Good morning, and we hope you have all recovered from the Super Bowl. We will make no other comment beyond that.
This week we have started our campaign to meet with the citizens of Boston in the various neighborhood libraries throughout the city. Our goals are simple:
To effectively reach out to all of Boston's citizens we have, with the help of the National AFT, called more than 116,000 registered voters. We have also sent more than 60 press releases to all community, neighborhood, and mainstream media. We hope you can attend one of these meetings.
Please see section below for more information.
Community Meetings Scheduled
We will be hosting community meetings in our neighborhood libraries in the first weeks of February. The purpose of these events is two-fold: to explain what our position is on the various key issues in collective bargaining, and to listen to what questions and concerns the broader community has about our schools and how we can improve them. We are looking forward to these community forums. A BTU member familiar with recent collective bargaining events will be present at each of the 24 scheduled give-and-take sessions.
We'd love to see some of our own members, too, at each of the forums. If you happen to live near one of our neighborhood libraries, please download our flier and post it in a nearby location, like a laundromat, neighborhood store, or a community center. The fliers have, too, been mailed out to BTU Building Reps. And the BTU, with the help of the AFT National Office, is making robo calls to all registered voters in Boston who live near any of the dozens of libraries. For more information or if you have any questions, please email here.
Here's our schedule.
We believe that the contract we are trying to negotiate is good for students, affordable to the city, and fair to our members. We also believe that good working conditions for our member lead to good learning conditions for our students, and vice-versa. Put another way, what we are seeking in our contract negotiations is good for students. We hope you can attend one of the community forums.
|Supt. Praises Two Upcoming Replications of Edwards Middle School while Her Negotiating Team Proposes to Eliminate the Edwards Model. Huh?|
Two BPS schools have been awarded grants to replicate the program at the Edwards School. The Superintendent is proud of those schools' success, as we are. As the Superintendent's press release stated:
"Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson announced the Irving Middle School in Roslindale and the McCormack Middle School in Dorchester have been selected to participate in project funded by a highly competitive federal grant that will allow for a newly expanded school day at both schools. The grant will allow both schools to replicate the successes of schools like the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown — a nationally heralded model of the use of expanded learning time..."
We agree with the Superintendent that that Edwards is worth replicating. But why then does her negotiating team call for the elimination of the program? Here's their proposal:"Delete Appendix G (p. 254-255)"
Why does the school department team wish to have this section deleted? First, staff get paid for all their time at all three schools. Second, participation for permanent teachers is voluntary.
Under the Superintendent's extended day proposal which she wants to replace Appendix G, the first 1/2 hour of the extended time is unpaid, and as much as 3 1/2 hours can be mandated by the call of the principal.
(*) The state has just pulled the extended learning time funding from both the Timilty and the Umana based on their test scores. We decry the state's shortsighted view of what makes a good school.
|Boston TAG Invites Participation in No History is Illegal|
Teacher Activist Groups (TAG) invites you to participate in No History is Illegal: A Campaign to Save Our Stories. No History is Illegal is a month-long solidarity campaign in support of Tucson's Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, which has been banned by right-wing Arizona politicians. See flier.
|News for Educators: NY Principals Speak Out on RTTT; Is Merit Pay an Incentive to Retain Teachers?|
In New York City, principals are allowed to join a union and that right gives them a protection of sorts, so they are free to speak out once in a while — more often than their counterparts in Massachusetts who are forbidden to unionize. So, while in Massachusetts we're used to hearing silence from our administrative ranks, not so in New York: hence this headline from the New York Times. New York State, incidentally, like Massachusetts, is nationally recognized for its outstanding schools.
Principals' Union Condemns Plan for 33 (Turnaround) Struggling Schools
"Of the unions representing public school teachers and principals in New York City, the principals' union had played a passive role in the charged and increasingly divisive dispute over an evaluation system to gauge the performance of teachers and principals in 33 struggling schools receiving federal grants to help improve their results.
"No longer. On Wednesday, the principals' union president, Ernest A. Logan, pre-emptively condemned the city's proposal to close and reopen most of those schools under a new improvement model, saying in a strongly worded letter to the state's education commissioner, John B. King Jr., that it is simply a ploy to shut out the unions..."
And from Washington Post Blogger, Valerie Strauss...
Does Merit Pay Really Increase Teacher Retention?
"A month ago an article in The New York Times looked at the new incentive program being used by the District of Columbia Public Schools. Under this plan (called "Impact Plus"), teachers rated "highly effective" by the district's new evaluation system are eligible for large cash bonuses and/or permanent salary increases.
"The article said, "The profession is notorious for losing thousands of its brightest young teachers within a few years, which many experts attribute to low starting salaries and a traditional step-raise structure that rewards years of service and academic degrees rather than success in the classroom." It also profiles several teachers who received the bonuses, most of whom say it played a role in their decision to remain in the classroom.
