms. Puleo in her comments:

TO ALL YFT MEMBERS:

Recently we sent all members an e-mail detailing a memo from Supt. Pierorazio blaming the district’s financial mess on the teachers and even stating that he would encourage the swapping of elementary classroom positions which he knows would violate elementary shuffling contract procedure that both sides have respected for decades.

Now, the YFT is aware that all secondary principals have been informed that most of the current D1 schedule will not be funded and recommendations have been made by Supt. Pierorazio to encourage teachers to do these activities for no compensation, activities such as yearbook and school newspaper.

Please remember that our contract is the product of decades of hard work against people who want nothing more than to take away our bargaining rights. We cannot allow them to chip and hack away at the profession we love to do with fairness and dignity!

We all know that presently we spend our time and money to support our own classroom activities, but volunteering to do the work that was compensated assures there will never be compensation again for that work. New teachers will be forced into “volunteering”. Work in all professions should be compensated.

If you have been approached to continue or start one of the jobs on the D1 schedule for no compensation please see your YFT building rep or contact the YFT office immediately!

In Solidarity,

YFT

email: yft860@bestweb.net

phone: 914-793-0200

web: http://www.yftonline.org”