Bargaining Summit: Ideas and Inspiration

Greetings,

The MTA's Collective Bargaining Summit on Feb. 7 was a rousing success. You can read more about it here.

Speakers from Chicago, St. Paul, Minn., and Portland, Ore., all centered on the same themes: organizing around a common vision for the schools our children deserve, bringing big issues to the bargaining table and inviting the community to engage in the struggle with you.

Click here for a sample of what St. Paul teachers were able to win in their contract, including smaller class sizes, more specialists to educate the whole child, more funding for preschool and less testing.

Click here for information about how Chicago educators are fighting for the schools the city's students, teachers and parents deserve. A poster held by a member summarizes the message: "Children can't come to school ready to learn unless their basic needs have been met first."

Of the many powerful moments of the day, one was the palpable understanding that we do not face the assault on public education alone. Union members, students and parents across the country and in our own backyard support us, are organizing and are speaking up.

Casey Pease, a senior at Gateway Regional High School, spoke out for teachers and students in this letter. If you can't access it online, here's one part:

It's easy to make policy decisions and legislation when you're in an office on Beacon Hill, but I have an office too.

Granted, it moves around all the time, but it gives me a good viewpoint. It's the desk I use while in the classroom. From it, I see every single day how our education system works and I see how it's killing our teachers and hurting students because no longer is learning fun - it's standardized.

The NEA is ramping up opposition to excessive testing, calling for members to tell Congress to stop the testing madness in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known as No Child Left Behind in its current form) and demanding that we hold states accountable for providing the resources needed so that every child receives a high-quality education. Sign the petition here. Send an e-mail to your U.S. representative and senators here.

Meanwhile, I urge those of you in Western Massachusetts to inform yourselves about how race and class issues are embedded in corporate education reform by attending an upcoming event. Head over to South Hadley and hear José Luis Vilson, author of "This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education," at the Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16.

Keep informed. Speak up. Share your story. Organize.

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

Barbara