Union News: Newton Educators' Bold Campaign for Better Schools

Union News: Newton Educators' Bold Campaign for Better Schools

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“Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.”

William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming,” 1919

You may know this poem (or teach it to your students), written in the wake of the horrors of World War I and seeing a world where “things fall apart.” With their epic battle for better public schools in Newton, our Newton educators upended those last two lines – those heroic unionists were full of both "conviction" and “passionate intensity,” and with both qualities, and many more, they supported and strengthened the center of their community, their public schools.

Last Friday night the Newton Teachers Association reached an agreement on a great contract after members shut down the schools. It is hard to capture in words the courage of NTA members, the joy they exuded and the pride they felt in their campaign for living wages for Education Support Professionals, social workers for their students, paid parental leave, smaller class sizes and appropriate preparation and planning time. Here are some photos of the rallies and pickets. And be sure to look at what they won for their schools right now – and for all future students and educators in Newton. And please go to newteach.org and provide whatever support you and your locals can to help.

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions

February is Black History Month
Check out these classroom resources as well as these resources for Black Lives Matter at School week, February 5-9.

On Sexuality and Aging (part of the First Wednesday MTA Retiree Speaker Series)
When: Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 3 p.m.
Where: Virtual
The next workshop in the MTA Retiree Speakers series will be a fast-paced program on sex and aging. Jane Fleishman, Ph.D., will describe the current research in the field of sexuality and aging that addresses your most intimate concerns and answers questions about sex over 60. Learn more about the series and register hereConference Opportunities for MTA MembersThe MTA and NEA are accepting applications for members to participate in this year’s conferences, scheduled from January through July. This is a great opportunity for members to immerse themselves in union education and 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 other. Both MTA and NEA provide funding for these conferences. Funds are limited and we aim to support rising union activists who have not been funded before. If you are interested in applying to one or more of these opportunities, please fill out this survey form.

Virtual Licensure Workshops
Learn more about the licensure process at upcoming workshops. All sessions are free and open to all. Learn more and register.

Virtual Workshops from the MTA’s Anti-Racism Task Force
The MTA’s Anti-Racism Task Force invites members to join it for a series of virtual MTA Forums, which began on Jan. 24. The forums occur from 6 to 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month, except in January and April. Learn more and register here.

  • February 21 - Censorship of Books: Why We Must Resist
  • March 13 - High Stakes Testing is a Racial and Social Justice Issue.
  • April 17 - Movement Building for Equity and Justice in Education.
  • May 8 - Building Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Your School and Community.
  • June 12 - Juneteenth Ended Slavery but the Struggle Continues.

Summer Conference
While it might be cold outside right now, the 2024 MTA Summer Conference will be here before you know it – save the date! Join other MTA educators on Sunday, July 28 through Wednesday, July 31, at UMass Amherst. Please note that it’s a little earlier in the summer this year.

Juneteenth Celebration
Join the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee for the 2024 Juneteenth Celebration on June 19, at the Edwards House Conference and Retreat Center in Framingham.

Spring Regional Presidents’ Meetings
Planning for the Regional Presidents' Meetings is underway. Please register here. These are the dates the meeting occurs in your region:

  • Feb. 13 - MTA Quincy headquarters.
  • Feb. 27 - MTA Middleton office.
  • Feb. 28 - MTA Holyoke office.
  • March 5 - MTA Raynham office.
  • March 11 - MTA Pittsfield office.
  • March 14 - MTA Worcester office.

MTA Members are Receiving Student Loan Forgiveness

If you’ve been hearing 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.

Limited-time Complimentary Identity Theft Recovery Plan

Identity theft is rising rapidly, including a new warning from the FBI last week about an uptick in brazen, in-person scammers. Once identity thieves capture your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts or get medical treatment on your health insurance. They can even file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. MTA Benefits has partnered with SecurusID to provide a complimentary identity theft recovery plan to every MTA member. Register here and coverage will be effective immediately.

Workplace safety presentation

The MTA’s Environmental Health and Safety Committee has a self-paced presentation on the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards and their crossover into education workplace safety. Massachusetts public school districts and public colleges and universities now have an agency with which to file complaints and to rely on for workplace inspections and remediation directives. The presentation will be sent to your locals’ president later this week.

Political Education

We have referenced MTA member and UMass Amherst professor Jasmine Kerrissey’s book, “Union Booms and Busts,” before. But in honor of Newton, which has taken inspiration from other locals in the MTA, as well as from the UAW, Hollywood writers and SAG-AFTRA, and has now passed forward their own example of joyful solidarity, here’s an article by Kerrissey and co-author Judith Stepan-Norris about the long history of unions and their strikes.

Here’s one line that stood out for us:

“We see the rising number of strikes today as a sign that the balance of power between workers and employers, which has been tilted toward employers for nearly a half-century, is beginning to shift.”

And one more bit of political education – found in a song, “Fast Car” – by Tracy Chapman. Her return to the Grammys on Sunday night was the showstopper.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb