The Newton strike continues, despite the best efforts of Newton Teachers Association members to end it with thoughtful compromises designed to get their students back in school. This is now the longest strike a local educator union has led since the 1970s. The NTA has been negotiating for 16 months. It shouldn’t take this long. This is another reason why we need to change the state law on strikes. For more background, check out this piece we wrote in yesterday’s Globe.
The NTA remains incredibly strong in its commitment to a fair contract and better schools for its students, in part because of the backing from parents, and all of you who have been showing up, posting and sending solidarity messages. Elected officials – including U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (who showed up at a rally and gave a stunning speech) and U.S. Representative Jim McGovern – as well as national union leaders such as Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and of course, our own NEA President Becky Pringle, attended an NTA member meeting on Zoom last night.
Everything you need to know about this incredible fight for a fair contract and the schools Newton students deserve – and everything you need to know about how to help as an individual and as a local – is available at newteach.org.
The budget season is upon us – at the state and local level. The governor’s budget proposal reminds us how important it was that the MTA, joining with other unions, community groups, and so many others, campaigned in 2022 to win passage of the Fair Share Amendment. This constitutional amendment taxes multimillionaires and billionaires a little bit more to pay for crucial investments in public education and transportation, including universal school meals, free community college for adults 25 and older, significant new scholarship funds for all public college and university students, and much more.
In a year when ordinary revenue is barely growing, the governor’s budget proposes new initiatives to support the mental health and social emotional well-being of students (something our members passionately raised with Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler a few weeks ago.) The budget proposal also supports educators who are working effectively to teach all students to read (in line with what our members shared with the education secretary and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.) The governor also proposes funds, in line with our Cherish Act for public higher ed, to build and repair campus buildings to meet the needs of students, staff and faculty, and meet the Commonwealth’s climate goals, not to mention funding for an improved MBTA, regional buses and repairs to city and town roads and bridges. MTA members made all of these investments possible.
But for all that, the budget proposal frustratingly proposes only modest new steps – and takes some steps backward – toward making sure that all of our schools and colleges have the resources they need. The governor’s budget proposal is the first step. We are going to lift up our priorities and ask that the House and Senate do better. MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions Call on Lawmakers to Pass the Thrive Act A coalition of educators, parents, families and community members successfully collected 101,511 certified signatures endorsing a ballot initiative to replace the high school graduation requirement tied to the MCAS. That initiative is now before the Legislature. Please call on lawmakers to support the Thrive Act. Cherish Act Events 2/1/24 Framingham State University (Equity in Public Higher Education Policy Summit) 2/2/24 Salem State University (Equity in Public Higher Education: Community Conversation) MTA ESP Conference When: April 5 - 6 Where: Sea Crest Beach Hotel, 350 Quaker Road, North Falmouth Go here to get more information or nominate a first-time participant to receive a scholarship. Conference registration will open in February. Virtual Licensure Workshops Learn more about the licensure process at upcoming workshops. All sessions are free and open to all. Learn more and register. Spring Regional Presidents’ Meetings When: February 13 - March 14 Planning for the Regional Presidents' Meetings is underway. The registration site will be launched at a later date. These are the dates the meeting occurs in your region:
2/13 - MTA Quincy headquarters
2/27 - MTA Middleton office
2/28 - MTA Holyoke office
3/5 - MTA Raynham office
3/11 - MTA Pittsfield office
3/14 - MTA Worcester office
Juneteenth Celebration - Save the date! Join the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee for the 2024 Juneteenth Celebration on June 19 at the Edwards House Conference and Retreat Center in Framingham.
Conference Opportunities for MTA Members
The 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. Space is very limited. If you are interested in applying to one or more of these opportunities, please fill out this survey form.
Update on Student Loan Forgiveness On Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Education announced an additional $4.9 billion in debt relief, including for educators, due to the Biden administration’s fixes for income-driven repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The IDR adjustment period was extended once again, now with a consolidation deadline of April 30. This means that federal loan borrowers (including Parent PLUS loans) can receive retroactive credit for past payments, even if paid through an ineligible payment plan.
If you’re not sure what this information means for you and your student loans, MTA members and their families can join a free webinar with MTA Benefits partner Cambridge Credit Counseling to learn more. Register now for webinar dates through March.
Gender Inclusive Practices in Early Childhood and the Elementary Years
DESE’s Early Learning Team and the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students will host a professional development session from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 9. The workshop is “Honoring Student Voice: Establishing Safe and Supportive Environments Through Gender Inclusive Practices.” To participate, please register online here.
Elections for MTA Board and Executive Committee 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 of Delegates in April. To be a candidate, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.878.8305.
The Passing of Harold Crowley
It is with great sorrow that we note the passing of Harold Crowley, who recently retired from the MTA as a retirement consultant coordinator after 29 years of helping thousands of members navigate their move into retirement. A dedicated unionist for decades, Harold advocated passionately for MTA members and our public schools. He taught for more than three decades in the Quincy Public Schools and was actively involved in his union, the Quincy Education Association, serving as its president in 1972-73 and in many other union roles during his teaching career. Please read Harold’s obituary in The Patriot Ledger.
Today in Newton, educators are rallying around one of the main goals of this contract campaign – winning strong parental leave policies. As many of you know, Massachusetts has (in part because of the MTA’s advocacy) a strong paid family and medical leave policy. However, the Legislature chose to exclude municipal workers from the law. So our members do not have access to what almost all other workers have – uniform paid family and medical leave. As a consequence, Newton is one of many locals in the MTA that have pushed hard in negotiations for good benefits.
Here’s an article that reminds us of the importance of good parental leave policies, for the new child coming into a family, and for the parent or parents.
Max and Deb