Before finally landing a permanent position as a Merrick Avenue Middle School social studies teacher and dean in 1982, Dolber worked, in chronological order, at Kennedy, Calhoun and Mepham high schools, as well as Jerusalem Avenue Junior High, which is now a Board of Cooperative Educational Services school. Once at Merrick Avenue, Dolber became active in BMUST, in part because his father was a unionist, and in part because of his early experiences in trying to break into the education profession. He wanted teachers to have middle-class salaries, health benefits and pensions, as well as greater job security.
Dolber began as one of Merrick Avenue’s union representatives before becoming the building’s head representative and eventually vice president and president of BMUST, which represents teachers at all five Bellmore-Merrick Central District schools –– Calhoun, Kennedy and Mepham high schools, and Grand Avenue and Merrick Avenue middle schools.
Over the years, Dolber has seen the best of times and the worst of times. In the 1990s, as the economy was churning along in the “Internet bubble,” teachers were well respected. Pay increased. Many of the most talented college graduates at the time, who in the past might have gone into medicine, law or banking, chose education instead because salaries, they believed, had at last reached a level commensurate with their education attainment.
Then came the 2000s, when the nation’s economy dipped and rose, only to nose-dive after 2007. Many in politics and the media blamed public-sector employees for the country’s fiscal woes, saying salaries and benefits were too high.
Dolber took over as BMUST president in 2005, from Rick Hamilton, a widely respected Kennedy High School health teacher and coach, and Dolber has had an uphill battle ever since representing the union’s interests before the Central District Board of Education and administration in an era of ever-deeper cost cutting.