************************************************************************** St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers    Websitehttp://www.virginislands.net/aft1825

American Federation of Teachers, Local 1825   E-mail: aft1825@VirginIslands.net May 1999


President’s Report:

Stemming School Violence/Anti-Social Behavior

It seems as if the level of violence among our youth is constantly on the rise. This epidemic has spread into our communities, neighborhoods, and beloved public schools.

The Columbine High School saga in Denver, Colorado has increased the level of sensitivity regarding a number of critical issues directly related to youth violence. Our Local has played a very progressive role in addressing those problems while placing viable solutions on the table. We urge you to review the following provisions which were negotiated into our Teacher’s Contract almost a decade ago.

  • Article X.C.13 pg 44 Disclosure Act
  • Article X.D. 15 pg. 46 Prohibits Counselors holding classes
  • Article X.E. 1-3 pg 50 Discipline Committee
  • Article X.I. 1-10 pg 54 Student Discipline Procedures

Nonetheless, there is a critical need for the following entities to develop a student profile accompanied with an action plan to identify early warning signs of troubled youth:

  • Administration
  • Teachers/Staff
  • District Superintendent
  • Monitors (Jr./Sr. High)
  • Police Officers (Jr./Sr. High)
  • Parent Teacher Organization

All threats of violence, verbal or otherwise, must be taken seriously! Those students who are teased or taken advantage of by their peers must be afforded adequate protection by our school system. If we work as an effective team we can prevent numerous incidents of school disorder and violence. Our big challenge is to establish alternative schools for students who wantonly and consistently violate our Student Conduct Codes. Hopefully, our new Commissioner, Dr. Ruby Simmonds, can identify sufficient resources to establish such a facility. School violence usually surfaces as disciplinary problems before escalating into more serious matters.

We are still spending too much valuable instructional time attempting to maintain order and proper student deportment. If we work together, as an effective team with the necessary tools we can increase student outcome while reducing disorder and youth violence in our community.

Comments on National PSRP Conference

Ms. Noelise Powell, paraprofessional attended the National PSRP Conference on April 7-12 1999 in Washington, D.C. Ms. Powell felt the major highlight of the conference was the keynote address by Sandra Feldman. "She outlined the Union efforts to secure the role of the paraprofessional in the public school, and other issues that affect

other issue that affect AFT. She also addressed other areas the union is working to ensure that all its members are treated with equality and respect. I found Ms. Sandra Feldman to be humorous, lively, and informative."

United we stand divided we fall is the concept Ms. Powell believes can be helpful in making our union a better organization. "Whether you’re a bus driver, teacher, or para, our union will remain strong only if its members stick together and present a united front," stated Ms. Powell.

The Union Institute offers Ph.D Program

The Union Institute/United Teachers of Dade is offering a doctoral program in Education to stimulate major shifts in educational thinking and to provide leadership for teachers. Some of the following key benefits for the professional educator are:

  • Teachers will acquire theoretical and applied knowledge which will enhance their effectiveness in the more collaborative school systems of the future;
  • A valuable credential that will enhance one’s power to promote reform and restructuring of elementary and secondary education in America;
  • Admissions to the program are based on a three (3) part application narrative as opposed to a GRE or MAT. This presents the applicant the opportunity to be admitted on the basis of their ability to think through Ph.D level work as opposed to admissions based on a test score. Value at the Union Institute is predicted on the development of higher level and critical thinking.

For more information on the Ph.D Program please contact The Union Institute/United Teachers of Dade Doctoral program Office, 16853 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Suite 401, North Miami Beach, FL 33162 or 1-305-653-6713 or 1-800-294-8884.

Senator Norman Jn Baptiste Supports Alternative Schools

(The following letter was written by Senator Jn Baptiste)

Let me, first, apologize for the delay in responding to your letter. The concerns, which you have presented, are real and ones which I too have. As you rightly pointed out teachers, staff and even other students are put at risk when they are forced to work with students who have committed violent crimes in an unguarded and unprotected environment. An alternative school environment with practitioners and support staff trained to handle these particular students would ultimately be the best solution to this problem and one that I would fully support. This, however urgent, depends heavily on available funding.

In the interim, legislation that provides full disclosure rights to teachers and staff who are charged with the responsibility to teach, counsel and treat these offenders can and should be

provided. I am fully willing to sponsor and/or support any teach, counsel and treat these offenders can and should be provided. I am fully willing to sponsor and/or support any legislation which seeks to mandate the provision of this information to the appropriate staff. You can be assured that if legislation is not in the drafting stage already, I will seek your input for constructing such as soon as it is possible.

