MTA Annual Meeting and important State House hearings

Greetings,

I look forward to seeing many of you at our Annual Meeting on Friday and Saturday. Among other important agenda items, we will hold an Issues Forum on Holyoke and the testing that drives corporate reform. The forum will include a discussion about the impact of the state's takeover of the Holyoke Public Schools; the implications of the takeover for educators, students and communities across Massachusetts; and actions we can take to fight back and defend all of public education.

Come to Hearings on Charters, Accountability and Testing

If you are a retiree or a release-time president, or are otherwise available, be sure to come to the State House to attend hearings on MTA's priority preK-12 issues before the Joint Committee on Education. Both hearings are currently scheduled to be held at 10 a.m. on the dates listed below. These bills were generated by our members: Make your voices heard.

  • On May 26, the committee will hear testimony on legislation related to charter schools and school and district accountability, including an MTA-backed bill that would place a three-year moratorium on the approval of new charter schools and require all Commonwealth charter school teachers to be licensed.
  • On June 11, the committee will consider bills on testing, including an MTA-supported bill to impose a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes use of all standardized tests, as well as a three-year moratorium on the administration of the PARCC tests.

More details, including hearing locations and instructions on signing up to testify, will be posted here. If you cannot come to a hearing, please be alert for calls to action to spread the word about testing and charters and how they are undermining public education.

Meanwhile, the next opportunity to let appointed state education officials know what you think of PARCC - and high-stakes testing in general - is on May 18. Click here for details and to see the full schedule.

John Oliver Exposes the Madness of Standardized Testing
 
In a recent episode of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," the host used biting humor to nail many of the significant problems with high-stakes standardized tests. It's 18 minutes long, but well worth watching to the end. (A word of caution: It contains language not appropriate for children.) Please share it with those you want to educate about what is happening in our schools. Oliver sums up the issues brilliantly.

Tentative Agreement Reached on PSU Contract

After months of organizing, resisting terrible proposals and speaking out forcefully for a new contract, the Professional Staff Union at the University of Massachusetts reached a tentative agreement on May 1. The PSU represents professional staff and classified supervisors at the UMass campuses in Amherst and Boston. If the agreement is ratified, the members of this MTA affiliate will finally have a contract after negotiating and organizing for 14 months. Congratulations to all involved in this effort!

Meehan Pledges to Fund UMass Raises

Marty Meehan, chosen Friday as president of the University of Massachusetts system, has told union members that their contracts will be funded by the time he takes over on July 1. Click here to read more. This is promising news and a testament to the good organizing work that UMass members have done and the support provided to them by other MTA members. But, of course, we won't be popping any Champagne corks until the money our members are owed is actually in their paychecks. To keep the pressure on, please click here to sign a petition urging UMass to honor all settled contracts and pay all negotiated salary increases immediately.

Support the Earned Sick Time Law

The business community is organized and working hard to delay implementation of the Earned Sick Time for Employees law approved by voters last November. Business groups are contacting the attorney general's office to delay implementation, so we need to let the AG know we oppose any delay. Please e-mail Assistant Attorney General Mike Firestone at mike.firestone@state.ma.us to thank Attorney General Maura Healey for standing up for workers and to urge her to continue to support the July 1 implementation date.

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

Barbara