Monday, September 11, 2017

4th Annual NBEA Car Wash

We hope that you will support our Scholarship Fundraiser Car Wash.  Every dollar raised at this car wash will go directly to our scholarship fund.

Donations can be sent to New Bedford Educators Association
160 William Street, New Bedford, Ma. 02740

Friday, September 8, 2017

Blue Cross/Blue Shield Dental 2017 - 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT

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

September 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22.
2:30 - 5:00 p.m.
NBEA Office
160 William Street, New Bedford

2017 - 2018 Rates       

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, 2017 - October 31, 2018.

Weekly payroll deductions will be over 30 weeks, beginning in October 2017 and ending in May 2018.

Schools need more leverage over teachers' unions, mayor says

Schools need more leverage over teachers' unions, mayor says

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Teachers deserve more credit from mayor

New Bedford’s three middle schools have been remade. The students, parents and educators at those schools, along with the whole community, should feel proud and excited as they begin the new school year.

So it was extremely disturbing to hear Mayor Jon Mitchell portray teachers as roadblocks when it comes to making changes in our schools for the benefit of students. Far from obstructing change at the middle schools, teachers instead were instrumental in devising plans now in place to address the needs of students attending those schools. And each school has a plan unique to its needs.

Furthermore, because school administrators wisely recognized the value of using collective bargaining to implement changes, every single teacher working in the middle schools ultimately had the opportunity to review and vote on the plans affecting them.

With that kind of participation and buy-in, I am confident that students at the middle schools will have an excellent experience this year. The teachers and their principals had a hand in shaping the plan, and they know exactly what to expect.

When it comes to designing education plans, who better to involve than educators?

Apparently, Mayor Mitchell believes that the New Bedford Educators Association should have a limited — if any — role in planning to meet the needs of our students. The mayor put on quite a show on Beacon Hill last week, testifying in favor of a bill seeking to give school administrators the power to create so-called “innovation zones” that place schools into the hands of un-elected boards and outside the control of the elected School Committee.

Welcome to the privatizing of our public schools. Even though voters overwhelmingly rejected an expansion of charter schools at the polls last year, those who want to restrict teachers’ autonomy and allow private interests to operate public schools think they have found a new means of accomplishing that.

In his comments in Boston, Mayor Mitchell blamed “the union” for blocking his attempt to set up such a zone for New Bedford’s middle schools. What in fact happened is that it was the teachers who stepped up and said, “Let’s work on this together.”

Thankfully, that is what happened.

The plans that were collectively drawn up for our middle schools have not even had a chance to take hold, and yet Mayor Mitchell was already insinuating that they are flawed. That notion is an insult to every single person who took the time to study the issues, examine programs in place in other districts and engage in dialogue to reach learned consensus.

Mayor Mitchell instead parrots the claims of privatizers who like to point to schools in Springfield that have been placed in “empowerment zones.” There is absolutely no data to show that any great improvements have taken place yet in those schools; even the operators of the schools in Springfield’s empowerment zone say they are waiting to see the impact of their plan on student achievement.

I urge Mayor Mitchell to support the work that is underway in all of our schools, and to trust our teachers to do their jobs.

Lou St. John of New Bedford is president of the New Bedford Educators Association.

We didn't accomplish middle school redesign by exerting leverage over the teachers' union ... by Josh Amaral

I am disappointed in the mayor's testimony yesterday. The School Committee and community alike expressed hesitance to adopt the "innovation zone" concept, which has not shown results in Springfield and offers nothing we couldn't do ourselves. I'm proud of the process New Bedford chose to use instead in redesigning our middle schools.
We didn't accomplish middle school redesign by exerting leverage over the teachers' union. We worked collaboratively with teachers at the three middle schools and empowered them to work with their administrators to design tailor-made plans for their individual schools and school communities. The plans created for all three schools are not just compelling, but I would argue are better and more likely to meet success than any plan generated by a "zone."
I appreciate the hard work of the school staff that participated in the redesign process and can't wait to see what results are in store. Obviously, people are watching New Bedford to see how it works out. I would suggest that communities interested in an innovation zone check out our model instead, and that those on the Joint Education Committee dismiss any legislation that forces innovation zones as solutions to problems better solved through collaboration.

Josh Amaral is a member of the New Bedford School Committee.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mayor Mitchell testifies in support of House Bill 304 which would harm collective bargaining

Thank you, Madame Chairwoman, for this opportunity to appear before the Committee. My name is Jon Mitchell, and I am the Mayor of New Bedford.

