School's Out! Let's Keep the Activism Going

Greetings,

Getting rid of the student impact rating and District-Determined Measures mandate is now a battle on two fronts: Beacon Hill and Malden. MTA members joined me and staff at a very productive Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting in Malden on Monday night. Read more about that and other opportunities for activism this summer.

Progress on #ditchDDMs!

We were happy to see a contingent of MTA members from as far away as Plymouth and Carver at the BESE meeting Monday. We made the most of the 10 minutes we were given to make our case. Several BESE members expressed concern that virtually no practitioners find the rating valid or useful. BESE member Margaret McKenna noted that the mandate requires members to create "thousands and thousands" of new DDMs - not explicitly to help students, just to evaluate educators. BESE's labor representative, Ed Doherty, has started the process of putting a motion before the board to repeal the DDM/impact rating regulations. Discussion on his motion is planned for BESE's September meeting. We will keep you posted about any upcoming actions needed.

On Beacon Hill, meanwhile, MTA members sent more than 7,000 e-mails to legislators to support the Senate's position on this issue. Our amendment has been caught up in budget limbo. We just learned that a budget agreement has been reached, though we don't have any details yet about what action was taken on the impact rating amendment. We will provide an update in the future.

Be Heard on ESSA!

Educators and others have until Aug. 1 to provide feedback to the U.S. Department of Education on proposed regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Many of these regulations concern testing and accountability. Your voice is needed. Go here for more information and to send a message.

NEA RA Followed by SOS March

I am on my way to the NEA Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C., where many issues of importance will be debated. One issue I'm watching closely concerns the school-to-prison pipeline. Hyperdisciplinary policies and a lack of support for schools to address students' social and emotional needs contribute to high dropout rates, loss of opportunity and the eventual incarceration of too many young people in our country. The NEA will be discussing the role that members and our unions can play in shutting down this pipeline.

After the RA, I'll be at the Save Our Schools march in Washington on July 8. I hope to see many of you there. Space is still available on buses traveling from Boston and the New Bedford area very early on July 8 (around midnight) and returning on July 10. Contact Ricardo Rosa at ricardorosa1973@yahoo.com for information about the buses and free accommodations.

Charter Resolutions and Summer Actions

As of now, 67 school committees have passed resolutions against lifting the charter cap. These votes can have a big impact on voters in the fall. But we need more face-to-face conversations with the public, so that involves door-knocking, phone calling and local community forums - much like the highly successful forum held in Lexington on Tuesday. Please respond if you hear from your MTA field rep, your Senate District Coordinator or a Save Our Public Schools campaign organizer about events in your area. We need an effective ground game to counter the attack ads we are sure to face now that the pro-charter forces have hired the ad agency that created the infamous anti-John Kerry "swift boat" ads to go after you and our public schools. The swift boat ad campaign was later characterized as a "smear campaign" whose claims were discredited. 

MTA Board Supports Mexican Educators

The MTA Board passed a New Business Item calling for solidarity with our Mexican brothers and sisters in the CNTE (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación) and the SNTE (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación). Mexican educators are striking to defend their public education system from the same profit-driven privatizers who are attacking educators and unions around the world, including the U.S. At least nine protesters have been killed in clashes with the government.

I have been in touch with NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who is preparing a letter to send to the Mexican government supporting the educators in their struggle against the reform mandates and calling for an end to state violence. She is working with the NEA's Hispanic Caucus on an NBI that is likely to ask state presidents to sign onto her letter. The vote by the Board is an important message to the delegates of the NEA's Representative Assembly, but more importantly, to the education workers of Mexico. I was recently on a conference call with one of the Mexican union leaders, who said that messages of support are very meaningful.

CNTE, the largest teachers' union in Mexico, has called for an international day of action today, Wednesday. Members are encouraged to attend a demonstration from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Mexican Consulate at 55 Franklin St., Boston.

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

Barbara