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Aft mass nov_newsletter_75553

  1. 1. Boston, MA 02111 Suite 402 38 Chauncy Street AFT Massachusetts November 2011Early Childhood Educators Seek UnionE arly childhood educators in Massachusetts have moved one step closer to their goalof forming a union. Last month,educators, center directors andparents of children who attendthe centers descended uponthe Statehouse for a hearing onlegislation that would allow the newunion to bargain directly with thestate over compensation, benets GD75553and professional development.The Joint Committee on PublicService is expected to release to arecommendation on the bill laterthis fall. The Massachusetts EarlyChildhood Educators Union orMECEU would include the 10,000teachers who work at more than ALL TOGETHER NOW Members of Massachusetts Early Childhood In This Issue1,000 early childhood centers that Educators United rally before a hearing at the Statehouse last month.The educators, who teach at childcare centers across the Commonwealth, wanthave state-funded contracts or servechildren who receive state subsidies. more of a say in the decisions that affect early childhood education. 2 President’s Column Bold Print The organizing effort is a ground- more effectively to make early adults. Yet despite their clear benet—breaking one. MECEU members arequick to point out is that theirs is a childhood education a priority on par with public education in the state. economists maintain that every dollar 4 Diary of a New Teacher: invested in early-childhood education A new teacher reects upon“non-traditional” union, including In recent years, study after generates returns of up to $17—the what it means to be part of anot just early childhood teachers but study has conrmed the importance programs have fared poorly through unioncenter directors too. That’s because of high-quality early childhood the recession. Since 2009, fundingboth see the woefully low wages education. Children who have access for early education in Massachusetts 5 Behind the Scenes: Newearned by early education workers as to good early learning programs has dropped by nearly 20 percent eld representative Michaela major problem, says Tracy Sheerin, are signicantly more likely to when adjusted for ination. Today the Reganwho directs KidZone in Pittseld. enter school with the skills needed average hourly rate for early childhood“The teachers who work at our center to succeed. They are also far more educators in the Commonwealth 6 On Campus: Title TK but roughly the same lengthput their all into this work with the likely to graduate and to enter the is just $9.25 per hour. “The workchildren and they’re not receivingfair compensation,” says Sheerin. She workforce as successful citizens, less likely to require special needs is too important for the level of 7 Retiree Corner The Golden Apple: Saluting compensation these teachers arehopes that forming a union will help accommodations in the classroom receiving,” says Sheerin. service on Veteran’s Dayearly childhood workers advocate or the support of social programs as Continued on page 3Occupy Wall Street Protests Strike a ChordI n Boston teachers held a symbolic year, while the number of Americans “grade-in” to demonstrate that earning $1 million or more jumping they put in hours far beyond the 18 percent from 2009. The SSA reportschool day—then marched together reached a stark conclusion: “Theto the Occupy Boston encampment distribution of workers by wage level is If you’d like to receive anin Dewey Square. In New York, highly skewed.” electronic version of theteachers and parents are marching on Wanted: accountability Advocate, send an email tothe governor’s mansion on electionday, fed up with the worst classroom On a recent warm fall Friday, Pleaseovercrowding in a decade, even as the Lynneld librarian Patricia Kelly include your home mailinggovernor resists calls to extend a tax joined a march of thousands through address for identication.on New Yorkers earning more than $1 the winding streets of the Financialmillion. District, culminating in a rally at In cities large and small, teachers, Boston’s Bank of America building. In Did you know that yournurses, librarians and other public the crowd were many Massachusetts AFT MA membership residents who’d lost their homes toemployees are participating in the now foreclosure and their jobs to recession. entitles you to discountstwo-month-old ‘Occupy’ movement.While the protests, which began on Asked why she’d chosen to participate, on insurance products?Wall Street and have since spread to Kelly was quick to identify a reason: For more information visitmore than 600 US cities and 900 cities fairness. “The large corporations and the benets page of ourworldwide, have often been criticized nancial institutions like Bank of America that played a huge role in the website:for lacking specic demands, at their nancial meltdown still haven’t been UP IN ARMS Lynneld librarian is a concern about rising income Patricia Kelly (foreground)inequality in the US. held accountable for their actions,” participates in a recent march benets/ How real is that concern? A says Kelly. “The game seems rigged in through the nancial district inrecent report by the Social Security favor of these groups at the expense of Boston against corporate greed. “ForAdministration found that 50 percent the poor and the middle class.” me it’s an issue of fairness,” saysof workers made less than $26,364 last Continued on page 8 Kelly.
