Fair taxes, good movies, "no" on PARCC & more


Next week I'll be heading out to the MTA Summer Conference in Springfield. I'm looking forward to talking to many new members, participants in the Organizing Institute, and new and experienced local leaders.

"Test the PARCC" Event Coming to Arlington

The MTA and Citizens for Public Schools are co-sponsoring a "Test the PARCC" event from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, in Arlington. The event will take place in the Computer Lab, Room 324, at the Ottoson Middle School, 63 Acton St. Parents, teachers and others will have a chance to experience the PARCC exam by answering several practice questions. Please RSVP to Mary Cummings by e-mailing mcummings@massteacher.org. This is an opportunity for members to inform parents about PARCC and the effect that all this testing is having on our students. At our June meeting, the MTA Board of Directors voted to have the MTA oppose the move to PARCC.

Debt-Free Public Higher Education

The MTA supports free public higher education for Massachusetts students. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has written a paper describing several alternatives that move in that direction. Click here to read Debt-Free Public Higher Education: What Would It Take? The report examines three options for making our public higher education system much more affordable - even free. It is well past time we work to make this a reality. The Fair Share Amendment that the MTA is working for would provide the revenue we need to get this done.

What is the Fair Share Amendment? 

For those who missed the news last week, this constitutional amendment would raise money for education and transportation by increasing taxes on incomes over $1 million. The MTA has joined the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition in an effort to collect more than 100,000 signatures this fall to begin the process of qualifying this question for the 2018 ballot. You'll be hearing a lot more about this in early September, when we will have the petitions in hand.

Summertime Movies to Entertain and Educate

Summertime is movie time. Heal Our Schools is being screened at the MTA Raynham office, 756 Orchard Street, 3rd Floor, at 6 tonight, July 29. Listen to teachers tell their stories of how their hopes for public education have been diminished and talk about the work we can do to reclaim our schools. Click here to read Diane Ravitch's description of this documentary.

Also be sure to get your free copy of Education, Inc., which the MTA is making available for screenings at community forums, house parties and other local events. Aug. 14 is a big screening date, but any day will do. This film will educate and agitate about the assault on public education. Use it to organize! For a copy of Education, Inc., or to let us know if you are interested in hosting a screening of Heal Our Schools, contact Ari Mercado in the MTA Governance and Administration Division by e-mailing amercado@massteacher.org.

Another documentary of interest is Our Mockingbird, a film about what happened when students in all-white and all-black high schools in Birmingham, Ala., joined forces to produce To Kill a Mockingbird. It is screening here for free through Aug. 14.

Reminder: RETELL Deadline Looms

Course registration for the FINAL year that no-cost Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement courses will be offered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education begins Aug. 3 and ends Sept. 25. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. All eligible educators are advised to register or add their names to a waiting list right away. Click here for more information. The MTA sent a letter to the DESE this week calling for a continuation of the no-cost option. Winning that will be a struggle, however, so register now if you need the SEI Endorsement.

Higher Ed Contract Update

We were sure disappointed by Governor Charlie Baker's decision to veto $5 million from higher education funding. And don't even get me started about the $17 million he cut from the full-day kindergarten grants, nearly wiping out that program. While we don't know yet whether the Legislature will override these vetoes, we were heartened to read that new UMass President Marty Meehan is calling for the higher ed money to be put back into the budget.

Because We All Need a Laugh

Check out this Key & Peele segment on what it would look like if teachers were treated like sports stars.

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