Express your opinions on the issues we face

Greetings,

Use your voice and build our power. This week's e-mail provides several opportunities to make your opinions known - on testing, on other matters of importance to educators, and on building a new MTA website.

Crucial data on testing: Please complete the time-on-testing survey. New Business Item Number 1, passed at last year's MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates, requires that the MTA work with MassPartners for Public Schools to determine how much time school-based educators spend on testing and test preparation. Please click here to take this confidential survey. The purpose of the survey is to determine how much time teachers, paraprofessionals and school-based administrators spend on preparation for and administration of state, district, school and classroom assessments - and how much time students spend taking tests. The survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

What democracy looks like: Keep those MTA Today letters coming. Our members have a lot on their minds, and as a democratic union we invite discussion and debate on all issues that are pertinent to the profession. As I did for the last edition, I'd like to invite you to write a letter to the editor of MTA Today on any current issue of importance to educators. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must be submitted by March 13 for the Spring edition. Send your letters to MTA Today, 20 Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, or e-mail them to mtatodayletters@massteacher.org.

Honor courage: Please take the opportunity to nominate someone for an MTA Human and Civil Rights Award. Nominations are due March 27 for our 2015 Human and Civil Rights Awards. The awards will be presented on Friday, June 19, at the 32nd annual Human and Civil Rights Awards dinner and celebration at the Westin Waltham-Boston Hotel. Anyone can be a nominator. Click here for the nomination form. The awards are named for two amazing longtime MTA activists, Louise Gaskins and Kathleen Roberts. The Louise Gaskins Lifetime Civil Rights Award honors those who have promoted equal opportunity for women and people of color, improved the economic and occupational status of those traditionally excluded, or promoted policies designed to eliminate racism and sexism. The Kathleen Roberts Creative Leadership Award honors those who exemplify the volunteerism and leadership that characterize Roberts' contributions through political action, community organizing and volunteerism, and mentoring. Please be sure to include your full name, your MTA affiliation and the best ways to contact you.

Acting on conviction: Read, share, organize. The Opt-Out movement in New Jersey is growing. Listen to these parents talk about why they are opting their children out of PARCC testing, and check out this story about the thousands of New Jersey students who refused to take the test. Our brothers and sisters in the New Jersey Education Association are supporting the PARCC opt-out. Meanwhile, Massachusetts blogger Jennifer Berkshire, otherwise known as EduShyster, interviews Chicago teacher leader Xian Franzinger Barrett on testing and equity.

Take the MTA website survey. We are continuing to work toward the development of a new MTA website. The process will unfold over the next few months. As part of our efforts, we are asking members and other visitors to www.massteacher.org to take a brief survey to help guide our thinking. The survey is quick and easy to complete. As soon as you visit the home page, you will see a graphic inviting you to complete the questionnaire. Please click "YES" and then share your views and ideas to help us create a great new website!

Last chance to speak up on the Foundation Budget. The Foundation Budget Review Commission will hold its last public hearing from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 9, at the Joseph Lee Elementary School, 155 Talbot Ave., Dorchester. Consider attending and letting the commission know what your students need in order to get the education they deserve. Click here for more information about what the commission does and here for guidance if you would like to testify before the commission or e-mail testimony.

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

Barbara