UVI Highest GPA Education Award

Stephanie Dupigny, an elementary education major at the University of the Virgin Islands was awarded AFT’s highest GPA Education Award on May 2, 1999. Ms. Dupigny earned a 3.54 GPA. We provided a $100.00 savings bond.

AFT National QuEST ‘99

For the latest QuEST ‘99 Program updates, check the AFT Web page a or key "AFT" on American Online. Call Mary at 1-800-238-1133 ext. 5686.

The Day Teachers Walked

by Former AFT President Hugo Dennis

   There is a defining moment for individuals, organizations, nations, events and even the planet. Each individual in his own way can look back to the same singular event in their lives that was extremely pivotal. That critical fork in the road comes and the decision that is made determines the path of the institution, individual or nation. Many such critical dates come to mind. July 4, 1776, July 3, 1848, October 12, 1492, August 1, 1930, and May 1, 1215.

For the teachers of the Virgin Islands, Thursday, May 16, 1968 was the day they said enough is enough! They said, "we are tired of being sick and tired, overworked and underpaid." The headline in the Daily News, May 14, 1968 "AFT Seeks Around the Clock Negotiations." The paper which sold for ten cents at the time continued "Inkling of Hope Fills Air After Monday’s Session." Both sides in the current controversy over Virgin Islands teachers’ wages have expressed cautious optimism over the possibility of avoiding a teacher’s strike. The teacher’s union set a Wednesday midnight deadline.

Norman Scherman, business manager of the Department of Education said, "we’re feeling optimistic. We are prepared to continue to negotiate." Joseph Cascella, American Federation of Teachers National Representative agreed saying "we want very much to wrap it up by Wednesday night. Negotiations must continue around the clock," he added. Commissioner of Education Arthur Richards told a radio audience that agreement had been reached on 140 of the 180 items proposed by the AFT. He added that a teachers strike would mean that many seniors could not graduate and thus not go to college next fall as they had planned. Cascella admitted the truth of the statement and said flatly "a strike could be devastating to seniors. There’s no question about it." He also added, "the blame would be squarely on the shoulders of the administration which has steadily refused to negotiate a wage plan satisfactory to the teachers."

The members of the negotiating team were for the AFT Cascella, St. Thomas-St. John President, Hugo Dennis and St. Croix AFT President Raymond Moorehead; and for the administration, Assistant Commissioner Charles Turnbull and Education Department Business Manager Norman Sherman.

Many teachers became more infuriated when they read the Daily News of Wednesday, May 15 1968 indicating the Legislature had boosts its own budget to $725,000 to include expenses of a Washington Representative for the Virgin Islands. The Washington spokesman for the islands will receive $100,000 for salaries, office expenses, and other compensation. A move by Kenneth Alexander to hike the Washington budget to $120,000 was denied. The sum of $625,000 was allocated to the law making body for salaries of employees and general office expenses, for incidental expenses including salaries of committee employees and for expenses of the special temporary Virgin Islands Home Rule Committee.

The headline in the Daily News on Tuesday, May 16, 1968 read "Last Minute Efforts Made to Avert Strike." Teachers were given the shaft again!! While we were in negotiations with the Department on a pay plan and had reached a tentative agreement by the midnight deadline, the legislature passed its own version to pay all professional employees. And then on top of that, the finance committee failed to make a recommendation to the full body. I guess they thought we were not watching or worse, we were ignorant of the Legislative procedures. We were infuriated and told teachers about it. They were more pissed off than we were. They made our strike!! It lasted two hours!! The strike was 99.9% effective.

AFT School Reform         on Internet     

Raising Student Achievement: An Internet Resource Guide for Redesigning Low-Performing School.

Access on-line information about how to fix one of this nation’s most persistent problems:schools that don’t work. This resource guide presents ideas, information, and materials which educators and policymakers can use to help foster educationally sound efforts to turn around low performing schools. The site includes an AFT policy statement on redesigning low-performing schools, legislative updates and guidance, profiles of selected districts, sample contract language information on research backed programs, guidance on how to effectively select and implement such programs, links to additional resources on school redesign, and more. Visit the site at

The Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program, or Obey-Porter, is a three-year federal program that, in its initial year, provides $145 million to help improve low-performing schools especially those serving economically disadvantaged students. The program funds schools to select and adopt schoolwide reform models based on solid research, which can demonstrate their effectiveness and prove that they can be replicated. This web site includes more information about whole school reform, an overview of the CSRD legislation, guidance to states or districts on how to apply for CSRD funds, and up-to-date links to resources and events on whole school reform. Visit the site at: For more information, contact: Steve Fleischman Educational Issues Department, American Federation of Teachers 555 New


Jersey Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20001 sfleisch@aft.org.  


