Next week, on Wednesday, March 14 at 4 pm, we will hold our regularly-scheduled BTU membership meeting. It is VERRRRY important that each school send a representative to that meeting. We will be announcing an activity that is time-sensitive. Again, it is very important that each building send at least one representative, and we appreciate your cooperation. Thank you.
Check out Orchard Garden's first grade class visit to the White House. See the video
at the 2:30 mark when the Orchard Garden piece begins. What an exciting and wonderful opportunity for our children!
|Pres. Obama and Gov. Patrick Greet Orchard Gardens's First Grade Class Last Week|
Some quick shout outs to three of our many great Boston HS sports teams. Saturday, Chas. HS beat East Boston 61-58 in the Division 1 North Sectional, and Madison beat Taunton 63-61 in Division 1 south. We congratulate all three teams, their players and their coaches.
Some FIRST TIME announcements of a timely nature:
Job Sharing Info Session
: Thursday, March 8 from 4-6 pm at the BTU. Interested in working half time & want to explore your options? Come learn more & network with other like minded BTU members. Please contact either Caren
Also, this week there will be a social event
on Thursday, March 8 sponsored by the GLSEN
(Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) at the Savin Bar and Kitchen from 5-7 pm. See the announcement below.
Negotiations Progressing, Albeit Slowly
Negotiations have continued, and our teams held an all-day negotiating session last week and the week before. We have scheduled another eight sessions this month. We have made steady progress, which we hope and expect will continue.
The outstanding issues can be generally placed in a few broad categories: salary, school day extension, professional leadership opportunities for our members, the TIF grant, performance evaluation, and so-called quality of life issues which help students as well as teachers. In the latter category are issues such as case load and class size, space concerns in our schools, and so on. The long and the short of it is, on all of the above we are making progress, albeit slowly. And with eight upcoming sessions scheduled, we look forward to continued progress. All of this brings us to scratching our heads as we read the superintendent's latest pronouncement on these matters.
Superintendent a No-Show at Negotiations, Continues to Spread Outdated Misinformation. Why?
Last week the superintendent once again had her PR team write a mid-term report for BPS staff that included a discussion on the "status of BTU Contract negotiations." The report was replete with factual errors, distortions and fabrications. What's more, the information was dated. We were surprised, but not shocked, at the inaccuracies--after all the superintendent has not been present at any of the 39 meetings save for a one-hour pop-in a few months ago. All told, the communication was unhelpful, as have similar ones in the past, to the process we are engaged in.
Superintendent's Attention Could Be Better Directed;
Many District Problems Need to be Solved
Our school system has a myriad of problems that ought to command the superintendent's attention, such as the Department of Justice investigation into the status of our ELL programs, the federal lawsuit on the BPS's failure to provide adequate and timely SPED services to our children, the convoluted student assignment process, the issue of late buses in the AM and the PM, and the inadequacy of space for needed programs.
Superintendent's Misinformation Campaign Unhelpful
If the superintendent truly wants to eliminate another problem--ongoing contract negotiations--then she ought to get involved and play a positive role. We'd welcome that involvement. But to repeatedly broadcast dated and uniformed misinformation--well, that's not productive at all. The first few times this happened we respectfully gave the superintendent the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, we can do so no longer. The misinformation the superintendent continues to put out under her name is a hindrance to those who wish to settle this contract. Frankly, at this stage of the 21-month long process, we seriously have to question her motivation to settle the contract and work collaboratively with our members.
Education in the News
See the New York Times Piece entitled "Confessions of a 'Bad' Teacher"
"I am a special education teacher. My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances. I love these kids, but they can be a handful. Almost without exception, they struggle on standardized tests, frustrate their teachers and find it hard to connect with their peers. What's more, these are high school students, so their disabilities are compounded by raging hormones and social pressure.
"As you might imagine, my job can be extremely difficult. Beyond the challenges posed by my students, budget cuts and changes to special-education policy have increased my workload drastically even over just the past 18 months. While my class sizes have grown, support staff members have been laid off. Students with increasingly severe disabilities are being pushed into more mainstream classrooms like mine, where they receive less individual attention and struggle to adapt to a curriculum driven by state-designed high-stakes tests.
