Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bill to lift charter cap soundly defeated

A Senate Ways and Means Committee education bill that would have raised the cap on charter schools was defeated in the Massachusetts Senate on July 16 by a vote of 26-13 after a lengthy debate.

Although the House had previously passed a similar measure, the Senate vote effectively kills the proposal for the current legislative session.

MTA members contacted their senators by e-mail and phone, urging them to vote against lifting the cap. The charter provision was the most controversial portion of S. 2262, An Act Relative to Bridging Gaps in Education.

The move to kill the charter cap lift was led by Senators Kenneth Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville).

“I am thrilled that the cap on charter schools will not be lifted,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “Many senators agreed with us that the state should be putting time and resources into creating the public schools that every student deserves rather than into new charter schools.

“I want to thank our members for their activism on this crucial issue,” Madeloni added.

Under current law, districts cannot be forced to spend more than 18 percent of their education budgets on charter schools.

If the bill had passed, the limit would have risen to 23 percent over time.

School Committee Hears Results Of Community Survey ... WBSM

State report: New Bedford High School still struggling

State report: New Bedford High School still struggling

Change agent - CommonWealth Magazine

Change agent - CommonWealth Magazine

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't lift the charter cap! ... By MTA President Barbara Madeloni

I am writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to contact your state senator IMMEDIATELY to oppose lifting the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts. There is no time to waste. Please act NOW and call for your senator to support an amendment that would remove the cap lift from a bill that is about to come to a vote.

S. 2262, "An Act Relative to Bridging Gaps in Education," is scheduled for a vote in the Senate tomorrow - on Wednesday, July 16.

One critical section would hurt our public schools and have a negative impact on students by lifting the charter school cap. The provision would phase in increased levels of district education spending that could be diverted to charter schools from the current limit of 18 percent to 23 percent.
The MTA believes that lifting the cap is divisive and unnecessary and will not benefit students or schools. This issue is diverting time, energy and resources from initiatives to help all students succeed.

Amendment #1, filed by Senators Kenneth Donnelly and Patricia Jehlen, would strike the provisions lifting the charter cap from S. 2262. The MTA strongly supports this amendment.
Please click here NOW to contact your senator and ask him or her to support Amendment #1, or call your state senator at 617.722.2000.

Another section of S. 2262 would establish a new category of schools called Challenge Schools, which would be identified from among the lowest-performing Level 3 schools. The goal is to keep these schools from falling into Level 4 status.
The MTA supports initiatives that involve classroom educators and union representatives in all discussions about how to help all students succeed. If this bill is passed in any form, we will work hard to make sure that the educator voice is heard - and respected.

New MTA leaders take office

New MTA Leadership TeamMTA President Barbara Madeloni and Vice President Janet Anderson took office as the new leaders of the Commonwealth’s largest union on July 15, promising a course of member-driven activism that focuses on resisting corporate-driven policies and reclaiming a democratic vision of public education for students, schools, colleges and communities.
“Our public schools are the cornerstone of democracy,” said Madeloni, who is on leave as a senior lecturer in the Labor Studies Department at UMass Amherst. “Educators make an incredible commitment to our students and their future every day. We need trust, autonomy and respect to create conditions in which all students can succeed and thrive.”
Madeloni, who lives in Northampton, was elected in May to a two-year term as MTA president.
Beginning in 2004, she worked at the UMass School of Education, where among other responsibilities she coordinated the Secondary Teacher Education Program. As a teacher educator, Madeloni worked with hundreds of prospective educators who now teach in schools throughout Massachusetts and across the country. Prior to teaching at UMass, she was an English teacher at Northampton High School and at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield.
Madeloni has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College, a master’s degree in education from UMass Amherst and a Doctor of Psychology degree from the University of Denver.
One of her key priorities as MTA president will be to build grassroots support for the kinds of efforts that truly help all Massachusetts students grow and succeed.
“We will ally with parents, students and community members to defend our public schools and colleges from dehumanizing accountability systems pushed by corporate and undemocratic interests,” Madeloni said. “Together we will reclaim our schools as places of joy, creativity, imagination and critical engagement for every child.”
Anderson, who began teaching in the Taunton Public Schools in 1988, recently completed her 14th year as a fifth-grade teacher at the Benjamin Friedman Middle School. Before being elected to a two-year term as MTA vice president, she was a member of the association’s Board of Directors. She served as president of the 570-member Taunton Education Association from 2008 to 2014.
Anderson, who lives in Taunton, is a graduate of Bridgewater State College, now Bridgewater State University, with a dual major in elementary and special education.
The delegates to the MTA Annual Meeting at which Madeloni and Anderson were elected passed items that call for a three-year moratorium on PARCC testing and the initiation of member-led forums to discuss the impact of testing and other corporate-driven policies on students, teachers and schools. The forums will begin in the fall.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Farewell video message from Paul Toner and Tim Sullivan


