Union News: Worcester educators unite in demanding fair contract

Union News: Worcester educators unite in demanding fair contract

Greetings, MTA members,

worcester teachers stand outThe photo atop this email is from a powerful contract action in Worcester. The MTA’s largest PreK-12 local on April 13 had a standout at nearly all of their 50 public school buildings. It was inspiring for us to see the entire membership of the buildings on the streets demanding a fair contract.

Educators shared horrible stories about the conditions under which they are working, including violence directed at them from students who are coping with the aftermath of the pandemic, as well as longer-term inequality and stress. The kids are not all right, and neither are our educators.

On the evening of April 27, please show up to stand in solidarity with the members of the Educational Association of Worcester, who will be out in force to get the school committee to resolve their long struggle for a fair contract. The rally will be at 5 p.m., outside Worcester City Hall, before educators pack the school committee meeting.

In other recent news, the state House Ways and Means Committee as issued its proposed budget, which will be voted on the week of the MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates. While this process is often hidden from public view, it is crucial to your lives as educators and to the health of your schools.

The good news: As did Governor Maura Healey, House members have proposed the largest increase in Chapter 70 funds in our history and hundreds of millions of dollars more for the greening of public schools and free school meals. Chapter 70 is the central school funding mechanism for Massachusetts schools. The proposed budget also contains a significant amount of funding for public higher education affordability.

But it does not contain enough for our rural schools, for Education Support Professionals, or for hiring more nurses, counselors, and librarians. And it includes a big cut in what Governor Healey had proposed for public higher education, as well as terrible, regressive tax cuts – pure giveaways to the wealthiest 1 percent.

This is the backlash to our incredible Fair Share Amendment victory that was expected but is awful nonetheless. We are working hard to pass amendments to improve the House budget. And we’ll continue the battle in the Senate.

The state budget follows a process that will extend through July. We will keep you informed along the way and invite you to demand more for our public schools and colleges.

In another important development, we are glad to share Lessons Learned, a new report by Citizens for Public Schools and FairTest, which examines the impact of the MCAS over the past two decades. It is a devastating portrait of a system that has not supported our neediest students, has not helped school districts that need greater support, has harmed students by denying them a high school diploma, and has narrowed the curriculum and reduced time for learning in every district.

It is time to end this failed testing regime and embrace commonsense solutions and a new, whole-child way of evaluating students and schools. All of that is in our Thrive Act.

And lastly, the Higher Ed For All campaign held an event at MASS MoCA in North Adams, in conjunction with a stunning installation by artist kelli rae adams. Leaders from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the president of Greenfield Community College, and students and faculty attended.

Please view the recording of the guest speakers.

MTA Events and Solidarity Actions
Support your union siblings: Check out this list of upcoming actions. Please add your own to this form. The more we show up for one another, the greater the power we generate for local and statewide campaigns.

A reminder to local presidents: Today, April 18, is the last day to report delegates who are participating either remotely or in person in the Annual Meeting. Friday, April 21, is the last day to report alternates and delegates. Any delegates reported after today will have only the option of remote participation. Contact MTAGovernance@massteacher.org with any questions.

Political Education
This article in The New Yorker was a deeply moving portrait of the birth of an activist – Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). It is a reminder of how individuals can be called upon to do what they never thought possible – take a very public stand for justice based on their most personal commitments.

Here’s one paragraph from the article:
“You could fit most of the solar system into the chasm between how the average American of the era would have reacted in that hypothetical situation and how Jeanne Manford responded upon learning that Morty was gay. She was dismayed to discover that his sexual orientation had troubled him for so long, but she herself was not concerned about it. Not for a moment did she entertain the possibility that something was wrong with him. Not for a moment did she wonder, as the otherwise supportive Jules initially did, if his gayness reflected some failing of theirs as parents. And not for a moment did she worry about how other people would react; she told her sisters and friends right away, making plain that she was fine with the information and they had better be, too. ‘You don’t love him in spite of something,’ she later declared on national television, her face free of shadow or blur. ‘You love him’.”

Please save June 10 on your calendar – that’s the date of the Boston Pride march, in which MTA will be well represented. Let’s show up to support LGBTQ+ rights.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb