The Student Opportunity Act, passed by the Senate on Oct. 3, will very likely be brought to the floor of the state House of Representatives on Oct. 23. We will let you know once the date is confirmed. It is important to act TODAY to urge your representative to vote for the bill as approved by the Senate. The bill increases state education funding for local schools by $1.5 billion a year when phased in. The Senate version also puts more control over plans for spending the money in the hands of those who know best — parents, educators and school committees.
Save Oct. 23 as the tentative date to join me, Vice President Max Page, other MTA members and fellow Fund Our Future activists for another Red for Ed event to hear the bill being debated at the State House. If you are available during the day, please meet us at 10:45 a.m. at the Bowdoin Street entrance to the State House — or meet us after work in the House Gallery on the fourth floor. It really makes a difference when legislators look up at the gallery and see a sea of red shirts, knowing that their constituents are watching.
Congressman Neal Releases Bill to Address WEP Issue
Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal has released a bill from committee that would partially address problems caused by Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision — the WEP. The WEP impacts Social Security benefits for public employees in Massachusetts and certain other states. Under the Neal bill, current eligible retirees would get an extra $150 a month and future ones an extra $75 a month on average. No one would get less.
The MTA and NEA have long advocated for changes in the WEP and a related provision called the Government Pension Offset. Please contact your member of Congress about the Neal bill through this action alert.
Legislators Learn about the Crisis in Higher Ed
We held a successful legislative briefing on Oct. 10 about the crisis in public higher education and how disinvestment is hurting our students and our members. Higher education funding has declined by almost one-third since 2001, while tuition and fees have skyrocketed. Full-time faculty and staff have been cut and class sizes have grown. The physical infrastructure of our campuses is also deteriorating, while depreciation and health care costs have been offloaded onto each college. Higher ed advocates will be making similar points during upcoming campus tours for legislators.
Chicago Teachers on Strike!
The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike on October 17 to demand much of what we are demanding on behalf of our students. This includes nurses, counselors and librarians in every school, smaller class sizes, and more English learner and special education services. We will let them know that the MTA stands in solidarity with them. Tweet your support and help make #PutItInWriting trend.
‘Regenerating Education’ Talk at UMB
Christopher Newfield, professor of English at the University of California Santa Barbara, will speak on the future of the humanities in public higher education on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the UMass Boston Campus Center, Alumni Lounge, on the second floor. Regenerating Education Talk details.