Dear MTA Members,

As our terms as MTA officers draw to a close, we want to express our thanks to all of our MTA friends and colleagues. It has been an honor and privilege to represent you at the state and national levels.

Our years of MTA leadership have been enormously rewarding. We are proud of the fact that Massachusetts students continue to rank at or near the top on national and international assessments. Their success is the product of your dedication and care.

We are also proud that - at a time when public employee unions across the nation have been under sharp attack and employee rights and membership have diminished- the MTA has continued to be a strong voice for educators, sound educational policy and pro-public-education candidates. We have protected members' collective bargaining rights and Professional Teacher Status. We have seen our membership grow by more than 6,000 and the average teacher's salary increase by approximately 30 percent since 2006.

We are profoundly gratified that with the help of our members, the MTA has continued to move forward, even during the difficult economic times we have been through during our tenure as association leaders.

We have maintained stability, and we have balanced our budgets. We have adopted an organizing model that builds strong local associations from the ground up - and we know that this work will continue in the months and years ahead. We have created successful partnerships with like-minded civic and education organizations in Massachusetts and beyond, and we have continuously looked to build bridges in support of human and civil rights and social justice.

We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and the coming school year. Once again, thank you for all you do for your students and for public education.

Please click on the picture or the link below to view our farewell video e-mail.


Paul and Tim

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Paul and Tim's
 Farewell Video

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Build a caring community; become "un-stuck" .... By JIm Stevens

I am the CEO and founder of the SouthCoast volunteer organization, GiftsToGive, I speak only for myself.

My personal context is simple: I am a son of the greatest generation. I am an original baby boomer. I was a corporate manager, then serial entrepreneur. Now in my encore career, I am a social entrepreneur and a philanthropist. I find myself at 65 years old, embarrassed for the legacy of my generation.

Our social context is not as simple: We're "stuck."

What is going on? Who are we as a people? Who are we as a nation? Who are we as a community? Where are we going as a society?

Climate change, pandemics, narco-trafficking, human slavery, species loss, human rights, demographics and terrorism. Plus of course; our political system, Wall Street, our food supplies, our energy supplies, our health care, corporations that pay no taxes, and the silent elephant in the room — child poverty, to name but a few.

In America, over 24 million children live in poverty, another 24 million children live in low-income households. These numbers are staggering! They translate to — in America, one of every two children (50 percent) live in poverty or low-income households. In the developed world, the United States of America has the second highest percentage of child poverty — right behind Romania! I cannot get my mind around 48 million American children being at-risk.

On the SouthCoast, from Newport to the Upper-Cape, over 25,000 children live in poverty, and 25,000 live in low-income households. What did these 50,000 children do wrong?

I've become convinced that the solution for child poverty is public education and healthy families. In a perfect world it's a no brainer. In the world we currently live in, generations of poverty have created a dynamic that has totally collapsed what a healthy family looks like and has wreaked havoc on public education.

