The power of action in the new year

Greetings - and Happy New Year!

I hope you all found time to relax and be with friends and family during the holidays. The year ahead promises to be both challenging and invigorating. Our governor-elect has appointed pro-charter, high-stakes-testing advocate James Peyser as secretary of education. But our members have indicated that they are ready to step up, speak out and reclaim public education. Here are some ways to begin.

Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment (MKEA): Take Action

More and more members are voicing concerns about the new kindergarten assessments - Teaching Strategies GOLD and the Work Sampling System - that are required in all districts receiving the state's Full-Day Kindergarten Grant. Many teachers report that this mandate is time-consuming and that it interrupts the flow of teaching without providing educators with useful new information about their students. They also have privacy concerns on behalf of their students. We have launched a new Kindergarten Assessment toolkit on this issue and soon will be updating it with information about local and statewide actions that members can take. Meanwhile, if you are an affected kindergarten teacher, please let your building rep and local association president know what you think about the MKEA requirement.

Speak Out for Equitable Funding

Be heard! The Foundation Budget Review Commission is continuing to take testimony that will lead to recommendations about funding needed to provide our students with the schools they deserve and are entitled to under the Massachusetts Constitution. I and other members of the commission need to hear from teachers and school staff about working conditions and how to improve them. Click here for information about upcoming hearings and here for guidance on preparing testimony.

Judging Teacher Education Programs by the Test Scores of their Students' Students? NOT!

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has proposed assessing teacher preparation programs based on the "learning outcomes" of the students their graduates teach. This plan would also put restrictions on federal student loans for students attending teacher preparation programs found wanting. Click here to let Duncan know by February 2 what you think of this test-based accountability system for higher ed.

Education Activist Anthony Cody to Speak

Citizens for Public Schools is holding another inspiring and informative event. Educator and writer Anthony Cody will talk about his new book, The Educator and the Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges the Gates Foundation, at 6:30 p.m. on January 15 at the Boston Teachers Union Hall, 180 Mt. Vernon St., Dorchester. Cody taught in high-poverty schools in California for 24 years and is a founding member of the Network for Public Education. Click here for more information and to register.

Collective Bargaining Summit February 7

Local leaders, please save the date and get members of your bargaining teams ready to spend a day with colleagues from Portland, Chicago and St. Paul as we share bargaining strategies that build union solidarity, address the big issues educators are up against and strengthen coalitions. More information will follow.

Hero Among Us: The Power of Action

Check out MTA's Facebook post about Louise Gaskins, who was named a Boston Celtics Hero Among Us and was rewarded with a standing ovation at the game on New Year's Eve. Congratulations to Louise - one of MTA's Friends of Education last year. If you haven't already, please connect with MTA social media for updates, photos, videos, links to articles and other items of interest to Massachusetts educators.

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

Barbara