FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Centered on equity and informed by robust public input process, the Boston Teachers Union educators release initial proposals in talks with Boston Public Schools
BOSTON, MA – Following an extensive community input process that included conversations and forums with thousands of families, educators, and community members over several months, the Boston Teachers Union has released a package of proposals and priorities related to the next labor agreement that will be signed between the members of the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Public Schools.
The proposals were shared with the Superintendent and Boston Public Schools officials on July 13, 2021.
Once finalized, the upcoming agreement will cover over 8,000 active teachers and other professionals who work in the Boston Public School system, including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, applied behavior analysis therapists and substitute teachers. But even more importantly, the educators see the upcoming agreement as an opportunity to advance key equity issues and to advocate for the needs of students throughout Boston post pandemic and beyond.
The proposals will focus on establishing further supports for social-emotional learning and for student mental health, increasing supports for multilingual learners, improved access to inclusion and special education services as well as advocating for much needed improvements to facilities as the district addresses both the health and safety of Boston students and impending climate change.
In preparing the proposals, Boston Teachers Union members held several community forums across the district, and gathered input from hundreds of families, educators, and community members.
BTU President Jessica Tang shared the following statement on Wednesday when the proposals were posted to the BTU website and distributed by email to thousands of families, educators, BPS management, media members, and community stakeholders. BTU educators and their community allies are planning a public information campaign and further community forums and events to kick off in the fall to further refine and promote the proposals that they have generated based on community input and long-standing needs within the Boston Public Schools and student population.
“We’re starting a new chapter here in Boston, and we have an opportunity to bring our students and educators back into classrooms that are well-resourced, appropriately staffed, and equitable for all. These proposals were generated through a community-based process and so we are excited to be sharing them publicly with the communities of Boston. The extensive feedback we received from our communities set the foundation for these proposals. The needs that have been expressed by families, students, and educators are reflected in the details and prevailing themes of these proposals. Once approved by the Boston Public Schools, these recommendations and priorities will bring Boston closer to a more equitable and enriching education experience for all students. We look forward to working with Superintendent Cassellius, Boston Public Schools officials, and with the City of Boston to ensure that the voices and needs of the community are heard and reflected in future plans and budgeting as a result of our upcoming talks. We need to ensure that adequate portions of the general BPS budget and of the influx of federal relief funding are allocated to the frontline needs of our schools and school communities, a great many of which can be addressed at least in part through these recommendations and priorities. We know these discussions will provide an important forum and opportunity to do just that while giving all parties an opportunity to identify challenges and to resolve them in ways that lift up our students and that advance the public good.”
The proposals include nineteen general categories of recommendations and priorities for the Boston Public Schools that educators are seeking to codify in the upcoming discussions with the school system. Those categories include:
- Welcoming School Buildings and Facilities
- Supports for Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health
- Addressing the Whole Child
- Well-Resourced and Fully-Staffed Special Education Programs
- Increased Supports for Multilingual Learners
- Hiring, Retaining, and Supporting Racially and Linguistically Diverse Staff
- Culturally and linguistically Sustaining Practices, including Ethnic Studies
- Housing Justice
- Fair and Equitable Compensation and Benefits
- Valuing Our Paraprofessionals
- Valuing Our Substitutes
- Supporting Our Specialists and Access to Arts and Athletics
- Access to Fully Staffed and Resourced Libraries
- Aspirations for ABA Specialists
- Sustainable Workloads and Smaller Class Sizes to Meet the Needs of Students
- Quality Professional Development/Professional Culture
- Equity and Respect for Educators in “Non-Traditional” Schools
- Evaluations for Professional Educators
The discussions are a part of the process to establish a new labor agreement between BPS and its employees, the vast majority of whom are members of the Boston Teachers Union.
The Boston Teachers Unions has drawn praise in recent years for its dedication not just to educational justice but also to social justice and equity issues that impact our larger school communities, and members feel those priorities are reflected in the document released publicly today as discussions with the schools system begin.
The union views these intersectional and working condition issues as being directly related to the lives and learning experiences of its diverse student and educator population. The union seeks to promote equity and justice through its broad portfolio of frontline working groups, which actively include students, parents and educators, and through its robust and multilingual community stakeholder engagement processes.
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About the Boston Teachers Union:
The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers and other professionals, including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents, and education professionals throughout the Boston Public Schools. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve all working people’s quality of life. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue our students, families, or colleagues’ lives or liberties.