Victories in Higher Ed, but Much Work Ahead on Charters

Greetings,

There are lots of opportunities in the weeks ahead to speak out for the schools and colleges our students deserve. There are some victories to celebrate as well. Kudos to MCCC and MSCA members for their solidarity and strength in bargaining.

Charter Proponents Disregard Democracy

On Tuesday, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved new charter schools in Springfield and Brockton and the expansion of others in Everett and Boston. The Brockton charter was approved after the superintendent of schools and the entire legislative delegation - State Senator Michael Brady, Representatives Claire Cronin and Michelle DuBois and Representative-elect Gerard Cassidy - spoke out against the charter proposal. They noted that the Brockton School Committee, the City Council and the vast majority of their constituents were also against it. The BESE nonetheless voted 7-3 to approve it. So much for democracy. Read more about the MTA's reaction here and see what EduShyster has to say here.

Hearing on Charter Ballot Question Set for March 7

More than ever, we have to make our voices heard about the ways in which charter schools undermine public education. You made more than 1,500 phone calls to Senate President Stan Rosenberg last week. Let's keep the action going. The legislative hearing on the charter school cap lift ballot question has been rescheduled to 10 a.m. on Monday, March 7. Go here for more information. For those who can make it, this is a great opportunity to deliver our message: Public Funds for Public Schools #keepthecap.

Public Higher Education Advocacy Day and Budget Hearing

While we need to stop charters from siphoning funds from public education, we also need to demand more funding for public education, from preK through higher education. On March 7, you can join advocates for public higher education at the State House for a Day of Action to let legislators know that more funding is needed to make sure students have access to high-quality public colleges and universities. For more information and to sign up, click here.

Meanwhile, members are also encouraged to speak out for public education at a hearing on all budget matters starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 4, in Gardner Auditorium at the State House. This is an opportune time to remind legislators that the Foundation Budget Review Commission has recommended $1 billion more in funding for public education. Go here for more information.

Bargaining Victories in Higher Education

Thousands of our members working at community colleges and state universities are in the process of ratifying new contracts after many arduous rounds of bargaining. The Massachusetts Community College Council rallied members for public demonstrations and engaged in work-to-rule actions on campuses across the state during their bid for a new contract. The MCCC bargaining team succeeded in turning back many of the state's onerous proposals, such as one that would have linked student outcomes to performance reviews and pay.

Employees covered by the Massachusetts State College Association's Division of Graduate and Continuing Education contract finally settled salary provisions in January, capping negotiations that began at the end of 2014. The MSCA bargaining team held firm for fair pay as it contended with the arrival of the Baker administration midway through the negotiations.

Friedrichs Update: A Reprieve, Not a Victory

The recent death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dramatically changes the prospects for the anti-union Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, but it doesn't change the need to strengthen our union through organizing and member engagement. Attacks from the right continue unabated. Read all about it in this memo that was sent to the MTA Board and local association presidents.

DESE Survey: Stay Away!

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has made the VISTA survey available through March 18. Go here to read why the MTA continues to recommend that districts and educators NOT participate in the survey.

The Civil Rights Case Against Charter Schools

Boston is reeling from the negative impact of charter schools, and many MTA locals are not far behind. This is a huge civil rights issue. Learn why at a forum sponsored by the Black Educators' Alliance of Massachusetts, the New England Area Conference of the NAACP and the Union of Minority Neighborhoods from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29, at the Charles Street A.M.E. Church, 551 Warren St., Dorchester. Panelists include community organizer Mel King; Harneen Chernow, former labor representative on the BESE; and Matt Cregor of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

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

Barbara