Senate votes to kill DDMs

MTA President Barbara Madeloni sent the following message to MTA members on Friday, May 27, 2016:

BIG NEWS!

You did it. The much-hated District-Determined Measures mandate took it on the chin in the Senate yesterday. Chalk one up for union power!!!

Thursday, the Senate approved a budget amendment saying that the DESE "shall not mandate any school district to include as part of an educator evaluation system or as a teacher performance standard the use of student performance data that is intended to measure an individual educator's impact on student learning, growth, or achievement."

Translation: If this measure becomes law, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will have to eliminate the DDM and student impact rating requirements that are currently part of the educator evaluation system.

This stupendous vote came after a wild day of hundreds of member phone calls and e-mails, persuasive lobbying by our side and a big push by local leaders and MTA staff to enlist the support of individual superintendents as well as educators in fighting this invalid, time-consuming and misleading mandate.

DDMs are down, but they are not out. Since the House did not approve a similar measure, the legislative fate of DDMs will rest with a joint House and Senate conference committee. We will be calling on you to raise your voices when we get to that step. But for now, know this: We are making headway in our pushback against the testing madness. The narrative has changed and the reality will, too.

Go here for a position paper on DDMs written jointly by staff at the MTA and AFT Massachusetts.

In other good news, the Senate passed an amendment that maintains the moratorium on increases to municipal health insurance premium splits for retirees in those communities that entered the Group Insurance Commission or implemented plan design modifications as part of 2011 municipal health insurance changes. Members taking action in coalition with other labor unions gave us this success.

Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in stopping the Senate from passing a shortsighted amendment for a study commission on higher education costs focused primarily on employee benefits. This measure, similar to one already approved by the House, appears to blame union members for concerns about deferred compensation that stemmed from highly publicized benefits accruing to a couple of high-level administrators - administrators who were not party to any collective bargaining agreement. The commission would not be looking at the general inadequacy of state funding for public higher education, which is what its focus should be. We'll be keeping a close eye on this issue and ensuring that the union voice is heard.

Let's keep the pressure on. But first, savor the wins - and the weekend.

In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,

Barbara