Supreme Court Decision a Victory for Unions!

Greetings,

We got fantastic news today that the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 decision in the Friedrichs case. This split decision means the lower court's ruling in favor of allowing unions to collect "fair share" or "agency fee" payments from employees who benefit from collective bargaining done on their behalf remains intact. This is a huge victory for public-sector unions and for workplace democracy.

Still, our work is far from done and multiple threats remain. We must keep working together and in our communities to strengthen our union and our public schools. We can take inspiration from recent actions described in this e-mail. From one of the smallest MTA locals to national action in support of the Chicago Teachers Union, educators, students and our communities are reclaiming our public schools.

Testing Opt-Out Actions Heat Up

Testing season is here, and so are opportunities to push back. First, I want to give a big shout-out to the educators at the Swift River School in New Salem, a small town near the Quabbin Reservoir. Their stance in favor of encouraging parents to opt their children out of PARCC testing this spring is a David vs. Goliath story of a small school taking on the state bureaucracy and the mammoth testing industry. The Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees followed on March 22 with a resolution supporting students who opt out and the educators who speak up on their behalf.

Meanwhile, south of Boston, there are two upcoming events of note. In New Bedford, parents and educators are invited to a community dialogue on education from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30. The meeting will be held at the New Bedford main library, 613 Pleasant St. The focus will be on high-stakes testing and opting out. A similar event will be held in Hingham. If you would like to hold an opt-out event in your community, you can find resources on the MTA website or send an e-mail to Dan Clawson, co-chair of MTA's Education Policy and Practice Committee, at clawson.dan@gmail.com.

Students to Stage 'Take the Test' Event at State House

As the Boston Public Schools walk-out showed us, never underestimate the power of organized students who care deeply about their education. Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation (YOUNG) is inviting legislators and BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang to a Take the Test event on March 30 at the State House. In addition to taking the test, students will talk with participants about the impact of high-stakes testing on their education. Encourage your state senator or representative to participate and develop a better understanding of why we are calling for a moratorium on high-stakes testing.

New Report Details Corporate Role in Charter Governance

The Campaign to Save Our Public Schools today released information about the heavy influence of corporate interests in the governance of charter schools. This influence is detailed in Whose Schools: An Examination of Charter School Governance in Massachusetts, a new report by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. The MTA is an active member of the campaign and is committed to protecting local control of public schools through elected school committees that are responsive to the needs of students and parents in their communities.

Media of Note on Charters

There is so much coverage of charter schools recently it's impossible to send links to all of it, but here is some I'd like to highlight:

An excellent column by MTA members Max Page and Eve Weinbaum, public school parents and UMass professors. Local media are hungry for content like this.

A letter from the superintendent in Gill-Montague that serves as a great model for letters from classroom educators and parents about the negative impact of charter schools on district public schools. You can go here to find out how much your district is losing and then let your community know how your students could benefit from that money.

Despite the pro-charter propaganda we usually see in the Boston Globe, a Page 1 story on Monday acknowledged another side to the story. This is the first time I have seen the Globe actually identify hedge fund executives as being behind the effort to lift the cap on charters.

A local TV program with Springfield Education Association President Tim Collins giving the educator's perspective.

Robots Scoring PARCC Essays?

Why waste all that money on thinking human beings when a computer can score student essays? This is one more reason to oppose standardized testing and support the opt-out movement.

Solidarity with Chicago Teachers on April 1

The clock is ticking down to a possible strike in Chicago on April 1 in defense of quality, well-funded public schools. Show your support that day by wearing red or your union colors. Post your support on Facebook and let our sisters and brothers, and the students and community members of Chicago, know that we stand with them in the fight for public education.

Fight for $15 on April 14

Our organizing extends beyond our schools to the communities we serve. Join other union and social justice activists to support an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The lobby day kicks off at 10 a.m. and culminates in a rally outside the State House at 4 p.m. As we continue our ongoing fight for better wages for all, including our own members, it's important to join in solidarity with others making the case for a living wage through this important legislation.

In solidarity, and in anticipation of great things ahead,

Barbara