It feels like we live in a time warp now, where the days can seem long yet the weeks fly by, and there is no apparent end in sight. Adapting to working at home, creating remote learning and online teaching has been and remains a challenge at every level in every community. Our students with the most disadvantages — special education students, English learners, homeless students and those from low-income backgrounds and communities of color — are particularly hard to reach and make accommodations for.
But we are educators, and we are a union. As educators, we reflect on our practice and adjust as necessary. As unionists, we organize to make learning and living conditions more just for our students and ourselves. To that end, the MTA will be bringing members together — virtually, of course — to assess how things are going and organize to win the conditions that we need in the coming weeks and months so we can lay the groundwork for a better future when we come out of the pandemic. Here are some important updates.
Annual Meeting Will Be Virtual, Held on May 2
We have posted very preliminary information about preparations for this year’s “virtual” Annual Meeting and preconvention meetings. It will be updated as plans are worked out. Locals have been reminded to hold delegate elections and to contact MTA Governance if they need help with conducting their elections online. Be sure to let your association president know if you want to run to serve as a delegate. All delegate names must be reported to the MTA by Monday, April 27.
The much-compressed 2020 Annual Meeting will take place on Saturday, May 2. Agenda items include approval of the budget; elections for President, Vice President, the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors and the Retired Members Committee; an issues forum on the MTA All In Blueprint Project; and recognition of outstanding educators, students and education allies. More details about meeting logistics will be coming soon.
When we fight, we win! Legislators listened to MTA members and our allies and approved a bill ending MCAS administration for this year. It was signed into law on April 10. With schools closed for at least seven weeks, there was no way the tests should or could be given. However, some education officials and legislators wanted to keep the door open to that possibility. You let them know why that was a bad idea through more than 6,000 emails and phone calls.
We still have one more battle. The law gives the commissioner and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education the option of waiving the MCAS-based competency determination for the Class of 2020, but doesn’t require it. We will let you know if we need more member action to make sure officials do the right thing by our seniors.
Facebook Live Event with Representative Pressley on Thursday
All members are invited to join me and MTA Vice President Max Page for a Facebook Live event at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, with U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley. We will learn about what the federal CARES Act means for us and share with Representative Pressley the needs of our students, schools and colleges as she works to win passage of the next federal bill. Go here to log on to the event when it launches at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Emergency Mass Child Grants Available
The Massachusetts Child, the MTA’s charitable organization, is making emergency grants available to every preK-12 local to assist educators in getting supplemental education and enrichment materials to students in need. If you know of students who could use books, school supplies or project materials, go to the Mass Child page on our website for details.
Join Our Online Community to Connect with Other Educators
We invite all active and retired MTA members and all MTA staff to join an online community where we can stay in touch. This NEA360 community will allow you to share your experiences, seek advice and support one another. We have one forum for all active and retired members and another just for higher education members. To join a community, start by creating a profile on MyNEA360.org. Once you have created your profile, find “MTA Member Online Community” or “MTA Higher Education Members” in the search box at the top right corner of your screen. Then click on (+) Join. Even while keeping physically distant from others, we need to stay connected.