Cut the Education Red Tape

Greetings,

In 2015, the MTA took crucial steps to strengthen locals and build our collective power at the statewide level. We now enter a new year in which the assaults on our union and public education will continue to increase. But we also enter the new year better prepared to engage in the struggle and use our collective power for our students, our schools, our colleges and our communities.

We have many opportunities to experience the joy of solidarity in action - from advocating for a moratorium on high-stakes testing to increasing the strength of our locals, from seeking to end relentless and meaningless mandates to keeping the cap on charters and securing more funding for public education. These are just a few; there will be more as the year progresses.

Testing Opt-Out Meeting Set for Jan. 9

Come to a high-stakes testing opt-out campaign meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, on the sixth floor of the Center for Collaborative Education, 33 Harrison Ave., Boston. Nationwide, more than 620,000 parents and students opted out of standardized testing last year, making a powerful statement that they want less testing and more learning. Participants will discuss opt-out actions in Massachusetts and other states and begin planning actions for the spring. The event is sponsored by Citizens for Public Schools and the Campaign for Less Testing, More Learning MA. Contact Lisa Guisbond at lisa.guisbond@gmail.com for more information.

What Education Red Tape Do You Want to Cut?

Last year, Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order seeking feedback from the public on "unnecessary and burdensome regulations." Now he is seeking comments from the public. Members across the state have been telling the MTA about regulations that are not only unhelpful but damaging - such as District-Determined Measures, TS GOLD and the restrictive "turnaround" strategies required for schools serving poor children. Go here for information about how you can let the Baker administration and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education know what red tape you'd like to see cut. DDMs in particular are ripe for attack, since many educators consider them a waste of valuable time and the federal government no longer mandates the use of student test scores for evaluating teachers.

FINAL REMINDER - RETELL Course Registration

Spring RETELL course registration closes on Jan. 15. If you are a core academic teacher who was assigned an English language learner during your district's cohort training window and do not earn the SEI Endorsement on or before Aug. 31, 2016, you will not be able to renew, advance or extend your core academic license or licenses until you obtain the endorsement. Register for a course - or add your name to a waiting list if there is not an opening in the course - before the Jan. 15 deadline. No restrictions will be placed on the core academic licenses of those educators who place themselves on a waiting list for a course in the spring but cannot take or complete the course because seats were not made available or the course was canceled by the department. Go here to register.

Charter Schools and "The Big Short" 

The new movie "The Big Short" does an excellent job of explaining how bankers and Wall Street investors nearly brought down the economy with the subprime mortgage fiasco. Now, a new study explains how the rapid expansion of charter schools resembles the housing bubble. Read all about it in EduShyster's latest post. Don't forget that the MTA also has copies of the film "Education, Inc." and the book "The Prize," which speak to the recklessness of corporate interests in public education. Copies are available to members who want to screen or discuss them with other educators. Contact Ari Mercado at amercado@massteacher.org if you are interested.

Raise Up Legislative Hearing

A legislative hearing on a vital constitutional amendment that the MTA is supporting - the "Fair Share Amendment" on annual income over $1 million - is expected to be held in the next few weeks. We will send information about the time, date and location when it is available. The amendment has to be approved by at least 50 legislators in two consecutive legislative sessions before it can be put before the voters in 2018. If you are available, please plan to attend the hearing to show support for raising nearly $2 billion a year for public schools, public higher education and transportation.

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

Barbara