I am here today to express my support for House Bill 304, An Act To Promote Autonomy and Success in Schools, otherwise known as the PASS Act, as I believe the bill would strengthen the hand of those who like me are charged with the responsibility of turning around struggling urban school districts with all deliberate speed.

In doing so I wish to applaud your leadership, Madame Chairwoman, along with Chairwoman Peisch and Senator Lesser on the important issues we're discussing today. All of you deserve enormous credit for recognizing that despite the Commonwealth's overall success in raising student achievement, we must do more together to ensure that every student, in every part of the Commonwealth, has an opportunity to thrive in school.
You've already heard a good deal about how education leaders in Springfield have implemented an innovation zone to accelerate improvement in that city's middle schools.

The launching of the Springfield zone could not have happened without the dedication and vision of Mayor Sarno, Superintendent Warrick, and the city's teachers. They recognized that the status quo in their middle schools was unacceptable, and they had the courage to move forward with an innovative and bold idea. But as they and others in Springfield would freely acknowledge, the state's designation of their middle schools as chronically underperforming "Level 4" schools, and the threat of state takeover that comes with that designation, helped to force the discussion.

My goal in testifying today is to relate an object lesson in how, under current state law, it is effectively impossible to create an innovation zone with schools that could benefit from the approach but lack the Level 4 label, and how the legislation you are considering would rectify the problem.

In New Bedford, school reform has been proceeding in earnest for a few years now. When I arrived in office in 2012, the school district was already under state monitoring and had been threatened with state takeover. A district that just twenty years earlier had been regarded by many as the best in Southeastern Massachusetts had declined to the bottom of the state MCAS rankings and had a four year graduation rate of approximately 55%. What was worse perhaps was that district leadership did little to confront the core problem, which was a complete lack of accountability throughout the organization.

I believed that the children of New Bedford deserved much better from their schools, and that the prospect of a state takeover was something to be assiduously avoided. So we launched the turnaround by removing the incumbent school leadership and brought in a reform minded superintendent, whose marching orders were to improve instruction in every classroom and change a culture that all too often elevated the needs of the adults in the district over those of the children.

This was a tall task in that it involved not only structural changes to the organization and a modernizing of its systems, but also a greater financial commitment on the part of a city that didn't exactly have money growing on trees. In a district where administrators and teachers alike were effectively guaranteed permanent employment regardless of performance, everyone now would have to answer for their performance, from the school committee on down to the classroom teacher. And we knew it would not be for the politically faint of heart, as the reform effort would require direct challenges to entrenched interests, inside and outside the district.

Nearly five years into the effort, it has indeed proven itself to be trying, with countless protests, demonstrations, public recriminations, and budget battles. But significant progress has been made. Scores are rising across the district, the four year graduation rate has been risen to 70% and is climbing; several schools have moved out of Level 3; and at New Bedford High School, the city's main comprehensive high school, Advanced Placement tests scores are rising and the top students consistently matriculate to elite colleges. Earlier this summer, DESE recognized this progress when it decided to end its monitoring of the district, noting publicly that it is "a completely different district than it was in 2011."

While we take some measure of pride in having slammed the brakes on the district's decline, and draw confidence from the unmistakable improvement, the reality is that the task has hardly been completed. We're still in turnaround mode some five years into the effort, as much work remains.

One of our biggest challenges has been at our three middle schools, where scores have not jumped as much as they have at many of our elementaries. As officials in Springfield understood, the middle school experience is obviously a pivotal point for students. Many won't succeed in high school if a solid foundation has not been laid in middle school.
So it was in the middle schools where we, like Springfield, sought to establish an innovation zone. 

In my view, the concept offered a promising opportunity to accelerate school improvement. As you heard from the last panel, a zone could create the conditions that empower teachers to make decisions and exercise authority to determine what is in the best interest of their students. They enable schools to remain a part of the district for the purposes of accountability, student assignment, and union membership while also having autonomy to make decisions on the key educational levers including staffing, curriculum, schedule and allocation of resources. They provide for schools a structure to customize their own educational approach– an alternative to “one size fits all” in public education. I also believe that districts that choose this path become more attractive for philanthropic investment and other external resources.

Innovation zones also are a viable alternative to charter schools. There is no reason charter schools should be the only schools given the advantage of full

autonomy to meet the needs of students. And because the zone schools remain an extension of the school district, they don't come with the financial burden of charter schools.
Moreover, with an innovation zone, local districts own the solution. State takeovers are blunt instruments. They can usher in overdue changes in practice, but they lack the democratic legitimacy of locally based reform. The problem with state intervention is that when people feel like something is being forced on them, it's hard to get the level of buy-in necessary to sustain the effort in the long run. Because they are locally-rooted, innovation zones are likely to be more effective in keeping stakeholders on board.

