Greetings, MTA members,
Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you are able to take a well-deserved break and focus on family, football and fullness of bellies and hearts.
But before then, please take part in a last act of solidarity before the holiday by helping us make sure our higher ed members get their contracts funded. Yesterday, MTA members, along with dozens of union members across the AFL-CIO, gathered at the State House to demand passage of a supplemental budget that will fund the contracts of 95 unions, covering some 60,000 state workers. Our members did their jobs; we only ask that the Legislature do theirs.
And after Thanksgiving, on Friday, please take a moment to note the birthday of the MTA. One hundred and seventy-eight years ago this Friday, 85 educators met at Brinley Hall in Worcester to establish the Massachusetts Teachers Association. The MTA has a long and storied history as the largest educators’ association and labor union in New England. To learn from this record, we have launched the MTA History Project. It will include archiving and digitizing many of the MTA’s important historical documents, as well as sharing stories from our past. Starting this week, you can find some of these stories on the MTA’s website.
In the future, we will include oral histories, videos and photographs, and will invite members to be part of the process. This is our history, and one worth preserving. To quote the late, great historian Howard Zinn, “If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. If you were born yesterday then any leader can tell you anything.”
MTA Events and Solidarity Actions
Save the Date to Support Hingham ESPs – Dec. 7, 3 p.m., Jackass Park (not a typo!)
Hingham ESPs have gone 80 days without a contract and decades without a true living wage. The town is consistently in the Top 10 of wealthiest cities and towns in Massachusetts – with an average family income of over $225,000 a year. So, why does the school district pay ESPs about one-tenth of that? It is unconscionable. Please join our ESPs and demand a living wage and fair contract, on Dec. 7, at 3 p.m. in Jackass Park. Enjoy the laugh – but show up!
Portland, Oregon Teachers are on Strike
We need to do all we can to support Portland educators, who are fighting for the same things you are: wraparound services for students, fair pay, smaller class sizes and planning time with colleagues. Please sign the petition and give what you can to their strike fund.
MTA Virtual Forum on EdTech and Privacy
When: Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 6 p.m.
Join Allison Butler, Ph.D., a member of the Massachusetts Society of Professors, and Nolan Higdon, Ph.D., as they discuss research from their forthcoming book, “Surveillance Education: Navigating the Conspicuous Absence of Privacy in Schools.” They will share multiple activities, lessons, resources and opportunities for community building via lessons on surveillance technologies built through the lens of critical media literacy. Register here.
Save the Date for Winter Union Skills
When: Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at 8 a.m.
Where: Omni Parker House; 60 School St., Boston
Fall MTA Today is here The latest edition of MTA Today, newly redesigned, should have reached your mailboxes last week. The fall edition includes important information on upcoming elections, ongoing coverage of the MCAS ballot initiative and Thrive Act legislation, and several news features that highlight the activism of MTA members. Please let us know what you think! Also new and improved is our subscription information system. You can change your subscription preferences easily. Please visit www.mynea360.org and create a profile by clicking Register for Access. Once logged in, click on My Profile at the top of the page, then click on the Communications tab. Select the checkboxes next to the digital or print editions, or both, to tell us how you’d like to receive future issues of the publication. Please email email@example.com if you have any questions. Reading and Literacy Requirements With growing public discussion of “the science of reading,” a group of MTA members has developed policy and practice recommendations on reading and literacy instruction that reflects what educators need to implement evidence-based practices that include phonics. Local school districts need the flexibility to identify the reading and literacy curriculum, instructional models and interventions that meet the needs of their students. Support shouldn’t end at grade three. Well-funded libraries, tiered interventions and support for multilingual learners are necessary at all grade levels. Read more about it here.
Open Enrollment for High-Quality Health Insurance Open enrollment has begun for a new high quality health insurance option, which the MTA helped to win in this year’s state budget. This could be a very good plan for adjunct faculty, ESPs, part-time educators and others who don’t have employer-provided coverage or for whom that coverage isn’t affordable. Read all about it and learn how to sign up.
2023-2024 NEA Conferences Participants Request
The MTA and NEA are now accepting applications for members to participate in next year’s NEA Conferences, scheduled from January through July 2024. This is a great opportunity for members to immerse themselves in union education, as well as job-specific education, and engage with members across the country. You will have the opportunity to learn from renowned leaders, share stories with other members and learn from one another. Both MTA and NEA provide funding for these conferences. Space is very limited. If you are interested in applying to one or more educational conference opportunities, please fill out the survey form.
Educators are the experts on education. Here are two contributions by our own MTA members:
On getting rid of the high-stakes impact of MCAS, Dani Charbonneau, the 2023 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, wrote this piece in the Globe Magazine this past weekend. “Massachusetts has been a leader in quality public education for so long, and there is no reason we can’t do something now to continue that role: eliminate the MCAS graduation requirement,” Charonneau writes.
And check out a new book by Jack Schneider, now a professor at UMass Amherst, on how we got ourselves into this terrible system of ranking and rating and standardized testing, which undermines real learning.
Max and Deb