  2. 2. BOLD complex, but in essence it would do two things: 1) eliminate seniority as a determining factor in teacher layoffs; and 2) deprive teachers of any PRINT Thomas J. Gosnell job security in the event that their position in a school is eliminated or President, AFT Massachusetts their school is closed. Para power Therefore, if there are layoffs in a Major kudos to ve Lawrence district, a more senior teacher with paraprofessionals who have recentlyA Major Threat Looms a good evaluation could be laid off become certied teachers. Gretchen Ortiz-Arlington, Elizabeth Richardo, before a less senior teacher with aA Heather Long, David Duncan dozen or so years ago any one Superman.” In addition, in state slightly better evaluation. In other and Genevieve Bard, all of whom of us would have been proud to after state, Stand for Children has words, the decision about who stays have worked as paraprofessionals support “Stand for Children,” aligned its agenda with those who and who goes is strictly management’s in the Lawrence Public Schools, area grassroots organization founded in call for privatization, charter schools, decision – seniority is out the now teachers in that district. The sixthe late 1990’s in Portland, Oregon. vouchers, and an end to teachers’ window! teachers have all been selected to teachAt that time Stand for Children’s unions. Further, if a school closes, at that city’s two Level 4 schools, theagenda mirrored its name. The In Massachusetts, Stand for teachers in that school have no Arlington and South Lawrence right to an assignment in any other Middle School. Look for a story aboutgroup fought for health coverage Children has pushed for more charter school no matter how many years these outstanding educators in thefor uninsured children, money for schools and for a teacher evaluation they have worked or how good their December issue of the Advocate.affordable quality child care, child system that heavily emphasizesabuse prevention programs, safe and student test scores. Going beyond evaluations are. No principal has toproductive after school programs; educational issues, Stand for Children accept anyone into his or her school.and many other programs aimed at actively supported a business-backed And, if in the course of a year, these Prize pagesimproving the lives of children. bill to restrict collective bargaining on teachers can not nd a principal who Berklee School of Music faculty member Now Stand for Children has health benets for teachers and other will accept them, these teachers are Jan Donley has been racking up awardschapters in nine states, including public employees. simply dismissed from the school for her novel, The Side Door. Donley,Massachusetts, and has an agenda Stand for Children is no friend system – no hearing, no reason given, who teaches in Berklee’s Liberal Artsthat is totally different from its of teachers. And its attack on no due process, no protection! department, received an honorableoriginal mission. Today’s Stand for Massachusetts teachers is about to get Stand for Children is determined mention in the young adult category to push its anti-teacher agenda. AFT at this year’s Eric Hoffer Awards. TheChildren is much more pro-business worse. Massachusetts will be fully engaged Side Door also received a ‘Goldie’ inthan pro-children. Having received Stand for Children has now in this ght, and I am asking all AFT dramatic/general ction from the Goldenmillions of dollars in grants from The gathered a sufcient number of Crown Literary Society. Last but notGates Foundation, the Walton Family signatures to place an Initiative Massachusetts members to become least, the novel has been nominated forFoundation (i.e. Walmart), New Prot Petition on the ballot next fall that involved. Specically, I would ask a Lamda Literary Award. To learn moreInc., and locally from the Boston will signicantly impact the rights of that, at every opportunity, you inform about Donley’s prize-winning pages, visitFoundation, this once child-focused teachers facing layoff or reassignment. your family members, friends, and www.jandonley.comgroup has become a major proponent The title of the initiative petition is neighbors of Stand for Children’sfor the corporate-driven “educational “An Act Promoting Excellence in real agenda and expose the business-reforms” that attack teachers and Public Schools.” This title is just backed attack on teachers and their All aboardtheir unions. A name that would as deceptive as the organization’s unions that is the driving force behind The AFT Massachusetts Executivemore accurately reect their goals name itself. A more apt title would this initiative petition. Board has a new member. Sean Bowker,today is “Stand Against Teachers.” be “An Act to Strip Seniority