We hope you have a had a restful week. We know many of you have been teaching in our week-long institutes, and we hope those went well.
Library Community Meetings a Success
Our community meetings in our neighborhood libraries have almost concluded, and they've been successful given the difficulty of planning the logistics for 24 events. Attendance has been uneven, ranging from 3 or 4 to the mid to high 20's per meeting, but considering this is a first time event, the program has gone well. We have been able to meet hundreds of citizens, share our concerns, and get valuable feedback on how to improve our schools. We will have more detailed information to release later, and we wish to thank those who attended these meetings as well as those who facilitated.
Dr. Charles Basch Speaks at BTU About Link Between Childhood Health and the Achievement Gap
On Tuesday, February 28 from 6-8 pm, come and listen to Dr. Charles Basch, a Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, speak about the link between childhood health and the achievement gap. Professor Basch's scholarly interests are
behavioral epidemiology, health education program planning and evaluation with urban and minority populations Please email your interest in attending to Michael McLaughlin. (Ed note: The BPS hired Dr. Basch to speak earlier this year on health- and economic-related disparities found amongst our school population, and how they affect academic achievement. He is an excellent speaker with a powerful message, and this will be a rewarding event.) Read more on the BTU website
We did have a negotiating session last Friday and have more scheduled. Last week the superintendent's staff leaked a letter sent to Turnaround principals to the Boston Globe
alleging that the BTU was threatening to hold the federal TIF Grant hostage to completing the master bargain. The story, "Boston school superintendent blasts teachers union; Says its leaders using deadline of grant as pressure," got a lot of play. But as always, there's more to the story.... A full account of the TIF Grant can be seen here
(PDF), but in the meantime, let me go over where we are.
TIF Grant to Dispense Millions When Agreement is Reached
We have been negotiating on the master contract since June 2010. We have made some, though limited, progress, but we have kept the discussions moving. We met in negotiations last week, and we will meet later this week. As part of the master bargain, we are including discussions on the TIF Grant, a federal grant that will distribute, once negotiated, many millions of dollars to our members (teachers and paraprofessionals) in Turnaround Schools. The issue of the TIF grant has become problematic.
School District Asleep at Wheel and Makes Wrong Turn; Proposes 35% of Grant go to Administrative Overhead and "Consultants"
Just how problematic has the school district's TIF Grant proposal become?
District Misses Deadline
First, the school district fell asleep at the wheel, missing a state reporting deadline a few months back. In the words of their chief negotiator to our negotiating team in February, the district was 'dinged' by the state to the tune of $500,000. While this money is not lost, it is temporarily on hold.
TIF Need Not Include Individual Awards
Secondly, the district has been insisting that as part of the outcome of the TIF negotiations, there must be included a distribution of funds to individual teachers based on standardized test score data and student growth based on same. This is not true, and the state has sent all parties a written document verifying same. The district's wrong-headed stubbornness in this matter has unnecessarily delayed the negotiating process by a few months.
Too Much Testing; No Need for More!
What's more, we oppose the district's position, though it is now debunked, because—simply—there is already too much standardized testing in our schools. Under the district's proposal, testing would necessarily increase to satisfy the need to provide individual incentives, and those in subject areas untested by the MCAS (82% of our staff) would soon see new MCAS-like tests sprout up if for no other reason than to satisfy policymakers. High achievement is the result of a school-wide effort and a series of good teachers. Individual rewards don't help that cause.
Using TIF $$, District Seeks to Pad Administrative Expenses
Lastly, we are attempting to negotiate a TIF agreement that maximizes dollars to school-wide teams as well as to individuals who assume more professional responsibility in leadership positions. The district, on the other hand, has initially proposed that more than 35% of the allotted funds go to administrative expenses. Most of these funds instead ought to go directly to schools and the people who work in them. All of this said, we look forward to wrapping up these discussions in concert with the entire master bargain. For a more detailed report, please see here (PDF).
|Education in the News: New York City Releases Test Score Data for Individual Teachers; Bill Gates Responds as Do Many Others|
At the end of last week the New York City school district released individual teacher and school test score data. The data was misleading, the data was old, and in some cases, teachers were graded for subjects they didn't teach. This is a story with "legs" and if you have any interest in the so-called accountability movement, keep reading.
Testing Run Amok: The Fallout... Even Bill Gates Doesn't Like What's going On in NY: Shame Is Not the Solution
"Last week, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that teachers' individual performance assessments could be made public. I have no opinion on the ruling as a matter of law, but as a harbinger of education policy in the United States, it is a big mistake..."
Read more of Bill Gates' Op-Ed in the New York Times.
And from the New York Times, Day 1: "Teacher Quality Widely Diffused, Ratings Indicate"
"The controversial ratings of roughly 18,000 New York City teachers released on Friday showed that teachers who were most and least successful in improving their students' test scores could be found all around - in the poorest corners of the Bronx, like Tremont and Soundview, and in middle-class neighborhoods of Queens, like Bayside and Forest Hills..."Read more of the February 24 New York Times article.
