Greetings, and good day

BPS This Week Exaggerates Salary Differences  

In the Superintendent’s e-bulletin, BPS This Week, that arrives in our inbox each Monday, the Superintendent has chosen to go public on contractual issues. We’d rather not go that route, but we will respond whenever BPS This Week prints misleading information about our ongoing contract negotiations. This week the superintendent wrote:

“The financial gap between the two (economic) proposals is $85.4 million through FY14. These increases do not reflect the additional cost that BTU proposes would be required to extend the teacher work day beyond six hours for elementary and middle school teachers and six and a half hours for high school teachers.”

On the face of it, the Superintendent’s statement is somewhat true. There is a gap between our different wage proposals. But the Superintendent did not clearly state that her office calculated the gap as the sum of moneys accumulated and aggregated over a four-year period. A look at the salary gap year-by-year reveals itself as far less overwhelming “€” and far less provocative.

So in Year 1, according to the Superintendent, there is a gap of $5.5 million. In Year 2, the Superintendent counted the same $5.5 million, and added another $16 million for Year 2. In Year 3, ditto “€” the Superintendent counted the $5.5 million and the $16 million and another $17 million for Year 3. Same for Year 4, even though the BTU made only a 3-year proposal. You get the point. The $85 million is an aggregated amount over a four-year period and exaggerates our differences.

Here’s the bottom line: In Years 1 through 3, there is a yearly gap of $5.5 million, $16 million, and $12 million, respectively, or $34 million “€” a lot less than BPS This Week suggests. (All figures are rounded.)

What about the second piece: the overtime cost?  We polled the membership last week and over 90% of our membership (2700 people participated at some point during the town hall) said that they disagreed with the Superintendent’s plan that we teach an additional half hour each day for no additional compensation. We have agreed to increase our instructional work time. We merely need to work out the details of compensation, and towards that end, we have made a very reasonable proposal for 1/2 hour of professional work.
One last piece: The Superintendent proposes to use teacher leaders to give good quality professional development.
“Simply adding more time without strengthening teaching and teacher supports won’t solve the problem. BPS must deliver on our promise to teachers to provide productive, consistent, and meaningful professional development.

“Last week, central office staff met with a small group of teachers to map out strategies to improve professional development. Led by former principal Ross Wilson, this intensive program could include designating teacher-leaders as “professional development liaisons” for every school…”

On this idea we are in 100% agreement. In fact, we made this proposal as part of our bargaining package, and we hope the Superintendent accepts our offer. We need good, quality professional development, and the best people to lead that effort are our teachers.

Wednesday’s PD Meeting for Turnaround Schools is Voluntary 

Wednesdays’ 5-8 PM session for Turnaround School staff regarding the new performance evaluation document is voluntary, not mandatory. Those who volunteer to attend get three hours’ credit towards their PD time this year. Those who choose not to attend do not get the three hours.

Making Strides Walk Sunday, October 2

This Sunday, October 2, is the Making Strides Walk. Walk with other BTU members in the march to raise funds for cancer treatment.

Stand for Children


Stand for Children, an organization whose name belies its true purpose, has begun voter campaign by bringing in paid staffers to obtain signatures for its anti-public education Nov, 2012 ballot initiative. Stand is funded by business interests determined to weaken public education through privatization. Please do not sign the petition. We will have more information shortly.

BTU Building Rep. Conference

Note: The annual BTU Building Reps Conference is coming up on October 21-23, in Quincy.We have decided to invite and include a number of members who are NOT current building reps. If you are interested in attending, please send a short statement of interest–the who, what, and whys–to Charles Johnson, BTU Secretary-Treasurer. We are looking to invite  interested members who want to get more involved in working to help make us a more responsive, effective organization. All are welcome to apply to attend the three-day conference. We will choose a number based on available space and interest.

Happy Holidays

Wednesday night is the start of Rosh Hashanah, and we take this opportunity to wish all who celebrate the holiday a Happy New Year.

The Boston Preliminary Election is being held today in Boston
The BTU has endorsed Tito Jackson  in District 7 for City Council. We believe that Tito will best represent public education, teachers, and the children with whom we work. Tito is #2 on the ballot. Polls are ovotepen from 7AM to 7PM.