Rights a biology teacher at Southeastern Stand for Children lobbied hard and Job Security from Teachers in If you have any questions or Regional Vocational Technical High Schoolfor Race to the Top and actively Massachusetts.” comments on this issue, please e-mail in Easton. Bowker, who has taught at thepromoted the lm “Waiting for The initiative petition is long and me at school for ten years, replaces outgoing board member Rebecca McInnis. Welcome ‘aboard’ Sean! Changes Sought in Charter Process The ofcial publication of AFT Massachusetts, AFL-CIO S chool ofcials from across the state are pushing lawmakers to give communities more say over Gloucester’s last hope for surviving the nancial devastation and loss of educational programs and services Red carpet “TEACH: Teachers are Talking— Is the Nation Listening?”, a proposed charter schools—and to for our 3100 remaining students is to documentary by Boston teachers Thomas J. Gosnell, President consider changes to the way that reform charter school funding. Robert and Yvonne Lamothe had its Mark Allred, Sr., Secretary-Treasurer charters are funded. At a hearing at Still other ofcials charged that New England premier last month at the VICE PRESIDENTS the Massachusetts Statehouse last under the current system, charter Boston Teachers Union. If you missed month, school committee members schools are accountable only to the movie, don’t despair. The lmmakers, Patricia Armstrong from Salem, Gloucester, Worcester Department of Secondary and who debuted their lm in Washington Deborah Blinder Sean Bowker and beyond urged support of a bill that Elementary Education—not to the DC this summer at the Save Our Schools Kathryn Chamberlain would require charter school backers communities in which they’re based. rally and conference, plan to show their Brenda Chaney “There’s no local accountability for handiwork at teacher gatherings around to win local approval, either from a Kathy Delaney the area. For more information about school committee or by a referendum charter schools,” Tracy O’Connell Catherine Deveney how to see the lm for yourself visit Patricia Driscoll of voters. Currently the authority to Novick, an member of the Worcester Marianne Dumont approve charter schools rests with School Committee told legislators. J. Michael Earle the state Board of Elementary and She said that the state’s approval of 16 Margaret Farrell Secondary Education, the members of new charter schools this year is forcing Mary Ferriter which are political appointees. traditional public schools to divvy up North Attleboro High School has Jenna Fitzgerald Richard Flaherty Backers of the proposed changes a dwindling amount of school funding. been singled out for special recognition Paul Georges to the charter approval process say There are currently 79 charter schools in Boston Magazine’s exclusive Alice M. Gunning that the state’s ability to impose a operating in Massachusetts. ranking of the area’s top school district. Daniel Haacker charter school upon a city or town is The education reform law passed in The school was recognized for its top Joyce Harrington scores on the 10th grade MCAS science undemocratic and hurts traditional 2010 lifted the cap on charter school Susan Leahy exam and tied with two other districts - Francis McLaughlin public schools by draining away scarce enrollment in low-performing school Dover-Sherborn High School and Acton- Bruce Nelson resources. Valerie Gilman, chair of the districts. Seven additional charter Boxboro High School - as “Most Likely Catherine Patten Gloucester School Committee, pointed schools have been proposed for Boston, James Philip to Win a Nobel Prize.” Congratulations to a controversial charter school in Springeld and Lowell, where SABIS to the science teachers at the school, Bruce Sparfven that city, approved by the state, despite International, a for-prot company, Duncan Gray, Genevieve Strang, Richard Stutman Gale Thomas widespread opposition from local seeks to open a school that would Geoffrey Burgess and Ted Duluk, for residents, for political reasons. ultimately enroll 1200 students. An their outstanding work! Jennifer C. Berkshire, Editor existing charter school in that city has Gilman told the Committee on 38 Chauncy St., Suite 402 Education that Gloucester’s school been threatened with closure due to Boston, Mass. 02111 Tel. 617-423-3342 /800-279-2523 district stands to lose half of its chronically low MCAS scores and was The Advocate loves good news. If you’ve Fax: 617-423-0174 Chapter 70 funding for a school that forced to shed four grades last year. got news to share, send us an email at: services less than 6% of the city’s The Board of Education will make its 2 students population. Said Gilman: determination early next year.
