Our organizing efforts continue

Greetings,

I hope this finds you all well, safe and dug out from the snowstorm.

Despite the weather, our educating and organizing efforts continue. Members have made a great response to the call for e-mails to the Group Insurance Commission regarding possible changes to health insurance. These changes could have wide-ranging impacts.

Action on MTA-Supported Bills

Now I need you to put the same effort into contacting representatives and senators about MTA's legislative agenda. It is ambitious and includes MTA-supported bills calling for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing and Commonwealth charter schools, securing due-process rights, strengthening our colleges and universities and instituting a living wage, among other items. Please contact legislators before Monday, Feb. 2, and ask them to sign on to co-sponsor one or more of the bills.

You can read more about the legislation here and then, with one click, send e-mails to your state representative and senator.

The Senate's Listening Tour

New Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg has planned a listening tour across the Commonwealth so that the senator from each district can meet with constituents to hear which issues people are concerned about.

This is an excellent opportunity not only to speak up as an individual, but to bring a group of educators and community members to stand together - for public education, for the well-being of our communities and against mandate madness. The impact of one person speaking is multiplied when we stand together. Our sisters and brothers of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO will be organizing to attend as well.

The first meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at Holyoke Community College, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke. Another meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 9, on the South Shore. Stay tuned for the specific location of that meeting and the times and locations of several more that will be held around the state.

NCLB Reauthorization

Now is also the time to let Congress know where we stand on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind. You have until Monday, Feb. 2, to tell the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee your story about how testing impacts students, teachers and school communities and how we can hold states accountable to ensure that every child has an equitable opportunity for learning. All students deserve a rich and varied curriculum with arts and physical education, licensed educators, small class sizes, well-stocked libraries and more. Read more about it here and take action, or contact the committee by e-mailing fixingNCLB@help.senate.gov.

'Black Votes Matter'

For those of you in the Boston area and for others willing to travel, please consider attending this lecture at the Museum of African American History in Boston at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12. Bob Moses, a civil rights activist, organizer of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project and founder of the Algebra Project, will be speaking on the subject of "Black Votes Matter." I heard Moses speak some years ago about the relationship between sharecropper education and the development of the SAT. I have never forgotten his challenging and moving words. More information is available here.

Responding to TS GOLD

We continue to hear from members across the state about their outrage regarding the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment, otherwise known as TS GOLD. We have put together recommendations for local actions here. We also encourage locals that wish to speak back on this mandate to review these action items, organize and consider connecting with other locals in their region to take concerted action.

Worth Reading

Across the country, educators, students and parents are standing up and speaking out for public education. Here are some stories you might have missed:

Collective Bargaining Summit

Don't forget to join us at the MTA Collective Bargaining Summit on Saturday, Feb. 7. Click here for more information.

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

Barbara