Check out our newest BTU Welcome Back video, introducing the BTU staff and some of the books that we’re reading this year!
We hope you’re all having a great start to your week. To those who observed Rosh Hashanah this past Saturday, we wish you a Happy New Year (L’Shanah Tovah)!
We would also like to celebrate that last Friday was the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage month. We deeply value the enriching contributions that generations of Hispanic and Latino members have made to our union and our schools. If you have any related events, please let us know how we can help promote them! Check out Share My Lesson and Colorin Colorado for some resources to bring into your classroom.
If there’s any indication that the school year is in full swing, then the attendance at our monthly membership meeting this past Wednesday proves it. We had close to 300 members attend – the largest group that has showed up since we started keeping track five years ago! We opened the meeting by showing this year’s welcome back video introducing the BTU staff, with a special message that book banning in public school systems is an issue that can’t be ignored. Please check out the full video and help share our message!
We have some political updates we’d like to share with you all. Our Committee on Political Education, COPE, recommended the endorsements of Henry Santana for City Council At-Large, Joel Richards for District 3 and Enrique Pepen for District 5. The Executive Board and membership have voted in support of these endorsements. Please remember to vote on November 7, 2023. To get involved in helping our endorsed candidates win their elections, please contact Johnny McInnis, our Political Director.
We’d also like to once again remind you to vote for BTU Secretary-Treasurer Karen Cross and Boston Firefighters Local 718’s Michael O’Reilly for the Boston Retirement Board. For more information, please see here! If you have lost your ballot, you can call 866-384-9978 or email Help+Boston@yeselections.com to request a new electronic ballot or that a new one be sent to your house. You can mail in your ballot or vote electronically by September 29. Please do so today!
If you haven’t heard, the Massachusetts Teacher Association has filed a ballot question to have MCAS removed as a graduation requirement. This goal is a key component of the Thrive Act, which we hope you can speak in favor of at the State House on October 4 during a hearing on the bill, which also seeks to end the state’s receivership power. If you are interested in collecting signatures to help push this ballot question through to the next round, please sign up. You can also see your building reps to fill out a card and remember to use blue or black ink. Make sure names are legible, there are no stray marks and to only have one town or city per sheet.
Last week, the Boston Globe Opinion section allowed the organization “Educators for Excellence” to publish an article advocating for a misguided piece of legislation that would remove job security protection for all educators across the state. The op-ed claims that the legislation they support would increase job retention for educators of color. In fact, in Boston where we have the highest concentrations of educators of color in the state, we know it would do the exact opposite. If these protections are removed, educators of color would be even more vulnerable to the whims of administrators or their unconscious and sometimes not-so-subtle biases. Any teacher who speaks out on behalf of their students or against unfair administrative policies could be targeted for termination.
Members of our current leadership have advocated for increasing educator diversity for over a decade. Our union has been prioritizing this for many years now, partnering wtih the NAACP, BEAM and many other groups to advocate for solutions to both recruit and retain highly qualified educators of color. In addition to creating pathways, providing MTEL supports and improving sustainable teaching conditions, another solution is to strengthen protections for all educators, especially new and veteran educators of color whom we have found to often be disproportionately targeted. That’s why we are supporting the Educator Diversity Bill filed in the state House of Representatives and Senate.
Educators for Excellence is funded by organizations with a proven track record of supporting initiatives that dismantle union rights and is now co-opting language used by those who are truly fighting for greater diversity and inclusion in our schools for their own agenda. We, along with AFT-MA, met with them to share our concerns and they filed the bill anyway and continue to promote it. They also interfered in our internal union elections despite requests not to do so. If your school has been contacted by this organization to host a free breakfast or lunch, please let your Field Rep know. This is how they collect contact information from educators, which they then used during our internal elections.
The Boston Teacher Union sick leave donation program enrollment will be available from September 5 through October 31. If you would like to join the sick bank, please follow the instructions below and one sick day will be deducted from your accrued balance. To make your donation, navigate to ess.boston.gov, select the “BPS Sick Bank Donation” tile, read and acknowledge the terms and conditions, and click “Submit”. If you would like to withdraw from the sick bank, please request to do so.
