Union News: Collect Signatures to Replace MCAS Grad Requirement

Union News: Collect Signatures to Replace MCAS Grad Requirement

mta members

Greetings, MTA member,

It’s time to gather those signatures! We are on the second and final round of signature-gathering for our ballot initiative to end the use of MCAS as a graduation requirement. Signature forms are available in every regional MTA office and from every field rep organizer. Contact your field rep, or Tim Warren of the Grassroots staff, at twarren@massteacher.org, to get signature sheets. 

In another development, the MTA condemns the UMass administration’s decision to restrain academic freedom and crack down on the free speech rights of students, staff and faculty on campus. More than 100 people were arrested on the UMass campus May 7 while protesting over the war between Israel and Hamas. Read our complete statement here.

And, finally, some quick news from the state level: 

1. The Fair Share Amendment revenue that you all won is coming in strong and is the bright light in the state’s revenue picture, which up to this point has not looked so good. The April revenue haul was $1 billion more than expected, and most of that comes from Fair Share revenue. We are pushing hard to have as much as possible go to our public schools and colleges, to ease the pain of cuts. Fair Share was a good start in winning greater funds for public education, but we need a national plan — see the “Political Education” section below!

2. The Senate yesterday announced a proposal for tuition-free community college, using Fair Share funds. We have made reinvestment in public higher education a top priority, including fair pay for our staff and faculty and debt-free access for our students. This proposal is an important step forward. If it leads to investments in true, debt-free public higher education, and invests in fair pay and working conditions for staff and faculty, it will be an important advance for our long-term goals. See our statement here

3. The Senate Ways and Means budget is out today. Along with the community college proposal, the budget takes some modest steps toward addressing the school funding crisis facing so many districts across the state. Like the House budget, it proposes a minimum aid increase of $104 per student, substantially more than the $30 per student proposed by the governor. While the House budget reduced rural school aid to $7.5 million, the SWM budget restores the level to $15 million, but the MTA will be fighting for additional funding beyond that level. A full analysis of the budget is available here.

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions 

2024 MTA Summer Conference
When: Sunday, July 28 - Wednesday, July 31

Where: UMass Amherst Registration is now open for the 2024 MTA Summer Conference! Rethinking Education for a Transformative Future is the theme for this year’s annual event at UMass Amherst. This conference will include more than 60 workshops and special programs on union skills, professional development and anti-oppression topics, including opportunities to earn PDPs, graduate credit and the MTA Bargaining Certificate.

The conference is free for all members who register by July 11. Housing in either the dorms or at Hotel UMass, as well as meals from the award-winning UMass Dining, are available at discounted rates. Education Support Professionals, adjunct faculty, and participants in the New Presidents Academy, New Members Program and Next Generation Leadership Program will receive free dorm housing and meals.

Full-Service Community Schools Summit

When: Saturday, June 8, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Boston Teachers Union, 180 Mount Vernon St., Boston, MA 02125

At this summit, you will learn about the Full-Service Community Schools strategy, which is based on local knowledge, creativity and community resources, and which promotes equity, democracy and justice. The plenary panel will feature Jitu Brown, director of the Journey For Justice (J4J) Alliance, and Stacy Davis Gates, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. There will also be workshops with exciting presenters. Register here.

Nature School for Teachers

Where and When: Lincoln, July 23-26; Attleboro, Aug. 6-9

Mass Audubon offers opportunities to get outdoors, connect with fellow educators and immerse K-8 teachers in inquiry-based science at two of its wildlife sanctuaries. MTA Training & Professional Learning offers a limited number of scholarships for this program. Apply for a scholarship by May 25.

License Renewal

When: Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m.
Where: Virtual

Learn about the requirements to renew a Professional License, including how to collect evidence of your PDPs and how to handle a DESE audit. Learn more and register.

Updates from the NEA

May Is AANHPI Heritage Month We’ve compiled a list of resources for teaching about Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander history and culture. Check out this page for resources by grade level, recommended books and an article about the role AANHPI members have played in labor history.

Webinar on Protections for Pregnant and Parenting Educators

When: Wednesday, May 15 at 3 p.m.
Where: Virtual

The Biden administration delivered key new protections for pregnant and parenting educators by securing the passage of the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act of 2023 (PWFA) and, at the same time, extending the protections of the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) Act to millions of employees, including teachers and professors. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has now issued a final rule clarifying PWFA’s protections and providing guidance as to how PWFA will be enforced. The effective date of the final rule is June 18, 2024. 

Please register for this NEA webinar for more information on the critical protections that PWFA provides, including the critical right to reasonable accommodations, including leave and the temporary suspension of essential job functions, for employees who are pregnant, postpartum, or who have a related medical condition. Discussions will include which accommodations are reasonable under both the PWFA and the Americans with Disabilities Act, how the laws differ, and address frequently asked questions from employers and employees.

Learn More About Title IX Protections

Last month, the Biden administration also released its final rule “to fully effectuate Title IX’s promise that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally funded education.”

The new rule amends the existing Title IX regulations and goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2024.

This overview details the protections the new rule provides in three main areas: 1) protections for LGBTQ+ students and educators; 2) protections for pregnancy and related conditions; and 3) changes to requirements for schools to prevent, investigate and respond to complaints of sex discrimination and sex-based harassment. Read more about this new rule here.

Political Education 

“For the first time in the history of the United States, billionaires had a lower effective tax rate than working-class Americans.”  

Gabriel Zucman shows how stunning inequality in the United States has become. We started the reversal in this state with our Fair Share Amendment victory, which will draw upward of $2 billion a year from multimillionaires and billionaires. But the problem is national — and it is fundamental to whether we reclaim our nation for working people and their demand to live lives of dignity.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb