Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The summer is winding down, and students are returning soon if they aren't already back in school. For educators, the fall is often a time of renewal as we again take up our work. I find myself reflecting on the ideals that brought me to public education and then to union leadership. Due to the madness of the accountability regime and the efforts of corporatists, these ideals are harder to achieve, but organizing to fight for them builds union power and will allow us to reclaim our schools. Here are some things we can do now to put the public back in public education.
Raise Up Massachusetts
We are gearing up for a petition drive for a constitutional amendment that will raise taxes on annual income over $1 million, with revenues dedicated to public schools, public higher education and transportation. Please join me for a telephone town hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3, to talk about why we need more resources, how the funds will support public education, and what we can do to make it happen. Mark your calendar now.
Help Put Educators on the BESE and Support Other Measures
Three MTA bills will be heard by the Joint Committee on Education at 10 a.m. on Sept. 9 in Room A-2 of the State House. The timing is not good for educators, but if you can testify or want to send testimony to the MTA to deliver to the committee, contact MTA lobbyist Julie Johnson by e-mailing email@example.com.
- Educators on the BESE (H. 375/S. 269) - Did you know there are no seats for educator representatives on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education? This bill would add two, with one member nominated by the MTA and the other by AFT Massachusetts. Please click here to sign a petition in favor of this bill and support giving educators a voice on the most important education policy board in the state. The petition will be submitted to the committee at the hearing.
- Fingerprinting Fees (H. 494) - This bill would eliminate the background check fee and reimburse those who have already paid it.
- Just Cause Restoration (S. 350) - This bill would restore "just cause" procedures for dismissals. Given recent court decisions, we need to let legislators know how critical this bill is to our membership.
Are people you know not convinced we need the Raise Up money? Remind them that funding for public higher education is down nearly 50 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from the peak year of 2001. Most of that loss is being recouped through sharply higher fees. We can and must provide the resources for public higher education that is affordable (better yet, free!) with fairly compensated faculty and staff. Fight student debt! Support higher ed funding!
The Struggle Continues: Fighting for the Right to Engage in Union Activity
The state Department of Labor Relations has found probable cause for a complaint that the Holyoke Public Schools illegally fired Holyoke Teachers Association President Gus Morales - for a second time - because of his activism as a union leader. He's fighting the dismissal - again - with help from the MTA. Read more about it here.
How Are We Going to Do All of This? We Are Jump-Starting Our Union
There is a lot coming at us, and we all have a lot to learn about how to organize and fight for the schools our students deserve and the working conditions required for those schools. Part inspiration, part analysis and part how-to, the book "How to Jump-Start Your Union" can help you and your local make plans for action. Free copies are available if you plan to read and discuss it with a group of fellow educators. Contact Ari Mercado in the MTA Division of Governance and Administration by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy. For those who read and discussed the book over the summer, we want to hear what you learned. Please contact me with your stories.
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Please take immediate action to support a bill giving educators a voice on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education!
Click here to sign a petition in favor of this proposal.
The petition will be submitted to the Joint Committee on Education, which will hold a hearing on this MTA priority bill in early September.
Here’s some background.
Many people are shocked to learn thatcurrent law forbids public school educators from serving as members of the BESE — the board that governs our profession. Most educators are not even able to attend board meetings because those meetings are almost always held during school hours. As things stand, individuals who stand to profit from decisions made by the BESE are welcome to seats on the board, but no place is designated for professional educators.
There is a high school student on the board, and one labor representative, but there is not one active teacher or paraprofessional. It’s time for the BESE to include the experts in the field the board governs.
H. 375/S. 269 are House and Senate versions of a bill that would add two educator representatives to the BESE, one nominated by the MTA and the other by AFT Massachusetts. These will be among the bills heard at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, in Room A-2 of the State House.
Please see the attached document for details about hearing dates on other MTA priority bills. In a subsequent message, we will send you more information about the charter school legislation being heard on Oct. 13. More information on all MTA priority bills can be found here.
Don’t forget to sign the petition on the BESE bill by clicking here!
Friday, August 21, 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Thursday, August 6, 2015
MTA President Barbara Madeloni says that a charter ballot initiative filed on Aug. 5 would “effectively obliterate any meaningful caps on charter schools and undermine our public schools and our communities.”
“This proposal is a strike against democracy, against teacher and parent input into the education of students, and against the principle that all students are entitled to a high-quality public education,” Madeloni said.
