Union News: No Yoga, Just Work – The Real Prep Time of Newton Educators

Union News: No Yoga, Just Work – The Real Prep Time of Newton Educators

newton fight


“We have to make sure that teachers don’t use their prep time to go off and take a yoga class.”  

That’s a paraphrase of a laughable comment that Newton Public Schools Committee Chair Chris Brezski made on GBH radio. For educators who barely have enough time to go to the bathroom or wolf down lunch, it was an attitude that captured the disconnect you all sometimes feel between school committees and your real, daily experiences educating our youth. 

That ignorance and lack of respect is what fueled the Newton Teachers Association and so many other contract campaigns. 

The story of fictional yoga classes was just one told by Brenna Green and Elizabeth Ross Del Porto, bargaining team members for the Newton Teachers Association, before a thrilled audience of 300 members this past weekend at the MTA’s Winter Union Skills Conference.  

Brenna and Elizabeth laid out victories for students and members – a social worker in nearly every elementary and middle school, a 30 percent increase in starting pay for Education Support Professionals, dramatically improved paid-parental leave, a move toward smaller class sizes, and on and on. In case you are reading otherwise in the anti-union opinion pages of The Boston Globe, let’s be clear: Many of these historic gains would not be possible without the courage and solidarity of Newton educators taking this bold action, which they were forced to do after 16 months of fruitless bargaining. But they also spoke about the solidarity they built with each other, finding new leaders, singing with their now world-famous Fair Contract Band, and sticking together right to the end. 

Who knows what successful contract campaign we will hear about at next year’s Winter Union Skills Conference! But remember to sign up early – the ballroom was packed to capacity and we came close to having to shut down registration.

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions 

MTA Forum Hosted by the MTA Anti-Racism Task Force - Censorship of Books: Why We Must Resist

When: Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.
Where: Virtual via Zoom

Join us for a panel discussion with Danielle Davis, staff counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the National Education Association, as we discuss how banning books has become a part of our lives, what is happening across states to combat this, how educators are being targeted and what we can do to be proactive in this fight.

Book bans harm communities because they keep students and members of the community from accessing critical information to help them understand themselves and the world around them. Become part of the solution as we become part of building a more anti-racist union. Register here.

Future Forums from the MTA Anti-Racism Task Force: 

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

Spring Regional Presidents’ Meetings

When: February 27 - March 14

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 License

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.

Summer Conference – Propose a Workshop!

Are you ready to share your expertise with fellow MTA members? Propose a workshop for the MTA Summer Conference! The conference will take place from July 28 to 31 on the UMass Amherst campus. Your workshops will help make this the best Summer Conference yet.

PDP Courses

The MTA is offering a range of in-person and online sessions to help MTA educators meet requirements to renew their professional licenses. In addition to our offerings on special education and English language learners, we are partnering with Mass Audubon on a science course about climate change. Learn more and register.

Student Loan Forgiveness

“I have finally met the criteria for PSLF and have officially had my loans forgiven. I received the letter from Mohela as well as having them cleared from my credit report. I am grateful for your guidance and the webinar that you did for MTA members.”

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 History 

Check out our page on the 179-year history of our union! As our project to gather our archives and digitize past MTA publications continues, we’ll share more about the history of the MTA, among the oldest educator associations in the country.

Can you check in with Brendan about upcoming actions? And is there now a point person who will send along upcoming actions to Jonathan? 

Nominations and Elections

Call for Nominations: 2025 NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence

Nominations are open for the 2025 NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. All current members of an NEA local affiliate or bargaining unit are eligible, including teachers, ESPs and higher education faculty and staff. 

The MTA Executive Committee will choose the MTA nominee. Awardees are honored each year at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. Applicants should email mtagovernance@massteacher.org for information and application materials. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 23. For more information, please click here.

Elections for MTA Board and Officers – Nomination Signatures Due by March 1 This year, elections will be held for MTA officers, approximately one-third of the seats on the MTA Board of Directors and At-Large Director for Ethnic Minority Membership. These elections will take place at the Annual Meeting in April. Nomination signatures must be requested and are due back by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1. View the full list of openings and find out more about becoming a candidate here. Contact MTAGovernance@massteacher.org with any questions or to request nomination papers.  

Local Delegate Elections

Now is the time to start thinking about serving as a delegate to MTA’s Annual Meeting, which will be held April 26-27 in Springfield, and the NEA-RA, scheduled for July 3-7 in Philadelphia. The nomination process and election for local delegate seats are handled by each local association with the names of elected delegates due to MTA in early to mid-April. Contact your local president or election officer to find out the details and timing of your local processes. 

Elections Contact

If you have any questions regarding MTA’s nomination or election process, please contact John Connelly, Division of Governance & Administration,at jconnelly@massteacher.org or 617.878.8305.

Political Education

At the Winter Union Skills Conference this past weekend, Executive Director-Treasurer Mike Fadel spoke about one of the great works of U.S. history, the 1935 book by W.E.B. Du Bois, “Black Reconstruction.” Du Bois, who grew up in Great Barrington, became a renowned historian and sociologist, and would later found the NAACP, upended the “consensus” – and racist – history about the Civil War and Reconstruction that had been crafted and taught for decades, and which reinforced the violent, white supremacist Jim Crow regime. That story held that Reconstruction was a time of terrible chaos and incompetence by African American leaders installed by Northern radicals, and that it was necessary to “redeem” the South, by all means, including violence.  

In fact, as Du Bois showed, the Reconstruction era from 1863 through 1877 was “the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen.” It was a moment when African Americans brought down slavery by freeing themselves and the nation in what can only be called (as Du Bois did) the first general strike in U.S. history, and then began rebuilding the South. The destruction of that brief shining moment of possibility and the complicity of the U.S. Congress in abandoning the project of Reconstruction should not, Du Bois argued, silence the story of that time, when African American workers moved this nation closer than ever before to being a true democracy.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb