Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Charlie Baker encourages principals to practice "creative non-compliance" with such things as union work rules

SEI Endorsement Notifications - Update 9/17/2014

We recognize that the information coming from DESE regarding the awarding of the SEI endorsements has been confusing. DESE has notified Superintendents, RETELL district liaisons, course instructors and MTA leadership of the errors and their plans to send a corrected message to impacted educators.  We continue our discussions with DESE and will be updating as information becomes available. In addition, the MTA is sharing updated information regarding the potential cancellation of SEI Endorsement courses.



SEI Endorsement Notifications

Recently, DESE sent emails to some educators regarding the status of their SEI Endorsement which indicated that the educator had failed to obtain the Endorsement despite having completed the DESE courses. Not all educators received a message from DESE. Members should not be concerned if they did receive any email from DESE regarding the SEI Endorsement.


If you received such an email, you can expect to receive either a correction email from DESE, notifying  you that the SEI Endorsement has been awarded, or an email that will contain instructions on next steps to take. This will include instructions on how to apply for the SEI Endorsement in ELAR.


Educators who took but failed to successfully complete an SEI Endorsement course should expect a letter to arrive via certified mail in the coming weeks.


As a reminder, all educators who are seeking the SEI Endorsement must apply for the endorsement in ELAR at Educators will be able to view the status of the application and print an unofficial copy of the licensure information once the SEI Endorsement has been awarded.


If you have questions about any of the communications from DESE, you may send your question directly to the RETELL staff at DESE using the online form MTA members may also request assistance from MTA staff by sending an email to


RETELL Course Cancellations


DESE is in the process of reviewing the SEI Endorsement courses and will be sending out notifications of course cancellations in the upcoming weeks. Courses may be cancelled due to low enrollment or lack of instructor availability. Any educator who has enrolled in a course that is cancelled for any reason will have an opportunity to enroll in another course section or may be assigned to the course in which they are on the waitlist. If an educator is unable to enroll in another course for the 2014-2015 school year, he or she will be able to enroll in a no-cost SEI Endorsement in the 2015-2016 school year. This will include educators in Cohort 1 districts who enrolled in a cancelled course section or who placed their name on a waitlist.


The registration deadline for the no-cost SEI Endorsement courses in September 17 for fall courses and December 5 for spring courses. Educators can also place their name on a waitlist or cancel their registration until these dates.



2nd Annual Suicide Awareness Walk


Instruments for students

Many charities waste your donated money. Please don't let your charitable giving go to waste.

Please consider supporting Gifts to Give.

Gifts to Give is waging a focused campaign against child poverty.
Almost 50% of American children live in poor or low income households. 


"For us, the solution is healthy families and public education. We’re building a caring community where we can easily share our gifts to ensure children are connected with what they need, and learn how to read. We seriously support local public schools through tangible and measurable service learning, early literacy and middle school mentoring programming. Poverty is wreaking havoc on healthy families and public education!"

Organizing and taking action .... MTA President Barbara Madeloni


This has been an exciting and productive past few weeks for our union.

Between September 11 and September 15, we held two lively regional forums and an All Presidents' Meeting that included a model forum component. The meetings were well attended (more than 200 members came to the presidents' meeting alone), and the conversations were robust.

The fast pace continues, as we have 20 more regional and local forums scheduled. If you want to hold one in your local, please just contact your association president or send an e-mail to Governance Assistant Jennie Holland at

As we build our union's strength and solidarity, our activism will take many forms. One form is working to elect pro-public-education candidates. The MTA is recommending Martha Coakley for governor, and we will also be recommending legislators in state and congressional races.

I urge you to get involved, talk to neighbors and friends, call fellow members and reach out to the candidates about the issues that matter to us. Be sure that the issues that matter to you also matter to the candidates you support. For information on how to participate, e-mail Jo Ann Fitzgerald, director of grassroots campaigns, at

Perhaps your activism includes telling U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan how you feel about policies and mandates at the national level that are affecting us at the local level. If so, I hope you can join a protest that has been organized by some MTA retirees and Citizens for Public Schools on Friday, September 19, at 8:30 a.m. - just before Duncan is scheduled to speak at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. (Unfortunately, the talk is during the school day - but for retirees, this is a chance to activate and agitate!) Protestors are asked to meet in front of Gutman Library on Appian Way, off Brattle Street.