We’re excited to announce that our 10th annual Back to School Fair THIS Saturday, September 23 is shaping up nicely. The 40,000 books we plan to distribute have arrived! Come to our union hall with your families to take advantage of free books, activities and fun! For our 10th anniversary, we will have some special new activities including bouncy houses and guest author read-alouds. The event will happen rain or shine!
Inclusion Planning Teams (IPT) are working on their school visions during the month of September. The IPTs are reviewing school level data to create a vision for inclusive education that reflects the unique characteristics of each school community. Remember to stay informed on the IPT planning process in your school and bookmark the BTU Inclusive Education Toolkit, where you will find information about the planning process and timelines, understanding the contract, as well as research and classroom resources.
Did you know that in addition to the 15 compensated hours outside of the contractual workday for Inclusion Planning Teams to meet, BTU team members are also eligible to receive up to two (2) full days of substitute coverage for the IPT to conduct walk-throughs, do class observations, meet, plan and address concerns during the school day? Additionally, school leaders can approve that the BTU members on the IPT may substitute up to five (5) of the contractual professional development hours (not including the 8 required inclusion professional development hours) to be used for IPT work.
We’d like to clarify some information regarding access to public transportation benefits. If you want to access public transportation benefits, please log in to access.boston.gov. After clicking the Beacon icon, you should see a bus graphic labeled as Transit Benefits.
BTU members including Irischa Valentin and Betsy Drinan joined tens of thousands of activists in New York City over the weekend to advocate for the end of fossil fuel use and emphasize the negative impact that CO2 emissions have on workers and laborers. To join our Climate Justice Committee, please contact committee chair Betsy Drinan.
BTU Events and Announcements
NEW- Haitian Educators Meeting: September 19, 5:00PM
The first Haitian Educators Meeting of the year is tonight! The committee will start planning for a Meet and Greet event to welcome more educators to the committee. Please contact Bianca Pierre for the zoom link.
NEW- Explicit Writing in K-12 Virtual Edcamp: September 26, 5:00-7:00PM
Let’s join together for an Edcamp to talk about how to support students and educators. The Telescope Network is hosting a virtual Edcamp on Zoom, where the main topic for discussion will be: what explicit teaching moves support our students in becoming engaged and empowered writers? Teachers, paras, and other educators can share questions and challenges, connect with colleagues from across the district, and discuss solutions. Participants will earn 2 PD hours. Register and help spread the word!
NEW- Power Saturdays – Build your Leadership and Knowledge Skills: Applications due October 1
Power Saturdays are a monthly day to connect, learn, and grow our power together through three unique year-long learning and leadership development opportunities. Choose the stipend or credit opportunity that’s right for you, and chart your path to building our collective power and your own leadership. Check out the flyer and our website for more details on these great opportunities. The deadline to apply is October 1st and all programs begin October 14th and then the first Saturday of each month thereafter.
NEW- Educators Thriving: Prioritize Your Well-being This Year
Learn and practice concrete strategies to prevent burnout and support your own well-being so you can be your best for yourself and your students. In this free course for BTU members, earn 3 Academic Ladder Credits. Check out our flyer to learn more or register now! Application due September 25th.
Back to School Fair: September 23, 1:00-4:00PM
Make sure to mark your calendars for our 10th Annual Back to School Fair! We’re hoping to make this a particularly special event to commemorate the fact that the BTU has given away hundreds of thousands of books since this event first launched. Check out the flyers in multiple languages, and sign up to volunteer to sort books and help out the day of the fair if you can! Remember that BTU members who also sign up for FirstBook are eligible to take home a classroom set for your students, too! It’s free to register and it’s a great resource for many classroom needs.
Opening on Teacher Leadership Fund Committee
The Teacher Leadership Fund committee has an opening for 1 or 2 current Teacher bargaining unit members to serve. This is an opportunity to make a positive impact on students district-wide, by allocating up to $300,000 per year to support educator-led projects. The commitment includes roughly 3 hours of work monthly throughout the year with a significant increase in the workload in April and May (roughly 15-20 hours reading and scoring applications, lengthy meetings to deliberate and award proposals, etc.). Stipend of $3000 per year. Apply to join the committee, or contact Paul for more information. Deadline to apply is September 25th.