I see New Bedford as a city on a hill, a place where there are tens of thousands of loving and caring people — ultimately a place that has all the ingredients needed to redefine and to ultimately define a more caring community.

Our differences are important but our common humanity matters more. These problems that we face, we must solve ourselves. The solution is us. It's obviously easier said than done and on the face of it — it's overwhelming! How do we impact child poverty? How do we build healthy families?

How do we support public education and on a much simpler level how do we support our teachers?

With all the turmoil in the public schools, what I worry the most about are the students and the teachers. While all this dysfunction, polarization, positioning, re-positioning and change is going on — the students and the teachers are at ground-zero, every single day. Who are their champions, their advocates, their partners?

A majority of an urban teacher's time is taken up by remedial and behavioral issues. I've also come to understand that generations of child poverty have created seriously dysfunctional families. We've got thousands of children living in upside-down families, where they are not really held to any serious expectations and when they come to school they're nowhere close to being ready to learn.

What can we do to help teachers? What can we do to rebuild PTO's? How do we support building healthier families?

We're committed at GiftsToGive to initiate several events in the new school year to honor teachers and to start to rebuild PTO's. We're actively recruiting retired teachers and para-professionals to help us lead and organize this effort.

We must begin now and it does not need to be daunting. We do lots of simple, small things first. Supporting adult volunteers in early literacy initiatives is critical, so is volunteer tutoring and mentoring. We have the people we need to make the change.

I think we owe everyone a certain presumption of respect until they do something to forfeit it and we should all be listening. Then we should start acting/volunteering.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Cotali Mar Restaurante

Cocktails 6:00 / Dinner 7:00 / Music etc. 8:00 - ?
Menu includes:
Seafood Paella
Sautéed lobster, shrimp, scallops, littlenecks, mussels & cubed chicken simmered in a tomato broth with saffron rice, chorico & peas
Portuguese Style Roast Beef
Chicken Madeira
Plus salad, desert and all the usual fixins
Live music by
The Buzzard Blue Band
Admission is $ 50.00 per person

