Time to ditch DDMs?


We've had a busy year, and there is much to do in the year ahead. We will be working together to stop the madness of high-stakes testing (including District-Determined Measures), to keep the cap on charter schools and to secure fair contracts for our sisters and brothers in community colleges. Here are a few resources that provide information and opportunities for action over the holiday break.

Ready to Ditch DDMs?

Governor Charlie Baker has issued an executive order that seeks to get rid of "confusing, unnecessary, inconsistent and redundant government regulations." That is an apt description of many education-related regulations, such as those mandating DDMs and other aspects of the "student impact rating" in the educator evaluation system. The DESE is holding a "listening" session on education regulations from 3 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 12 in the Springfield State Office Building, 436 Dwight Street, Room 205. That's not a whole lot of public outreach on such an important issue, but there will be other opportunities to weigh in with written comments. We will publicize these after the holidays. If you are in the Springfield area, consider letting the DESE know in person how you feel about your least favorite regulations.

Standing Up for Educators in Brookline

The Brookline Educators Union has done a fantastic job of organizing members to push the School Committee for a contract that preserves the quality of the community's public schools. Members have been spreading their messages publicly at stand-outs around town and at schools. Click here for photos and a terrific synopsis of what the BEU is fighting for.

MCCC Needs Your Help

The Massachusetts Community College Council needs support to win a fair contract. The MCCC is asking people to send letters to their local newspapers explaining that community college faculty and staff deserve fair pay for the work they do, as well as the professional freedom to do that work well. For some inspiration, read this wonderful letter from the parent of a community college graduate.

Thinking of Running for Office?

The MTA is supporting and training members who are thinking of running for public office to support a pro-public-education agenda. More details and a link to sign up will be available after the holidays. If this piques your interest, please save these dates: Jan. 28 for an introductory session in Quincy; Feb. 2 for an introductory session in Springfield; and (tentatively) July 31 to Aug. 4 for the MTA Campaign School itself. Watch massteacher.org and my weekly e-mails for updates.

Wall Street Money behind Charters

A new report released by Massachusetts Jobs With Justice tracks the money behind Families for Excellent Schools, the organization behind the "Great Schools Massachusetts" effort to lift the cap on charter schools. FES gets millions of dollars from hedge fund managers and other corporate tycoons. Some of the backers are named, but many are anonymous. Why are these backers so interested in charters?  As media mogul Rupert Murdoch said, "When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone."

This report and a recent EduShyster blog post point out the relationships between Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and the charter industry. Conflict of interest, perhaps?

Charter Schools Serve Different Students

Kathie Skinner, former director of the MTA Center for Education Policy and Practice, has written an article for CommonWealth Magazine that clearly spells out the stark differences between students served by most charter schools and those served in their sending districts. For example, from 2010-14, just 20 percent of Mystic Valley Regional Charter School's students were low-income compared to 60 percent in the Malden Public Schools. In that same period, 7 percent of Sturgis charter students were low-income, compared to six times that rate (42 percent) in Dennis-Yarmouth, one of the primary sending districts. By failing to serve all students, charters leave districts with less money to educate a higher-need population.

MTRB Election Victories

Congratulations to MTA-backed candidates Dennis Naughton on his re-election and Jackie Gorrie on her election to the Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement Board. Well done!

This e-mail comes to you during the winter solstice. In these dark days of winter, we gather with others because it is there that we sustain light and warmth. In this season of lights, may you find comfort and joy with friends and family.

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