With this understanding in mind, we undertook a serious process last year to set up a middle school innovation zone. Working with Empower Schools, the same group that helped to launch the Springfield zone, we spent the better part of a year developing a plan that would be based primarily on the input of our middle school teachers. The planning team consisted of administrators and teachers from each of the schools who held numerous meetings with their colleagues, and traveled to Springfield to observe the great work that was going on there. The meetings were productive and teachers were enthusiastic about being empowered to shape the future of their schools.

But here was the catch: all of our middle schools were Level 3 schools. They urgently needed to improve, but they hadn't hit rock bottom. In the absence of the statutory leverage that comes with the Level 4 designation, the teacher's union could simply say no. And that's exactly what it did. The union objected to what it perceived as a potential loss of autonomy, despite our attempts to persuade its members that the zone actually would offer them more autonomy. So we lost a key opportunity to accelerate improvement in our middle schools.
Herein lies the reason for this legislation. 

The bill enables districts to initiate the establishment of innovation zones involving Level 3 schools, which are by definition in the bottom twenty percent of schools in the state in terms of student achievement. Had this legislation been in place, it would have paved the way for a process to set up a zone collaboratively with our teachers and unions. We wouldn't have had to accept no for an answer. Without the legislation, districts with

Level 3 schools realistically won't be able to proceed down this path. The statutory tools for serious reform don't kick in until a Level 3 school slides so far that the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education declares it to be "chronically under-performing," making it a Level 4 school. In other words, under current state law, you can't get down to serious reform until a school hits bottom -- neither in New Bedford, nor in any of the communities that are home to the state's 265 Level 3 schools. As we have learned the hard way, it is much easier to rebuild a school that hasn't entirely fallen apart.

We in New Bedford will persist in the hard work of improving our schools. They are heading in the right direction. But the problem is that it isn't fast enough. And that's the point of the legislation. It can help to hasten the pace of school improvement.

And that matters a whole lot. Turning around an urban school district is indeed difficult work. But saying that you're working hard at it and that it will take time is hardly consolation to a parent whose child doesn't have five years to wait for her elementary school to get better. For those local officials who are willing to roll up their sleeves and engage in the heady work of school reform, this legislation removes the speed bumps. I urge your support of the bill so that more communities in our Commonwealth can deliver the kind of education our students deserve.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you today. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Open Registration - SEI Endorsement Course for Teachers

This is a reminder to all NBPS educators that need and/or want to take the SEI Endorsement course with us this Fall. We are pleased to inform you that there are slots available for the SEI Endorsement Teacher course. Our first course will start on Tuesday,  September 5, 2017 at 4:30 PM at Normandin Middle School.
“Please be advised that should there be low enrollment, NBPS reserves the right to combine and/or cancel courses as necessary.”
If Registration through our Smart PD System is closed or you can’t log in, please call Betty @ 508-997-4511 ext. 3333 or Evelyn @ ext 3325 or in person at Room 142.
The SEI Endorsement course cost is $450. Checks should be made payable to New Bedford Public Schools and paid in the Business Office,  Room 119 at the Paul Rodrigues Administration Building.

As a reminder – DESE requires SEI Endorsement for license renewal.
If you have questions regarding the SEI Endorsement course, please contact Betty Fagundes at ext. 3333
If you have questions regarding SmartPD and registration, please contact Evelyn Mota at ext. 3325
Thank you!

Sonia Walmsley
Executive Director of Educational Access & Pathways
New Bedford Public Schools
455 County Street. New Bedford, MA 02740
508-997-4511 Ext. 3333 or 3315

MTA & NEA Benefits

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A message from MTA regarding the "All In Campaign".

I hope the new school year is off to a good start for you.

We face tremendous challenges and opportunities this year - including threatened tax and budget cuts, vouchers and charters, and the distinct possibility of Supreme Court rulings aimed at undermining collective bargaining and other employee rights. At the same time, we have our own ambitious agenda to create the schools and colleges our communities deserve, funded in part by the Fair Share Amendment on the 2018 ballot.

To do all this, we need a strong and vibrant union. This year, the MTA has made a commitment to provide members with the resources and opportunities to strengthen our connections and build union power. With the All In: Building Union Power campaign, we are ready to create more opportunities for members to talk to each other, identify issues and demands, and work together - from building to building, district to district and campus to campus - to create the conditions that will allow us to do our jobs well and fulfill the ideals that brought us to this work.