The MTA is part of a coalition of students, parents, educators and other concerned community members that will fight the ballot question and any legislative proposals to lift the cap. The coalition seeks to protect and improve public education for all students, including the high-need students that most charters fail to serve; to maintain the mission of public education as foundational to democracy; and to preserve local control of public education.
The initiative petition, intended for the November 2016 ballot, purports to keep a cap on the number of charter schools, but in fact it creates a second pathway for opening new charters that “bypasses that cap and blows the lid off of any meaningful restrictions,” Madeloni noted.
“If this passes, then over time public schools in any given district — currently governed democratically by a local school committee — could be wiped out and turned over to private charter school operators,” Madeloni said. “This could be done based on votes by an appointed pro-charter Board of Elementary and Secondary Education over the strenuous objections of local residents and elected officials.
“This isn’t just a theoretical concern,” she continued. “We see charter schools being approved despite strong local opposition all the time, albeit on a smaller scale because of the current caps.
“This ballot initiative would destroy the very concept of public education as the great equalizer in our country,” she continued. “As the NAACP has said, charters are creating ‘separate and unequal’ school systems by using selective enrollment practices to keep out English language learners and special education students and push out those who don’t meet restrictive academic and behavior requirements. Allowing unlimited charters at the expense of truly public schools would be a terrible retreat in a state that has the oldest continuously operating public school in the country and many of the best public schools in the world.”
Under current law, the number of Commonwealth charter schools is capped at 72. An additional 48 Horace Mann charters are allowed, but they are not at issue because they are, for the most part, approved by the school committees and local associations of the districts that have to pay for them.
Current law, which includes a partial cap lift adopted in 2010, limits how much of a district’s net school spending can be drained into the coffers of Commonwealth charter schools. That funding loss ranges from 9 percent to 18 percent, depending on a number of factors.
Both the spending cap and the cap on the number of new charter schools that could be approved would be effectively eliminated by the initiative, since it creates a second, much easier pathway for opening new charters.
It would allow the state to approve up to 12 new Commonwealth charter schools — or expand existing charter schools — each and every year, forever. In theory, this expansion could continue until no district public schools were left.
“The only restrictions would affect the pace at which our public schools could be privatized,” Madeloni said. “The pathway would be wide open for undoing public education in Massachusetts.”
Those 12 schools collectively could serve about 9,500 new students each year — 1 percent of total school enrollment — or about 190,000 students over 20 years. This could cost public school districts billions of dollars.
“Contrary to the way it is being portrayed, this is no modest tweak to the existing system,” Madeloni said. “If this initiative is passed, then over time there would be no total cap on the number of schools, no total cap on the number of students who could be enrolled and no limit to how much funding could be siphoned from the public schools to private charter school operators.
“What’s already happening to public education in Massachusetts would be greatly accelerated,” she added. “The public schools, which gladly embrace all students, would inevitably have fewer resources to serve a disproportionately high share of the highest-need students.”
Madeloni said the initiative is an attack on democracy, as well as on public schools.
“If this initiative is passed, then over time there would be no need for elected school committees in districts that are fully charterized,” she said. “Instead, the schools would be authorized by a small number of appointed members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and overseen by bureaucrats working at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“This should anger parents and other voters who want to have some say over how the public schools in their districts are operated, as they do now through local elections and other means,” Madeloni concluded.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Fall 2015 Course Registration
For more information, go to www.massteacher.org/ell
Fall 2015 SEI Endorsement Course Registration
This is the final year that no-cost SEI Endorsement courses will be offered by the DESE.
The site will not go live until then.
All educators eligible for a no-cost SEI Endorsement course are advised to register for a fall course or add their names to a waiting list promptly after registration opens.
Adding your name to the waiting list provides an authentic count of how many educators still need to take the course. The registration system will have additional details about the waiting list.
Link to the registration site: http://www.doe.mass.edu/retell/
Enrollment in SEI Endorsement courses will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Before you enroll:
If you are enrolled in a course that does not have an assigned instructor (i.e., "Facilitator TBD") and that course (or any other course) is ultimately canceled, you should attempt to register for another course or place yourself on a waiting list.
If you are unable to find an open seat in a fall 2015 course and place yourself on a course waiting list but you are not accommodated in that course, you will have an opportunity to find a course in spring 2016. Those on fall 2015 waiting lists will have priority in registering for spring 2016 courses.
