Charter Plan Goes to MTA Board

Greetings,

Charter Plan Goes to MTA Board

Charter proponents, fueled by a massive infusion of funds from Wall Street, have committed to spending $18 million to lift the cap on Commonwealth charter schools in Massachusetts. Any cap lift represents a profound threat to public education.

The MTA is fighting back. For a year now, the MTA has been working with AFT Massachusetts, the Boston Teachers Union, Jobs With Justice, the NAACP and other groups to build a coalition, the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, to stop any attempts to lift the cap on charters. As our alliance strengthened and grew, we began a discussion about how to extend this coalition into a statewide grassroots movement. Now the MTA, with partners in MEJA, has developed a plan to support public funds for public schools and fight the cap-lift proposals in the Legislature and on the ballot.

The plan would require a major commitment of resources from the MTA. The MTA Executive Committee reviewed and discussed the proposal last Friday, and the MTA Board is scheduled to discuss it at a meeting this Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Verve in Natick. After conferring with the local association presidents in their regions, the Board will vote on the plan at an emergency meeting on Sunday, Feb. 7, at MTA headquarters in Quincy.

This is an important time to have your voices heard about this critical issue. Please reach out to local presidents and your Board members. You are welcome, as always, to attend the meetings as well. AFT Massachusetts voted last weekend to support the funding of this campaign.

Southbridge Placed in Receivership: Member Voices Will Not Be Silenced

The MTA is fully committed to helping our members in Southbridge navigate the state receivership of their district. The problems there were caused by a breakdown in the district's leadership and can only be solved if the new receiver listens to the views of Southbridge educators.

The receivership was approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Jan. 26. Commissioner Mitchell Chester plans to name a permanent receiver within a month. Members of the Southbridge Education Association, wearing red in a show of solidarity, attended a hearing the night before the vote. They expressed their frustration with the systemic and long-term failures of district leadership.

As SEA President Joan Sullivan told the board, any sort of improvement plan for the district must include input from classroom educators. The MTA will work with them to ensure that educators are central to any turnaround plans and that workers' rights are protected.

Secretary of the One Percent Opposes School Funding Plan

You might think that a public official with the title "secretary of education" would care deeply about, well, public education. You might think that person would support additional funding for public schools and colleges, particularly after the nonpartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission found that our schools need an additional $1 billion a year in funding to guarantee all students a quality education.

Think again!

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser told reporters that he opposes the Fair Share Amendment we are backing - even though the funds raised would go to public schools, public higher education and transportation. Peyser's comments are completely in line with the views of the people behind Governor Charlie Baker's efforts to privatize our public schools by lifting the charter cap. Whose interests are being served?

New title to propose: Jim Peyser, Secretary of the One Percent.

Seeking Nominees for Human and Civil Rights Awards

While hedge fund managers and their loyal political appointees are looking to further their own interests at the expense of the common good, there are individuals and organizations out there every day standing strong for a more just world. The MTA recognizes those who have made extraordinary contributions through the MTA's Human and Civil Rights Awards. Nominations are now being accepted for the Louise Gaskins Lifetime Civil Rights Award and the Kathleen Roberts Creative Leadership Award. Nominees do not have to be MTA members.

Please consider the warriors for justice you know and nominate them. The honorees will be celebrated at the MTA Human Relations Committee's annual awards banquet on June 17. All are welcome.

Stronger Together: Building Union Power for the Schools Our Communities Deserve

With privatizers setting their sights on us and the Koch-funded Friedrichs case in the Supreme Court readying to destabilize us financially, we now - more than ever - must build our power, first at the local level and then statewide.

The MTA rolled out a member organizing plan at the All Presidents' Meeting on Jan. 23.

First steps include:

  1. Making sure our membership information is up to date.
  2. Making sure all members have one-on-one conversations with other members active in their local associations - such as building reps - so they can share their views on what they want from their union, determine the local issues they want to build power around, and then act together for those demands.

When we connect and communicate, we will strengthen our collective power.

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

Barbara