Good morning, and we hope all is well.
Negotiating Sessions Scheduled; BTU Awaits School Department's Responses to Proposals Made in AugustTwo negotiating sessions have been scheduled, and we await the school department's responses to a series of proposals we made in the summer. Our last session was scheduled on 8/29. The quality and depth of the school department's responses next week will reveal how serious the district is in settling our contract. Any continuing procrastination will risk yet one more year's delay in our ability to move forward on a host of issues: school scheduling, SPED reform, and ELL training . Simply, this has gone along long enough, and we are all anxious to get this settled. Shortly after the new year, we will announce a few activities designed to bring this matter closer to a settlement.
Length of Student Day Ought to Mirror Parents' Work Day
On the issue of the extended student day, we feel that each of our schools ought to be open for up to three additional hours per day for any student who needs additional academic help and/or other enrichments. That school schedules should mirror the parents' work day should not be a subject of controversy. The school day extension ought to be composed of a combination of academic and non-academic/enrichment activities for all students who need and want these services. Our members, licensed and trained to teach academic subjects, can be a part of this. And non-teachers from outside support agencies — and Boston is blessed with a myriad of them — can provide the rest of the work.
Regardless of who performs this after-school work, the city — one way or another —is going to have find resources to pay for the time. We are glad to be part of this initiative to be sure. But the city and the school district have to step up as well.
Important-but-Often-Overlooked BTU and City Benefits
We want to call your attention to a few important, but often overlooked, benefits that our members can partake in.
Tuition reimbursement: for permanent teachers not yet receiving a career award and paraprofessionals with 5+ years. This $500 annual benefit is on the negotiating table as we seek both to increase the benefit to $1000 and to enhance eligibility to include all provisional teachers and paraprofessionals with 3 years or more. See here for a full explanation of how many of you can access this benefit now.
Members can receive up to four hours of paid release for certain cancer screenings and participation in the living organ donation programs. See here for a full explanation.
Lastly, under the small medical necessities leave act members can access small increments of their own paid personal time to do any of the following:
|Free Flu Shots At BTU|
The city of Boston is giving flu shots on December 13 from 1-5. All BTU members, all city employees and residents are welcomed to attend. All recipients must be 3+ years old.
We are glad to offer this benefit and appreciate the city's help. See here for fliers in English and Spanish.
|Retirees' Corner: Medicare|
|Under a new state law, all Mass retirees who are eligible for Medicare must sign up . The ins and outs of the law are too cumbersome to explain here. We have therefore scheduled a few information sessions, one on 1/12 and another on 1/24, at the BTU office, from 10 to 1. Other sessions are scheduled for Florian Hall, Faneuil Hall, and Plymouth, Mass. More information will be forthcoming. Save those dates if you'd like. It is advisable that you attend a session if you will be signing up for Medicare. Thank you. See here for a full listing of dates and times.|
We are expecting Q & A literature. As soon as we get it, we will send it out to all of our retirees.
|$1500 Early Notification Incentive for Retirement or Resignation: BTU Teachers Unit Only|
Under certain conditions, members of the teachers unit may be eligible for a $1500 'separation' payment. See here, and scroll down to HRS-PP8. Applicants understand that the termination must be effective between June 30, 2012 and August 31, 2012. The deadline for application is Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
|NY Principals Take Action; Fight Against New Test-Based Evaluation Rules|
"In May 2010, the New York State Legislature-in an effort to secure federal Race to the Top funds-approved an amendment to Educational Law 3012-c regarding the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) of teachers and principals. The new law states that beginning September 2011, all teachers and principals will receive a number from 0-100 to rate their performance. Part of that number (ranging from 20% to 40%) will be derived from how well students perform on standardized tests. At first glance, using test scores might seem like a reasonable approach to accountability. As designed, however, these regulations carry unintended negative consequences for our schools and students that simply cannot be ignored." (Source.)
Bold NY Principals Take Action and Joined by 4000 Colleagues Offer the Following:
"Across New York State, there is growing concern about the direction being taken by the State Education Department. In breathtaking speed, Education officials have made sweeping changes to how our schools operate, how our teachers and principals are evaluated and how our students are assessed.