Those of you who want to extend your activism to issues beyond education may want to join thePeople's Climate March in New York City this Sunday, September 21. The Massachusetts Nurses Association still has seats available on its buses. Contact me for more information.

Or you can connect with Raise Up Massachusetts to canvass in favor of Massachusetts Ballot Question #4, on earned sick time.

Meanwhile, some recent examples of MTA members organizing and mobilizing include UMass faculty and staff hitting the streets on September 5 to protest stalled contract talks and demands for givebacks.

MTA members also joined a news conference and standout on September 8 in support of Holyoke Teachers Association President Gus Morales after the Department of Labor Relations issued a complaint finding probable cause that the Holyoke administration violated Morales' rights when he was fired for engaging in union activities.

We are at a critical moment for reclaiming public education and the public good. MTA members are organizing and taking action.

In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,


How involved should the New Bedford City Council be regarding school issues? ... New Bedford Guide

The school board is asking them to back off ...

While saying they "appreciate" the City Council's concern, School Committee members Monday night asked councilors to leave school business to school officials.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said City Councilors had asked the committee to explain in writing or in person "the department's policies and practices concerning school busing, school building alarm systems, and enrollment figures."

Councilors have criticized school officials for their handling of those matters.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gifts To Give .... Because We All Have Gifts to Give

A Tangible Mission
GiftsToGive™ is a magical place. Thousands of local children come here to engage in giving and service. We call it Tangible Philanthropy and Big Citizenship.
Kids donate their “gently-used” clothes, toys, books and things they no longer need or use and volunteer at our huge re-purposing center to process, organize and package tons of donations, transforming them into thousands of individual gift packages.
Hundreds of local agencies and care givers go on-line and order customized gift-packages for homeless and at-risk children in their care. All this is made possible through the skill sets and commitment of our volunteer management team.
Our NGO business model is low cost, high impact and we’re working to be self-sustaining. In essence, we’re building a more caring community by repositioning philanthropy and redefining citizenship. 
Big Values:
The Power of Giving and Service; “Tangible Philanthropy” and “Big Citizenship”
    High School Change Makers
  • GiftsToGive is about  connecting young people to giving and service through their “doing”
  • Supporting public schools
  • Offering adults a sustainable, tangible philanthropy
Providing Kids With the Essentials of Childhood
  • Service Learning Programs with Schools
  • Early Literacy Programs in Kindergartens
  • Middle School Mentoring
  • Youth Philanthropy
  • Student Leadership Intern Programs
  • Happy Birthday Programs
  • Project Cinderella
  • Giving immediate help to kids who need basic essentials
Abby's friends helped her deliver the 600+ books she collected for her mitzvah project.

Supporting Community Organizations
  • Supporting public schools, PTO building, volunteer mentoring and early literacy
  • Connecting local agencies, schools, universities and colleges
  • Adding value, being helpful, sharing, not reinventing or duplicating
  • Leveraging existing resources
Building Community Around All Children
  • Connecting families to act together to solve shared problems
  • Building community around all our children, while fostering big citizenship
  • Connecting parents to help their children be successful in school

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Bedford Credit Union - Special Low Rate Loan for NBEA Members

MTA Recommends Coakley for Governor


MTA Recommends Coakley for Governor

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is recommending Attorney General Martha Coakley for governor in the state's general election on November 4.

"Martha Coakley has a track record of supporting public schools, public higher education and the rights of working families," said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. "Her policies would be far better for students, educators and communities than Charlie Baker's."

Coakley's platform includes support for universal access to early childhood education in the state's financially strapped Gateway Cities, which is a priority for the MTA. She has also expressed concern about the excessive focus on standardized tests in schools, and she supports Question 4, the ballot initiative to require employers with 11 or more workers to provide earned sick time benefits.

Baker is focused on increasing the number of charter schools and reducing educators' collective bargaining rights in certain circumstances. He opposes the earned sick time requirements in Question 4, and he opposed the MTA-backed Foundation Budget Review Commission. The commission was established in the fiscal 2015 state budget to examine whether schools have enough funding to provide students with the quality education to which they are entitled.
Please do all you can to support the Martha Coakley campaign between now and the election on November 4. To learn how you can help, please contact Jo Ann Fitzgerald by e-mailing


(For New Members and Current Members who wish to cancel or make changes in their coverage.)

September 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26
2:30 - 5:00 p.m.
NBEA Office
160 William Street, New Bedford

New members must bring birth dates for all dependents and a $25.00 Enrollment Fee at time of enrollment.

