Political Season Heats Up; Share Your Views on Nov. 30

Greetings,

Thanksgiving provides opportunities to sit with family and friends, share stories and reconnect. While you may not want to use your holiday meal as an organizing opportunity, there are lots of events coming up that will allow you to meet with union sisters and brothers, share ideas and experiences, and grow our union power. A few are highlighted below.

Telephone Town Hall on Nov. 30

At the national, state and local levels, the next year is a critical one for political action. Like all organizing, our political action begins with and is strengthened by members talking to members about issues, priorities and the best ways to use our collective power. The MTA will be holding political forums beginning Dec. 4 in which members can share issues, ideas and inspiration. In preparation for these forums, I want to hear from you about the questions we should be discussing. Please plan to join me for a telephone town hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 30. Please answer your phone when the call comes in and join the conversation. If your phone doesn't ring at 7 p.m., participate by calling 855.756.7520 and entering access code 30119# when prompted. Your participation will help grow union power.

National Organizers to Present at EMAC Conference

"Equality, Activism and the Road Ahead" is the theme of this year's Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee Conference, which will be held on Dec. 4 and 5 in Framingham. We are excited to have as keynote speakers Jitu Brown, director of a Chicago-based alliance for grassroots groups organizing against the attack on public schools, and Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute in Washington, D.C., and a former union organizer from South Carolina. Go here for more information and to register.

Just For New Teachers Conference Registration Continues

The MTA's Just For New Teachers Conference, brought to you by the New Member Committee, offers a great opportunity to get classroom tips, attend workshops, organize and socialize with other teachers in their first four years of practice. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, in Framingham. Go here for more information and to register.

Educator and Parent Voices Needed at Charter Hearings

Pro-charter forces bused in parents and others for a rally in Boston last Wednesday, and the Baker administration gave them its support, prompting this insightful blog post by Ludlow Superintendent Todd Gazda. The next great opportunity to let state officials and the public know what's wrong with charter schools is at these upcoming public hearings on proposed new charters. For more information on the issue, go here.

MCAS 2.0 Vote Doesn't Slow the Movement: Brookline Supports Testing Moratorium

Despite compelling testimony against high-stakes testing and PARCC, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to develop a PARCC-infused MCAS 2.0 test for 2017. That vote has not stopped our organizing efforts for a genuine three-year moratorium. Two days after the BESE vote, the Brookline Town Meeting approved a resolution in support of the moratorium. The intent of the "pause" is not to give the state time to develop and field-test another high-stakes exam but to engage in a deep conversation about the purpose of education and how best to assess students in ways that promote authentic learning. Consider asking your school committee or town meeting to join the growing number of communities asking for a moratorium and support for House Bill 340. Go here for more information.

Members Welcome at Western Massachusetts LaborCAN! Conference on Dec. 5

MTA members are welcome to attend a free Massachusetts AFL-CIO conference from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, in Springfield. Meet Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman, learn about right-wing attacks on unions, and plan meetings with state legislators. Lunch is included. Go here for more information and to register.

MTA Benefits Can Save Members Thousands of Dollars

Don't forget to check out the valuable programs and services that are available to you through MTA Benefits just because you are an MTA member. MTAB programs can save you thousands of dollars a year on services you need in your personal life, including important insurance protections. Registering on MTAB's website provides access to free magazine subscriptions; a BJ's wholesale membership discount; Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox tickets; and our newest discount with Verizon FiOS.

Of the many things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving, one is the opportunity to work with members and staff committed to making our schools and communities places that honor the dignity and possibility of every human being.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Barbara