On Thursday, June 11, the Joint Committee on Education is holding a hearing calling for a three-year moratorium on PARCC and high-stakes testing.
The hearing is an opportunity for educators, students, parents and the community to let legislators know about the devastating impact that high-stakes testing is having on our students and our schools.
The hearing will culminate a statewide week of action that is being organized by a newly formed coalition called the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance — the MEJA.
The MTA is a member of the coalition, joining with AFT Massachusetts, the Boston Teachers Union, Jobs With Justice, Citizens for Public Schools, the Greater Boston Labor Council, Mass Alliance and other labor and community groups. The MTA will be working to inform our communities, the media and our legislators that it is time to stop the testing madness and rethink the state’s educational goals and priorities.
Please plan to join me for a telephone town hall meeting to learn more about the week of action and hear about what you can do within your local to be a part of it. Details will be forthcoming as plans are finalized.
Week of Action activities so far are as follows:
May 26- Phone banking-This is held for all MTA members who indicated that testing is their number one topic for them. Calls will be made by members of the Government Relations Committee, all Senate District Coordinators, and as many volunteers as can be recruited. We will be calling teachers who have expressed an interest in high-stakes testing at the regional forums that were held this past Fall.
Wednesday, June 3 Telephone Town Hall-Members will be able to participate by using a call in number as well as being contacted by phone. More details will follow.
Monday, June 8: Sticker Day -The MTA will supply locals with stickers to wear and share.
Tuesday, June 9: Contact Your Legislator Day - Visit legislators’ offices, make phone calls and tell your stories.
Wednesday, June 10: Social Media Day and PARCC Hearing Day — Spread the word through social media. Attend the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education hearing on PARCC at Bridgewater State University and tell board members why high-stakes testing is bad for our students and our schools.
Cranberry Coalition -We are depending on you to get people to this event. MTA Regional Manager, Ann Sullivan, is the key person on this event. Please let me (Lynn Howard) know and I will take your information and send it to Ann. Our Legislative Political Action Team is part of the Cranberry Coalition.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015, Bridgewater State University, Rondileau Campus Center Ballroom, UPDATED 5:00-8:00 p.m.THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT HEARING ON PARCC TESTING! WE NEED YOU HERE!
Thursday, June 11: Public Speak-Out Day — If you can, attend the hearing at the State House. The MTA will provide reimbursement for a substitute in each local to allow one member to attend. If you cannot get to the hearing, arrange a gathering in your community or join one of the regional actions being planned with the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance.
Friday, June 12: Union Solidarity Day — Wear your union colors to work.
What can you do?
Hold a 10-minute building meeting and ask your colleagues to sign a petition supporting the legislation.
Join with other union members to ask your School Committee to support the legislation.
Hold a community forum and tell your stories about the impact of testing on students, educators and the school community.
Hold a local rally on June 11 or join one of the regional events.
Visit your legislator’s office and tell your story.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or to your legislator.
Join a calling party to let other members know about the week of action and the hearing.
Attend the June 10 BESE PARCC hearing and speak out — or attend and hold a sign.
Attend the June 11 House hearing and speak out.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me. This email serves to clarify a few questions.
When you email Eileen Pitts, use your school email. Only email her before school, after school, or during your prep. period/lunch.
Requesting the Ed. Eval/ Contract is a way to build our case. We need evidence of Administrations' negligence. Everyone needs to read the Ed. Eval for his or herself. What resonates with one member, may not resonate with another.
A member asked me "What evidence do I have that Admin is failing at their jobs." Please talk to any teacher at any school who has been attacked this year. Yes, these attacks are happening at multiple schools. Teachers are afraid. Admin. has done nothing.
Do you enjoy your workload? Administration/School Committee hides behind, "It is a State mandate, so we have to abide by it." Other towns have fought back and asked for a waiver/postponement of new mandates. Not ours.
Administration watches our Facebook pages and tracks down individuals about their posts. This is what they do instead of visiting our schools. So, should we empathize with their "busy schedules?" Not if they are watching our personal lives and passing judgement on it.
I can write a year's worth of anecdotes...
Many people are aware of these issues for one reason, they are are involved. Emailing me, attending a rep. council meeting, writing a letter to Admin./School committee members, holding ten-minute meetings, volunteering time at the High School Craft Fair, donating lottery tickets/gift cards, etc.. are all different ways to become involved in your Union.
There is a special representative council meeting at Adams School at 4:00 on Monday, May 18, 2015. Any member can attend. The meeting will begin with an open forum to address these specific issues.
I am signing off for the rest of the weekend. if you email me, please so not think I am ignoring you
In my most recent email I had asked members to mass email School Committee and request a copy of Dr. Salim's contract. I said that I would get back to members shortly. Consider this email my definition of shortly.