The Plan year is November 1, 2014 - October 31, 2015.

Weekly payroll deductions will be over 30 weeks, beginning in October 2014 and ending in May 2015.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What Parents Can Do About Common Core Testing

If you're the parent or teacher of a young child concerned about the impact of the Common Core standards and tests, you'll want to read this article in The Boston Parents Paper by Geralyn McLaughlin, Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Defending the Early Years. 

The authors explain how the standards and tests are harming the quality of early education and hurting young children. More importantly, they offer clear, practical advice about things parents can do to protect their children and influence school policy. -  Citizens for Public Schools

The Gubernatorial Candidates on Education

You may want to consider the gubernatorial candidates' education statements when you go to the polls on today.

State sides with fired Teachers Union President

22 News has new information Monday night about the Holyoke Teachers Union President who has said he was wrongfully fired in June.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Less Testing, More Learning" Massachusetts campaign .... Alain Jehlen

A group of teachers, parents, and other community members are launching a statewide campaign to roll back high-stakes testing in Massachusetts. (Some people from this list are already involved.)

We will: 
  • hold forums and other actions this fall, 
  • settle on specific demands over the next few months, 
  • present them to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the legislature. 
Leaders of both state teachers unions, Citizens for Public Schools, FairTest, and other groups are taking part. We have school committee members, superintendents, and principals, too. 

There is a growing consensus that over-testing is hurting our children. Even leading test promoters like Bill Gates and Arne Duncan finally admit there's a problem.

Please join us! 

For a start, please like our Facebook page, Less Testing, More Learning MA, and ask your friends to like it. 

If you can help organize a forum in your community, write a letter to the editor, or want to help in other ways, please let me know.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bob Unger? ST? Pro-union? ... Submitted to NBEA

 "New Bedford community leaders" seems to have put on a good "show" for 100 new teachers. If they were so concerned with education and "good community relations" with teachers, why didn't they invite ALL the teachers, the NBEA, and city council??

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MTA takes Level 5 fight to court ... By Laura Barrett

Pc0160100The MTA has filed complaints in Middlesex Superior Court contending that the state’s takeover plans for the two Level 5 schools represented by the association unlawfully cut members’ pay and undermine teachers’ rights while also failing to demonstrate how the changes set forth will improve student achievement.

The first lawsuit, challenging the plan for the Parker Elementary School, was filed on July 18 on behalf of the New Bedford Educators Association.

The second, challenging the plan for the Morgan Full Service Community School, was filed on July 23 on behalf of the Holyoke Teachers Association.

“I’m thrilled that the MTA has filed these lawsuits,” said Lou St. John, president of the NBEA. “The commissioner of education has acted like a rogue and is doing whatever he wants. I don’t think he is following the intent of the law. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education basically rubber-stamped whatever the commissioner wanted. I feel that a court will be more likely to make a decision based on the facts.”

The lawsuits also contend that Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester failed to follow legally required procedures in establishing the turnaround plans and that the BESE erred when it refused to require him to send revised plans back to the stakeholder groups for further review.

“State law creates a highly collaborative process for turning around underperforming schools that requires the input of numerous stakeholders, including teachers and their unions,” said Sandra Quinn, the MTA attorney who prepared and filed the Morgan complaint on behalf of the HTA. “The commissioner flouted legislative intent by creating a punitive process that will discourage the recruitment and retention of teachers.”

Chester designated the schools in New Bedford and Holyoke, along with two in Boston, as Level 5 — or “chronically underperforming” — under the Achievement Gap Act of 2010. The law entitles the commissioner to develop turnaround plans and name a receiver for each Level 5 school.

In Holyoke, Texas-based Project GRAD USA was named the receiver of Morgan. In New Bedford, School Superintendent Pia Durkin was named the receiver for Parker.

In both schools, all teachers were required to reapply for their jobs. Most chose not to reapply, citing working conditions in the schools and their frustration that many of their ideas about how to help their high-need students were not heeded.

The law also requires the commissioner to develop the turnaround plans with input from local stakeholder groups.
Despite differences in local conditions and recommendations from the stakeholders, all of the Level 5 plans were very similar, reflecting Chester’s support for a longer day for students and teachers even if there are not enough funds available to provide pay commensurate with the time required.

As a result, teachers at Morgan have to work 395 more hours each year — or 30 percent more time — for about 5 percent more pay. At Parker, they have to work 392 hours more for about 7 percent more pay.
The lawsuits state that these changes amount to an unlawful salary cut because they reduce a teacher’s rate of pay.

