Good morning. We hope all enjoyed the marvelous weekend weather.
Last Friday 106 schools and an estimated 3,500 teachers and paraprofessionals staged a walk-in to their schools at the start of the school day after gathering outside their buildings and at local traffic intersections. Together we called attention to slow-moving negotiations and showed our resolve for a contract that is good for students, good for our schools, and fair to our staff.
See photos of the walk-in. (If you click on one, then you can press the arrow on the right to see a slideshow.) If you still need to send pictures, we can still continue to add them to the folder! And check out our Storify summary of Twitter postings using the hastags #btunity, #SchoolsWeDeserve and #faircontract. You can still tag @btu66 on Twitter and Social Media.
We hope that you will continue to stay engaged and involved as we continue to fight for schools our communities deserve through our contract negotiations and fighting the charter ballot initiative to raise the cap through our Save Our Public Schools (SOPS) Campaign. If you haven’t already, please sign up for SOPS.
Please feel free to share the media attention, pictures and summer opportunities with your colleagues. It was a great show of solidarity, and we will need to continue work together in the coming months to fight for a fair contract and to save our schools!
Have a great final week, and we thank our organizing department of Jessica Tang, Jonathan Rodriques, and Shanika Holder for their great work in putting this event together.
School Department Pits Quincy Upper Against McKinley in Quest for Space
Staff and families at the McKinley South End Academy received a letter near the end of May which announced a surprise plan to evict them from their building in June 2017 and to have a new Quincy Upper School built on the McKinley South End Academy site, pitting one school against another. McKinley was told that they would be relocated to a “retrofitted” site beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.
The McKinley community is up in arms about this. At the June 8th School Committee they organized a large and lively picket line before the meeting, packed the house as the meeting began, and cheered loudly as staff, student, parent, and community and political supporters presented the case against this plan.
Let’s help McKinley out!
They have organized an online petition and would very much appreciate it if BTU members signed onto their petition and shared it widely via social media. They will be presenting again at this week’s Wednesday School Committee meeting, and they hope to be able to announce there that a massive number of signatures have been collected on the petition.
36 of 41 Teachers At One School Condemn Lack of Healthy, Productive Feedback in Performance Evaluation Process
Editor’s Note: The letter below was signed by 36 of 41 teachers at a school and delivered to their school leader last week. All identifying features of the letter have been removed. The letter speaks clearly to the unfairness of the current evaluation process as implemented by certain cavalier administrators.
June 17, 2016
Teacher evaluations can be an important tool in the development of educators and a part of ensuring a quality education for all students. However, at ________________ teacher evaluations have been used in a way that is detrimental to morale and does not take advantage of its potential to improve instruction at the school. In the latest round of Summative Evaluations, several teachers received less than Proficient ratings on at least one standard, and, again teachers were surprised by their ratings. Conversations about these ratings did not occur beforehand. As BPS unilaterally moves forward with using test scores as part of teacher ratings, we are also concerned about the future of evaluation experiences.
Last year and at the beginning of this year, through our union representatives, we have asked that you and your administrative team talk with teachers, who you feel are not Proficient in any standard. These conversations could alert teachers to possible shortcomings in their practice, as well as allow teachers to make necessary changes before receiving an evaluation. Conversations like these not only make improvements in practice more likely, they are also respectful of teachers’ hard work.
We believe that rating teachers as less than Proficient without discussions beforehand about what could be done to avoid that rating is disrespectful of the hard work done on a daily basis by educators at _______. It also leads us to conclude that evaluations at the school are arbitrary and are not helpful. We ask that instead of pointing out flaws from above, you join with us in the difficult, but rewarding, task of educating our students. Many of us did receive Proficient ratings, but we all stand together in the belief that educators should be shown the courtesy of a conversation.
In order to avoid this miscommunication and the damage it does to our school culture, we ask you to do the following:
- come to an agreement with us about an appropriate amount of time to inform teachers about the possibility of a less than Proficient rating;
- work with teachers who are in danger of receiving a less than Proficient rating to schedule additional observations, during which the teacher can demonstrate improved skills;
- provide teachers with specific steps that can be taken in order to avoid a less than Proficient rating.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts about improving communication and the evaluation process.