"On top of all that, I'm a bad teacher. That's not my opinion; it's how I'm labeled by the city's Education Department..."
Here's Michael Winerip writing in the New York Times last week...
|Images courtesy of New York Times|
"What was Arne Duncan doing sharing the stage with Michelle Rhee at a recent education conference?
"Mr. Duncan is the education secretary.
"Ms. Rhee was the chancellor of schools in Washington from 2007 to 2010.
"Since last summer, the Office of the Inspector General in Mr. Duncan's department has been investigating whether Washington school officials cheated to raise test scores during Ms. Rhee's tenure..." Read the full article, "Amid a Federal Education Inquiry, an Unsettling Sight"
Superintendent of Schools in Los Angeles responds to the release of teacher ratings based on test scores
John Deasy, Superintendent of the Los Angeles USD, sent a criticalLetter to the Editor
of the New York Times
"Bill Gates makes a strong argument ('Shame Is Not the Solution,' Op-Ed, Feb. 23) against public release of teachers' individual performance assessments. The last thing any educational reformer should want is for class test scores to be bandied about like ballplayer batting averages, without any perspective or context.
"At the Los Angeles Unified School District, we have consistently opposed making scores public. As with Mr. Gates and the work of his foundation, our focus is on developing an innovative system to assess teachers that includes the use of data.
"Evaluating teacher performance is a complex process involving critical factors like the assessment of principals, fealty to curriculum and value-added rankings.
Only by observing fair and careful disclosure rules can teachers, parents and educators feel confident that in the end this system will provide the best possible teacher in every classroom."
GLBT Educators, Administrators and Staff Announce Event
Boston GLBT educators, administrators and central office staff: In collaboration with the Boston Teacher Residency, the Office of Equity and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), the newly-forming GLBT Educators Network of Boston (GEN-B) is hosting a free social and networking event this Thursday, March 8 from 5-7 PM at theSavin Bar and Kitchen (located at 112 Savin Hill Ave in Dorchester). RSVP is not necessary....just come on out!
RTC Corner: Petition Drive to Increase COLA
Please sign a petition to increase the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) base for Boston municipal workers. It will affect everyone, not just retirees.
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.
- Social Security benefits have a 100% COLA base
- Federal employees receive a 100% COLA base
- State employees and teachers in all other cities and towns, except Boston will receive a COLA base of $13,000
- Some cities and towns will provide incremental annual increases of $1,000/year, until they reach a base of $16,000
- Some cities and towns already have a COLA base of $16,000
- Some counties have a COLA base of $18,000
- City of Boston has only 3% on the first $12,000 of your pension. This is $360/year, or less than a $1.00/day
Para Statewide Conference
|A tribute to paras! Please join us on Saturday, March 31 at the BTU Hall for the AFTMA-BTU 26th Annual Paraprofessionals Statewide Conference.|
Registration begins at 8:30 am with coffee and danishes. The conference goes until 3 pm. Register here by Friday, March 23.
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 flier here
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.
Afternoon Medicare SessionWe 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 shortly from the city to its list of Medicare-eligible retirees who have not enrolled yet with Social Security.
BEAM: Black Educators' Alliance of Massachusetts
Please plan to be a part of BEAM's 2012 Annual Conference, "The Will to Act: Eliminating the Opportunity to Learn Gap." Join BEAM on March 24 from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm at the John D. O'Bryant Institute, Northeastern University.
TEACH at the Boston International Film Festival
"TEACH: Teachers Are Talking, Is the Nation Listening?" will be shown at the Boston International Film Festival on Monday, April 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm. For more information on ticket sales, schedules, etc please visit thefestival website or contact them directly at 617 482 - 3900
All Souls Author to Speak at the BTU
On Tuesday, May 22, Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls and a South Boston native and Boston activist who continues to work for social change nationally, will speak locally. We'll share more information as it becomes available.
