The thousands of MTA members and other friends of public education who made calls, sent letters and generally raised their voices to object to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos remind us that the American people value - cherish - our public schools. We forced a tie-breaking vote on her confirmation, the first time that has happened in history. Let's speak out, build our coalitions and claim the schools our communities deserve.
Whose Schools? Our Schools: Protect Public Education
The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education is a smack in the face to the people of this country, who sent millions of messages to senators calling for her nomination to be rejected. While we lost this fight, we continue to win the hearts and minds of the people - who are committed to public education. Our struggle continues and we will be organizing for the battles ahead. But first, let's send a message to students, their families, our communities and our legislators that we will not back down and will continue to defend public education.
This Friday, February 10:
- Wear red - a fighting color - for public ed! Make it crystal clear: We will not give up the struggle for public education and the schools our communities deserve.
- And/or: Hold a standout before you head into class on Friday. Make signs that let others in your community know that you will act with them to protect public education. Post pictures on social media using the hashtag #RedForPublicEd and share this flier.
In the weeks ahead: Plan a community forum to envision the schools our communities deserve and plan what we will do together to guarantee we get those schools. Contact your local president or field representative for information.
Note as well that the MTA Board passed a new business item this past weekend, moved by Sarah McKeon, calling for the NEA to rescind the Friend of Education award it gave to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who has been a strong supporter of DeVos.
Educators Will Not Be Silenced
Last week, I informed you about the retaliatory measures taken against Stoughton educators who took action against bigotry and hatred. You can learn about this issue here. The Stoughton Teachers Association and the MTA are defending these teachers, but they need your support, too. Please sign this petition to the superintendent and School Committee and then share it widely. We want to let district leaders know that the whole world is watching and is outraged by their actions.
Stoughton is not the only district where educators are being silenced. This weekend, the MTA Board passed a new business item moved by Merrie Najimy and Jean Fay asserting our commitment to protecting vulnerable individuals and groups in our schools and our communities, as well as our commitment to standing up for educators who speak out about the violence of bigotry. You can see the text here.
Organizing to Beat Back High-Stakes Testing
Besides the Patriots' victory, the other exciting thing that happened this past Sunday was a meeting of more than 30 people, MTA and community members, to discuss and plan strategy to resist high-stakes testing. Action plans include testing audits (including audits of so-called personalized learning systems), local resolutions supporting a moratorium, educators signing on to opt their children out of high-stakes testing, and educators becoming conscientious objectors, refusing to give the tests. Another planning meeting is scheduled for March 5. Save the date.
We will also be organizing meetings for members who want to be part of the fight to fully fund our schools (March 19) and those who want to reclaim their practice from bullying principals and a punitive teacher evaluation system (April 2).
State Takeover Zones
A bill filed by state Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow and one filed by Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley would give more power to the commissioner, undermine democratically elected school committees, and weaken collective bargaining rights. Cynically, these bills claim to be creating "Innovation Partnership Zones," though there's nothing innovative or collaborative about them. We call these State Takeover Zones. You can learn more about the legislation here.
We will send you more information about how to shut these proposals down and encourage legislators to instead support a bill filed by Senator Michael Rush of West Roxbury, with Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge as the lead House co-sponsor, calling for investing in public education, creating and funding community schools, and placing a moratorium on high-stakes testing.
National Higher Education Bargaining Conference
Higher education members: Check out the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions conference this March in New York City. Get more information here.
We struggle on!