Friday, January 30, 2015

Bernadette Coelho to continue as acting Headmaster of New Bedford high school

“New Bedford High School can’t miss a beat and Ms. Coelho has the confidence of the school staff to continue as acting headmaster.” As the graduation rate at New Bedford High continues to improve, much of that progress is owed to building and maintaining relationships among staff and students, which Ms. Coelho has exemplified for the past nine years.” - Dr. Pia Durkin

"I look forward to continuing this important work, collaborating with staff, families and the community to provide our students with the best education possible.” - Bernadette Coelho


Our congratulations to Ms. Coelho.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Charter School Grudge Match .... By Bruce Ditata

Gov. Charlie Baker’s early salvo pushing for a lifting of the charter school cap occurred on Inauguration Day. Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni’s, anti-charter school rebuttal two days later was equally vehement, and the two might be headed for a grudge match over the simmering issue in public education.

As former executive director of the Pioneer Institute, perhaps the most influential and pro-charter entity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Baker’s stance is to lift the cap on charters now.

“While traditional public schools will always be the backbone of our education, we need more high-performing public charter schools in underperforming school districts to complement them. As I speak, there are more than 45,000 Bay State kids and their parents on waiting lists for these schools.

"It's wrong for any of us to stand on a front porch or in a city neighborhood sympathizing with a mom or dad when they tell us their child is not getting the education to succeed in life and then oppose lifting the charter school cap or making the changes we need to ensure that every school is great," said Baker.

As the newly minted MTA president, Madeloni, through her public stances and posturing, has clearly indicated the Age of Appeasement/Capitulation fostered by predecessor Paul Toner is over. She will take the fight to Baker and his charter school minions.

“It is a shame that on Baker's first day in office, his education focus is to support an initiative that undermines rather than supports the district public schools that have served Massachusetts students so well," she said.

"Public education is the foundation of democracy, and as such must adhere to deeply democratic principles. Charter schools undermine that vision, substituting market-driven practices for democratic engagement.

"Our legislators have established charter school caps for good reason. After an initial period of reimbursement, charter schools drain millions of dollars from local public schools, depriving students of needed resources,” said Madeloni.

No less of a union baiter/hater, Boston Globe columnist Scott Lehigh — ever a supporter of charter school initiatives — assigned a badge of honor to the MTA leader when he opined that Barbara Madeloni is “an old-school firebrand armed with a Gatling gun of rigid ideological arguments.”

Gov. Baker’s election, according to Lehigh, “should stiffen reform resolve and lead to a renewed push for more charters, which routinely feature longer days. … Baker, after all, sees access to high-quality schools as a civil rights issue.”

Madeloni, in her response to Baker’s comments on education, debunked the viewpoint equating charter schools and high quality.

"Charter schools are notorious for using enrollment and discipline practices that drive out students who have academic or behavioral issues. This creates a two-tiered system of education that some charter schools and their proponents use to make … claims of providing students with a superior education.

"I am deeply concerned that Governor Baker cites the discredited statistic that there are 45,000 students on charter school waiting lists just weeks after Auditor Suzanne Bump issued a report that found serious “deficiencies” in how charter school waiting lists are calculated, leading to inflated figures.”

Around the budgetary debate Gov. Baker will have to confront in the charter school controversy, the S-T weighed in recently in an editorial.

"It’s worth wondering if the governor has considered that 'unfunded mandate' impact of the charter model. It’s certainly reasonable to assume that successful charters would feed more successful graduates into the local economy, attract employers and have a long-term benefit on a community. One might easily argue that the current budget challenges posed by the charters are worth future successes.” (Our View: Let's watch the charter schools we have before adding more in New Bedford, Jan. 23.)

And the S-T reaches the core of the charter school dilemma: Whether students are opted-in via the lottery waiting list or the opt-out system that New Bedford’s City on a Hill Charter has proposed, the truth is that charters, typically, are not successful at retaining their student enrollments, but, as Madeloni maintains, “drive out students who have academic or behavioral issues.”

This leads to embarrassingly low charter school graduation rates across the commonwealth.

And as the renowned and sagacious philosopher Casey Stengel observed, and rightly so, “You can look it up.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

NEW BEDFORD EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION TO DONATE MORE THAN $5,500 IN COATS, WINTER CLOTHES AND SUPPLIES TO NEW BEDFORD STUDENTS

“With over 30,000 south coast children living in poverty and with so many New Bedford children being part of that number, the New Bedford Educators Association wants to raise awareness and provide tangible support to hundreds of students that do not have warm clothing and the basic essentials that all children need. 

