First things first: Congratulations to Saul Ramos - paraeducator and member of the Educational Association of Worcester, the MTA and NEA - for receiving the NEA ESP of the Year award. This is an amazing honor for Saul and shines a lovely light on the MTA. Great work, Saul! You do us all proud. Read more here.
Meanwhile, MTA members across the state are fighting for the schools our communities deserve. This is what member-led organizing for power looks like: getting together to discuss experiences, developing a shared understanding of problems, and making plans to harness collective power and change the situation. MTA members can organize through the opportunities listed below, through contract campaigns, and on their own through conversations in their buildings. Such organizing brings us to important questions: How is it going? What would you like to change? Who else will join us? What will our first steps be?
Connecting Beyond the Issue at Hand
Last week, I attended an organizing meeting of the Education Association of Plymouth and Carver at the home of EAPC Carver Vice President Tammy Johnson. President Tom Pinto led a spirited group of educators and parents as they made plans to reach out to the Carver community and push back on proposed budget cuts that, if enacted, could lead to the elimination of nearly two dozen teacher and full-time paraprofessional positions.
Here are a few quick notes about what I saw happening at that meeting. First, members were steeped in knowledge - not only about the contract and the budget but about the community, the parents, and the connections among different groups. Second, members were using that knowledge to educate each other and make specific plans to reach out, figure out who would talk to whom, and determine how they would generate interest and support in upcoming forums and community meetings. Third, members were passionate and used the meeting to steer that passion to commit to action and build power through solidarity. And last, the meeting was fun! People were quick-witted, relaxed and focused at the same time, connecting beyond the issue at hand. It was a fine example of great leadership - in part because Tom let the members lead while he helped them stay focused. I'm looking forward to hearing about their next steps in the struggle.
Living Our Commitment
All of our actions in favor of public education are important, whether we gather in someone's living room or at the State House. My opinion piece in The Boston Globe today, advocating for our legislative priorities for the public schools our students and communities deserve, is another way we express our commitment to public education.
The events and other opportunities listed below are yet more ways to live up to our ideals. Let's name the issues and plan collective action to create the schools our communities deserve. Join us!
'What's Next in the Fight for Public Education?'
Join Indivisible Cambridge, the Cambridge Education Association, state Senator Pat Jehlen and state Representative Marjorie Decker from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, in the school library at the Graham and Parks Elementary School, 44 Linnaean St., Cambridge. Discuss "What's Next in the Fight for Public Education?" and learn how you can help defend our public schools. Parents, educators, students and the community are invited, and child care will be provided. Go here for more information.
Second Forum on 'Race, Ethnicity and Public Education'
The second of four Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee forums will be held this Saturday, March 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Educational Association of Worcester office. Go here to register for this important series of conversations about ethnicity, race and racism, and learn how they affect students, educators and communities.
Fight to Fully Fund Our Public Schools
Attend an organizing meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at MTA headquarters in Quincy to learn more and discuss next steps in the fight to fully fund our public schools. Go here to register.
Resist High-Stakes Testing
South Shore: Members, students and parents are invited to a conversation on the damage being done to students by high-stakes testing. Hear from parents who are opting their children out and educators who are acting as conscientious objectors. The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, at the Sons of Italy Hall, 88 Chief Justice Cushing Highway, Hingham. Go here for more information.
Metro Area and West: Join other MTA members and community activists from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, to share ideas about organizing strategies in the fight against high-stakes testing. This meeting, being held at MTA headquarters in Quincy and simultaneously at MTA's Holyoke office, is the third of several actions the MTA is working on with the NEA's Center for Organizing to bring testing resistance strategies to locals around the country. All are welcome, from preK-12 to higher education colleagues who want to support these efforts and/or opt their children out of high-stakes testing. Go here to register for the Quincy meeting and here to register for the one in Holyoke.
MTA Task Force on Race: Islamophobia Forum
President Trump's two executive orders on immigration are very similar. They are rooted in Islamophobia. Join MTA members from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, at MTA headquarters in Quincy to discuss how to support your students, their families and your colleagues. Whether or not you have Arab or Muslim students, this Task Force on Race forum is for you. Learn how to combat Islamophobia in your classroom, your school, and your community. Go here for more information.