It is not Dr. Salim's contract that we need, it is his ED. EVALUATION. We do not need to email School Committee, it is in fact his secretary, EILEEN PITTS that we need to mass email. When you email her, you need to request the COMPLETE set of ed. evaluation documents. (I am not able to write anything in bold on Icontact emails, so I have to resort to all caps).
It is a public document and we have equal rights to it. During the School Committee meeting this past Thursday, a School Committee member provided the specific language to use when requesting these documents.
Below is a testimony of an individual's experience when requesting these documents. I commend this individual for taking action.
"I requested Dr. Salim's evaluation and it had to be done through his Secretary, Eileen Pitts, and not the School Committee...I am passing on the process that I had to follow.
At first, his secretary just sent me a 4-page eval that only showed areas where he was marked (they were mostly "Proficient"). I wanted to know specifics, things that he actually accomplished, so I had to request a second time. A few days ago, she sent me further info which showed more stuff, but still not the entire thing. To get more info, they informed me that they have to charge me 20 cents per page plus the department's "...lowest paid hourly wage employee for the time it takes to prepare the documentation" (this is according to the Town of Weymouth's process for dispensing public records)."
That is what you will hear as well. Email your request regardless of the answer. But we need to do this, Monday morning, afternoon, and evening. The requests need to flood Administration's inbox.
Thank you to everyone who has responded to my emails. Your support is sincerely appreciated. I will keep everyone updated through group emails.
This is the first official time I am asking the Union to take collective action. On Thursday, May 28th, I will be speaking in front of School Committee about climate and safety. As a Union, you need to be there. Both School Committee and Administration believe that it is the minority who are dissatisfied with the climate of the town. They continue to deny us our rights as a Union. The only way this will change is if we take a stand.
The singular truth is this, Administration fears us as a collective body. If we act together, they have no other option other than to listen. As a body of 700 people, we will not be marginalized and ignored.
Here are a few steps that need to be taken. Any ONE of these actions will serve the greater good, so please do something. Administration preys on our apathy. Let's end that now.
First, come to the School Committee meeting on Thursday, May 28th. Simply be a presence, or rather, a force to be reckoned with...
Second, mass email the School Committee to request a copy of Dr. Salim's contract. Just like ours, it is a public document. If everyone does this, they can't single out the individual. (I will provide more information shortly). Complaining in the hallways simply does not work. Taking collective action sends a message of unification.
Third, at your school, organize a committee to draft a letter sharing your thoughts about the climate of your building. This can take whatever form you want. Your building representative can contact me to help conceptualize each letter. Mail these to every School Committee and Town Council member, the Mayor and every Administrator. If it is written on behalf of the school, they can't single out the individual. With proper notification, these can be read at School Committee meetings.
ADAMS SCHOOL has already done this! Thank you to everyone at Adams.
Finally, consider a "Vote of No Confidence" against Dr. Salim. A Vote of No Confidence is exactly what it implies, that we, as a Union do not have faith that Administration is acting in the best interests of the students or educators. After you read this email, and the confidentiality agreement, please take the next ten minutes to Google "Vote of No Confidence." To explain this in an email, it would take on the length of a Masters Thesis. (Again, I will provide more information shortly).
I want to thank everyone for their support. My first year as President has been extremely challenging. The Union needs you and I need you.
If anyone knows me, they know I like the following things: surfing, Harry Potter, food, and my cat (This is a reference to the Snow Day Ratification, if you were not there, it will not make sense). If you can indulge me, please continue reading. If not, I will not be offended. Instead, Google "Vote of No Confidence."
This quote is taken from the "Order of the Pheonix" as Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood were talking about a sense of isolation. Think of this in terms of Administration.
Luna Lovegood: ...But I suppose that’s how he (Administration) wants you to feel.
Harry Potter: What do you mean?
Luna Lovegood: Well if I were You-Know-Who, (Administration), I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.
We need to be a threat.
At the last April representative council meeting, we voted to hold an additional rep council meeting in May. The meeting will be held on May 18, 2015 at Adams School at 3:45.
The Friends of Education celebration is May 19, 2015 at the Weymouth Elks. If you are planning to attend, please contact Gerri Rennie at the WEA office. I hope to see you there.
How bad does it have to get before we take action? Individuals are afraid to take action for good reason. However, as a collective body of 500-800 people, we have a lot more power than you think we do.
In the last few weeks, people have sought me out to "get together and talk." They may seek me out, and I alone can manage some change, but certainly not as effectively as a large group of people.
if Administration is going to listen to us, we need to act like a Union. Google the word "solidarity. If you need a reason to google solidarity, simply watch last Thursday's School Committee meeting. If that does not inspire change, nothing will.
As ever, please feel free to email me. I will respond in a group email in a few days.
I have a plan, but I need you.
President - WEA