We believe that the solution to poverty is public education and healthy families so anything we can do as a family of teachers to help our children and our community is a worthwhile endeavor." - Lou St John













Contact your legislators to support Less Testing, More Learning bills! ... Citizens for Public Schools


Legislators supporting the Less Testing, More Learning campaign last week filed bills for a moratorium on most of the "high stakes" tied to standardized tests. 

Please contact your own Representative and Senator and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. The deadline is Friday, Jan. 30.

You can find your Representative and Senator on the Open States web site and email them right from that site.

Your email can be as simple as, "Please co-sponsor Rep./Sen. ___'s bill to ______." If you explain why, that's even better.
  • Rep. Mary Keefe of Worcester and Sen. Barbara L'Italien 
    of Andover filed bills in the House and Senate for three-year moratorium on the graduation testNo student who completes all other high school graduation requirements should be denied a high school diploma because of a score on a state standardized test. (Click here for more information.)
     
  • Sen. Pat Jehlen of Somerville filed a bill for a three-year 
    moratorium on the state's five-level rating system for schools and districts, and also on new school "turnarounds" and state takeovers. They are based almost entirely on test scores. (Clickhere for more information.)
      
  • Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge filed a broader bill for a three-year moratorium on these and other aspects of high-stakes testing including tying test scores to teacher evaluation. (Click here for details on the bill, "The Schools Our Children Deserve.")
     
  • Rep. Liz Malia of Boston filed a bill making it clear that parents have the right to opt their children out of state and district-mandated standardized tests. (Click here for more information.)
     
Please ask your own legislators to co-sponsor!


Citizens for Public Schools

ACTION NEEDED: URGE YOUR LEGISLATORS TO CO-SPONSOR MTA-BACKED LEGISLATION

MTA submitted its legislative proposals on January 16 and is now seeking co-sponsors to support these bills. Each state senator and state representative has been provided with a list of MTA bills and has received a phone call and a visit from our lobbyists. I have called each of the state representatives in our two senate districts (Straus, Gifford, O'Connell, D'Emilia; Howitt, Calter, Koczera, Markey. Orrall, and Haddad) and Senators Pacheco and Montigny asking for their support and co-sponsorship. 

What we need now is for our member-constituents to follow up our work with emails asking for your state representative and state senator to support our MTA legislation.  I have attached two documents which provide specific information about the MTA bills.  You can use the link below to send an email via MTA's website or you can compose your own. You can adapt the MTA email to fit your concerns about the legislation.  I have also included the email addresses of the legislators in this email.



As the session begins, the MTA plans to do intensive statewide organizing around the issues of charter schools and high-stakes testing.
These key issues — and the issues reflected in MTA’s other sponsored legislation — address member-defined goals in critical areas: providing the public schools and colleges that all students deserve, amplifying and protecting educators’ voices and safeguarding the well-being of educators, families and communities.
The vision for our current legislative agenda springs from the conviction that in order to provide the best for our students and their future, we must not only fully and equitably fund public education, but also support the social and economic conditions that allow families and communities to thrive.

Thank you for your help and for all that you do.

In solidarity and as President Madeloni says...."in anticipation of great things to come",


Kathi Rogers
Senate District Coordinator
First Plymouth Bristol - Senator Marc Pacheco
Second Bristol Plymouth- Senator Mark Montigny


EMAIL ADDRESSES OF STATE LEGISLATORS IN PACHECO AND MONTIGNY DISTRICTS
                 
                      

   


                  
                                   

thomas.calter@mahouse.gov              




Oppose unfair changes to GIC health insurance .... Barbara Madeloni, MTA President, and Janet Anderson, MTA Vice President

MTA Logo


Please take action right away to fight unfair changes to health insurance for educators, other public employees and retirees.

E-mail members of the Group Insurance Commission and urge them to lobby for a supplemental budget for FY15 that closes the GIC funding gap, and ask them to adopt a budget for FY16 that fully funds current benefits for GIC subscribers.

Further, please urge the commissioners to oppose proposed plan design changes in health insurance for state and municipal employees, their dependents and retirees.

Due to chronic underfunding by the state and increased claim costs, the GIC anticipates a budget shortfall of $160 million to $190 million for the current operating year.