Preliminary elections are also being held in Districts 2 and 3 today.  The BTU has not endorsed a candidate in Districts 2 and 3. Per motion of the COPE Committee, questionnaires will be sent out after the primary in the district races and the at-large race where no endorsement was made.

To find your voting location click here. Please remember to vote!

RTC Corner
As of 1/1/12, Blue Cross Master Medical will no longer be offered to any city employee. Within the BTU only retirees have been eligible for this plan. To accommodate people on the switch to another plan. a meeting has been set up for Monday, 10/17, from 10-2 at the BTU. Present at the meeting will be representatives from all organizations, vendors, and the city. The BTU consultant John Brouder, will also be present. Food will be served. Other meetings are scheduled as well: at Florian Hall on 10/27, from 12 – 3; and at Faneuil Hall on 11/1 from 10-2.  The Open Enrollment period for making any changes is from 10/17 to 11/11. Anyone who does not  elect to change or who does not respond A letter will soon be going out to explain the procedure. will be automatically assigned to Blue Care Elect Preferred. See here:

No one will be left without coverage, and there will be no interruption of coverage. Replacement coverage is more than suitable.

Also, as of July 1, under new state law on health care, all retirees who are eligible have to switch to Medicare. Those who switch will be eligible to purchase a Medigap Plan, which, when added to Medicare A and Medicare B, will give all the actuarial equivalent of the health coverage they currently enjoy. The cost of the switch to Medicare is generally lower or equal to current coverage. Meetings and explanatory sessions on this topic will be held AFTER the switch from Master Medical is completed, sometime after January 1.

TEACH Documentary to be Shown at BTU
The New England Premiere of TEACH, Teachers are Talking, Is the Nation Listening will be on Thursday, October 13, 2011.  Five years in the making, TEACH, a feature length documentary, is a film that includes conversations about the art of teaching and learning by teachers themselves. We TEACH, the moviehave interviewed over 40 teachers from many school districts including Boston, Brooklyn, NY, Madison, WI, Key West, FL, North Conway, NH, Cambridge, MA, Newton, MA, Lincoln-Sudbury,MA, and others. Additional parts of the movie include legislative hearings, speeches by Bradley Whitford, Diane Ravitch, and others.

  • Boston Teachers Union Hall
  • 180 Mt. Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA 02124
  • October 13
  • 5:30 – 6:30 – Social Hour, Live Jazz, and Hors D’Oeuvres
  • 6:30 – 8:00 – Screening of TEACH
  • 8:00 – 9:00 – Informal Discussions

Sponsored by the BTU and a host of others.

Flexible Spending Plan Sign Up at BTU on 10/18
The BTU has negotiated a flexible spending program that allows BTU members and other city employees to use pre-tax dollars for a variety of expenses–medical, dependent care, and certain transportation.You can sign up at the BTU on 10/18 from 2:30 to 4:30. See the vendor’s web page here.

This is a great benefit with tremendous tax savings. More than 400 BTU members participate.

The open enrollment period is from 10/18 through 11/18. If you cannot make the meeting at the BTU, you can always call 1-781-848-9848 or 1-800-544-2340 for more information or look here at a BTU-prepared summary.

Education in the News
Two interesting, related pieces surfaced this week “€” one in the Globe showing that there is a stubborn achievement gap based on income in Massachusetts using the MCAS as a measure; and two by EPI (the Economic Policy Institute) showing that the wealth disparity between the haves and the have nots is growing at an alarming rate.Here’s an excerpt from the Globe report:

“Educators have made only modest gains in narrowing the gulf in achievement between low-income students and those who are better off, despite aggressive reform efforts aimed at boosting classroom performance of underprivileged children.”
“The latest statewide MCAS scores show students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches lag the student population overall by about 20 percentage points across grades and subjects.”