In addition, both plans abolish collectively bargained salary schedules and replace them with performance-based pay systems, under which teachers move up to the next level based on their evaluations, not on their years of service. Chester has been vocal in his support of moving the state to a more performance-based pay system.
The plans also eliminate the normal grievance procedures and arbitration before a neutral third party and instead give “substantial deference” to the receiver and final say to the commissioner in disputes with management.
The Morgan complaint contends that these changes “bear no rational relationship to the central statutory purpose of maximizing rapid student achievement.”

“We are at the initial stages of litigation and look forward to receiving a response to the complaint from the board and the commissioner,” said MTA attorney Laurie Houle, who prepared and filed the Parker complaint on behalf of the NBEA. “Our hope is that this process will result in an improved turnaround plan that will better lead to the rapid academic achievement of students in these schools.”  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why we teach ... by Bruce C. Ditata

When the great National Football League legend Vincent Lombardi referred to his sport as "a game of cliches and I believe in every one of them," he could also have been talking about the teaching profession.

With another school year about to begin, it is time for a moment of reflection. Knowing that an eager group of school kids will soon be in our care, teachers need to check the mirror and take inventory of why we teach.

It will take more than an arsenal of cliches to bring to a successful conclusion this September-to-June marathon that is queueing up right after Labor Day. With the current politically motivated assault against educators, teachers are being scapegoated in many quarters throughout the land. We are being blamed for the "achievement gap," our collective bargaining rights are under siege and the national obsession with high-stakes testing has taken its toll on our profession.

There is, also, a long list of not so encouraging "givens" to contend with. Among them are needy, troubled, under-served students in our classes; the occasional petty jealousies and private agendas among colleagues; and lack of support from administration. These will not suddenly dissipate in time for Halloween, but will continue throughout the year.

Yet we must not lose focus. We must prevail in our primary responsibility: the students.
So how do we persist? What sustains us each of the 180 days, as we arise at 4:45 a.m. to joust with institutional roadblocks, the attacks on our profession and inadequate resources? How do we put all the negatives aside and persevere with teaching children? From where does motivation derive — day after day? What ignites the fire in our bellies?

The answer is neatly wrapped in our own psyches, emerging each day as we check that mirror to recognize who is the role model, instructor, confidente, taskmaster, story-teller, disciplinarian. All of the facets are us. Here's where all the classic cliches reside. And all of them are true.

We know we make a difference every day. Each child requires a different combination of all our skills, sometimes day to day, sometimes hour to hour. Like a resourceful running back on the field, we have to zig and zag, reverse our field, change the pattern, improvise. We are committed, resilient, undaunted. We are good teachers.

Curriculum guides do not provide the answer as to why we teach. Kids are kids. Jumbled emotions and interfering behaviors can upset the pace of our instruction. Lesson plans sometimes exist only on paper. Our classrooms are melting pots of humanity and we must adapt to each unexpected crisis.

The way we adapt to classroom situations and challenges are the ways we teach. It might be the joy and excitement of creating something new that might bring each skill to the learning style of each kid: a grid, a manipulative, a slogan. It might be skills of the diagnostician, able to pinpoint a child's learning needs and implementing a program to get the student on track. It could be mastering technology and linking Smart Boards to any learning goal. Teachers represent an all-inclusive village of experience, talents, styles and expertise.

Whether we infuse our lesson with technology or manipulatives or publish a newsletter covering the work of the week, each of us tries to blend our talents to fit the individual student's needs. This is what creates true innovation, and it is the mandate and the gift of our profession — to mold the futures of our students.
Yes, we take pride in our pedagogy and we evolve as purveyors of the curriculum standards. But our biggest contribution is our ability to be humanists, to care about the whole child. Twenty years later, that is what our former students will remember about us. In our own way, we make a difference — one student at a time. Remember this every morning when you see yourself in the glass.

Have a successful year.

Backpacks for children

Once again, NBPS has received a large donation of backpacks filled with school supplies that were generously donated by the Cradles to Crayons Organization. 

In addition, NBEA received funds through the Massachusetts Child Program for school supplies. The supplies have been purchased and will be included in the backpacks. 

Order forms for the backpacks and supplies have been sent to all of the school nurses. Teachers are asked to contact their school nurses if they have any students in need. The backpacks are available on a first come first serve basis.