Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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.
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.
Monday, August 4, 2014
The clock is ticking and the charter school wonks are getting desperate to regain the field after the Massachusetts Senate rejected a bill that would have raised the cap on charter schools in some districts. In the aftermath of this recent legislative battle, the charters' hawkers and shills have sunk to record lows.
First into the fray is the late Dixiecrat, George Wallace, whose political expediency on maintaining segregation in Alabama in 1962 was used by Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass in their Guest View ("Vote on charter caps was just wrong," July 24).
Wallace's tactics, in their view, supported the position that all the no votes by Massachusetts senators were not substantive, but designed merely "to appease the monied interests of the education establishment." So the gauntlet has been thrown down for following the money trail.
Do a little research and you will see that the Pioneer Institute, which employs both Chieppo and Gass, has close ties to organizations and individuals who represent the most monied interests in these fair shores of ours. In addition to being a right wing think tank, the Pioneer Institute is an affiliate of the State Policy Network (SPN), whose annual meeting in September, as reported by the Center for Media and Democracy, "featured a legislative agenda that included privatizing and profitizing schools."
In his Pioneer Institute biography, Mr. Chieppo lists accomplishments in governmental service that include "easing state restrictions against privatization." This experience has perfect symmetry with the Pioneer Institute and "monied interests."
Over the past decade, its top private donors have included David Koch, an original member of what education historian Diane Ravitch has coined the "Billionaire's Boys Club," who gave $125,000 in 2007 and over $100,000 each year from 2008-12. The Koch brothers' vast corporate empire funds many of the most powerful right-wing groups in the SPN.
Until last year, the Pioneer Institute was also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose "core education agenda," according to Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association," is about vouchers and privatization."
The next affront to our sensibilities in the Chieppo/Gass article links the senate's vote to a rejection of the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling. In its essence, the 1954 Supreme Court decision struck down segregation in American public schools, with the enduring mantra that, "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
The article states that the vote "blocked justice from being done and approved the 21st century version of segregation by preventing more poor and minority children from accessing high quality educational opportunity." Again, public relations techniques and flowery rhetoric do not jibe with plain facts.
Theoretically, charter schools open doors to all comers via a blind lottery, but, over the course of the journey, roadblocks create detours for those inside their hallowed halls. A case in point is Boston Preparatory Charter, the Pozen Prize winning institution of 2013.
BPC's website states "For the fourth spring in a row, 100 percent of BPCPS graduating seniors have been accepted to college." However, what's hidden is the terrible truth behind those numbers: students who don't fit their model for success are elbowed and pushed out along the way.
For example, BPC's class of 2011, which began in sixth grade with 106 students, actually resulted in 13 diplomas, only 12 percent of the starting class. By any statistical gauge of success, this number is miniscule.
So, how does an 88 percent attrition rate equal true access to, "high quality educational opportunity"?
It's apparent by the lopsided 49-13 state senate vote that momentum is shifting. The dirty secret behind the Charter School Industry is finally unmasked and buyers are finally starting to beware.
Charter school promoters clearly need a new play book. By conjuring up George Wallace and Brown v. Board of Education as means of supporting their sagging position, the charter school movement appears to be signaling for a "no-huddle offense" or the "2-minute drill" to win.
For that, they might need to conjure up Tom Brady.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Saturday, July 12, 2014
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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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.