Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up for Your Rights
In the past few weeks I have spoken with educators across Massachusetts who are looking for ways to resist the attacks on our students, public schools and communities. With so much coming at us, it can be difficult to know how and when to act. The MTA is hosting forums and meetings that bring members together to educate, agitate and organize. Below are some opportunities for action, but I wanted to share one story with you as an example of how we can organize and win at the local level.
Students at a Somerville High School were preparing to walk out on the "Day Without Immigrants" on Feb. 16. Educators, many of whom are themselves immigrants, wrestled with how to support the students. Should they walk out? What were the risks? What support would they have? The educators settled on wearing white armbands in solidarity with students.
School administrators were upset by the gesture and attempted to get them to remove the armbands. As other educators heard about this effort to silence their colleagues, they responded by wearing white armbands as well. Rather than respond to threats with fear, the educators deepened their solidarity and strength, drawing courage from each other. Administrators not only backed off, but asked for a meeting with faculty and staff to discuss how to best support students.
The MTA Board of Directors passed a new business item supporting our students and families who are under attack by the Trump administration. Go here to read the NBI, and consider bringing a similar one to your school committee.
In another story of success, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education took a rare vote Monday night, rejecting a 452-seat expansion of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School by a vote of 7-2. Local educators, school leaders and parents - supported by MTA activists who attended the BESE meeting - made a compelling case against the expansion. Go here for my testimony and here for an article about the vote.
Here are some others ways for you to educate, agitate and organize.
Public Higher Education Advocacy Day on Wednesday
Support the public colleges and universities our students, educators and state deserve. Join us for Public Higher Education Advocacy Day on March 1. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. in the Great Hall at the State House. Show your support for full funding for campuses, investing in faculty and staff, and making public higher education more affordable for students. Go here for information and to register and here to find out how to have your voice heard even if you can't be there.
Fight the Testing Machine in March
All are welcome to attend the second meeting of a group formed by the MTA and the NEA Center for Organizing that is strategizing about ways to end the testing madness. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 5, at MTA headquarters, 2 Heritage Drive, Quincy. It will be in the 8th-Floor Training Room. Go here to register.
On March 9, the Lowell Education Justice Alliance presents a FREE screening of "Defies Measurement," a documentary that takes a hard look at what happens when the wrong people make decisions for our schools. The one-hour film screens at 6 p.m. at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center, 246 Market Street. It will be followed by a one-hour discussion of the impact of high-stakes standardized testing and alternatives to it.
EMAC to Host Forums on Race, Ethnicity and Public Education
Race matters. The MTA's Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee invites all MTA members to participate in forums during March on "Race, Ethnicity and Public Education: Continuing the Conversation." The forums will be held at MTA headquarters in Quincy on Saturday, March 4, and Thursday, March 23; at the Educational Association of Worcester on Saturday, March 18; and at MTA's regional office in Auburn on Thursday, March 30. Go here for information and to register.
Wanted: ESP Leaders for Tomorrow
Applications for the 2017-2018 NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow program are available and must be submitted by March 31. Open to any preK-12 or higher education NEA ESP member, this program trains current and future leaders in skills and knowledge that will enhance their ability to be visible, vocal advocates at the local, state and national levels. Attendees participate in three sessions: July 16-21, 2017, in Minneapolis; Nov. 16-21, 2017, in Washington, D.C.; and March 18-25, 2018, location TBD. Go here for more information about the program and for a link to the application.
Volunteers Needed to Support NEA Members During RA
The 2017 NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA), the largest democratic deliberative assembly in the world, is coming to Boston. NEA members will converge in Boston from June 30 to July 5. The MTA will need to coordinate about 200 volunteers each day to staff over 10,000 members and guests. We need adults as well as teens to help our physically challenged delegates. Please spread the word to all MTA members. Click here to sign up to volunteer.
Three Slots Still Open for Teacher Leadership Institute: Apply Now!
Play a greater role in shaping the policies and practices that govern teaching and learning. Go here for more information. Scroll down to find the link to the online application. For more information, contact Gary Gilardi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Women's Day Actions on March 8
A number of members have written me asking about the call for action on March 8, International Women's Day. The organizers of the Women's March on Washington have called for a Day Without Women. There are a number of ways to show your solidarity with the campaign, including wearing red and refraining from shopping that day. Learn more here.
From little things, big things grow.