Time to Regroup, Reflect and Act!
As 2016 draws to a close, I hope you find time to celebrate our collective No on 2 victory with colleagues, friends and family members. We need to remind ourselves of the joy and power of our victory in order to counter fears about the future and build energy for our next organizing efforts. As a reminder to members of what they accomplished and can accomplish again, the MTA will soon have mementos from the campaign to share. We will provide updates when they are available.
Regional Forums to Focus on the Schools Our Communities Deserve
While the assaults against our union, our public schools and our communities are likely to intensify, we need to use the power we have gained to plant a flag for our vision of public education. At regional forums in January and at the All Presidents' Meeting on January 21, we will kick off conversations about what we learned from the #NoOn2 campaign about how to harness our power to fight for the schools and colleges our students and communities deserve.
MTA Fighting Educator Evaluation Plan
Our educators deserve evaluation systems that nourish trust and professional autonomy. To further that goal, the MTA has been urging the state to eliminate the useless and invalid Student Impact Rating portion of the educator evaluation system. In a bait and switch, state education officials agreed to cut the separate rating, only to then propose replacing it with a similar Student Learning Indicator in Standard 2. This change would make student test scores part of your summative evaluation. Member action is needed to fight both the current system and this proposed change. Click here for details and a link to information on submitting public comment by January 27.
What Is the Goal of Public Higher Education?
Privatization efforts are underway in public higher education as much as in preK-12. These assaults include austerity measures and a changing narrative about the purpose of public higher education. This article talks about the organizing that UMass Boston faculty and staff are doing to protect public higher education in Massachusetts. This article in The Atlantic - "Have Public Universities Lost Their Focus?" - reveals how the undermining of the democratic purpose and value of public higher education is a national issue. Forums on our vision for public higher education have been approved by the Higher Education Leadership Council. Stay tuned for more information.
Legislative Priorities: MTA's Initiatives
After hearing from members, the Government Relations Committee proposed a package of legislative priorities that the MTA Board approved on December 3. The ambitious agenda for 2017 includes bills in four areas: preK-12 education, public higher education, retirees' security, and support for economic justice bills backed by the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition.
These priorities represent our commitment to worker rights and protections, to our students and public education, and to the well-being of our communities. In order to win these, we will need to deepen our coalitions and access our power at the local level. As we learned from Question 2, legislative victories will only come when we organize locally and connect to our communities.
Save the Date: A National Day of Action in Support of Public Education on January 19
Mark your calendars now for a Day of Action in support of public education on January 19, the day before Donald Trump is inaugurated. From Jim Peyser, Massachusetts secretary of education, to Betsy DeVos, Trump's nominee for U.S. secretary of education, the privatization forces are not letting up. We must continue to work with parents and students to stand up for fully funded, high-quality public education for every student. More details will be coming soon.
Women's March on Washington
Another date to save is Saturday, January 21, for the Women's March on Washington (men and children welcome). We tried to commission buses to this historic event, but they are already booked. That's a great sign that the march will be big, sending a powerful message the day after the inauguration. The goal of the march is this: "We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country."