Union News: Upcoming actions to combat catastrophic school funding cuts

Union News: Upcoming actions to combat catastrophic school funding cuts

north shore educators


MCAS season is upon us, bringing what it does every year: a loss of real learning and the loss of services for children with disabilities, additional stress and anxiety, and the end result of once again sorting students and districts, almost always along race and class lines. Here’s a powerful statement by one of our own, Betsy Preval from Cambridge, at the hearing for the Thrive Act this past fall.

Member-leaders from Western Mass. gathered last night to strategize about how to prevent catastrophic cuts – which locals are seeing throughout the region and state. We need to both push for more funds from our cities and towns (many of which are harboring large “free cash” funds – ask your field rep), as well as from the state. The tax cuts for the wealthy proposed by Governor Maura Healey and passed by the state Legislature were a mistake when approved, and that loss is being felt in our schools. Look out in coming weeks for a set of union-led actions.

On a positive note, Andover educators last week notched a very important political victory – they defeated two school committee incumbents who had forced a strike by refusing to make adequate proposals, and replaced them with two educators who are committed to making sure that schools have the resources they need. This needs to be the new norm for all of our locals: Campaign for strong budgets before bargaining; lead a powerful contract campaign; and then support those school committee members who supported our members, while removing those who work against us. Members did something similar when they voted Scott Galvin out of office as mayor of Woburn, following his terrible treatment of educators during that contract campaign.

Finally, congratulations to Gloucester educators who voted to merge their locals for Education Support Professionals and teachers into one MTA local. When we build wall-to-wall locals, we strengthen our power at the bargaining table. Think about doing this in your towns and cities.

MTA Events and Solidarity Actions

North Shore Week of Action

Over 5,000 educators from MTA and AFT Massachusetts, representing a dozen different locals from Gloucester to Chelsea, will “walk in” to fight for paid parental leave during a week of action next week, from April 8 to 12. Every day, educators across the North Shore will send a loud message: All educators, regardless of the district in which they work, deserve fair and just paid parental leave.

They are working together to lead a bargaining campaign for fair contracts. Follow them on social media for updates and details on these walk-ins.

Higher Ed Launches Bills of Rights Campaign & April 5 Action

Our PreK-12 ESP Bill of Rights campaign has been crucial in raising up the voices and concerns of Education Support Professionals in the MTA’s preK-12 settings. Noting this success, higher ed members have developed their own “Bill of Rights” series. Check them out!

And on Friday, April 5, the classified staff at UMass Boston will hold a silent, sign-holding action during the chancellor's inauguration, to call attention to issues including low pay in the face of inflation, reductions in staff over the years, a lack of work-life balance, and more. Participants wearing blue shirts in solidarity with the CSU will meet at 10:15 a.m. in the first-floor lobby of the Integrated Science Complex, at 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston. Join them, and feel free to bring your own signs demanding fair wages and respect! For more information, please email CSU.Solidarity@gmail.com.

Earth "Month" kickoff
When: Saturday, April 6

MTA preK-12 educators in all subjects are invited to join the MTA Climate Action Network,, Earth Day Boston and MIT CATE for the second annual K-12 Climate Action and Education Conference, focused on climate solutions, education and action.

The day will center on workshops offered by community groups focused on justice. Youths and educators will explore climate curriculum for all disciplines and age groups, as well as learn how to use union power to "green school systems." Breaks between sessions will feature tables from youth groups, educator unions, nonprofits and groups from MIT.

Registration for MTA members is extended to April 4. A stipend for attending is available. Registration is capped at 200 attendees.

Walk to Celebrate Colleen Ritzer

The MTA is excited to offer limited complimentary race registrations for the upcoming 2024 Step Up for Colleen 5K on Sunday, May 5. The event starts at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. The friends and family of the late Colleen Ritzer created this 5K walk/run to celebrate her legacy as an educator. The race benefits a scholarship fund named after her which supports future educators.

If you are interested in attending the May 5 race, please email the MTA Governance Division at mtagovernance@massteacher.org.

For more information, here is the link to the scholarship fund and the event.

Disability Insurance Enrollment Now Open

How would you pay your bills if you were suddenly unable to work for an extended period due to illness or injury? Disability insurance protects your income in such situations. The MTA Disability Plan is a group plan that offers discounted rates. During the open enrollment period, coverage is guaranteed. Critical illness insurance and accident insurance are also available during this enrollment period. To be eligible to participate, you must be either:

  • A member in a district that has opted to participate in this program; or
  • A new member since July 1, 2023, in any MTA-affiliated district.

The MTA Disability Insurance Open Enrollment is going on now through May 17. Click this link to schedule an appointment with a counselor.

Political Education

From the “There is a Better Way Department” via The Guardian:

“How did Estonia, a small country that is relatively poor compared with most of the EU, become an educational powerhouse? In the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings, which measures 15-year-olds’ abilities in math, reading and science, the top spots are held by a handful of Asian countries, but Estonia ranks next – the best in Europe. Its teachers are highly educated, the focus is on social and personal skills as much as academic learning and the typical curriculum is packed with a wide range of subjects, from robotics to music and arts. British politicians are taking note.”

In Solidarity,

Max and Deb