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.

DESE Memo on SEI Endorsement Courses

August 25, 2014

TO:      Local Association Presidents K-12
            Board of Directors
            MTA Staff

FR:       Barbara Madeloni, President
            Janet Anderson, Vice President

RE:       DESE Memo on SEI Endorsement Courses

On August 15, 2015, a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education memo concerning SEI Endorsement courses was sent to superintendents, RETELL liaisons and ELL directors. It is assumed that district leaders forwarded this memo to affected educators. However, the MTA wants to ensure that local leaders have the most up-to-date information. This memo contains information on registration deadlines for no-cost SEI Endorsement courses, procedures in case of course cancellations, the awarding of the SEI Endorsement, and additional options for SEI training. The exact text of the memo from Jonathan Landman, DESE’s assistant commissioner for teaching and learning, is below. Additional information from DESE can be found at

The MTA is following the rollout of SEI Endorsement courses for fall 2014 closely. Please advise us of any concerns that develop as the rollout continues. Members are also encouraged to check the MTA RETELL Toolkit at for more information.

Barbara Madeloni
Janet Anderson

Text of August 15 MEMO from DESE:

Dear Superintendents, RETELL Liaisons and ELL Directors:

We have several RETELL updates for you at this time.

1.       Registration for fall SEI Endorsement courses has been extended until September 17th.

2.       The Department continues to make strenuous efforts to recruit and train qualified SEI Endorsement course facilitators, and we anticipate that facilitators will be identified for several of the courses that are still listed as “TBD” in the registration system. However, starting on September 2nd, the Department will begin to selectively cancel a small number of fall SEI Endorsement courses for which we have been unable to locate course facilitators. We will only cancel courses as a last resort and where practicable, will work with districts to set up a replacement course section in the spring.

When we cancel a course, the Registrar’s office will notify all impacted registrants, course facilitators and RETELL Liaisons. Where possible, these educators are encouraged to enroll into another course section that still has slots. Any educator whose course is canceled by the Department, and who places their name on a course waitlist for an SY 2015 course, and has not gained entry into the course for which they have been waitlisted, will be assigned to the SY 2016 cohort year and, subject to appropriation, will be given a no-cost opportunity to earn the Endorsement in SY 2016. This includes educators in Cohort 1 whose training window would otherwise end in SY 2015.

3.       The week of September 1, 2014 the data from 2013-14 SEI Endorsement courses will be passed into the ELAR system so that all those who successfully completed courses will be awarded the SEI Endorsement.  After that week, educators will be able to log in to ELAR and see their SEI Endorsement displayed. In our next update, we will provide screen shots to show people how to check for their Endorsement.

4.       This fall, five of the state’s collaborative will begin coming on line as DESE-approved for-cost providers of SEI Endorsement courses. Courses offered through these sites will utilize the exact same curricula utilized in Department-sponsored no-cost trainings; their facilitators have been screened and trained by the Department and are expected to deliver trainings at the same high level. Successful completion of these courses will lead to the SEI Endorsement. These courses draw upon a separate pool of course facilitators, and may be of interest to:

·         Districts that would like to train a larger proportion of their teachers than the Department has committed to train;
·         Individuals interested in taking both the SEI Administrator and SEI Teacher Endorsement courses, the second at their own expense;
·         Individuals who do not avail themselves of their no-cost opportunity who choose to complete their training after the conclusion of their district’s training window;
·         Individuals who fail to complete or to earn a passing grade in their no-cost course and who therefore need to pay for training at a later date;
·         Individuals who have been on leave, or who are moving to Massachusetts from other states, who wish to earn the SEI Endorsement in order to improve their chances of finding work in a Massachusetts public school;
·         Individuals who, under regulation, are not entitled to a no-cost opportunity to enroll in an SEI Endorsement course but who wish to take the course to improve their capacity to meet the needs of their ELLs;
·         Core academic teachers who never received the Endorsement training because during the time horizon of Department-sponsored training who subsequently do become teachers of ELLs and therefore require the training.

When these for-cost SEI Endorsement course providers are ready to accept individual registrants into their course sections and book district-sponsored sections, the Department will establish a webpage with information about the providers.

5.        Many of your educators may be interested in extending the learning they began through the SEI Endorsement course. These and others may need to earn SEI-related PDPs for re-licensure. The Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement has reviewed and approved a growing list of professional development offerings that your district or educational collaborative may wish to consider offering on a local basis. Check out what is available at: under “RETELL/Extending the Learning.”

Thank you for all you do on behalf of our state’s students.

Jonathan Landman
Assistant Commissioner for Teaching and Learning

Monday, August 4, 2014

Charter school arguments are affront to the facts By Bruce C. Ditata

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

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

Note: This message may not play on some handheld devices.

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 ...