BTU Committees and Activities
This is the last week to register and apply for BTU summer opportunities!
Stay involved this summer! This is your last chance to sign up for our FREE Summer Organizing Institute which will take place June 28-30 at the BTU. You can also apply to our Summer Organizing Leader program, or Building Rep Regional Leaders program, which are positions with stipends. If you can’t participate in one of our formal programs, can you volunteer a couple of hours to help make some phone calls or knock on doors? If so, please email Jessica.
Sign Up for Free Books!
Last year we gave away 40,000 books to BPS families and educators! This year we plan to do it again! To reach out goal, we need 500 new members to sign up for free to our partner First Books, a nonprofit that sends information on free and discounted books for teachers! Please sign up today and share.
Join the Save Our Schools Coalition for Action: People’s March for Public Education & Social Justice
From July 8-10 in Washington DC, the National SOS Coalition is holding a march, rally and conference in DC. The Massachusetts Teacher’s Association, the Boston Teacher’s Union and the New Bedford Educator’s Association have generously contributed to the cause.
We have been able to secure two buses from Massachusetts. One will be leaving from Boston and one from the New Bedford/Dartmouth area very early in the morning of July 8 and returning in the late evening on July 9. The MTA also generously contributed the overnight accommodation cost. Participants will merely have to pay $30 for the trip, which includes the cost of an event t-shirt. Travel and accommodation is fully covered!
We hope that you will join us. We are accepting participants on a first come first serve basis. Preference will be given to teachers, community based activists, and youth/parent activists. Please email me directly to secure your seat on the bus. Indicate your name, age, affiliation with an organization or school district, and whether you’d like to join the Boston bus or the New Bedford/Dartmouth bus. The best way to secure your seat is to send an email directly to Ricardo Rosa. Please act quickly as registration will close on June 24 by 5 PM. Please identify yourself as a BTU member.
BTU Summer Institute for Evaluation Assistance
Please join us from August 1-5, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, as we assist teachers who are having evaluation issues. The goal is to focus on the specific prescriptions that are in the evaluations that are rated as “Does Not Meet Standards.” It is very important to address the issues cited by the evaluators. With increased scrutiny by evaluators it is not the time to think that you can go it alone. If you are in a difficult evaluation situation please consider this assistance program. Space is limited. All information will be confidential. Any questions please contact Patrick Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Learning Updates
LEARN TEACH LEAD: A BPS Digital Learning Summit
The BPS Technology Department will be hosting LEARN TEACH LEAD, a digital learning summit, on August 10 from 8 AM to 4 PM at English High School. LEARN TEACH LEAD is free for the entire BPS community of educators and school and district leaders to connect, share, and collaborate around digital learning solutions. All skill levels are welcome! Participants can select from a variety of workshops, demonstrations, and discussions on topics like Google Apps for Education, instructional approaches using Universal Design for Learning (UDL), navigating Aspen/SIS, and basic and intermediate coding. Register to attend or volunteer.
Are you a digital learning champion or have a practice you’d like to share? Apply to present.
Instructional Apps Pilot Opportunity for SY16-17!
School teacher teams can apply to participate in SY16-17 pilot opportunities to select, implement and evaluate instructional applications to blend and enhance learning. Learn more and apply by June 24.
From BPS: Clarification about changes in PDP requirements for renewing professional licenses
The expiration date of professional licenses, not the date of the renewal application, controls the required distribution of PDPs for the renewal of professional licenses.
Professional licenses with expiration dates that fall prior to July 1, 2016 require 150 PDPs for the designated Primary Area for renewal. At least 120 of the PDPs must be in the content area of the license or in pedagogy directly related to the educator’s primary license, with at least 90 of these PDPs in the content area of the educator’s primary license. (The license must be renewed before July 1, 2016. If renewed after July 1, 2016, the new PDP distribution listed below will obtain.)
Professional licenses with expiration dates that fall on or after July 1, 2016 require 150 PDPs including:
- At least 15 PDPs related to SEI or English as a Second Language.
- At least 15 PDPs related to training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles.
- At least 90 PDPs in the content area of the license or in pedagogy, with no less than 60 PDPs in or related to the content area of the educator’s primary license.