And here’s an excerpt from the EPI Report:

“Last week, we highlighted that the vast majority of gains in wealth since 1983 accrued to the top 5 percent of households and actually declined for the bottom 60 percent. Perhaps the statistic that best illustrates the disparity is median wealth, which is the wealth of the household that has more wealth than half of households and less than the other half…

It is also sobering to examine the racial difference in wealth trends. Wealth for the median black household has nearly disappeared, falling from $6,300 in 1983 to $2,200 in 2009 – a decrease of more than 65 percent. This means half of black households have less than $2,200 in wealth. Among white households, median wealth has fallen substantially since 2007, but at $97,900, remains higher than the 1983 level of $94,100. White median wealth is now 44.5 times higher than black median wealth.”

A report in the New York Times: High Stakes Tests May Lead to High Stakes Cheating
“Cheating scandals have been rolling up the East Coast like a hurricane this year, from Atlanta to Washington, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“In New York State, however, education officials have said the spark that set off most of the investigations in those places, a procedure called erasure analysis of standardized tests, was something they could not afford and did not do.
“Yet officials revealed this week that the State Education Department had quietly been conducting erasure analysis on some high school Regents exams for more than three years, a process that red-flagged 64 incidences of possible problems, including one that led to the ouster of an assistant principal in the Bronx.”

Three Boston Teachers Have Letters Published in Globe on Same Day
See Riana Good’s letter on not pitting charters against public schools.
Michael Maguire’s letter on the appointed school’s committee capitulation to the charters.

And John Abbott’s letter on charters’ failure to educate SPED students.

Riana teaches at the BTU School, Michael at BLA, and John at Snowden. Great job all. For all of us, letters to the Globe can be addressed here.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

  • BTU Building rep Conference–October 21-23
  • Save the Date: Citizens For Public Schools will hold its annual event at the BTU Hall on 10/15. More details.
  • Meeting with people from Flexible Spending Plan at BTU on 10/18, from 2:30 to 4:30.
  • RTC Meeting on the loss of Master Medical coverage on Monday, 10/17, at the BTU, from 10-2.

Teaching Tips for New Teachers: Please Share Your Toolkit.

Today’s bulletin announces the kickoff of a new BTU initiative called Teaching Tips. A new column, which will be found on our webpage, will contain Teaching Tips for the novice as well as the experienced teacher. The content will include links and articles submitted here, to We welcome your written personal submissions and/or links to articles you may have found helpful.

We want to start with a column that answers the following: “I wish someone had told me ??????? when I first started teaching.”  Please email here what you wish someone had told you…and we will print your submission to help others!

Trivia Night at the BTU

Trivia NIGHT at the BTU to Benefit Rosie’s Place and Pine Street Inn.

  • Friday, November 18th 8-midnight, $100., Per team. Maximum of 5 members per team.
  • Cash prize and bragging rights for the winning team.
  • Raffles, cash bar, complimentary  appetizers.
  • Make sure your school is represented among the talented and gifted of the BTU membership.
  • We also need merchants and vendors for table sponsors.
  • Contact Michael McLaughlin at the BTU

A fun night for a good cause!

Please note that teams are forming around the city to participate. Rumors abound as to the possible ‘poaching’ of members by one team or another. Poaching will not be tolerated. Anyone charged with enticing a member to quit one team and join another will be have to stand before Commissioner McLaughlin for possible discipline. Seriously, this will be a fun event, and we will have a lot of laughs–not to mention outstanding competition.  Entrants ought to start studying now.

Join the BTU’s Fight Against Cancer

The BTU needs your support to make our fourth year as a sponsor of the American Cancer Society’s annual “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” Walk huge success!  We know that many of you already participate in the walk in tribute to your loved ones affected by this deadly disease. On the walk this October 2,  2011, we would like you to join us under the BTU banner as we do our part Making Strides a unified group to combat breast cancer.

There are many ways to support our efforts. If you would like to be a part of the BTU sponsorship,  click on the following link

Harbor Point Apartment Community Seeking Volunteers
Volunteer opportunities are available at Harbor Point Apartment Community and the Columbia Point Peninsula.  The Community Action Initiative, a group of our neighbors, has been working together for 5 years from the various groups, organizations and institutions on the Point, is looking for volunteers.
See here or call Kim at 617-289-7399 with questions or for more information.

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Richard Stutman
Boston Teachers Union