First Step in Organizing: Sharing Your Views

Greetings,

The late, great Senator Paul Wellstone from Minnesota said, "Successful organizing is based on the recognition that people get organized because they, too, have a vision." That is the thinking behind our organizing push - because you, too, have a vision of the schools our students, educators and communities deserve.

After hearing from thousands of members across the state, the MTA formed organizing workgroups on high-stakes testing, charter schools, TS GOLD, and Level 4 and 5 schools. In addition, the staff is continuing to help members organize around contract fights, school committee elections, health and safety issues and other local concerns.

Click here for a form that can help you structure discussions about your vision for public schools and public higher education. Sharing your views and stories is the first step in organizing. Organizing does take work - but it is gratifying work that involves many active, engaged and energized members instead of relying on a small number of overworked local leaders.

Charter schools. We will need to be organized to fight school privatization efforts aimed at lifting the cap on charter schools. The newest attacks are coming from the right via an expected legal challenge and Governor Charlie Baker's appointment of a strongly pro-charter chair of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Paul Sagan.

Beyond MCAS and PARCC. We are often asked: If not testing, then what? The short answer is "teaching." The longer answer is that there are more authentic ways to assess performance than an on-demand high-stakes standardized test. Learn all about how it can be done at a free FairTest conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 21 at the Mission Hill School in Boston. The MTA is a sponsor. In addition to the featured presentations by representatives of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, there will be workshops by educators using schoolwide alternatives and many opportunities for conversations on key topics. The conference is free, and lunch will be provided. For more information and to register, click here.

Higher ed contracts. The fight to fund negotiated pay raises for our UMass members continues. Thanks to all who have already sent messages to their legislators on that issue. The House has passed legislation filed by the governor containing language to implement the UMass contracts, and the Senate will take it up shortly. If you have not already done so, please click here to send an email to your senator urging support of this legislation. A recap on the problem: UMass president Robert Caret has refused to implement the new contracts, claiming lack of funds. A legislative endorsement would strengthen our argument that UMass has the money to fund the contracts. Higher education members are now conducting actions on UMass campuses to convince President Caret to do the right thing.

Student immigrant rights. MTA and AFT Massachusetts locals are partnering with the Student Immigrant Movement to create a statewide teacher advisory board on student immigrant rights. Please fill out this quick survey if you are interested in getting involved in this issue. For more information, contact Jennifer Freeling, MTA Training and Professional Learning specialist, by emailing jfreeling@massteacher.org.

Fill out those surveys! Getting survey results really does help us understand what's going on in our schools and colleges and figure out how to best meet members' needs. Please click here to take a confidential survey on time spent on testing (this is a joint effort with the superintendents and school committees) and go to www.massteacher.org to take a brief survey to help us improve our website. If TS GOLD is a local concern, please contact your field representative about a TS GOLD survey, as well.

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

Barbara