Across the state, in each local, we are seeking to identify leaders who are willing to take responsibility to talk to and support organizing efforts involving up to 20 fellow members.
These leaders will ask members in their locals about their work lives, about the issues that matter to them and about how they would like to work together to resolve those issues. The leaders will receive training at the local level in the art of one-to-one listening. The MTA Board voted to spend funds to hire 10 new organizers to support this work.
My excitement for the new year comes in the midst of serious concerns for the well-being of our students and our schools. It is more necessary than ever that we assert our professional knowledge in order to make sure that schools and colleges are places where human relationships and the creation of knowledge are at the core.

Throughout the state, Chromebooks and other technological devices are being introduced into classrooms. That can seem innocent enough, but it is not when it is part of a larger project to deprofessionalize educators and push them out of the classroom. It is imperative that we understand the dangers of accepting education technology without intense questioning and without giving educators the ability to control our curriculums and protect student and educator privacy.

Our immigrant students and their families continue to live under the threat of harassment and deportation. We need to make our schools and colleges places of welcome and safety for all.

But while we are pushing back to preserve our public schools and colleges, we will also be reaching forward to create a better world. We will need your help in calling on legislators to move our bills through the State House. At the same time, we will be asking members to support the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition's petition drives for ballot questions on two of our legislative priorities: Paid Family and Medical Leave and the Fight for $15.

If you are in or near Boston on Labor Day, let's begin the year with a rally and march. Come demand strong unions and support the Fight for $15 campaign with a rally at 11 a.m. at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, followed by a march to Copley Plaza.

We are also continuing to work with Massachusetts Jobs With Justice and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance to strengthen our ties to parent and community groups on behalf of a shared vision for our schools and our communities.

These are unsettled times. More than ever, we need to learn from one another and claim our right not only to our professional voices, not only to high-quality, well-resourced public education from preK to college, but also to a just world in which all are able to be secure and flourish.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Just for New Teachers Conference - November 4, 2017

The New Member Committee is pleased to announce the 16th annual Just for New Teachers (JFNT) Conference, to be held at Worcester Technical High School on November 4, 2017. 

JFNT provides new educators in their first five years of practice the perfect opportunity to meet with fellow educators and get advice on best practices in teaching all grade levels and subject areas. More than 20 member-led workshops will address a range of topics on Student Engagement, Classroom Management and Supporting Students with Diverse Learning Needs.

For the first time, this conference will be free of charge to MTA members. Members who register by October 18 will receive a personalized gift at the conference.

Lou St. John's statement regarding Appeals Court ruling

Statement by Lou St. John, president of the New Bedford Educators Association, in response to a ruling by the Appeals Court that school employees and their representatives do not have “standing” to challenge the commissioner of education’s authority in respect to employment decisions at so-called turnaround schools and districts, even if the employees believe the commissioner’s actions are not permitted under state law.

“We are very disappointed with the court’s ruling. It is always better when school administrators and teachers and their unions work together to resolve problems in their schools.

“Our lawsuit alleged that the commissioner did not comply with the law when he took over the John Avery Parker School in New Bedford. By saying that teachers have no right to challenge the commissioner, the court effectively places the commissioner above the law. 

“The MTA has a bill scheduled for a hearing on Sept. 12 before the Joint Committee on Education on S. 308, and omnibus education bill that includes a provision to address the imbalance that the court has now enshrined in law. We will be urging the Legislature to pass this provision so that teachers are equal partners with administrators in making sure students receive the services they need to succeed in school.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Letter to the Standard Times: Extending dual enrollment to Alma del Mar charter school is bad policy.

August 15, 2017

I am deeply concerned about a proposal to allow students enrolled in the Alma del Mar charter school to take classes at New Bedford's public high school, and the New Bedford Educators Association urges the school committee and city leaders to halt the plan rather than move forward with a "pilot" program.

While New Bedford public school educators believe that every child deserves a great education, extending dual enrollment to Alma del Mar so that students there can attend English courses at New Bedford High School is bad policy.  

New Bedford public schools already lose more than $11 million to charter schools in tuition payments. That funding loss is felt by each and every student who attends New Bedford public schools. To then allow a charter school to send its students into the public schools for courses is plainly inappropriate double-dipping. It is unconscionable that the school committee would allow our public schools to in effect pay twice to educate students who choose to attend charter schools.

Perhaps some of our city officials are flattered that the charter schools recognize the quality of education available in New Bedford public schools. But our school committee and mayor need to best advocate for New Bedford public school students. Protect their resources. Protect their class sizes.

I highly doubt that New Bedford public schools would want to begin the practice of educating students from the other charter schools and private schools in our city. And on a larger scale, I hope that this situation helps make clear why it is wrong to set up competing school systems that vie for the same public funding sources. No matter how this plays out, some students will face a negative consequence.

