I hope the new school year is off to a good start for you.
We face tremendous challenges and opportunities this year – including threatened tax and budget cuts, vouchers and charters, and the distinct possibility of Supreme Court rulings aimed at undermining collective bargaining and other employee rights. At the same time, we have our own ambitious agenda to create the schools and colleges our communities deserve, funded in part by the Fair Share Amendment on the 2018 ballot.
To do all this, we need a strong and vibrant union. This year, the MTA has made a commitment to provide members with the resources and opportunities to strengthen our connections and build union power. With the All In: Building Union Power campaign, we are ready to create more opportunities for members to talk to each other, identify issues and demands, and work together – from building to building, district to district and campus to campus – to create the conditions that will allow us to do our jobs well and fulfill the ideals that brought us to this work.
Across the state, in each local, we are seeking to identify leaders who are willing to take responsibility to talk to and support organizing efforts involving up to 20 fellow members.
These leaders will ask members in their locals about their work lives, about the issues that matter to them and about how they would like to work together to resolve those issues. The leaders will receive training at the local level in the art of one-to-one listening. The MTA Board voted to spend funds to hire 10 new organizers to support this work.
My excitement for the new year comes in the midst of serious concerns for the well-being of our students and our schools. It is more necessary than ever that we assert our professional knowledge in order to make sure that schools and colleges are places where human relationships and the creation of knowledge are at the core.
Throughout the state, Chromebooks and other technological devices are being introduced into classrooms. That can seem innocent enough, but it is not when it is part of a larger project to deprofessionalize educators and push them out of the classroom. It is imperative that we understand the dangers of accepting education technology without intense questioning and without giving educators the ability to control our curriculums and protect student and educator privacy.
Our immigrant students and their families continue to live under the threat of harassment and deportation. We need to make our schools and colleges places of welcome and safety for all.
But while we are pushing back to preserve our public schools and colleges, we will also be reaching forward to create a better world. We will need your help in calling on legislators to move our bills through the State House. At the same time, we will be asking members to support the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition’s petition drives for ballot questions on two of our legislative priorities: Paid Family and Medical Leave and the Fight for $15.
If you are in or near Boston on Labor Day, let’s begin the year with a rally and march. Come demand strong unions and support the Fight for $15 campaign with a rally at 11 a.m. at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, followed by a march to Copley Plaza.
We are also continuing to work with Massachusetts Jobs With Justice and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance to strengthen our ties to parent and community groups on behalf of a shared vision for our schools and our communities.
These are unsettled times. More than ever, we need to learn from one another and claim our right not only to our professional voices, not only to high-quality, well-resourced public education from preK to college, but also to a just world in which all are able to be secure and flourish.