Take Action on ARPA

Take Action on ARPA

Merrie Najimy

Merrie Najimy, President


Member power has been on display over the past few weeks as educators in MTA locals across the state build their collective power to demand the fairness, dignity and respect they deserve.

In Andover, instructional assistants, teachers and parents packed a School Committee meeting to demand a living wage for IAs. During the meeting, the Andover Education Association unfurled and presented a nearly 25-foot petition signed by more than 1,000 people that called on the committee to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a living wage for Andover IAs. Read the latest on our Facebook page.

On Oct. 27, members of the Shrewsbury Paraprofessional Association held a standout as part of the fight for the dignity they deserve. Most ESPs in the district earn $22,000 in a county where the living wage exceeds $30,000. Our ESPs deserve more. Be sure to read this Community Advocate article.

In other news:

Good News, Bad News, Good News on ARPA
The critically needed funds made available through the American Rescue Plan Act could provide hundreds of millions of dollars for public education. Such an appropriation would present us with much-needed resources to meet the urgency of this moment.

Given the frenetic pace at which things are moving, I want to give you an update on the ARPA bills.

The Good News: Because of your storytelling and our ads, members of both the House and Senate Ways and Means committees saw the vital need to include $100 million for vocational schools. The House also included additional funding for preK-12 public school infrastructure upgrades and small but important investments in campus infrastructure projects to help repair our crumbling campuses. Keep the photos and stories coming by following this link to our website.

The Bad News: The state Senate’s proposal to appropriate the Commonwealth’s discretionary funds from ARPA completely gutted nearly $200 million in funding for the MTA’s public education priorities, preK-16, that had been included in the House of Representatives’ ARPA legislation. Specifically, the Senate’s plan eliminated $75 million for public higher education capital infrastructure projects and $100 million for upgrades to ventilation systems and other facilities in preK-12 schools. The Senate proposal also eliminated $10 million to support efforts to increase teacher diversity.

The Good News: So where do things stand now? The MTA is supporting amendments to the Senate bill that will restore this critically needed public education funding – and we need your help.

Please email and call your Senators today to urge that they co-sponsor the following MTA-backed amendments to S.2564:

  • Amendment 421 – “Restoring funding for Public Higher Education maintenance projects,” filed by Senator Anne Gobi.
    • Restores $102 million in funding for deferred maintenance and pandemic funding, with $34 million for the state’s community colleges, $34 million for state universities and $34 million for UMass.
  • Amendment 423 – “Restoring Funding to Address Inequitable Public School Facilities,” filed by Senator Brendan Crighton.
    • Restores $100 million in grant funding to public school districts to address urgent facilities needs. The funding would help cover the costs of inspections, maintenance, installation, repairs or upgrades for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, along with other needs and repairs to protect the health and safety of students and educators.
  • Amendment 445 – “Restoring Funding for Teacher Diversity,” filed by Senator Adam Gomez.
    • Restores $10 million in grant funding for demonstration projects that increase the pipeline of diverse educators into teaching.

Take part in the 2022 Teacher Leadership Institute beginning Nov. 20
You’re encouraged to apply to the 2022 MTA Teacher Leadership Institute fellowship program. TLI is a cohort-based learning experience that is designed to develop leadership knowledge and skills and then activate them through a culminating capstone experience. TLI leaders learn to “lead from the classroom.”

Fellows select two overarching competencies: one diversity, equity and cultural competency and one leadership pathway competency. The pathways of choice are policy, association/union, or instructional leadership.

Visit our TLI webpage for details.

Phone banking for the Fair Share Amendment
For many years, MTA members such as you have fought for and won important initiatives for public education. Over the next year, we will have another opportunity to win – via the Fair Share Amendment.

The FSA is rooted in the broader concepts of fairness, justice and shared prosperity. It was with intention that the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition, of which the MTA is a key member, named the FSA ballot question. This articulated our vision that when the Commonwealth invests in the public good, we all share in prosperity.

The FSA will be on the November 2022 ballot and would add a tax of 4 percent on incomes in excess of $1 million annually (only the income after the first $1 million). The resulting revenue will bring in more than $2 billion a year for public education and transportation, improving the lives of our students while strengthening our communities and schools.

Let’s seize this opportunity, which will bring us further toward achieving shared prosperity for our members – including MTA ESPs – and for our students and their families. The FSA will be a major advancement for public education, public health and the public good.

Stand with fellow educators and help our campaign get a head start over the big-money interests that will keep pouring funds into Massachusetts against this initiative. Please consider joining us for some phone banking as we fight for the schools our students and communities deserve.

In solidarity,