Make checks payable to
NBHS Class of 1974
Mail to

Contact info:
or call Gary at 508-763-5210

Monday, June 30, 2014

Supreme Court issues “mixed” ruling for unions in Harris v. Quinn

                Today’s Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn leaves intact the ability of MTA and local affiliates to negotiate fair wages, hours and working conditions for members -- and to remain a strong force on behalf of quality public education. The decision was mixed for unions, however, since it forbids extending fair share requirements – also known as “agency fee” payments – to what the court referred to as “quasi-public employees,” including the home health aides in question in this Illinois case.
                The court’s 5-4 ruling leaves untouched contract provisions in Massachusetts and other states under which public employees may be required to make fair share payments toward the cost of bargaining and maintaining contracts negotiated on their behalf.        
                “We are gratified that the court honored past precedent and continues to uphold the constitutionality of fair share requirements,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “That said, we strongly disagree with the majority opinion that prevents extending those requirements to employees under contract with the state who work in people’s homes and are therefore also employed by the client.”
                Under the system that currently exists in Massachusetts and many other states,  if a majority of public employees vote to have a union to represent their interests, the union becomes the exclusive bargaining agent for all employees in that bargaining unit. All bargaining unit members receive the pay and benefits negotiated by the union as well as representation in protecting their terms and conditions of employment. 
                 Employees do not have to join the union and cannot be assessed dues if they do not join. However, if employees in the bargaining unit have voted a fair share provision for that local, then non-members must pay a fee for their proportionate share of the union’s cost of bargaining the contract and enforcing employee’s rights under it. Fair share payments may not be used to promote candidates or causes, and non-members may not access benefits offered only to members.
                The MTA is the largest union in the state, with 110,000 members. Currently, 96 percent of the professional staff working in affiliates represented by the MTA are dues-paying members. Toner said that today’s decision leaves the MTA strong.
                “Our union has been good for our members and good for public education in Massachusetts,” he said. “Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. It is no coincidence that we are one of the most heavily unionized states in the country and also have the highest student achievement.”
                Toner expressed concern that Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, criticized a prior case – Abood v Detroit Board of Education – that upheld the constitutionality of fair share requirements. Abood was decided 37 years ago and thousands of contracts have been negotiated and maintained based on the findings in that case. While criticizing Abood, the decision nonetheless left its core finding in place. Court observers noted, however, that Alito’s negative comments about Abood could signal that some in the majority might be willing to consider a fair share case with more sweeping ramifications.
                Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters in Harris v. Quinn, criticized Alito’s attacks on Abood and disagreed strongly with the majority opinion’s refusal to sanction fair share requirements for home health aides in Illinois. Kagan was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.
                NEA President Dennis Van Roekel also criticized that portion of the ruling.
                “Quality public services, economic stability and prosperity start with strong unions, but today the Supreme Court of the United States created a roadblock on that path to the American Dream,” he said. “This ruling jeopardizes a proven method for raising the quality of home health care services—namely, allowing home health care workers to join together in a strong union that can bargain for increased wages, affordable health care and increased training.”
                “Agency fees are a common-sense, straightforward way to ensure fairness and protect equity and individual rights,” Van Roekel continued. “Every educator who enjoys the benefits and protections of a negotiated contract should, in fairness, contribute to maintaining the contract. And fair share simply makes sure that all educators share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all educators enjoy, regardless of whether they are association members.”
                In states that do not allow fair share provisions, non-payers are referred to as “free-riders” or “free-loaders” because they do not pay anything for the benefits that their colleagues who belong to the union have fought for and financed.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Crain's Hinz tips business' hand on Lewis run for ...

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Crain's Hinz tips business' hand on Lewis run for ...: A good sign for Karen Lewis . She's already got them nervous.  No sooner had she hinted that she was "seriously considering&qu...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

UMD Labor Education Center makes a difference

Rebel with a Cause ... By EduShyster

Barbara Madeloni, newly elected president of the 110,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Association, says that fighting is winning.
cavanaugh_21umass7_metroEduShyster: I’ve heard you described as *bellicose,*  *unapologetically adversarial,* a *firebrand,* and *alarming.* Which of these would you say best describes you?
Barbara Madeloni: Aren’t you forgetting *shrill*? One of the narratives about my victory is that I accessed anger at the rank-and-file level. That’s true, but I also tried to hold up a more positive vision for re-engaging the world. We’re not helpless. We’re not hopeless. We can work together to change things. We can do something. That said, I think we are at a critical moment in history for public education in this country. If we don’t fight, we’re going to lose everything. We’re done ...

Everyone’s a Winner! The Kids vs. Bad Teachers Lawsuit Hits the Road ... By EduShyster

Well that certainly didn’t take long. Just two weeks after California’s kids celebrated their victory vs. bad teachers, the kids vs. tenure lawsuit is hittin’ the road. And that’s great news, reader. Because just as the California case produced lots ofwinners that weren’t exactly, ahem, pint-sized, round two of the civil rights cause of our time seems certain to be a win/win/win for everyone involved. From Campbell Brown who’ll be enjoying more screen time since, well any time in recent memory, to the Obama administration alums who won’t have to lobby for for-profit colleges after all, everyone’s a winner! Well, make that almost everyone…

Citizens of this city are watching the school system's progress very closely .... By Mary Lou Tavares

As a retired citizen and current taxpayer of New Bedford, I too am concerned about the status of New Bedford High School and the entire school system. I decided to research the New Bedford Public Schools website for employment opportunities and the qualifications needed to apply for a teaching position. This research was done to determine the quality of people that New Bedford is recruiting in order to increase academic performance in the schools.