Phebe Schwartz! Winner of our 1999 Carnival COPE T-shirt design

**We apologize for

revisions by the printer


AFT Donations

*Renee Andre (C.A.H.S. Band Student)$50.00 to defray cost to attend Music Festival & Competition in Toronto Canada

Jarvis Survey Results

The results of J. Antonio Jarvis School clearly demonstrate that our level of esprit de corps is in need of serious improvement.                       Scale 1-10 10 (being the highest)

Level of cooperation (togetherness)among faculty/staff. 5

Effectiveness of Union Officers/Building Representatives. 8

Effectiveness of Jarvis Administration. 3

Student deportment/respect for adults. 3 Fairness of school administrators. 4

Evidence of shared decision making. 2

Adequate supplies. 3

Visibility of Administrators. 4

Enjoy working at Jarvis School. 4

Administrators knowledge of what is happening on the campus. 4

Handling of discipline problems. 4

Cite some Strengths:

-great staff

-the Assistant Principal has more control over particular situations

-faculty is fun and considerate

-team teaching techniques are used

-Principal greet students at the gate

Cite some Weaknesses:

-lack of enforcement of school rules

-Administrator is not truthful


-administration has difficulty with effective management skills

-poor administration

-poor parent/teacher relationship

Questions Posed to Governor Turnbull Regarding      Prosser Plan

What are the beginning and completion dates for each project?

How much monies will the government have to spend once these projects are completed and turned over to the territory? Will additional employees have to be hired? What about electricity, water and maintenance costs?                  Does the government have available land on St. Thomas/St. John to swap for retroactive wages?                       Will Prosser agree, in writing, to purchase all construction supplies, materials from local vendors?          Will Prosser hire all local contractors to build these projects?                     Are negotiations final? Who served as government members of the negotiating team?                             How much estimated revenue will be generated (placed into the territorial treasury) on an annual basis for the next 30 years?                                    How much government revenue will be forfeited in lieu of benefits and tax exemptions under the Prosser Plan?  Is Prosser in danger of losing his share of the tele-communications industry to his competitors?          What is the proposed interest rate on home mortgages which will be provided to land owners under the Prosser Plan?                                   What will be the average cost for a 3 bedroom home?                                  Will construction of these projects mean the importation of outside labor which has the awesome potential to burden or fragile socio-economic/political structure?   Will any of the capital required to fund these projects be placed into the Government Development Bank?    Can the VI Government afford to provide 100% tax exemptions for yet another corporation?                         How much of the AT&T settlement shall be earmarked for the Union Arbitration Award and Increment Fund? When shall these monies be deposited into said fund?

Rekindle Unionism in            the New Millennium

by Luke Blaize

Prior to the founding of our Union, over thirty years ago, our experience was one of abuse, as manifested in poor working conditions, overcrowded classroom, and low wages, among other things. These conditions triggered the need for improvements within the profession. While there has been improvements in teacher and student performances, there has also been gains with the respect to our collective bargaining agreement. The reduction in class size, increased wages (though we are still owed thousands) and better working and learning conditions at individual work sites have been enjoyed by all. There lies the danger of complacency in the educational community.

Perhaps our Local 1825 has been remiss in reminding our general membership that these gains would never have been made had our Union not locked horns with the "powers to be."

As a result, rampant apathy has been the order of the day, even in the recent attacks by supposedly responsible individuals.

We have prevailed! That having been said, it now behooves our membership to recommit themselves and rekindle the "Spirit of Our Unionism in the New Millennium."                                     


Important Notice:

Any member who earned a higher degree and have yet to be paid at said level should call our office immediately!




Calendar of Events

                               May 17     AFT SPEAKS

                                         20      ULPC 99-36 11:00 a.m. PERB

                                June 2     Executive Council mtg

                                          9      Bldg Rep mtg Palms Court Harbor View 4:30p.m.

                                  15-17       ER &D Summer Academy University of the Virgin Islands                                                     Business Rm 207

                                       21        AFT SPEAKS

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