I truly hope that the students at Alma del Mar are able to experience a high-quality education, but that cannot occur at the expense of the needs of students attending New Bedford Public Schools. 

Dual enrollment is designed to enhance the opportunities of public school students ready to take on work beyond their grade levels. Let's not turn dual enrollment into yet another siphon for charter schools that takes opportunity away from public school students.

Lou St. John

New Bedford Educators Association

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Josh Amaral’s testimony to the Joint Committee on Education on July 25, 2017:

“Good afternoon Chairs Chang-Diaz and Peisch and members of the Joint Committee on Education. 
My name is Josh Amaral, I’m a member of the New Bedford School Committee. It’s a privilege to be before you today. I know several members of this committee have served on a School Committee or have worked as an educator, so I know I’m in good company. It’s further encouraging to know that several members of this Committee served on the Foundation Budget Review Commission.
The purpose of my testimony is to express the sense of urgency that is needed in implementing the recommendations of that Commission. As have many others, the New Bedford School Committee unanimously passed a resolution calling for that implementation.
Those recommendations are much needed in all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth, but foundation budget reform is especially critical to the success of students in New Bedford and similar cities. The impact to New Bedford alone is estimated to be well over 20 million dollars, almost all of which would go directly into our students’ classrooms.
Rather than the annual springtime ritual of our School Committee cutting into bone, we could make more of the kinds of strategic investments in resources that we know work. We could expand pre-school programming, bring in additional teaching support in the early grades, reduce class size, grow our base of impactful reading and math specialists, add enough socio-emotional learning positions to serve the youth coming into our schools, increase our students’ access to arts, sports, technology, current curriculum, and for the first time in many decades, go beyond the bare minimum maintenance and upkeep necessary to keep our 25 buildings open, many of which were built around the turn of the 20th century. New Bedford’s tax base does not have the means to significantly contribute above minimum net-school spending, which is necessary to cover the extent of our needs. We are making strides in our turnaround efforts, but cannot complete or sustain them without additional resources.
I come before you today as walking proof of the effectiveness of McDuffy, which was heard the year I was born and implemented by the time I was in kindergarten. I’m a proud New Bedford Public School alum, K thru 12, who was afforded a top rate education in a city like New Bedford – one equivalent, or dare I say better — than that of anywhere else in the state. 
My fear is that as health insurance costs have risen, as retirement costs have soared, as charters have expanded, as in-district special education costs have ballooned and out of district special education costs have more than doubled, as English Language Learners make up larger proportions of our classrooms and children show up on our doorsteps with more and various challenges, and as families call upon the public schools to meet those needs, we are being stretched too thin, and will reach an untenable situation in which students in urban centers may not be offered the same opportunities I was offered, or that their peers in other communities are offered. Where mass layoffs become commonplace, resources dwindle, our students suffer, and Massachusetts slips from its pole position in education.
I didn’t need to look up the backgrounds of members of this Committee to know that you share my grave concerns. And I can well understand that it’s not easy to commit 2 billion dollars when you’re already short, but the phrase I used was “sense of urgency.” These are our kids, and they only have one shot at school. As I said at a School Committee meeting not long ago, we can either foot a small and worthwhile bill on the front end by paying for top rate education, or we can deal with the longer term societal ramifications of avoidance. In response, a colleague of mine quoted Harvard University’s Derek Bok, who said “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” 
On behalf of our students and on behalf of my colleagues on urban School Committees across the Commonwealth, I implore the legislature to fully implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission without delay. Our students can’t afford to wait.
Thank you.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Save on School Supplies August 3-16 during OSJL's Educator Partnership Program

We’re pleased to announce our 2017 Educator Partnership savings discount days, beginning on August 3 and ending August 16, 2017. We understand that teachers and educators have been reaching into their own pockets for years to help supplement the school supplies available to their students. 

That is why Ocean State Job Lot is providing a 30% discount on in-store classroom supplies to all teachers, educators, school management and support personnel authorized to make purchases on behalf of their schools, during this discount savings event. Documented homeschoolers are included.

It’s our way of saying "thank you" for all you do to provide a good education for students… the leaders of tomorrow.

Proof of employment is required. Visit our website for more information and details on how to participate.

This program is not available to the general public, so you won’t see it advertised on TV, radio or in the newspaper. We’re relying on you to help get the word out. Please share this information with your colleagues so they can take advantage of this discount at their local Job Lot store.

David Sarlitto
Executive Director Ocean State Job Lot 

For more program details , visit our website. If you have any questions, feel free to contact David at 401-295-2672 x2884 or via email at