Monday, November 17, 2014

Malden and Bridgewater events canceled

We fought back! We won!

Last Friday, DESE agreed to withdraw all plans to link your license to your evaluation. Today, DESE canceled the Malden Town Hall forum on licensure and is likely to cancel the one in Bridgewater. The MTA is therefore CANCELING all collective member actions related to the Town Halls in Malden and Bridgewater. (If the Bridgewater event is not canceled, we will have members inside the event asking tough questions and speaking their minds.)

We won because you spoke out against these ill-conceived proposals – and were preparing to turn out in big numbers at the Town Hall events. Take time to recharge your batteries because there will be more fights to come.

What did we learn? Here are some of our thoughts. We will be curious to hear yours.  

We need to fight in order to win. Even if we fight we may not always win, but if we don’t fight we can’t win.

We won because members acted. We in leadership provided you with ways to act, and our field reps, communications and research operations helped arm us with the information and arguments we needed. But it was member power that turned the tide. Mitchell Chester told The Boston Globe that “99.99 percent” of the feedback was critical of DESE’s proposal.

We have to move quickly and forcefully. It has been less than a month since DESE leaders unveiled their proposal and we’ve already won (at least round one). They were shocked at the response. They aren’t used to us fighting. If we had taken months to gear up we would have had a much harder time mobilizing members, and a harder time winning. We need to continue to connect with each other, talk in our buildings and strengthen the relationships that will allow us to respond even more quickly and forcefully next time –because we all know there will be a next time, if not on licensure then on other issues.

We won because of our solidarity. This time solidarity was easy. DESE was going after all of us. Next time the attack might hit some members earlier and harder than it hits others, and some members might think they can escape. As a union, we have to support each other and not let them pick off the most vulnerable, whether the issue is charter schools, or Level 4 and 5 schools, or ESPs, or adjuncts.  

It ain't over even when it's over. We have to stay vigilant. We’ve killed this proposal for now, but it won’t be a surprise if an effort is made to bring back some modified version. The forces going after educators, unions, and public education won’t let up – and neither can we.

In solidarity,

Barbara and Janet

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