"Putting aside these anecdotes and characterizations of "experts'" views, the idea that financial incentives — such as bonuses for performance or teaching in hard-to-staff schools — is a key to boosting teacher retention is a complex empirical question, and an open one at that..."
|Understanding Your Benefits; A Seminar|
Save the Date: On Tuesday, 3/13, at 4:00 PM, there will be a seminar at the BTU entitled, Understanding Your benefits, with BTU president Richard Stutman. Topics will include a variety of issues, such as the following:
This is not a seminar to help you understand the complexities of the retirement law. That seminar is given by Michael McLaughlin, elementary field representative, on Tuesday, March 27, at 4:30. Each seminar will cover different material. You are invited to either or both seminars to get a complete picture of your benefit structure.
|Paraprofessional Training Courses|
The Center for Leadership Development and the Boston Teachers Union are jointly sponsoring professional development courses for paraprofessionals this spring. If you have questions about the courses, please contact George Cox at 617 635-7914.
Addressing the Needs of Young Boys Through Children's LiteratureDates: March 7, 21; April 4, and 25; and May 9
Category 2 Training Sheltering Content InstructionDates: Feb. 28; March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10, 24; May 1, and 8.
Career Advancement SkillsDates: March 8, 15, 22, 29; April 5
All of the above are to be held at the CLD from 4:30 to 7:30
Managing Student BehaviorDates: Feb. 28: March 6, 13, 20, 27
Different Time: 4:00 - 7:00 pm
Different Location: BTU Offices
|BTU's Professional Issues Committee to Meet|
The Professional Issues Committee (PIC) will meet to discuss current and future initiatives on Tuesday, Feb. 28th, at 4PM in Conference Room C at the BTU. New members are invited. For further information, please contact Ted Chambers.
Currently, the PIC is supporting the folks who are working on the AFT Innovation Grant "21st Century Lessons". This is the middle school Math project in which a group of BTU members are producing a series of Math lessons which teachers state-wide (not just in Boston) can upload, teach and assess. They are high quality lessons that are aligned with BPS Objectives/Massachusetts Frameworks/ Common Core Standards.
|BPS in the News: Unfortunately|
The last thing our system needs is bad news. The news ought to be good: Boston is among the top urban — arguably it is the top urban — school systems in he country as measured by the NAEP tests. We have held this position for years, and it is no fluke. On the other hand, we have a district leadership that continues to make the news — and not always for the great news we ought to expect.
So we see this news about a federal lawsuit buried in an otherwise innocuous Globe piece about the school budget:
"The School Committee also approved a plan to temporarily reopen a Dorchester school to accommodate a sudden influx of preschoolers who require special education immediately. Fifield Elementary, which closed less than a year ago, is scheduled to open next week as an early childhood education center and could have seven classrooms in operation by the end of the school year.
"The school is being reopened as the School Department faces a class-action lawsuit in federal court that asserts that the department routinely violates state and federal laws by denying evaluations and classroom placements for preschoolers with special needs.
Read more. See background piece here:
|What to Do About Student Head Concussions|
The district in creating a new DRAFT policy on the prevention and management of any sports-related head industry. We ask that all staff become familiar with the policy. See a draft here, and an excerpt below. Preventing injuries is everyone's concern. Thank you.
"A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can affect brain functioning. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
"Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. Children who return to play while still experiencing symptoms of a concussion are more likely to have another concussion, resulting in permanent neurological deficits..."
|Important Information for BTU Members|
Union dues amount for 2011 for tax purposes: Teachers $1103.11 and paras and subs are $551.56
Women's Rights Breakfast
The BTU Women's Rights Breakfast will be held on Saturday, March 10, 2012 9:30 am- 11:30 am at Florian Hall 55 Hallet Street, Dorchester, Ma 02124; Tickets $25.00. We would like everyone to attend! For anyone who has an important woman in their life! Wonderful food, friends and family. Tickets and information, please email here.
|Student News and Fundraisers|
O'Bryant Students to go to Nicaragua
The TAG student club at the O'Bryant will be hosting a fundraiser on 2/10/12 at the Baseball Tavern from 7PM to 11PM. All of the money raised will help pay for the students' trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua during their April vacation and to help the construction of a community center that will provide afterschool and pre-school education and medical and dental care for the local population. For more information, email here.
Boston International Students to Go to La Push, Washington
In April, Team La Push is going on a service-learning trip to live and work with the Quileute Nation in La Push, Washington. They'll be learning about Native American culture and traditions and working with the host community on a variety of projects, such as beach clean-up, clearing forest paths, and helping prepare for the annual Welcoming the Whales ceremony.
Please join us at one or both of the following fundraiser events to raise funds for the trip (and invite your friends and family too!
Doyle's Cafe, 3484 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain,
Wednesday, February 15 ~ 6:30 to 9:30
$20 / person (teams of 2-5 are encouraged)
Restaurante Cesaria, 266 Bowdoin Street, Dorchester
Friday, March 2 ~ 7:00pm-11:00pm, $25 / person
New Mission HS Debate Team Goes to the Nationals
Congratulations go to the New Mission HS Debate team, which has qualified for the nationals to be held this summer. More than 500 BPS students participate on teams. See here for more information on the Boston Debate League.
We also note that West Roxbury, Excel HS, and BLA also sent teams to the qualifying event this past weekend.
|The BTU Online|
Boston Teachers Union