Sunday, October 16, 2016

Following the money on building charter schools By Bruce C. Ditata

Like the old-time bluegrass pickers, Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt, Marc Kenen has blended his banjo (“Your View: The ‘Big Lie’ about charter school funding,” Sept. 30) with The Standard-Times guitar (“Our View: Alma del Mar sets high standard for charters,” Sept. 18) — dueling choruses of dubious support for charter schools.
Loving what it saw at the Alma del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, The Standard- Times gushed about the absence of public money for new construction, “struck by an astonishing fact: (Alma del Mar) was built without MassachusettsSchool BuildingAdministration funds.”
Most of the school’s funding — to the tune of $22 million dollars — came from Mass-Development, a quasi-public agency. The “quasi” portion derives from the fact Mass Development’s working capital comes from private investment, land development, loans and interest earned from private investment.
The public portion about Mass Development derives from the fact its board of directors is appointed by Charlie Baker, governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an avowed, outspoken supporterof lifting the cap oncharter schools.
The Standard-Times’ visitors to Alma Del Mar also noted “there are no smartboards or other technological “bells and whistles” in the classrooms, but the creativity and innovation of teachers and other staff. … Furthermore, (there is) regular sharing of best practices with district teachers in a positive and cooperative relationship (that) lives up to the ideals of the charter system.”
Are we to deduce, therefore, that students who benefit from such “bells and whistles” — students on Special Education Individualized Education Plans and 504 Plans — are better served without the visual, auditory and kinesthetic interventions such technological provides?
Are we, also, to believe that “creativity,” “innovation,” plus, “the regular sharing of best practices,” exists solely in the charter schools setting andsuch basic teaching techniques are non-existent in district schools?
It’s the worn, erroneous narrative that charter schools have, magically, invented “creativity, innovation and best practices” in education.
And Mr. Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, broadens the myth with the notion “charters are given more flexibility to organize around a core mission, curriculum, theme.” Underpaid charter school teachers who have been denied collective bargaining rights, and who work longer school days and school years might offer a different opinion if they were not afraid to be fired as a result. Ultimately, traditional district schools have to depend on public funding by MSBA to enable new construction, while Alma Del Mar’s building funds were, essentially, private investments. This fact negates the slogan repeated over and over again by pandering supporters who say charter schools receive “public funds for public schools.”
In truth, it’s “private investments for charter schools.” But not according to Kenen, who maintained in his recent op-ed that “there are no “investors,” as stated by opponents.” 
In the convoluted world of those like Kenen who know the public is unaware of the investment motivation of for-profit entities like MassDevelopment, it’s advantageous to foist a Houdini disappearing act about where much of the charter school money comes from.
That’s really the “Big Lie” about charter schools and why a no vote on Ballot Question 2 is the wiser, fairer, more prudent choice for the future of public schools in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dismissal of the Charter School Lawsuit

Suffolk Superior Court today dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the state’s cap on Commonwealth charter schools. The following is the MTA’s reaction.

Statement by MTA President Barbara Madeloni on the Dismissal of the Charter Lawsuit

We are deeply gratified that the Superior Court threw out the ill-conceived lawsuit that sought to eliminate the cap on charter schools. The court agreed with Attorney General Maura Healey’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and accepted none of the plaintiffs’ multiple claims that limits on charter schools violate students’ constitutional rights. The MTA filed an amicus brief in support of the attorney general’s motion, as did the NAACP.

The ruling sets the record straight, finding that the cap is consistent with the constitutional requirement to “cherish” public education. The court noted, “This decision — how to allocate public education choices among the multitude of possible types — is best left to those elected to make those choices to be carried out by those educated and experienced to do so.”

We agree. Supporters of lifting the cap made their case to the Legislature and failed to win there — in the most appropriate venue for deciding how to allocate scarce education resources. Now they are engaged in the most expensive initiative petition campaign in the history of Massachusetts.

The court notes that charter schools are “funded by the school districts from which they draw students or in which they are located. Consequently, public funding for charter schools necessarily affects the public funding of non-charter schools in the district.”

Again, we agree. Through misleading ads, supporters have been trying to convince voters that Question 2 will actually increase funding for public schools. We are working with other supporters of public education to get out the truth recognized by the court: Charter schools will drain $450 million from district public schools this year, and that number could rise to more than $1 billion in just six years if Question 2 is passed. It is also important that voters understand that under Question 2, charter schools could be opened anywhere in Massachusetts, with no limit on how much money any one district could lose.