New York Times, Day 2: "In Teacher Ratings, Good Test Scores Are Sometimes Not Good Enough"
"At Public School 234 in TriBeCa, where children routinely alight for school from luxury cars, roughly one-third of the teachers' ratings were above average, one-third average and one-third below average..."
Read more of the February 25 New York Times article.
|Good Video on Stand for Children Initiative|
|Save the Date |
BEAM... Black Educators' Alliance of Massachusetts
BEAM 2012 Annual Conference
The Will to Act: Eliminating the Opportunity to Learn Gap
- March 24, 2012
- 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
- John D. O'Bryant Institute, Northeastern University
All Souls Author to Speak
On Tuesday, May 22 the author of All Souls, Michael Patrick MacDonald, a South Boston native and Boston activist who continues to work for social change nationally, will speak.
Recognizing and Promoting Excellence: Professional Development through the NBCTs Recognize the accomplishments of NBCTs & the skills they bring to schools. Showcase the effectiveness of Take One! as individual teacher and whole school Professional Development. Enjoy a screening of the film Mitchell 20. Have an opportunity to network.
Women's Rights BreakfastThe BTU Women's Rights Breakfast will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 9:30-11:30 am at Florian Hall, 55 Hallet Street in Dorchester. Tickets are $25.00. Please email here for more information.
The Professional Issues Committee will meet to discuss current and future initiatives on Tuesday, February 28 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 statewide (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.
See all upcoming events on the BTU calendar.
|RTC Corner: Petition Drive to Increase COLA|
|The RTC Chapter has organized a petition drive to urge the Boston Retirement Board to increase the COLA base to $16,000 as allowed under Chapter 188. Download a copy here, please, and send in any signatures you obtain to the RTC Office, c/o BTU. Or bring the signatures to the next BTU membership meeting. Thank you.|
We finally have the date for the afternoon Medicare session. It will be at the BTU hall on Thursday, March 22 from 2 to 5 pm. A notification letter will be going this Thursday from the city to its list of Medicare eligible retirees who have not enrolled yet with Social Security.
|Know Your Benefits: A Seminar Series|
Benefits (Non-Retirement) SeminarOn Tuesday, March 13 at 4 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:
- How to set up a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA)
- What the Mass Smart Plan is and how it compares to a TSA
- What kinds of leaves, paid and unpaid, are offered
- How severance pay is calculated
- How social security, Medicare and health insurance interact with one another
- What the flexible spending plan is and how it can be used to help out on dependent care costs and medical costs
See the complete syllabus here
Elementary Field Representative Michael McLaughlin is hosting one of his annual seminars on retirement, and all are welcomed to attend. The seminar will be held on March 27 at 4:30 pm at the BTU.
If you have any questions, please email Michael here
. Please see the flierhere
|Opportunities for Teachers|
LAT team leaders, AAF team facilitators, grade-level team leaders, mentors and others still have one week to register to participate in graduate-level courses that will help them strengthen their skills for leading data teams, establishing professional learning communities focused on instruction, and building unified teams. For more information on the Boston Teacher Leadership Certificate programand registration information, please visit this website or email jberg (at) bpe.org. Spring courses are beginning now!
The Teachers for Global Classrooms Program provides a professional development opportunity for middle and high school teachers from the United States to participate in a program aimed at globalizing teaching and learning in their classrooms. Applications are now being accepted and are due March 12. More information can be found here or by emailing email@example.com.
|Student Math Competition Gaining Fraction|
The first-ever math competition for BPS students is scheduled for April 5, and our event is gaining excitement as more and more schools are getting their teams ready.
The next planning meeting is on March 7 from 3:30 to 4:30 at the Carpenter's Hall at 750 Dorchester Avenue (near the Expressway & Columbia Road) directly after a meeting with elementary math facilitators that is taking place earlier that day at the same location. Parking is available at the church parking lot, nearby, on the other side of the bridge. All elementary and secondary teachers interested in helping out are invited to attend the March 7 meeting. Email mathcompetition (at) btu.org
with questions. See a flier
|Fundraiser for Boston International Newcomers Academy: Tickets Still Available|
|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.|
The students participating in this trip come from seven different countries and all are English Language Learners. Please help make this once-in-a-lifetime trip a reality for them!
Join us this Friday at a dinner & silent auction to raise funds for the trip:
Restaurante Cesaria at 266 Bowdoin Street in Dorchester
Friday, March 2 from 7-11 PM
$25/person or $112/5 tickets: email here.
| Office of Instructional and Information Technology (OIIT) Update|
|BPS Network Service Alert: From 9 PM on Friday, March 9 until 9 PM on Sunday, March 11, OIIT & Facilities Management will be conducting server room maintenance. All network systems including BPS email, the SIS, MyBPS, LIZA, SubCentral, PeopleSoft, FutureForce and Court Street office phones will be unavailable at this time. If you have any questions about this notification, please contact the OIIT Service Desk, 617-635-9200, during their normal business hours of 7 AM to 4 PM, Monday - Friday.|