And we are off!
Last Wednesday, the state Attorney General certified our ballot initiative to end the use of MCAS as a graduation requirement. At the All Presidents’ meeting on Saturday, we distributed thousands of ballot signature sheets…and within 24 hours we had 1,000 signatures! Only 74,000 more to go. We are asking everyone in the union to take a sheet (available through field rep organizers and your local presidents) and get your colleagues, your family and friends to sign on.
This is our moment to finally end the punitive use of the MCAS as a graduation requirement. Beyond gathering signatures, please get involved! Start here.
At the All Presidents’ meeting we asked everyone to stand up if they or their family members had attended a public college or university. About 75% of the people gathered stood up. Every one of our members is invested in high-quality, debt-free public higher education. Join us! Learn more at mahigheredforall.org.
In another important announcement:
Applications are available for Tomorrow’s Teachers, a state scholarship program that the MTA strongly supported. The deadline is October 1. People who want to become teachers can qualify for up to $25,000 a year, each year, helping to defray the cost of this education. Statewide, a total of $7.5 million is available for candidates enrolled in undergraduate or post-baccalaureate Initial License programs. Eligibility and application information is available here.
Solidarity Actions & More
MTA Events & Opportunities
MTA All-Membership Webinar on 2023-2024 Campaigns
Wednesday, Sept. 20, 4-5 p.m.
Please join us for an update and conversation about MTA's statewide campaigns. Educators across Massachusetts are working to end high-stakes testing and bring much-needed funding to public higher education. You will hear about our Thrive and Cherish Act campaigns and get an update on where we stand in the Legislature, as well as what we are bringing directly to voters. We will have a tutorial and information about our signature gathering campaign to end the MCAS graduation requirement. Please help us get this initiative before voters in November 2024. We will also enlist all of our members to make their voices heard on the need for high-quality, debt-free public higher education. Register today.
Show up for Cherish and Thrive
We have State House hearings coming up on our two major bills – the Cherish Act for high-quality, debt-free public higher education on Monday, September 18, and the Thrive Act (to end high-stakes testing) on Wednesday, October 4.
Join us at the State House on Wednesday, Oct. 4 to advocate for the passage of the Thrive Act, which would eliminate the graduation requirement tied to the MCAS as well as the receivership system. Sign up for the hearing and learn other ways you can take action in support of the Thrive Act.
Retired Members Gathering:
We are excited about the upcoming Retired Members Gathering, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, which will be held at the Verve Hotel in Natick. All are invited. A series of interesting workshops is planned. The keynote address will be delivered by Bill Newman, an attorney, on the topic of "Libraries and Liberty," specifically looking at the attack on LGBTQ+ books in our school and community libraries. Additional workshops will consider sexuality and aging, what retired members can do about eliminating the MCAS graduation requirement and fighting climate change.
Learn with the MTA
Several professional development workshops this fall will focus on special education, multilingual learners, anti-oppression education and more. All courses are free for MTA members! Registration for these courses is scheduled to launch on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. Set a reminder to ensure your spot, as they fill quickly. Learn more and register at massteacher.org/pdps.
Important deadline for all new members!
This year, all new members are eligible to enroll in disability insurance up to 60-days after their hire date. Disability insurance insures your paycheck by replacing a portion of your salary when you’re out of work due to an illness or injury. Short-term disability can fill the income gap when you can’t work, which is particularly valuable to new members who have few sick days. Short-term disability will also provide maternity benefits, but if you think you’ll need maternity coverage, don’t wait until you know you need it. By then, it’s too late. New members can get coverage now or wait until April 2024 for a last opportunity to enroll. Learn more here.
Last week we included a quote:
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much higher consideration.”
We gave a hint that it was said in the 19th century but was NOT said by Karl Marx!
In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, in his first annual address to Congress, on December 3, 1861.
Busing in Boston
Last night was the premiere of a PBS documentary on a federal court decision to desegregate Boston’s schools in 1974. It will be rebroadcast regularly in the coming weeks and months.
Finally, yesterday was 9/11, the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thousands of lives were lost in the United States, and hundreds of thousands more in the war that ensued. Many of you experienced these events and may have been directly affected. It was a searing day in all of our lives.
But 9/11 in South America is remembered for a different event – September 11, 1973. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the coup that took place on that date, which led to the assassination of the socialist leader of Chile, Salvador Allende, and toppled his democratically elected government. While it may seem far removed from us, we urge you to read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, and this piece in The Nation, by Ariel Dorfman. The coup in Chile ushered in decades of authoritarian rule by Augusto Pinochet, including the murder and torture of thousands of citizens. The Pinochet regime was aided, abetted and supported by the U.S. government and, we need to say honestly, the AFL-CIO. Beyond terror, the coup brought via economists at the University of Chicago a new approach to the economy, one that emphasized privatization, disinvestment in public institutions and a willingness to let market forces predominate. Neoliberal economics were then championed by the right-wing and inflicted on cities, towns and the entire U.S. So, when you encounter an austerity mindset among your school committees and state lawmakers, when we have to fight so hard to roll back some of the giveaways to the super-rich, and when we campaign to reclaim accessible public higher education, you are confronting not something out of the blue, but a project that began with the installation of an authoritarian regime in South America.
EMAC Conference Workshop Proposals
When: Dec. 1-2
Where: Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Convention Center
The Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee is now accepting workshop proposals for its 44th Annual Conference, with its theme of “Cultivating Cultural Pride, Nurturing Identity and Heritage.” The keynote speaker is Bettina L. Love, Ph.D., an award-winning author and professor.
The deadline for proposals is October 7.
Student Loan Debt Forgiveness & Repayment Webinars
Student loan payments are set to resume, and the deadline to receive retroactive credit for payments you made towards loan forgiveness is quickly approaching.
If either of these topics affects you, or you’re looking for general information regarding a student or Parent PLUS loan, join MTA Benefits & Cambridge Credit Counseling, starting Wednesday, Sept. 6, for an informational webinar
MTA’s Professional Development Workshops
This fall, the MTA’s Training and Professional Learning Division will be offering professional development workshops focused on special education, multilingual learners, pedagogy and more. All courses are free for MTA members.
Registration is scheduled to launch on Thursday, September 14, at 4 p.m., so set a reminder to ensure your spot.