Stand for Children: Teachers Fight Back Against Distortions
A few new developments: The MTA is holding a public forum in Brookline. See flier (PDF). And the AFTMA has prepared a new flier (PDF) outlining talking points against the STAND petition.
|The Presidential Primary is TODAY ~ March 6. Polling hours are from 7 AM to 8 PM. All residents who registered to vote by the February 15 deadline are eligible to vote.|
Where do you vote? see here. Please remember, YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
- If you are enrolled in a specific political party (i.e. Democratic, Republican, Green-Rainbow), you are only allowed to vote for the political party specific candidates.
- If you are an "Independent" or "Unenrolled" voter, you are afforded the option of voting in any of the primaries without commitment to a political party.
- Also, you will see the names of candidates running for the Democratic State Committee as well as the names of candidates running for Democratic City & Town committee members on the democratic ballot.
Citywide Math Competition
The next planning meeting for the citywide math competition will take place this Wednesday 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.
By the way, we want all of the teams present to be balanced with a fair distribution from all grade levels--so the 6-8 team ought to have two students from each grade, and so on. Please don't load up the individual teams with all eighth graders, etc. Thank you.
Nominate an Educator of the Year
Each year the BTU, BPS, and the city honor outstanding educators from the ranks of our teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, and others. We honor those who are among the great people and leaders who work in our school systems every day. Please see the educator of the year flier (PDF) and please submit any nomination(s) you may have.
BPS Network to be out of service for maintenance this weekend
BPS Network Service Alert: From 9 PM on Friday, March 9 to 9 PM on Sunday, March 11, the Office of Instructional and Information Technology & 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 at 617-635-9200 during our normal business hours of 7 am to 4 pm, Monday-Friday.
Upcoming School Fundraisers
East Boston High School's Seventh Annual Gala and Fundraiser
Please join us for dinner, raffles, a silent auction and dancing on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30pm at Suffolk Downs.
Dinner tickets are $50.00. Call Judy Fay at 617-635-9896 (x30312) for more information.
The Chittick School is having its first fundraiser this month
The James J Chittick School invites you to their Gala, an adult evening that includes raffles, a silent auction, a DJ and light snacks. Join us on March 30, 2012 from 7 pm until midnight at the Boston Teacher's Union Hall, Carson Place.
Tickets are $20 and available at the door. Contact Jen Eddington for more information at 617-635-8652.
Speaker Series a Hit with Dr. Charles Basch
|On February 28, Dr. Charles Basch gave a compelling talk about the link between childhood health and the achievement gap in a lecture sponsored by the BTU. Dr. Basch has generously made his PowerPoint presentation available for download.|
Free Nicotine Patch: GREAT Opportunity
BPS staff now have access to the nicotine patch for free through May!
Have you been thinking about quitting smoking? Now is the time to make the steps towards a healthier you!
There is now a free Nicotine Patch available to all BPS employees! Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to speak with someone about accessing the patch. The patch is now available for free through May 2012.
If you would like additional resources about smoking cessation information or tobacco prevention efforts for your staff and students, please contact Jaime Lederer
, Tobacco Prevention Program & Policy Manager at 617-635-6643 x41253.
Summer Opportunities for Teachers Through PIC
Seeking certified high school biology, English and math teachers to teach summer MCAS prep classes through the Boston PIC's Classroom at the Workplace program:
TO APPLY: Please send application and resume to Hilary Brayton, Classroom at the Workplace Coordinator. Reach her at 617-488-1335 with questions. Thank you! Find the flier here and application here.
- July 9 to August 24, Monday through Friday
- 90-minute classes each morning with about 12 students, mostly juniors and seniors
- Preferred certification in Special Education and/or ELL; experience with academic interventions and teaching at-risk youth
- Compensation is the current BTU rate of $41.24 per hour
Kilola E. Maiysha retired last week retired after 33 years as an Art Teacher. We wish her the best in retirement. Congratulations to Kilola!