For questions or concerns, please call 617-635-9036.
Updated Timeline: Post Transfer Placement Process
Post Transfer Placement Process (PTPP) interviews will be completed this week, June 20-24, by a school’s personnel subcommittees. According to OHC, all selected applicants names must be turned in to OHC by schools by June 27. Finalized school recommendations/assignments through the PTPP will be sent out to excessed permanent teachers by July 13.
Still excessed teachers, please review your contact info on the HUB including updated phone #’s and email addresses. The OHC will be emailing still excessed BTU teacher bargaining unit folks via bps email concerning the PTPP process so please check it regularly. Even after participating in the PTPP process, please continue to aggressively apply for positions for which you are qualified — vacancies will continue to be posted on TalentEd as they become available throughout the summer and early fall. Contact Caren or Mike with any related questions or concerns.
Mass Education Secretary Peyser: Use Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers
In Commonwealth Magazine, Mass Ed Secrtetary James Peyser opines:
In order to receive or renew a professional license, teachers should be evaluated on their demonstrated classroom competencies and actual work products (lesson plans, for example), along with samples of student assignments and indicators of learning gains…
And on the other hand: A teacher with a high VAM score one year is likely to have a lower VAM Score the next year even if she uses the same teaching method both years:
If value added test scores were reliable, we would expect that teachers who have high scores one year would have high scores the next year. In other words, the good teachers would be good teachers from year to year and the bad teachers would be bad teachers from year to year. But this is not what actually happens. Good teachers one year, according to VAM, could be bad teachers the next year. VAM is no better than a coin toss at predicting which teachers are the good teachers. Teachers rated as being in the top third of all teachers one year are often in the bottom third the next year…
Finally, the MTA and the AFTMA collaborated to sponsor a Let Teachers Teach: Cut Red Tape in Schools ad in the Boston Globe last week. See the ad.
Today: Interested in Sheltering Your Severance Pay?
We will be holding a meeting at the BTU TODAY at 4:15 PM to explain how to go about sheltering your severance pay, in particular for those retiring this year. All members and spouses are welcome regardless of retirement date.
Paraprofessional of the Year
Last week Josefina Lascano surprised Evelyn Collie, a surround care paraprofesional at the Baldwin ELC, when she showed up at the school to give her the Paraprofessional Building Rep of the Year Award. Evelyn had been unbable to attend the award banquet a few weeks ago, and we send our belated congratulations!
As a result of a relatively new state law, fingerprinting has to be done before September 1, 2016. For the location of the Mass-approved vendor, visit this website or call 866-349-8130.
As a reminder, there’s an agreement for a partial reimbursement of 50% of the expense, and applies only to members hired in SY13-14 or before. Members should email Chris Wilson or Michele Chiampa or fax to 617-635-7956 with your receipt. On the receipt, please write your employee ID number.
Please note: The website calls for a BPS provider number, which is 00350000. Here are full instructions from the School Department.
Please note: On September 17 a CORI authorization notice went out from the School Department, and due to vague wording, it appeared to many that the deadline for the Fingerprinting Verification had been moved up to June 24. That is incorrect. The CORI authorization signature is due June 24. The Fingerprinting Verification, in accordance with the above state law, is due by September 1, 2016.
Fund Set up In Memory of Raekwon Brown
From the Burke High School: We as the Burke community have heavy hearts after the loss of our good friend Raekwon Brown and would like to do whatever possible to make this easier on his family. We hope and pray that you find it in your heart to help out. Any donation amount goes a long way and is much appreciated! Please donate today.
Boston Teacher Rides for a Cure for Multiple Myleoma
Grant Gary, a BPS math teacher, is currently riding his bike 2,000 miles though Korea and Japan with a goal of raising awareness and $2,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. As of today he has raised $1,275 and a bike and trailer that he is going to sell and donate upon his return. Support Grant and read more today.
The Boston Teachers Union is saddened to announce the passing of Ronald Glover, Esq., husband of retired teacher Gail Glover (McCormack, Perkins, and Condon Schools). Attorney Glover passed away on June 16. His viewing will be from 10-12 at Greater Framingham Community Church in Framingham this Saturday, June 25. His homegoing service (funeral) will begin at noon.