Delegates Approve Charter Plan
At one of the largest MTA Annual Meetings ever, the delegates voted to fully fund MTA's share of the Save Our Public Schools campaign against the pro-charter ballot question, to fight back against undercutting seniority in layoff and transfer decisions, and to lobby against the current educator evaluation framework. They also voted to allow me to continue to lead the MTA for another term, and for that I am grateful. Erik Champy was elected vice president. Many thanks to the more than 1,600 of you who participated in this two-day event to make policy decisions that shape the future of our union. We have started down a path and are ready to keep going.
Here are some updates and more ways that members can be involved.
Fair Share Amendment Moves Ahead
The proposed Fair Share Amendment took a step closer to being included on the 2018 ballot Wednesday after it was debated at length and approved by a vote of 135 to 57 at a joint House and Senate constitutional convention. Please go here to thank legislators who voted in favor and give yourselves a hearty congratulations for getting us here by collecting more than 29,000 signatures last fall.
The amendment will need to win at least 50 votes in a second constitutional convention in the upcoming legislative session (which begins in January 2017) before it is put before the voters. This amendment, backed by the MTA and other members of the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition, would raise more than $1.5 billion for public education, public higher education and transportation by levying a new 4 percent tax on annual income over $1 million.
Verizon Workers Still Need Our Support
Matthew Lyons of IBEW 2222, representing striking Verizon workers, spoke at Annual Meeting to thank us for our support. He noted that the Verizon workers are facing the same attacks on hard-won collective bargaining agreements that we are and he made the connection to charter schools and the outsourcing of jobs. The workers have asked us to "adopt a store" to support their picket line, so we are collaborating with the Boston Teachers Union to do just that. More details to follow. Meanwhile, go here for information on ways you can support workers in your region.
Senate Budget Better than House Plan
We are pleased that the Senate budget released on Tuesday, May 17, includes much of what we had asked for - including increased funding for public higher education and preK-12 schools - compared to proposals that have been offered by Governor Charlie Baker and the House. Allies in the Senate are moving an amendment that would protect certain retirees from paying higher health insurance premiums and another to end the District-Determined Measures mandate. You will hear more from us soon about how to support those amendments.
Taco Night and More for Charters
The Keep the Cap resolutions are really multiplying now. We have 48 at present and are updating the list daily. Recent additions include big districts such as Cambridge, Malden and Brockton, as well as tiny Savoy, Clarksburg and Rowe. Our goal is to reach at least 70 by the end of the school year. Beyond resolutions, we need to engage in local conversations with parents and sign up volunteers. Parents and educators got together for a Taco Night in Framingham Wednesday to talk about what their public schools need. (Spoiler alert: It's not more charter schools.) And commitment cards from members pledging to work on the campaign are rolling in, with 693 collected at Annual Meeting alone. Keep it up!
Check out the Safe Schools Summit this Saturday, sponsored jointly by the MTA and the Office of the Bristol County District Attorney. The goal is to develop strategies that ensure safe, healthy school climates. This event, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UMass Dartmouth School of Law, is free and open to all members. Also, please consider attending the Boston-area Education for Social Justice Conference on The Color of Justice: Race, Class and Public Education. This daylong event will be held at Fenway High School, 67 Alleghany St., Mission Hill.
In solidarity, and in anticipation of great things to come,