Union News: Sharing the Triumphs of Newton's Teachers

Union News: Sharing the Triumphs of Newton's Teachers

newton lessons


Verse V of Wallace Stevens’ 1954 poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” reads: 

I do not know which to prefer,

The beauty of inflections

Or the beauty of innuendoes,

The blackbird whistling

Or just after.

The Newton Teachers Association strike, and all that it won for students, represents the “beauty of inflections,” of actions that shift a trajectory, in this case, the power of the local, the mission of the union and our ability to improve public schools.

But we should also be sure we all play a part in crafting the “beauty of innuendoes,” telling the stories, not only of what happened in Newton, but in each of the contract campaigns you all have been leading and winning. When a contract campaign is over, it is easy to head back into your beloved schools and “turn the page” on the struggle. But we have to share the stories, not only with our own members, but also with other locals and the public. 

Make no mistake: There is a battle going on right now to shape the immediate historical narrative – the “innuendoes” – of the Newton strike. We encourage you to read this op-ed by NTA President Michael Zilles and NTA Bargaining Chair Ryan Normandin in The Boston Globe, as they correct blatant misinformation being spread in a concerted manner by the Newton mayor and her allies. 

The NTA’s bold and courageous actions are part of a larger shift we have been seeing throughout the MTA. And that story is also being told, as some of you may have seen on the front page of the Sunday Globe: “The flurry of activities represents an ideological shift that has reshaped a union — once known as a conciliatory behind-the-scenes dealmaker — into a more populist workers’ rights movement that eagerly blocks state policies it opposes and pushes for big boosts in pay and benefits and also some new initiatives, such as better social-emotional supports for students and greater racial equity.”

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions 

Spring Regional Presidents’ Meetings

Planning for the Regional Presidents' Meetings is underway. Please register here. Here are the dates for various regions: 

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

Licensure Basics for Educators with Emergency Licenses

When: Feb. 27 at 3 p.m.

Where: Virtual

If you have an Emergency License, this workshop will help you navigate the next steps in your licensure journey. Learn more and register.

The Struggle for Liberty: Whose Liberty?

When: Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Where: Virtual 

Uniting to Save Our Schools is running an action dialogue series called “Struggles for Democracy in Public Education.” The first dialogue in the series will discuss far-right extremist groups who seek to take over public schools and force their agenda, and features speakers from the Anti-Racist Education Alliance, PFLAG, and Stop Moms for Liberty. Learn more about the series and register.

The ABCs of Teaching Climate Change

When: March 7 and 21 at 4 p.m.

Where: Virtual

While our other PDP programs this winter and spring may be full, there are still a few spaces remaining in this course, run in partnership with Mass Audubon. Learn more and register.

Student Loan Forgiveness

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.

Political Education

Obituaries have just been published for Charles V. Hamilton, whose death in November 2023 is only now being reported. Best known as the co-author, along with Stokely Carmichael, of the 1967 book, “Black Power: the Politics of Liberation,” Hamilton was a professor at Columbia University and among the first political scientists to use the term “institutional racism” to describe the way the racism structured American life. 

With his wife, Dona Cooper Hamiton, a professor at Lehman College in New York, the Hamiltons later wrote “The Dual Agenda,” which argued that civil rights and economic rights were inextricably bound together from the New Deal onward:  “If ending segregation and racial discrimination and gaining the right to vote were critical to the civil rights agenda, then, without question, the necessity of jobs and the idea of a full employment economy have remained the perennial and consistent focus of the social welfare agenda.  …Our data show that civil rights organizations never wavered in their commitment to a universal social welfare system, jobs in the regular labor market, and federal hegemony.”

In solidarity,

Max and Deb