The MTA is strongly opposed to any attempt to close this significant shortfall on the backs of educators, other public employees and retirees.

The time for action is short. The next GIC meeting will occur on Jan. 30, and it is possible that any decisions made by the GIC ultimately would affect all MTA members.
Any changes adopted by the GIC would be implemented effective July 1, 2015, for all GIC participants. Plan design changes could subsequently affect municipalities even if they are not in the GIC.

Please click here to send an e-mail message to commissioners urging them to seek full budget funding and stating clearly that a lack of adequate and transparent funding by the state should not result in unfair burdens on public service employees.

Click here to see options that the commission will entertain at its meeting on Jan. 30. Members are encouraged to attend this meeting, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the GIC offices on the fourth floor of the Charles F. Hurley Building, 19 Staniford St., Boston.
In addition, members are encouraged to attend the GIC's annual public hearing at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, on the sixth floor at 19 Staniford St., Boston.

Thank you for taking immediate action on this urgent matter.

Barbara and Janet
  

Charter Cap ‘n Gown II: The College Years .... Edushyster

A new report finds that Boston’s charter high schools are sending kids on a path through college, one at a time…
kindergarten_cap_gowns‘Tis time for another stroll down the path to college, reader. Alas, you will need to *suck in your gut* for this one as this path turns out to be even narrower than when last we stepped upon it. The occasion for our ramble down readiness way is a new report on college completion by graduates of Boston high schools. Alas, alas, the report, which was supposed to confirm, once and for all, Boston charter excellence, fell a tad short, finding that grads of BPS high schools were more likely to complete college than their charter peers. But a deep dive into the data reveals that there’s even more — or rather, less — to this story than meets the eye.

Friday, January 23, 2015

NEW BEDFORD EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION TO DONATE MORE THAN $5,500 IN COATS, WINTER CLOTHES AND SUPPLIES TO NEW BEDFORD STUDENTS


At 2 p.m. on Monday, January 26, at Keith Middle School, officials from the New Bedford Educators Association will present a donation of more than $5,500 in coats, winter clothing, educational supplies and hygiene products to the students of New Bedford Public Schools. Several school district nurses shopped at local retailers for these items.

School nurses, with the assistance of other staff members, identified students that would most benefit from these donations.  The school nurses will be distributing these items to the families in the near future.

The New Bedford Educators Association received a grant from the Massachusetts Teachers Association for this generous donation.  In addition, the NBEA received contributions from Dias, Lapalme & Martin, First Citizens' Federal Credit Union, and School Committee Members Josh Amaral, Bruce Oliveira and Marlene Pollock.

MTA/NBEA Reclaiming Public Education Forum: January 22, 2015


"We are on the move - one step at a time." - President Barbara Madeloni





"I came with no expectations but left feeling empowered."




"Powerful meeting tonight! Good food and great colleagues."
                            

                     

"Thank you for inviting me to the meeting tonight! It re-energized me."

                          

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Most SouthCoast state officials do not support expanding the charter school cap

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, a strong proponent of charter schools, calls them a good alternative for parents who can't afford private schools.


Lou St. John has said repeatedly that charter schools are really private schools that use public money. This is wrong on so many levels.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Separate but Innovative: MLK 2.0 .... EduShyster

If Martin Luther King Jr. returned today, would he be an achievement gaptivist? And which billionaires would fund his important work?
No one could lead a civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr. But let’s face it: the movement he led was old school. The civil rights issue of our time is the achievement gap, and closing it often requires doing the opposite of what Dr. King stood for. Which raises some important questions: if Dr. King returned today would he be an achievement gaptivist? Which billionaires would fund his important work? And with poverty and racism now officially regarded as excuses, what would he talk about? Meet Martin Luther King 2.0, now with more excellence.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Charlie Baker's Army

The Bay State’s new governor has a bold plan to bring fresh New Schools to Massachusetts…
charlie-baker-via-charliebaker2014-media-site-630x411It’s a new day in Massachusetts, reader. And the Bay State’s new captain, Charlie Baker, has a bold new plan to at last un-stifle our long-suffering schools: fresh New Schools. But there’s a hitch, or rather a cap. You see, Massachusetts has a cap on fresh New Schools that Governor Baker must figure out how to uncap in order to give the people New Schools, whether they want them or not. Now he could move to boldly seize another entire school district, a la Lawrence, as the state is said to be days from doing in Holyoke, and impose New Schools. Or Baker could go the legislative route, and use the bully pulpit to push lawmakers to uncap the cap. But democracy is soooooo old school, especially when it comes to a cause as fiercely urgent as replacing our old schools with fresh New Schools. 
Read more here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