  3. 3. Early Childhood Educators SPEAKING OUT Susan Rogers, a teacher at the Continued from cover Margarita Weinstein, a teacher at Commonwealth Children’s Center Village Preschool in Roslindale. in Boston, testies Study after study has “Early educators are the front line in before the Joint preparing children for later success conrmed the vital in school. But without reasonable Committee on Public Service in importance of high- compensation, many educators cannot support of a bill quality early childhood continue their careers, especially that would improve with student loans for professional the quality of early education.Yet funding development piling up.” education throughout for the programs Massachusetts. Rogers The turnover problem warned that her has dropped and the Low wages drive talented teachers center and others professionals who teach out of the profession, Weinstein can’t afford to pay and others told the legislators. Early their staff what they the youngest learners deserve. educators earn roughly $25,000 per earn poverty wages. year. Because teaching jobs in the public schools pay much more—nearly from both organizations testied that Shining a lightSpeaking out three times as much—early childhood salaries for early childhood educators Despite the opposition from Educator Susan Rogers, who teachers often leave their positions as can’t be raised without passing on cost some day care providers and centers,teaches at the Commonwealth soon as they’ve attained the necessary increases to parents. members of Massachusetts EarlyChildren’s Center in Boston, has been qualications to teach in the public Advocates dispute that claim, Childhood Educators Union believean early childhood educator for more schools. Turnover at early childhood however, emphasizing that their goal that they’ve already succeeded inthan two decades. At the hearing on centers in Massachusetts averages 30 is to have the state pay any additional drawing new attention to the problemBeacon Hill, Rogers told legislators percent per year. cost, not parents. KidZone’s Sheerin, of low wages and high turnover inhow proud she is to be the rst person Jessica Heaton-Mercada, a parent who formerly directed a YMCA early the eld of early education. Now thewho instills learning in children. She from Whitman who attended the childhood center, says that educators challenge remains to pass legislationalso spoke of her frustration regarding hearing, said that she’s witnessed understand that parents can’t afford that will allow early childhood workersthe poverty wages that teachers in rst hand the problem of high teacher to pay more, but that Massachusetts to do something about that problem.her profession receive. Rogers urged turnover at preschools attended by can’t afford not to. “Given how Tom Gosnell, president of AFTlegislators on the committee to back her three children. “The centers they important early childhood education Massachusetts which is helping tothe bill that would allow her and other attended had difculty retaining staff. is, it’s essential that the state starts organize the early childhood workerseducators to bargain directly with the They can’t support the well trained to contribute something. We pay to along with the Massachusettsstate Department of Early Education educators we need to teach our support public education. Why is early Teachers Association, told legislatorsand Care. “We want to invest in children,” said Heaton-Mercada childhood different?” that having a union will give teachersour future and in the future of our Sheerin and others also note that a larger voice in educational policystudents,” said Rogers. Fierce opposition? while YMCA and Boys and Girls and at individual centers. “The reality Her message was reiterated by The effort by the teachers to Club executives may oppose the is as teachers unionize they becomeeducators, parents, center directors form the state’s very rst union of right of early educators to form a more forceful advocates for resourcesand advocates for high-quality early childhood workers has spurred union, teachers who work at these for their schools.”early childhood programs who erce opposition, primarily from organizations often feel differently.testied before the committee. “I area YMCAs and local Boys and Girls Says Sheerin: “There were no teachers Learn more about the Massachusettslove teaching, and I enjoy watching Clubs, both of which operate their from the YMCA at the hearing saying Early Childhood Educators Union atmy students grow and learn,” said own childcare programs. Executives ‘we don’t want this.’” Lesley University School of Education 3November 2011
