Let's Raise the Heat on Charters, Testing

Greetings,

It's been looking more like winter outside, and in fact Monday's snowstorm forced postponement of a State House hearing on House 3928, a bill that would lead to a significant lift of the cap on charter schools.

The MTA is committing resources to fight any expansion of Commonwealth charter schools. You can read more about our opposition to charters here and here. Watch the MTA website in the days ahead for the new hearing date - and plan to come if you are able. If you can't, you can still submit written testimony. For more information, contact MTA Government Relations Specialist Julie Johnson at jjohnson@massteacher.org.

Also please check out and share Wednesday's MTA Twitter post of the #keepthecap truck making its way around Beacon Hill this week. The bright yellow sign, which you can also see on our Facebook page, is part of our campaign to let legislators know that more than $400 million a year in public funds for private schools is too much. Call Senate President Stan Rosenberg at 617-722-1500 and tell him: "Public funds for public schools. Keep the cap."

Opt-Out Guide for Parents

It is a troubling commentary on the current state of public education that in addition to winter, spring, summer and fall, we now have testing season - and it is fast upon us. This is all the more reason to spread the word on opting students out of high-stakes testing. The MTA has put together fantastic new resources on parents' right to opt their children out of these destructive tests. Opting out is a critical tool in our efforts to stop the high-stakes testing juggernaut and return joy, creativity, imagination and critical thinking to classrooms. Go here to learn more and here for a guide to opting out.

Members Speak Out on High-Stakes Testing

MTA members are speaking out on the impact of high-stakes testing on students. Our social media and digital advertising campaign will continue for the next several weeks, and videos will be posted on facebook.com/massteacher and youtube.com/massteacher as they are released. Click here for the first video in the series.

Spring Into Action: Build Your Relationships and Your Knowledge - and Get Organized!

While we are helping parents opt their children out of testing and reclaiming spring as a season of hope and possibilities, there are some opportunities in the coming months to pick up new skills, network and have those essential one-to-one conversations that are so important to building our collective power. These include:

  • The MTA Education Support Professionals Conference, which will be held April 8 and 9 at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth. This popular annual conference provides the perfect opportunity for ESPs to develop their skills and knowledge in a wide range of areas, meet other ESPs from around the state, and have a great weekend. Go here to find out more and to register.
  • Round 2 of Next Generation Leadership Training, which is now underway. This program educates and supports members as they create bottom-up activism to help make their locals more powerful and effective. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, and training sessions are held in different regions of the state one weekend a month. Click here to learn more and to apply.
  • The MTA Higher Education Conference, which is set for April 15 and 16 at the Westin Waltham Boston hotel. This conference will offer workshops and discussions on trends taking place in public higher education and on how MTA's higher education locals can influence those changes. Watch for more information about conference offerings and registration at www.massteacher.org/highered.

And if you can, get yourself to "one of the biggest gatherings out there of grassroots union activists, worker center leaders, and all-around troublemakers" - the Labor Notes Conference from April 1 to 3 in Chicago. There will be special programs for educators organizing to fight for the schools our students and communities deserve. Click here for more information.

Reminder: Speaking of organizing, copies of the book "How to Jump-Start Your Union" are available from the MTA. To learn more about how corporate interests are seeking to take over public education, we also have copies of the film "Education, Inc." and the book "The Prize." Contact Ari Mercado in the Division of Governance and Administration at amercado@massteacher.org if you are interested in getting a copy of any of these.

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

Barbara