MTA President Barbara Madeloni Issues Statement on Governor Baker’s Call to Lift the Cap on Charter Schools


MTA President Barbara Madeloni issued the following statement today concerning Governor Charlie Baker’s comments on lifting the charter school cap:

 

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is strongly opposed to Governor Baker’s call to accelerate the privatization of public education in our Commonwealth by lifting the cap on charter schools. It is a shame that on Baker’s first day in office, his education focus is to support an initiative that undermines rather than supports the district public schools that have served Massachusetts students so well.

 

Public education is the foundation of democracy, and as such must adhere to deeply democratic principles. Charter schools undermine that vision, substituting market-driven practices for democratic engagement. 

 

Our legislators have established charter school caps for good reason. After an initial period of reimbursement, charter schools drain millions of dollars from local public schools, depriving students of needed resources. 

 

It is critical to recognize that charter schools fail to educate the same percentage of special needs students and English language learners as the sending districts, leaving our schools with fewer resources to serve a higher-need student population.

 

In addition, charter schools are notorious for using enrollment and discipline practices that drive out students who have academic or behavioral issues. This creates a two-tiered system of education that some charter schools and their proponents use to make inflated claims of providing students with a superior education.

 

I am deeply concerned that Governor Baker cites the discredited statistic that there are 45,000 students on charter school waiting lists just weeks after Auditor Suzanne Bump issued a report that found serious “deficiencies” in how charter school waiting lists are calculated, leading to inflated figures.

 

We appreciate that Governor Baker said in his inaugural speech he is a “proud product of the Massachusetts public schools.” We urge him to make support of the state’s district public schools – like the ones he attended – the centerpiece of his education platform for the sake of the nearly one million students who attend them.

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Bedford Teachers Ratify Contract With City





At a press conference today in New Bedford City Hall, Mayor Jon Mitchell joined with New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin and leaders of the New Bedford Educators Association to announce the parties have reached a new labor contract for New Bedford teachers, subject to approval of the New Bedford School Committee.
Last evening, New Bedford teachers voted to ratify the new one-year labor contract (7/1/2014-7/31/2015) which includes important changes that will support the school department’s efforts to provide teachers with additional professional development throughout the school year as well as to hire the most qualified teachers.
“This agreement represents another significant step forward for the New Bedford Public Schools. New Bedford teachers have really stepped up and they can be confident in the district’s demonstrated commitment to supporting their work,” Mayor Mitchell said.
He added, “The contract provides teachers with the support they need in the form of additional professional development. And, early decision-making will give the district a competitive advantage in selecting qualified applicants to fill open positions.”
“This contract is a game changer for New Bedford,” said Superintendent Durkin. “We will have a competitive edge not only when we hire new teachers, but also be able to stabilize school staff for those who continue working with New Bedford students.”
Superintendent Durkin said, “I want to thank NBEA President Lou St. John and New Bedford’s teachers, for working with us on an agreement that will benefit both the city’s students and educators.”
Highlights of the new contract, which covers the period July 1, 2014 through July 31, 2015, include:
  • Teachers Supported with Additional Professional Development: Teachers will receive twenty hours of professional development throughout the school year at bimonthly meetings.
  • District Gains Competitive Advantage in Selecting New Hires: Resignation and retirement notices will be several months earlier, allowing New Bedford to be competitive with other districts who receive early notices. New Bedford Public Schools will be in position to hire teachers earlier in the year, giving the City the edge when it comes to selecting qualified applicants.
  • District Can Better Plan Staff Assignments: Transfers and reassignments will, like retirements and resignations, now have earlier notices, so the school staff will know where employees are assigned earlier in the year, allowing for more planning.
  • Compensation Increases: Educators on Steps 1 – 11 in the 2013-14 school year and full-time teachers in the 2014-15 school year will receive a $500.00 increase. Educators on Step 12 in the 2013-14 school year and full-time teachers in the 2014-15 school year will receive a $1,500.00 increase. The cost of the contract in the current fiscal year is approximately $480,000 which will not require a budget increase.