Join a March for Democracy on January 21

Greetings,

We held our first regional forum on Tuesday, and members talked about what they did to win #NoOn2 and what made them feel powerful. The answers: talking to "everybody I saw" about the ballot question, standing out with signs and having people honk and wave to show support, and "realizing that people wanted to hear what I had to say and changing their minds." We felt our power. We used our power. We won when we were told we would lose.

speak-out

In the days ahead, remember the power and joy of collective action. Here are some ways to build on that power.

Join the MTA at the Boston Women's March for America

Please march with us in Boston for justice, democracy and the rights of working people on Saturday, January 21. Come celebrate and pledge to protect the beautiful diversity of our students and our communities. Experience the energizing hope of thousands of people voicing their shared commitment to a better world.

If you would like to do so, park at MTA's Quincy Headquarters at 2 Heritage Drive and take the short walk to the MBTA Red Line to get into Boston. We will be open from 9 to 10 a.m. with coffee, treats and sign-making materials. You can also meet us in Boston near the Arlington Street T Station at the corner of Boylston and Arlington streets. Look for the MTA banner. Sign up here to let us know you'll be coming.

For those who cannot get to Boston, marches and related events are being held in Pittsfield and Greenfield - and of course in Washington, D.C. Please remember to post your photos on social media using the hashtag #WomensMarchMTA.

SPEAK OUT for the Schools our Communities Deserve

January 19 is a National Day of Action
Keep those conversations going. Wear a "Speak Out" sticker and share photos on social media. What are the schools our communities deserve, and what do we need to do to make those schools a reality? Stickers are available to local presidents from their field representatives.

Attend a regional forum
If you have not yet signed up for a regional forum to help us plan how we will build our power to win the schools our communities deserve, please do so ASAP. Forums are still open in the Northeast (today!), Southeast, Central, Berkshires and Cape Cod and Islands regions. Go here for times, dates and locations.

Say NO to DDMs and proposed educator evaluation regulations
Momentum is growing to push back against the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's proposed new regulations for the educator evaluation system. Leave it to the DESE to take a bad idea and make it worse. Read more about the proposals here. Send your comments to edevalcomments@doe.mass.edu before January 27. Some ideas:

- Members of the Education Association of Plymouth and Carver met to learn about the proposed changes and took group action to send messages that said "No Way!"

- In Sharon, the School Committee voted on Wednesday to send a letter drafted by a local teacher- and parent-led group opposing the proposed changes.

- The Somerville Teachers Association is working with district administrators and with support from the School Committee to draft and send a joint statement of opposition.

Send a letter yourself. Have your local draft and send one, or work with your school committee and/or superintendent to send a joint message: Build a system based on trust, not invalid ratings.

Opt out of high-stakes testing
Educators can lead the way in fighting the high-stakes testing madness by opting their own children out of the tests. If you are ready to sign the pledge, go here.

If you have questions, send an e-mail to Ari Mercado at amercado@massteacher.org. Include your phone number. Someone from MTA's Education Policy Committee will be in touch.

What Does It Mean to Speak Out?

I recognize that for far too many members, fear clouds the decision to speak up about the injustices being visited on our students, schools and communities. The MTA has received information about educators being told to take down signs in their classrooms that speak to the diversity of students, welcome all students, and/or that say Black Lives Matter. Do not suffer this silencing alone. Talk to one another. Tell your stories and make plans for how you will stand up together. Know that the MTA respects and applauds you - that now more than ever, we have an obligation to make our voices heard. We will help you learn how to fight back, support you when you are silenced and teach you to access the full power of our union.

We engage in collective action precisely because when we act together, we walk into and through the fear and toward our vision for the Schools Our Communities Deserve.

In solidarity,

Barbara