I was appalled when I read the words, "Bachelor's degree preferred" and "Experience preferred." Neither was a requirement for the jobs listed. Yes, a Massachusetts Licensure was required but a degree was not. The advertisement with these qualifications listed suggests that New Bedford Public Schools are not looking for high-quality professionals.

Many of the teachers who were let go by Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin have multiple degrees and licenses, are "highly qualified" by state standards, have excellent evaluations and established rapport with their students. Are they to be replaced with unqualified, under-educated and inexperienced people?

Where is Dr. Durkin leading our school system, except into a state takeover? Unqualified teachers are certainly not in the best interest of our students, our schools and our city. Is this why the citizens are facing a tax increase? Elected officials and Dr. Durkin should remember that the citizens of this city are watching them and the school system's progress very closely.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Protest Targeting of Holyoke ( Mass) Teacher Union Leader Gus Morales

June 19, 2014


Holyoke, MA – Holyoke teachers, parents, and community members are protesting the School Department’s decision to not renew the teaching contract of Gus Morales, president-elect of the teacher’s union and a leading activist speaking out for students and the schools they deserve.  Teachers and parents will make their views known at the School Committee meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 23 at Dean High School, 1045 Main Street, Holyoke, MA.

For two years, Gus Morales was a highly rated teacher. Then on February 3 he spoke out to the School Committee about data walls, many of which listed students by name along with their scores on standardized tests and many of which were posted in areas accessible to the public (illegal under FERPA). Since then, and especially since he was overwhelmingly elected president of the union local, Gus has been targeted.  He was given highly dubious negative evaluations and has now been told his contract will not be renewed.  

Teachers are outraged by the non-renewal of Gus’s contract, as are many parents. Gus grew up in Holyoke and graduated from Holyoke High.  He is a veteran, bilingual, and a teacher who has the support of students and parents.  He is one of the few Puerto Rican teachers in Holyoke even though the student body is over 75 percent Hispanic. Gus is a male role model for many students.  In May, Gus was elected president of the Holyoke Teachers Association with overwhelming support from his fellow teachers.

Chris Butler, President of I.A.F.F. Local #1693, says, “The Holyoke Firefighters Local #1693 stand in solidarity with the Holyoke teachers and we fully support Mr. Morales in this travesty against organized labor.”

A meeting was held Thursday, June 19th, with Gus Morales and MTA’s General Counsel at the request of the Holyoke Teachers Association to prepare for legal action should the district stand firm in its decision to non-renew Gus Morales. Barbara Madeloni, the president-elect of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said, “Of course the union will fight this, and fight it hard. A union can’t allow someone to be targeted for his leadership in the union and the community.”

“Teachers know that Gus builds warm relationships with his students and has their respect,” said Nick Zyla, a teacher at the Donahue School. Jose Bou was concerned that the School Department would get rid of one of the few Puerto Rican teachers in town: “This is the wrong way to go.  The School Department should be making every effort to keep strong and effective Puerto Rican teachers.”

As of the time of this press release there are over 1,100 signatures on the petition to have Mr. Morales reinstated.
Cheri Cluff 413.335.7568,
Jose Bou
Erin DuFresne
Angela Thatcher 413-519-4238
Kiely Rigali 413-575-9263

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Bedford Educators Association Presents Friends of Education Awards

On Tuesday June 17, the New Bedford Educators Association presented its first annual Friends of Education Awards to two city residents.  Carol Strupczewki
and Eddie Johnson were recognized for their efforts on behalf of New Bedford’s students and teachers. 

Carol Strupczewki taught at New Bedford High School for thirty-one years before retiring nine years ago.  Eddie Johnson was a member of the Superintendent’s Roundtable and assisted with the district’s efforts to implement an environmental science curriculum.

The pair received their plaques during the Association’s annual celebration for the district’s retiring educators.

Mr. Eddie Johnson

Ms. Carol Strupczewski

2014 NBEA Retirement Dinner