Activism Rises Among Members and Students
From testing to charters to funding, the ground is shifting in Massachusetts as educators, students and community members raise their voices and demand the schools our communities deserve. Here are a few examples to brighten your day and inspire you to take action.
Worcester Opposes Lifting the Cap
Worcester is leading the way in fighting proposals to lift the cap on charter schools. With support from the Educational Association of Worcester and many local residents, the Worcester City Council has joined the district's School Committee in voting to ask the Legislature not to approve a bill lifting the cap. Please consider asking your school committee, city or town council, or board of selectmen to do the same. We need a steady drumbeat of local education and advocacy to explain how the kudzu-like growth of charters is beginning to strangle our public school system. Go here for a sample resolution or come up with one of your own that includes the clear message: Don't lift the cap!
Deliver a Message to the Senate Next Week
Next Wednesday, many of you will be getting a recorded message from me that will patch you through to your state senator. Please take that call and stay on the line to deliver the message that we are opposed to any lifting of the cap on charter schools.
Boston Students Stand Up for Public Schools
Monday afternoon, I was greeted by an amazing sight in front of the State House: thousands of students who had walked out of their public schools in Boston to protest threatened budget cuts. Despite what you might have read in The Boston Globe, this walkout was planned and organized by the students themselves. Students chanting "BPS! BPS! BPS!" made it clear they don't want their public schools damaged by inadequate funding.
One cause of Boston's budget crisis? The Boston Public Schools are losing $119 million to charters this year alone. Another? Governor Charlie Baker's budget plan badly underfunds education and does not begin to meet the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.
Hundreds of students wore "Public Funds for Public Schools" stickers, and several student leaders left the march to enter the State House and testify against lifting the cap at a legislative hearing. Kudos to the student activists who showed the courage of their convictions and took a stand.
Higher Education Members Advocate for More Funds
While Boston students were outside, public higher education students, faculty and staff were inside the State House lobbying for better funding during this year's Public Higher Education Advocacy Day. Issues raised included meeting contract obligations, making public education debt-free and promoting quality and accessibility. It's a disgrace that in Massachusetts, of all places, state funding for public higher education lags behind the amounts provided in most of the rest of the nation.
Local Forums and In-District Meetings Coming
There are a growing number of chances to help make a difference on issues that MTA members are uniquely qualified to address. Several locals are planning forums on testing and the opt-out option. Others are holding in-district lobbying meetings on the bill that would lift the charter cap or other issues. Please participate in these efforts and help organize new ones that aren't scheduled yet. Work with your local association leadership, your MTA Senate district coordinator and like-minded parents, students and others who support public education.
Annual Meeting Coming May 13-14
The clock is winding down on your chance to seek election to serve as a delegate to MTA's Annual Meeting of Delegates at the Hynes Convention Center on May 13 and 14. If you are interested in participating in this incredible display of union democracy - an event that sets the future direction of your union - don't hesitate. Contact your local association or chapter president ASAP to learn more.
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,