Para 101: October 5 & 26
Para 101 is about building a community of paras who are knowledgeable about their rights and are aware of the support and strategies that they can use to build stronger relationships with students and teachers in the classroom. This is a two-part session. Learn more and register here!
Paraprofessional Informational Meeting & Resource Fair: October 18, 5:00-7:00PM
Come join us for important information and great resource materials from colleges, housing agencies AND MORE! You can register here.
BTU Fall Conference: October 20 – 22
Join us for the BTU Fall Conference at the Omni Providence Hotel! Our theme is BTU Building Blocks: Together and United as One. Open and free to all building reps and member leaders! Deadline to register is October 2. Register today at btu.org/fallconference.
Faculty Senate Trainings
In order to proactively solve work site problems we truly believe in strong Faculty Senates! Is your Faculty Senate collaborative and inclusive? Is your Faculty Senate a place where members feel safe to problem solve? Join us for a Faculty Senate training this year to learn more about how to run a faculty senate that truly helps move the work forward!
Lit with Lea is back for the 2023-2024 school year!
Last year Lea read to over 100 classrooms and is excited to do it again! If you would like the opportunity to have your class have a reading visit from Lea please do so by signing up here!
Unafraid Educators Meetings
Unafraid Educators, BTU’s immigrants’ rights committee, is meeting the second Monday of each month from 4:30 – 6 p.m. on Zoom. Please join us!
Please share these flyers with your students and parents as well as post a copy in your staff room. We have versions available in seven different languages on our site.
Professional Learning & Development Updates
Each week, we have many new and exciting Professional Learning & Development opportunities to share with you.
You can find a full description of each listing on our Professional Learning & Development Updates Page.
- AFT Member Benefit Virtual Workshops
- Bilingual Education Certificate Cohort 5 at Boston College
- Asynchronous Spanish for BPS Educators: Fall 2023
- ERAFANS Outdoor Teacher Retreat
- EL Education Planning Cohort for Gr 3-6 ELA & ESL Teachers
- NAEP 2024 Job Opportunity
- Mentoring For Professional Licensure
- SLIFE Edcamp
- Secondary Open Up Math Unit Virtual Previews
- K0-2 Planning Cohort
Community News & Events
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk: October 1
The BTU has once again signed up to fight breast cancer and you can, too! Are you ready to join our team, BTU Walkers, and participate in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event happening this October? Together we will raise money and awareness to save lives from breast cancer, and have a great time celebrating at the event this fall. You can join the team by visiting the team page for the BTU Walkers, or Brenda Chaney’s personal page.
NEW- MIT Educational Studies Program
On Saturdays from September 30th to November 4th from 10:30 to 4:30, high schoolers are invited to attend the Cascade program, a free opportunity (lunch and transportation included!) to take interactive, hands-on classes, and receive personalized mentorship from MIT students.
NEW- Hopewell Organization: RISE program
The RISE program pairs experienced educators with children in the Massachcusetts foster care system. The Educator specialist will work in person with youth from kindergarten through 3rd grade, their caregivers and school personnel to ensure that they are receiving the services they deserve and reaching their academic goals. If you are interested in this program please email Peter Newman.
Leventhal Map & Education Center Teacher Social: September 21
Come by for free maps and materials for your classroom, snacks, good conversation, and an introduction to all the Leventhal Map & Education Center has to offer for students and educators. Take a spin around their new gallery exhibition Gettiing Around Town: Four Centuries of Mapping Boston in Transit and explore opportunities for student field trips.
NEW- Boston Desegregation and Busing Initiative presents a Forum on: Organizing for Better Education in Boston 1960-1973: September 26
This panel will discuss the education issues brought by community groups to the Boston School Committee and the committee’s negative reaction at Roxbury Community College. Learn more and register to attend!
Donations to Support a Member in Need
One of our members from the Blackstone Elementary community, Haven Daniels, tragically lost their home and most of their family possessions to a fire last week. The Blackstone community is asking for financial support by accepting donations through Venmo; you can send contributions to @NikkiMcMaster.
We’re sorry to share that Kathleen Donnellan, a longtime educator at the Holland Elementary school in Dorchester, passed away peacefully at her home earlier this month. Our thoughts are with Kathleen’s loved ones and the entire Holland community at this difficult time.