RETELL deadline changed, members speak out - and more

Greetings,

Summer break was a long time coming, but it's finally here - or almost - for most preK-12 members. I hope everyone finds time to relax, enjoy good weather and be with family and friends. I also hope some of you use the time to think about, talk about and share ideas about the big issues affecting our profession, our union and our students. Included below are some ideas about how to do that.

RETELL Deadline Moved to Aug. 3

Registration for the fall 2015 Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement courses required under the RETELL initiative begins on Monday, Aug. 3 - later than was previously announced. Click here for details. The DESE is not planning to provide no-cost SEI Endorsement courses after the 2015-16 school year, though the MTA is continuing to push for an extension of the no-cost option. If you are an eligible core academic teacher, you are advised to register for a fall course or add your name to a waiting list. Adding your name to a waiting list provides an authentic count of how many educators still need to take the course. More details about the coming year will be posted here in early July.

Summer Conference

It's not too late to sign up for MTA's Summer Conference, which will be held in Springfield from Aug. 3 to Aug. 6. This smaller, more focused conference includes an organizing institute, two academies for new presidents and a track for the New Member Program. There is no charge for participating. For the organizing institute, we are asking locals to bring teams that can work together and develop plans for the coming year. This conference is in place of the annual Summer Conference that used to be held at Williams College and was going to be held at UMass Amherst this year. Delegates to MTA's Annual Meeting voted to cancel the event at UMass because faculty and staff have not yet received the back pay they are owed.

Jump-Start Your Union with a Book Group

This past year - and especially in the last few weeks - we have shown that we are ready to organize to reclaim public education. We can learn from each other and from our union brothers and sisters across the country about how to do this work. To that end, the MTA is offering FREE copies of How to Jump-Start Your Union, a book about the strengthening of the Chicago Teachers Union, to members who want to participate in summer book clubs. Any group of three or more - from within or across locals - can request copies. E-mail Ari Mercado at amercado@massteacher.org to let her know how many books you need. At the end of the summer, we will make space on our website for you to share your insights.

Read MTA Members' Testimony on Testing

We have now posted testimony from most of the MTA members who spoke in favor of House 340, our bill calling for a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes use of testing. The packed State House hearing was held on June 11. Read, share and send your own comments to your representative and/or your local paper.

Adjuncts Are "Sweatshop Workers"

Legislators heard compelling testimony about the plight of adjunct faculty members during a hearing June 17 on an MTA-backed bill to improve their benefits and increase the number of full-time faculty positions. Click here to read about the issue and what we are hoping to achieve.

We Must Fully Fund Public Schools and Colleges

Members are reporting a continued financial squeeze that manifests itself in ways large and small. Layoff notices for teachers and ESPs. Rising fees for public higher education students. Lack of technology in schools - sometimes even a lack of paper! Shuttered libraries. Erosion in the number of full-time faculty members teaching and guiding our college students. Higher co-pays and deductibles for health insurance. It's well past time we got serious about fully funding public education, from prekindergarten through higher education. The MTA and our labor allies are working with community and social justice organizations to figure out how the state can raise more revenue for our schools and colleges without increasing taxes on middle- and low-income families. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.

Thank you for everything you have done during the school year, and have a great summer!

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

Barbara