Monday, October 3, 2016

New Bedford Public Schools - SEI Course Registration Deadline

The Association has been asked to remind educators that this week (before Wednesday) is the deadline to sign up for the in house SEI course which starts this Thursday. 

There are limited spots left but there is room for CORE teachers or specialists. The cost is $240.  

Please contact Evelyn Mota or Betty Fagundes at PRAB for more information.

Thank you.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Get the Facts on Charter Schools in Massachusetts!

Citizens for Public Schools has detailed and downloadable fact sheet (with references) about charter schools in Massachusetts. It includes solid information about charters’ impact on local school budgets, who is included and who is excluded, waitlist numbers, and discipline practices. Click HERE to read and download and then share the information with your friends, neighbors and elected representatives!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Labor and Community Cookout

REMINDER: Please RSVP by August 20thfor the Labor and Community Cookout


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We look forward to socializing with you while eating hamburgers and hotdogs (courtesy of UFCW Local 328) as we enjoy a DJ at our Labor and Community Cookout the week before Labor Day! 

Bring your own alcoholic beverages and your family, including your children and grandchildren. Soda and other drinks will be provided.

We will have a bouncy house, face painting, and potato sack races for kids, as well outdoor activities such as horseshoes and beanbag toss game for adults.

Please post the attach flier at your union hall, community space or office and announce them at your upcoming meetings. 

Go here to spread the word via the facebook event page.

Please RSVP by August 20th by sending an email to or calling 508-910-7106 
with the number of people coming from your union or community group so we will know how much food to bring. 

Let us know if you are available to come an hour early to help us set up and/or help us clean up at the end of the event.

Labor and Community Cookout, Saturday, August 27, 11am-4pm 
Holy Ghost Club, 104 Allens Neck Rd., South Dartmouth, MA 02748

We hope to see you at the Cookout!

Cindy Rodrigues                                                   Kimberly Wilson
President,                                                              Director,
Greater Southeastern Mass. Labor Council

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Budget Veto Overrides

Effective advocacy by MTA members was crucial to successfully overriding vetoes made by Governor Charlie Baker to key portions of the fiscal 2017 state budget.


Baker’s $412 million in vetoes sought deep cuts to funding in all sectors of public education and placed unfair burdens on public employees. These changes would have had serious repercussions for MTA members.


Instead, after members sent thousands of e-mails advocating for such action, legislators overrode numerous vetoes. The overrides:


·         Protected state employees from increases in Group Insurance Commission premium contributions. Baker cut funding by $30 million and allowed for employee premium contribution increases that would have placed an unfair burden on public employees.


·         Preserved a moratorium on premium split increases for certain municipal retirees and ensured that cities and towns would not be able to balance their budgets on the backs of retirees.


·         Restored $3.7 million in funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker.


·         Restored $2.4 million in state university incentive grants.


·         Restored $750,000 in community college workforce grants.


·         Blocked a deferred compensation proposal by Baker that would have eroded collective bargaining and unfairly punished all employees for the highly publicized payouts received by some high-level managers. 


Let’s continue to do our part in protecting the quality of public education and the rights of public employees. Please urge your legislators to ask for swift passage of language and funding included in House 4517, which will finalize the collective bargaining process for the Massachusetts Community College Council Day Unit. Click here to contact your legislators now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

You are more than a score: Ditch DDMs!

Our students are more than their test scores, and so are you! We can ditch DDMs - but we need your action now.

Go HERE to ask your legislators to get rid of the burdensome and harmful "student impact rating" mandate to judge educators based on MCAS scores and "District-Determined Measures."

Our goal is to get 5,000 e-mails sent to Beacon Hill in the next 10 days. That's a lot. But we can do it if everyone reading this message sends a message now and then forwards the e-mail to five friends, asking them to do the same. Also, please post messages on social media using the hashtag #DitchDDMs - and talk up the effort at end-of-year meetings and events.

Don't wait. We have two short weeks to persuade the House-Senate budget conference committee to back the Senate plan to get rid of the DDM mandate, hated by evaluators and those being evaluated alike.

In addition, be sure to check out The Boston Globe on Thursday for our ad on this issue. And if you live anywhere near Malden, please mark your calendar for a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting on DDMs. The meeting will be held at 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, beginning at 5 p.m. on June 27.  Details will follow next week.