Unleash People Power for Public Education

Greetings,

In the weeks and months ahead, we will be turning up the heat to protect, support and reclaim public education. Your actions - big and small - will make the difference. Here are a few ways to participate.

State Senators Need to Hear a Strong Keep-the-Cap Message

The state Senate is dangerously close to writing legislation that lifts the cap on charters. This would mean more lost funding for public schools. I am hearing from local presidents across the state about the negative impact of charter schools siphoning funds from public schools: fewer education support professionals, fewer (and sometimes zero) librarians, larger class sizes, etc. We cannot abide any cap lift, and we have to let the Senate know - again and again - that one is unacceptable.

Your personal phone call will send a powerful message. I will be calling you again soon - and every two weeks - to ask you to deliver a message on charters to your state senator. You will then be patched through to your senator's office. The whole process will only take a couple of minutes, but every call matters. Charter advocates have piles of money on their side, but we have people power. Let's exercise that power on behalf of the public schools that educators, students and communities deserve. When you hear from me, make that call and tell your friends to call, too.

Charter Hearing on March 7: Keep the Cap!

Reminder: The Education Committee is holding a hearing on March 7 on the ballot question to obliterate the cap on charter schools. This is another opportunity to let your legislators know that we want public funds for public schools and to #keepthecap. If you can, please come to Gardner Auditorium in the State House at 10 a.m. to show your support in person against all cap-lift plans, both in the Legislature and on the ballot.

The High-Stakes Test Opt-Out Option

Our schools are about to be consumed by the testing Pac-Man. MCAS tests start March 22 and PARCC tests begin April 25. At our Annual Meeting last year, the delegates voted to support parents who want to opt their children out of these tests. The MTA has produced an online toolkit with information about the Opt-Out option. It includes a Parents' Guide to Opting Out and a fact sheet by MTA's Legal Division on members' First Amendment rights as they relate to this issue. Please share these resources with all who are interested in this growing national movement. We will also support you in setting up a forum in your local to discuss high-stakes testing and its impact on our public schools. For more information, please get in touch with Dan Clawson (clawson.dan@gmail.com) and/or Sue Doherty (sueadoherty@gmail.com) of the MTA's Education Policy Committee.

LaborCAN! Conference Coming March 19

Join our sisters and brothers in labor to organize for labor rights and economic justice. MTA members are welcome to attend the Northeastern LaborCAN! Educational Conference sponsored by the Mass. AFL-CIO, the North Shore Labor Council and the Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council. Participants will learn about the right-wing attack on unions and develop strategies for fighting back. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 19 in Peabody. The conference is free, but registration is required. Go here for information.

Southbridge Educators Work to Shape District's Future

Five Southbridge Education Association members have joined the local stakeholders' group to make sure educators' voices are heard in the development of recommendations under state receivership of the district. The group's recommendations are due April 8.

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

Barbara