You really did it! Last Tuesday, Nov. 26, was one for the history books as the Student Opportunity Act was finally signed into law. This marks the beginning of new organizing opportunities for MTA members — not the end. While the $1.5 billion in new funding is going to be phased in over seven years, districts have already begun setting their budgets and priorities. So we have to make our own plans to ensure that the new spending is aligned with our vision for our schools.
How Much More for Your District Under the SOA?
Go to the map on this page to see our estimates of how much Chapter 70 money your district will receive in fiscal 2021 and then annually as of fiscal 2027. The map tells only part of the story. The Student Opportunity Act also increases spending on charter school reimbursements and the circuit breaker program for certain students with disabilities. There will also be more money for school building projects.
Now is the time to begin galvanizing around the battle over how to spend the new funds. The Fund Our Future campaign was one of many conversations across the state, articulating our vision and priorities for our schools and taking action to win education funding. If the map suggests that your district is due for a significant increase, it’s time to deepen those conversations in your local and expand them to reach your students and their families and identify what your schools need. More librarians? Smaller class sizes? More Education Support Professionals? More social workers? Better working conditions to attract and retain qualified staff?
Then once again turn those conversations into action with your community to ensure you have a say in the three-year plan the district is required to write under the new law. Those plans are due over the next few months. We must and we can have a say! Stay tuned for more information about these efforts in the coming weeks.
Back by Popular Demand: the MTA Union Skills Winter Conference
What better way to learn how to organize for yourselves, your students and your profession than by attending MTA’s Union Skills Winter Conference on Saturday, Jan. 11, starting at 9 a.m. in Springfield? Locals are strongly encouraged to bring groups of members to participate in different training segments based on their roles and interests.
Come to the Higher Ed Conference on Friday, Jan. 10
“Higher Education Conference: Powered Up in 2020” will be held the day before the Union Skills Conference, also in Springfield. At this event, MTA higher education members will join with members of other unions that represent faculty and staff, as well as student organizations and allies. Discussions will be held about the Cherish Act, bargaining, privatization and more. Go here for more information and to sign up for any combination of MTA-sponsored events that weekend.
Harvard Grad Students on Strike
This morning I joined the picket line with members of the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers, who are striking for better harassment and discrimination protections, comprehensive health care and fair pay. Join them for rallies, teach-outs and picketing in Harvard Yard until the strike is settled. For the schedule, go to their website or Facebook page. To contribute to their hardship fund, go here.
Beware of New “Greenwashing” at Hotels
Some Marriott Hotels and others are exploiting their housekeeping staff and reaping the profits by encouraging guests to forgo room-cleaning services as a supposed environmental move. UNITE HERE has been joined by the Sierra Club and other leading environmental groups in crying foul about this plan. They say it is fine for guests to decide to reuse their towels, bring their own water bottles and otherwise conserve. But choosing not to have your room cleaned deprives hardworking employees of much-needed jobs and income, while the hotel chains pocket the profits. Don’t fall for it.