Recently I read a Letter to the Editor by Pat Petaccia regarding the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association’s leadership and I feel the need to respond since I am the person she was referring to. I need to set the record straight because, evidently, Mrs. Petaccia does not have a clue what she is talking about.
It is true that the PTHEA had been without a contract for the past two years. What is not true is Mrs. Petaccia’s assumption that it is due to the teachers’ unwillingness to compromise. What is true is that the Board of Education would not come to the table to negotiate.
It was not until we discussed filing an unfair labor practice that they finally sat down with us. It took many months to sit down and discuss the issues. It was not the PTHEA that dragged its feet or was unwilling to compromise. It was the board. That is the truth, plain and simple. Even then, there were many canceled meetings by the board.
The letter Mrs. Petaccia is referring to was a statement of fact. Teachers volunteer. Volunteer!
The board needed to understand exactly how much time we do volunteer and what the impact is when we do not. We are professionals. We work hard and we are proud of what we do. Our frustration over the board not actively negotiating pushed us to this action.
As far as being paid to mentor new teachers, this comes from the state! We do not get paid extra for duties. We are responsible for supervision of students at all times. Also, curriculum revision is not part of our daily responsibilities. We are responsible for our students.
If Mrs. Petaccia knew what she was talking about, she would know that curriculum revision takes hours of time. When would she like us to do this? During our work day when we are with our students? At night when we correct papers, call parents, write lesson plans and try to spend time with our families? If we are to work on curriculum revision, there needs to be compensation. Since when don’t people get paid for doing extra work?
Now as far as the meeting of Jan. 24, Mrs. Petaccia exaggerates a bit. Her comments did get a response from teachers. It was by no means “noisy.” It was noisier when Mr. Strumolo was yelling across the room at Mrs. Orthwein. Mrs. Petaccia’s comment that teachers should walk out was the ultimate insult. So, we walked out.
The fact that she was offended is not my concern. I am offended by her blatant disrespect for the teachers of Parsippany. I can only assume that she must have had a very bad experience at one time with a teacher and is unable to appreciate the work we do.
An agreement with the board was finally reached. The teachers took a freeze for the first year. I hope Mrs. Petaccia is happy.
In addition, with the state-mandated contribution to health benefits based on
our premiums, many of us will never see a raise, not just this year but in the future as well. We are and will be paying way more than the amount of any raise. That should thrill her.
To sum up, Mrs. Petaccia thinks she knows everything. Truth is, she knows nothing.
President, Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association