Stand Up for Science, Public Education and UMB
This past weekend more than 30 MTA members from across the state met to share stories and strategies about how to address what one participant referred to as "weaponized" teacher evaluations and punitive micromanagers. Members spoke from pain, frustration, confusion and anger. We will be working with these members to build relationships with colleagues, organize actions and push back to reclaim the dignity and respect they deserve.
But I wanted to share one lesson I learned from this meeting. As members talked about their working conditions, a pattern emerged over and over. Members asked: "Is this permissible?" "What does the law say?" "Can we?" "What if the principal says no?"
My answer: Stop asking permission and instead organize for power. As one participant said, "You mean we decide what respect means?" Yes, and when you build power through relationships, shared understanding, coalitions and visible tactics, you get to decide all kinds of things.
From building sites to legislation to the national resistance, we are growing power to assert our vision for our schools and our communities. In the weeks ahead, there will be many opportunities for collective actions - all leading up to the Rally for Public Education from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on May 20 in Boston. Save the date. Talk to your local president and field representative. We will help get buses. Let's join students, parents, other community members and educators to say: "Whose schools? Our schools!"
As we prepare for the rally, you can extend our coalitions by wearing your union garb and attending other upcoming events.
Get Your Rally Legs Moving at the March for Science on April 22
As educators, we believe in science and actual facts - not fake news and "alternative facts." We know that global warming is real, not a hoax made up by the Chinese, as our president once claimed. Stand up for truth at the March for Science on the Boston Common from 1 to 4 p.m. on Earth Day, April 22. If you are out of town, join one of the related rallies being held across the country.
May Day Solidarity Actions
Local events will be taking place in communities across the country under the theme "Build Schools, Not Walls!" The NEA is partnering with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement to connect members to events. Go here to the AROS site to sign up for updates. More information will be posted on the AROS site by the end of next week.
Support UMB Members in Their Fight Against Cuts
Faculty, staff and students have been organizing against UMass Boston's plans to cut courses, faculty and staff and to raise tuition and fees as part of an austerity budget blamed on construction debt. Students and faculty cannot be made the victims of poor planning, administrative bungling and lack of state investment in public higher education, as outlined by these impassioned messages sent to The Boston Globe in response to stories about UMass Boston's financial crisis. Please join members of the Faculty Staff Union, Professional Staff Union and Classified Staff Union as they bring the fight to the UMass Board of Trustees meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 12, in the Campus Center ballroom at UMass Boston.
Safe Schools Summit Set for May 6
The Statewide Safe Schools Summit will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 6 at Grafton High School. The workshop sessions and keynote speakers will address an array of issues, including creating LGBTQ-inclusive classrooms, helping traumatized children learn, fighting Islamophobia and instituting restorative justice practices. For those who are interested, on Friday evening there will be an optional two-hour session on "Recalibrating School Discipline and Student Engagement." That workshop is scheduled to begin with dinner at 5 p.m. The summit, co-sponsored by the MTA and the NEA, is free and open to all members. Go here to register.
EAW Wins Battle for PCB Testing in Schools
The EAW has won a big victory for educators and students in Worcester, as described in this March 31 article the Worcester Sun . It begins: "The Educational Association of Worcester has prevailed in its long and hard-fought quest to investigate the presence of potentially cancer-causing PCBs in the air at Burncoat and Doherty Memorial high schools, the union president said. The tests are set to begin at 3 p.m. Monday at Burncoat, and April 24 at Doherty (time to be determined)."
On a final note, we were very saddened to learn of the death on Sunday of state Senator Ken Donnelly of Arlington. The former Lexington firefighter and secretary-treasurer of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts was a true friend of public education and a strong advocate for the rights of working men and women. He will be sorely missed. Go here for funeral information.