Breathtaking

reclaim_march

Greetings,
 
It is simply breathtaking the speed with which policies are coming from the White House that erode democracy and undermine our ideals of economic and racial justice, of public education, and of a shared investment in the common good.
 
The powerful and emphatic response of so many to the new agenda is just as breathtaking. We are watching democratic participation emerge as a potent force for how we know each other, talk to each other and act in the world.
 
We are part of a heartening revitalization of union and civic engagement - from organized protests to casual conversations to running for office. Throughout the state, we are talking about politics and acting in response to our conversations. Hundreds of educators and unionists have joined protests in recent days decrying the president's executive order banning Muslims. Seventy-five MTA members have signed up for campaign school over the February break. In that program, they will learn the ins and outs of running for office.
 
There is a lot to do, and there will be for some time ahead. Here are a few other ways to participate in protecting our values and shaping our future.
 
Support Stoughton Educators
Some of you may have seen this Boston Globe article about educators in Stoughton who were punished for taking a stand against hate speech. The MTA is vigorously defending the members, and the Stoughton Teachers Association is organizing to fight back. We cannot allow the language of bigotry to take hold in our schools. Nor can we allow those who speak and act against hate speech to be silenced. Stay tuned for information about ways in which MTA members outside Stoughton can show their support for Stoughton educators.
 
Organize to Resist High-Stakes Testing
Join MTA activists, Citizens for Public Schools and NEA organizers to develop plans for statewide resistance to high-stakes testing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 5, at MTA headquarters in Quincy, 2 Heritage Drive, 8th floor. Go here to register.
 
Last weekend I was fortunate to speak with Jeanette Deutermann of New York State Allies for Public Education and the founder of Long Island Opt Out. This group organized 250,000 opt-outs. She told me that when parents see educators taking a strong stand to defend students, they will support those educators. Let's do it.
 
Speak Up at Senate Forums 
Come to one of the state Senate's Commonwealth Conversations, which are scheduled in different locations across the state. Eight more sessions are scheduled from February 7 through April 11. This is an important opportunity to tell your stories about how austerity funding, hyper-accountability, bullying and privatization are affecting your work and the experiences of our students. Speak out. Your voice is critical to the struggle.
 
Forums: The Schools Our Communities Deserve
The MTA is supporting locals in holding community forums to envision the Schools Our Communities Deserve and organizing to fight for that vision. Go here to read a draft of the vision statement. (You'll need your password or membership card to access the members' area.) Speak to your local president and/or field representative about organizing a forum in your community.
 
Protect Our Students, Their Families, Our Schools and Our Communities
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 12-11 to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. A union-busting privatizer, she represents a serious threat to public education. We must harness our full power to protect our public schools, our students and our communities. Begin now: Raise your voices. Make your school a sanctuary school. Demand that your school committee endorse a sanctuary district resolution. Show up at protests. Speak to colleagues and neighbors. Ask each other each day: "What kind of world do we want? How will we achieve it?" Prepare yourselves by building trust and solidarity for the struggles ahead.
 
LAST CHANCE TO APPLY! Teacher Leadership Institute 
Applications for the 2017 Teacher Leadership Institute are being accepted through February 15. Go here for more information and a link to the online application. The TLI is a partnership of the MTA, the NEA, the Center for Teaching Quality and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to prepare educators who want to play a greater role in shaping the policies and practices that govern teaching and learning in the U.S.
 
Three hundred participants from across the country will hone their expertise and engage in leadership work in schools, state houses and associations. For more information, contact Gary Gilardi at ggilardi@massteacher.org  
 
In solidarity,
 
Barbara