Union News: Help Us Replace the MCAS Grad Requirement

Union News: Help Us Replace the MCAS Grad Requirement

end high stakes testing

Welcome back from February break!

The march toward ending the MCAS graduation requirement continues. Last week, New Bedford became the latest city to take a stand, endorsing the ballot initiative for which you all gathered some 135,000 signatures. 

And on Monday, March 4, the state Legislature’s Special Joint Committee on Initiative Petitions will hold a hearing on the MTA-backed ballot initiative to replace the MCAS graduation requirement. The Legislature could – and should – simply pass the ballot initiative this spring.  Oral testimony at the hearing has been limited, but the committee also is accepting written comments on the initiative. While we both will be testifying on behalf of the MTA, it is essential that the committee also hear from many of the more than 100,000 Massachusetts educators and allies whose tireless work and signatures got us to this point.

Please complete this form to share why you support replacing the MCAS graduation requirement and we will deliver your testimony to the committee.

If you are able to join us in person – calling Retired members and presidents with release time! – come to the State House at noon on Monday, March 4, for a press conference with the educators, students and parents who will be testifying. Oh, and NEA President Becky Pringle, who recently was here to support the Newton Teachers Association, is flying up to join us and tell the Legislature that the MTA is leading a nationwide effort to take down the punitive testing regime in favor of authentic learning.

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions 

Support Avon educators

As of today, the Avon Education Association has been working without a new contract for 180 days. Join the AEA educators tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 3:15 p.m. outside the Avon Public Library as they hold a rally for a fair contract. The rally will start at the library and end at Avon Town Hall. 

MASSGrant Plus Expansion

Okay, so it doesn’t have a beautiful name. But it has a beautiful purpose: moving us closer to debt-free, public higher education for all who seek it in the Commonwealth. We need you to spread the word about  the MASSGrant Plus Expansion, which will help cover tuition and fees and some expenses for working-class students at any public college or university. This was only possible because of the MTA-led victory to pass the Fair Share Amendment. You won the money, and the Legislature followed our lead and passed a budget to fund it. Now we need you to let your students know that this program is available. One of the greatest movements for a more racially and economically just Massachusetts is to give every young person access to some higher education – a vocational certificate or a two- or four-year degree. 

Student Loan Forgiveness

Even as we are making college more affordable for future students, the Biden administration, to its credit, but also responding to pressure from millions of borrowers and our own union, has forgiven some $140 billion in student debt, with more taking advantage of various programs every month. If you’ve been hearing a lot about student loan forgiveness and you’re not sure what it means for you and your student loans (including Parent PLUS loans), MTA members and their families can join a free webinar with MTA Benefits partner Cambridge Credit Counseling to learn more. Register now and choose from webinar dates through March 2024.

MTA Education Support Professionals Conference

When: April 5 - 6

Where: Sea Crest Beach Hotel, 350 Quaker Road, North Falmouth

Registration is now open for the annual ESP Conference! Join us as we honor the ESP of the Year, learn together, network and have fun! In 2024 – for the first time – the ESP Conference is free to attend! Hotel rooms are available at a discounted price.

MTA Climate Action Network coalition

MTA members are invited to join the MTA Climate Action Network on March 13 at 7 p.m. (on Zoom) to learn about our participation in the new Climate Resilient Schools coalition.  Participants also will learn about the range of funding opportunities for greener school communities. Register here.

Coalition members include a range of climate, labor and health organizations. 

Remembering Mary Gilmore

It is with great sorrow that we note the passing of former MTA president Mary Gilmore. Mary was a dedicated educator who served on the MTA Executive Committee and MTA Board of Directors and was an MTA Statewide Retired District Director. She was also a member of the Weymouth Educators Association. Please read Mary’s obituary in the Cape Cod Times.

Read a Banned Book

In honor of Read Across America Day on March 2, let's speak out against banned books and stand up for the stories that our students and communities deserve to hear. Create a video of yourself reading a passage from one of your favorite banned books. To help you choose, here are a few well-known lists of banned books:

Political Education

Unionizing the Ivory Tower” tells the story of how 1,000 low-paid custodians, cooks and gardeners at Cornell University built a union, went on strike multiple times and secured more dignified lives for working people in Ithaca, New York. The story also explains how a militant union movement could take a fairly conservative group of workers and turn them into fighters against sexism, racism and class exploitation. 

Ending with a smile: The Boston Globe editorial and opinion pages are filled much of the time with ed reformer, anti-union screeds. So it was a pleasure to see these excellent, MTA-appreciating letters to the editor this past Sunday.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb