Bill co-sponsors needed and GIC changes proposed

Greetings,

The legislative session is beginning and our organizing efforts are heating up. We will be discussing these and other issues at Saturday's All Presidents' meeting in Framingham.

Co-sponsors Needed for MTA-Supported Bills

MTA members are urged to click here to e-mail their legislators and ask them to co-sponsor MTA-supported bills for the current legislative session. Click here to read more about our ambitious legislative agenda, which includes bills that call for a moratorium on high-stakes testing and new charter schools. The vision for this agenda springs from the conviction that we must not only fully and equitably fund public education, but also support the social and economic conditions that allow families and communities to thrive.

Group Insurance Commission Plan Design Changes Proposed

In response to a projected $160 million deficit, the GIC is considering making plan design changes that could greatly increase members' out-of-pocket health care costs as of July 1. I've asked MTA Vice President Janet Anderson to help lead MTA's response to this plan. I have also invited former MTA Vice President Tim Sullivan, the labor representative on the GIC, to come to Friday night's MTA Board meeting to explain the proposed changes and hear MTA Board members' concerns. The GIC is expected to vote on this issue on January 30. Please stay tuned in case we need you to take action!

Holyoke Threatened with Level 5 Takeover

All MTA members should be concerned about what is happening in Holyoke. Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has threatened to name Holyoke the state's second Level 5 district and to place the entire district into the hands of a receiver. This action would strip members of their rights and the community of local control over its schools while failing to address the poverty and lack of services that are at the root of student performance issues. The Holyoke Teachers Association is working with other community groups to fight back. Click here for coverage of a quickly organized meeting attended by 200 Holyoke residents.

No Child Left Behind Should Be Left Behind

Congress is finally beginning to debate changes in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act - better known as No Child Left Behind. The NEA is urging members to tell their U.S. representatives and senators to reduce federal high-stakes testing requirements. Click here to read compelling testimony from New York teacher and parent Jia Lee.

Obama Proposes Free Two-Year College Plan

President Barack Obama has announced a plan under which the federal government would share with state governments the cost of providing all high school graduates with a chance to get a free two-year community college education. The devil is in the details, but it is exciting that at least this country will be forced to debate an issue that most Western nations already take for granted: providing high-school graduates with the free education and training they need to fulfill their goals and dreams. This proposal should prompt another long-overdue debate - one about how adjunct faculty at community colleges, and throughout higher education, are (mis)treated. Read more about that issue here.

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

Barbara