"As building principals, we applaud efforts aimed towards excellence for all of our students. We cannot, however, stand by while untested practices are put in place without any meaningful discussion or proven research. This is why we have prepared an Open Letter of Concern Regarding New York State's APPR Legislation for the Evaluation of Teachers and Principals. Written by two high school Principals (Dr. Sean C. Feeney and Dr. Carol C. Burris) and reviewed and edited by Elementary, Middle School and High School principals. Although this letter had its origins in Long Island, the concerns expressed are shared by educators across New York. In a very clear manner, this letter states why everyone who cares about schools should be concerned about New York's APPR Legislation. The letter also articulates a better path forward for our schools and students..."
Read the research behind the letter
|Parent Forum On Student Assignment|
|The Boston Parent Organizing Network (BPON) is holding a Community Forum on Student Assignment on Saturday, December 10, from 12-3pm at the Freedom House. See flier in English and in Spanish.|
From BPON: "We did as many of you asked; from the concerns that we heard from many parents, regarding unpleasant experiences with the Boston Public School Student Assignment (BPS) plan, BPON has put together a community forum with BPS officials so that parents concerns could be addressed publicly.
"Many Parents want the BPS to bring clarity, transparency and good alternative school choices for our students in a Student Assignment plan that we all can believe in.
"SAVE THE DATE! Dec. 10, 2011, at the Freedom House (Dor.), 12noon to 3PM. A light lunch and child care will be provided."
|Members Taking Action: Organizing a Citywide Math Competition for Students|
Planning Meeting for Citywide Student Math Competition to be Held on 12/13 at 4:00 PM at the BTU
The BTU is hosting a meeting of the city's math teachers who are interested in setting up a citywide math competition for our students. We'd like to provide a competition for our students to compete in mathematics with each other at all grade levels so that we can show that math is cool.The first meeting of our group was held last month. We'd like to meet one more time to gather ideas and begin serious planning for this event. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, 12/13, at 4:00, at the BTU. All who teach math (elementary self-contained through high school are welcomed to attend). Please email here if you have any questions. Thank you.
|AFTMA Scholarship Program|
|Dependents of AFTMA/BTU members are eligible to take an exam on labor history sponsored by the Mass AFL-CIO. Eight $1500 scholarships are awarded by the AFTMA. The test is given on 2/1/2012, and the application deadline is 12/19/2011. Study materials and complete information are available for download here.|
|Come join us for the 5th annual Holiday Social! Appetizers will once again be generously sponsored by the COSMIC Office.|
Friday, December 16th, 3-7pm
Host Schools: Boston Latin School and Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
24th ANNUAL Ebony Winter Gala on 12/9
8 PM to 2 AM
See here for more information
|School Site Council Training|
Come with your SSC members to learn basic operations of an effective SSC, receive comprehensive SSC Manual and gain critical information to guide your SSC.
SSC Training Schedule; SSC Budget Basics (SSC 102):
|Higginson Lewis to Hold 100th Anniversary Celebration on December 9 from 5-9 PM|
The Higginson-Lewis K-8 school is holding its 100th year Anniversary Celebration on 12/9, from 5-9 PM. Members of the BSO will be present and performing. Henry L. Higginson was the first director of the BSO. Congratulations to the school and its community. See a flier here.
|Terrific BPS Student Debate Program Seeks Marathoners to Raise Funds|
Do you know anyone who wants to run the Boston Marathon? I'm involved with the Boston Debate League as a Debate Coach at Timilty and as an Advisory Council member. We are a growing non-profit that is working on improving education outcomes in urban Boston Schools through after-school debate programs.
The impact is stunning, by the way. Kids who participate in our program are 42% more likely to
They are an official Boston Marathon charity team and are accepting applications for runners in the 2012 marathon. I thought you might be interested or know others who are. They offer a 5 month training program with a trainer, so if you've always wanted to run a marathon - especially Boston - and get hands on training from an experienced marathon trainer, here's your chance. There is a fundraising component, but they offer support in that area too. More info or feel free to reach out to Anne Phillips. Submitted by Beverly Williams.
|Opportunities for Teachers: Travel to Greece|
The Examined Life: Greek Studies Fellow: Earn PDPs and 3 graduate credits, and at the experience of a lifetime through an April Vacation study tour in Greece! This program is open to K-12 educators in all disciplines. ExL takes as its theme the Socratic call to the Examined Life. Through the eyes of world-class scholars, history, literature, philosophy, art, culture, government, and politics are explored in lectures and readings.
Additional Information and Application: If you have any questions about the program, contact Connie Carven, Teacher Specialist and Liaison with School Districts at 781-405-6094.
|The BTU Online|
Boston Teachers Union