Good day.

Though the MA legislation on health insurance is not yet finalized, it appears that the City of Boston plan will be allowed to continue for the next four years, subject to the modifications described here.

Despite that relatively good news, our health coverage will revert to whatever is in the new legislation as of July 1, 2015. That plan is dependent on what happens in the next few weeks at the State House. And that’s why we ask you to do to make sure that that plan includes collective bargaining protections. So we ask you to TAKE FIVE minutes to preserve our health insurance.

Let’s please keep the phone calls and the emails to our state senators coming. Our message: We value our health insurance and want to keep it within the realm of collective bargaining.

You can send an email your senator here or you can call your state senator. If you don’t know who your state senator is, see here. Please do one or both activities. Thank you.

State May Pull Rug Out From Underneath Parents at Timilty and Umana Schools

Late last week Mitchell Chester, State Commissioner of Education, notified both the Timilty and the Umana that funding might be pulled from their respective Expanded Learning Time programs. He said maybe it would or maybe it wouldn’t. A final decision, he said, would come in the summer. If the money is pulled, the student and teacher school day would shrink by two hours, forcing some parents to look very quickly for another extended day program.

Memo to Dr. Chester…these are real, live parents who have children in those schools. They work, many in two jobs. They cannot simply change their schedules or their children’s schedules today, let alone in the summertime. They do not have a lot of options. A loss of the two school hours will present a great, great difficulty and hardship to many of them. Again, they do not have many options. Even if a decision were made today–which it is not–parents would be hard pressed to find an alternative after-school program.

The BTU is exploring legal options to challenge the potential loss of the extended day programs because of what would be a late and untimely notice.

Perhaps common sense will prevail.

BTU Election: Wed., June 1, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Vote graphicThe BTU Final Election is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1, 2011 from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM at the BTU  Hall at the Bayside Mall in Dorchester.

Last election a number of members asked that we provide privacy booths for the election. Our election committee has arranged for 24 privacy booths, as well as the traditional voting tables. We have also hired two police officers and two security guards for easy access to and from the parking lot and Day Boulevard.

You must bring your BTU Membership Card and a Picture ID in order to vote!

Complete coverage on the candidates here.

The School Department’s Weekly Bulletin: Setting the Record Straight…Again

As you may know, the School Department has begun to do a weekly bulletin. The bulletin is useful, though often misleading. It often gives a partial explanation where a full one is due. So we try to help out. Here are two examples from this week’s bulletin.


The School Department wrote:

“Student, teacher surveys to be released this week.”

“This is the second year that BPS has surveyed parents, students and teachers to ask their opinions of our public schools. This is part of the Superintendent’s effort to better understand how are services are being delivered so we can more effectively improve quality in every school. The results from our 2010 School Climate Survey will be released publicly this week.”

Here’s the rest of the story…

The BTU had to SUE the School Department last year to get it to release the 2008-2009 data. We won the suit, and they released the data.


The School Department wrote:

“BPS is pushing to simplify the teacher evaluation process. To help you understand what we mean by “simplify,” check out the checkpoints our principals and headmasters must keep track of in order to properly conduct an evaluation of just a single teacher. How would you do? This language is embedded in the existing BTU contract:”

Here’s the rest of the story…

  1. It is not the ‘existing BTU contract.’ On the front of the orange booklet, the words state “Collective Bargaining Agreement between the BTU and the Boston School Committee.” They signed the agreement, as did we. They own it; so do we.
  2. The Superintendent has hired a team of ‘closers’ to help principals perform evaluations. The team, composed of 4 retired former administrators, helps out principals to do this evaluation work. Maybe they need more help?
  3. Further, we are negotiating on this very topic–how to streamline the evaluation process AND make it more fair AND make it more reliable AND make it more effective. We join with the School Department in this endeavor–it is not us versus them.

We both own the process and we both want to fix it.

Education in the News

Five Myths About America’s Schools

From a column in the Washington Post. This is a great piece.

“The end of the school year and the layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers are bringing more attention to reformers’ calls to remake public schools. Today’s school reform movement conflates the motivations and agendas of politicians seeking reelection, religious figures looking to spread the faith and bureaucrats trying to save a dime. Despite an often earnest desire to help our nation’s children, reformers have spread some fundamental misunderstandings about public education.”

Read more…

You Tube Animate You Have to See on Changing Education Paradigms

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.

For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit here. 

“Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy…..Bill Gates”

From the NY Times:

“A handful of outspoken teachers helped persuade state lawmakers this spring to eliminate seniority-based layoff policies. They testified before the legislature, wrote briefing papers and published an op-ed article in The Indianapolis Star.”

“They described themselves simply as local teachers who favored school reform. One sympathetic state representative, Mary Ann Sullivan, said, ‘They seemed like genuine, real people versus the teachers’ union lobbyists.’ They were, but they were also recruits in a national organization, Teach Plus, financed significantly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation…”

“The foundation paid a New York philanthropic advisory firm $3.5 million “to mount and support public education and advocacy campaigns.” It also paid a string of universities to support pieces of the Gates agenda. Harvard, for instance, got $3.5 million to place “strategic data fellows” who could act as ‘entrepreneurial change agents”‘ in school districts in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The foundation has given to the two national teachers’ unions – as well to groups whose mission seems to be to criticize them.”

Read more.

At what cost charters?

From the Huffington Post:

“For many governors, education ‘reform’ means more charter schools, along with private school vouchers. With the governors’ support, charter authorizers are receiving record numbers of charter school applications this year.”

“But there is growing evidence of significant problems with states’ charter experiments. Data consistently show most charter schools perform the same or worse than host district schools…”

Read more.

Get Involved: March on DC to Protest ED Policies

The BTU membership has endorsed a march in DC on July 30. Here’s what the organizers are saying:

We’re putting the Public back in Public Schools!

We, a collection of people from all walks of life and every corner of this nation, embodyWhite House a mixture of ideas and opinions regarding how we can improve educational opportunities for all children. We stand united by one belief – it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools.

As concerned citizens, we demand an end to the destructive policies and rhetoric that have eroded confidence in our public schools, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation.

A well-educated society is essential to the future of the United States of America. Our students must have access to a fully funded, world-class public education system, and it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for providing the means to achieve it. Please join us!

Depending on numbers and interest, the BTU will probably rent a bus to send some members to the rally. Our plans are flexible. For more information and to let us know of your potential interest, please email Garret Virchick here.

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