Who Must Obtain the SEI Endorsement?
Educators required to obtain the SEI Endorsement include:
Core Academic Teachers:
Pending Initial License:
If you have a pending Initial License application and you are missing ONLY the SEI Endorsement, you may apply for a Commissioner's Determination to extend the validity period of your Preliminary License. Click here for the Commissioner's Determination Guidelines and Application.
|What Happens If I Do Not Enroll or Earn the SEI Endorsement?|
If you are eligible and do not enroll in a course during the 2015-2016 school year, you will forfeit your no-cost opportunity to earn the SEI Endorsement.
If you are eligible to enroll in a course and do not enroll before Jan. 2, 2016, the department will assign you to the 2015-16 cohort year. If you do not earn the endorsement by other means before Aug. 31, 2016, you will not be eligible to renew, advance or extend your core academic license(s) until you earn the SEI Endorsement. The lack of an endorsement may affect your employability.
Who is Not Eligible to Enroll in a No-Cost SEI Endorsement Course?
You are not eligible to enroll in a no-cost SEI Endorsement course if you:
Other Routes to the SEI Endorsement
For-cost SEI Endorsement courses can be found at
You must still apply for the SEI Teacher Endorsement through ELAR. For application instructions see How to apply for the SEI Endorsement.If you believe you may qualify for the endorsement, you may submit materials to the Office of Educator Licensure for a no-cost transcript review (see link to instructions, above)
All educators who qualify for the SEI Endorsement must apply for the Endorsement via ELAR no matter which route they follow. Applying is free and only takes a minute. Complete your SEI Endorsement application online by logging in athttps://gateway.edu.state.ma.us/elar/.
|If you are unable to participate in or complete the SEI Endorsement course, you may apply for a hardship exception. You must be able to demonstrate hardship consisting of "serious illness or injury, or other circumstances that are beyond your control." Click here for the hardship application. Because this is the final year of the no-cost training, however, the DESE will not be able to provide you with a no-cost opportunity to take the course if you are granted a hardship exception.|
|What Happens after July 1, 2016, for All Educators? New PDP Requirements|
PROFESSIONAL LICENSE RENEWAL for ALL EDUCATORS:
If your professional license renewal date is on or after July 1, 2016, the following PDP requirements will be in effect, even if you choose to renew before your renewal date.
150 Total PDPs
Minimum 60 PDPs in content
Maximum 30 PDPs in pedagogy or content
Minimum 15 PDPs in ESL/SEI
Minimum 15 PDPs in SPED
Maximum 30 Elective PDPs
PDPs earned from the DESE SEI Endorsement courses or trainings:
1. May be counted as "content," SEI or elective PDPs.
2. May roll over into the next license renewal cycle if you already hold the 150 PDPS outlined above.
The SEI MTEL does not count for PDPs.
Massachusetts Teachers Association |(617) 878-8362| email@example.com
For more information visit www.massteacher.org/ell
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Act now! The U.S. Senate is voting this week on a new federal education law to replace No Child Left Behind. The bill before the Senate would end federally mandated high stakes for schools and teachers. That's progress, but the proposal maintains annual testing in grades three through eight. The MTA supports Montana Senator Jon Tester's amendment, which would require testing in just one grade each in elementary, middle and high school. Click here to send a letter to Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey urging them to support the Tester amendment and other provisions that would reduce testing in our public schools.
Draft regulations were released for public comment in April. The MTA, along with 31 other groups and individuals, provided public comment and suggestions. In particular, the MTA and others strongly opposed the expansion of the availability of the endorsement to elementary and core academic subject teachers. The MTA also proposed language clarifying that the endorsement is not a requirement for those who work with autistic children.
However, the final regulations proposed by the DESE and distributed the day before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting did not incorporate any of the MTA’s extensive comments. Only two minor changes proposed by other groups were included.
On June 23, the BESE was scheduled to vote on the regulations. MTA Vice President Janet Anderson presented public comment at the meeting, and BESE member Ed Doherty offered a motion that would have added the MTA’s proposals to the final regulations.
After some discussion, the vote on the proposed regulations was tabled until September and Ed Doherty requested that the commissioner meet with MTA representatives to discuss the proposals.
The MTA looks forward to having another opportunity to revise these regulations.