  4. 4. Diary A s my rst year of teaching wrapped up, so did my rst year of being part of a union. Over the summer, I had time to take a breath and reect upon my of a New Teacher new profession. I nally considered what it means to be part of a union. Among most new teachers, the words By Robert Tobio, “teachers union” can carry some Math and special education teacher, negative connotations. Partially this is Mary Lyon Pilot School, because we don’t know the true extent Boston, MA of the union’s work and partially it is because we are not involved. Many Meet the 2011-2012 young teachers think only: “What New Teacher Diarists does the union do for me?” This is a mistake. Being in a union should raiseBill Madden-Fuoco the question, “what have we done forA humanities teacher at the Urban Science each other?”Academy in West Roxbury, Bill was also a My rst year was a success due tosemi-nalist in the state’s 2012 Teacher of my colleagues; some fellow teachersthe Year contest. PROBLEM SOLVING Robert Tobio recently completed his rst year as a really went above and beyond their math and special education teacher—and his rst year as a union member.Robert Tobio regular duties to assist me throughout Says Tobio: “Now I believe in being part of the union—union not just in nameRobert teaches math and special education the year. They helped me to help but also in action. We need to support each other and to push each other.”at the Mary Lyon Pilot School in Brighton the kids. To me, they embody whatand previously taught at Monument High in a “union” should be: a group of is hard to convince kids that we need students. I still believe education isSouth Boston, which closed last spring. individuals working together for a to work hard 180 days of the year the single most important variableMelissa McDonald common goal. I will not forget this as when other teachers send the message in many kids’ lives. But now I believeA fth grade teacher at the Parthum I transition from a “new teacher” to an that 160 days is good enough. in being part of the union—union,Elementary School in Lawrence, Melissa “experienced teacher” over the next I am grateful that the vast majority not just in name but also in returning to teaching after a year of few years. of teachers in my school and in Boston We need to support each other andmaternity leave. Conversely, my biggest challenge Public schools are supportive, hard to push each other. We don’t need was not an obnoxious student or working, intelligent and dedicated, but public outcry or district evaluationsJoyce Melker the few outliers need to be addressed. to improve. We need to share our challenging content, but one or twoA paraprofessional at the Watson Elemen- selsh coworkers. If we are a union, I don’t mean by administrator successes with our colleagues and totary School in Fall River, Joyce is a student we need to consider our fellow evaluations but by us, the union. improve our weaknesses by learningin the JET teacher training program at members with every action we take. We need to hold each other to high from colleagues. Every teacher hasUMass Dartmouth. If we care about the other teachers in standards or the teaching profession something to offer and every teacherMatthew Robinson the school, we should not use all of will suffer. I want teachers to be held can improve. We need to continueMatthew is beginning his second year our sick days and personal days just accountable for teaching because I to improve, as a strong union ofteaching English and journalism at the because we can. It is unfair to burden know almost all of us will surpass the professionals.Burke High School in Dorchester. your coworkers while you sleep in, expectations, and those of us who do We are part of a union, we benet and it is unjust to leave a class of not should be helped to improve. The from our fellow union members, andRiana Good students without their regular teacher. most important part of teaching is we need to ask if they are benetingWhile Riana is technically no longer a new It is very difcult to teach alongside learning. from us.teacher, this Spanish teacher at the Boston a teacher who is slacking because it After my rst year, I still believeTeachers Union School in Jamaica Plain says devalues the work the rest of us do. It we have a responsibility to ourthat she still feels like a ‘newby.’Web Site Gets Teachers Talking Would you like to travel abroad onB oston teacher James Liou wants to start a conversation. Thepeer assistant for the Boston Public to turn down the volume and allow classroom educators to focus on what they actually do—and how they can an inexpensive trip designedSchools has created a new website do it better. Each month Liou plans specifically for educators?called The Teaching Pulse that to write a “Teacher Pulse” column forhe hopes will get teachers talking the Boston Union Teacher exploring GEEO is a non-profit organization that runs travelabout their profession. Says Liou: a topic that will then be discussed programs for educators. Detailed information including“The hope is that the site becomes online. Additional materials, including itineraries, costs, travel dates, and more can be found at or call toll free 1-877-600-0105. aims to get teachers talking and sharing ideas.a forum for teachers from across case-study highlights of classroomthe Boston Public Schools to share teachers, will also appear on the site.their opinions, learn from dynamic One such topic: How can teacherspracticing teachers and connect with in the Boston Public Schools model,each other.” facilitate and practice a collaborative And, once teachers get talking, relationship between labor andsays Liou, he hopes that district and management that is focused onunion leaders will listen to what they students, given the current contexthave to say. “This is an opportunity and climate of scal tightening,for district and union leaders to be accountability and national ‘anti-responsive to the opinions and ‘pulse’ teacher’ rhetoric?of what classroom teachers across the Says Liou: “Success will dependcity are feeling and saying.” upon the interest and participation The site, www.theteachingpulse. of teachers from classrooms acrossorg, is a direct response to the the city, from art classrooms to AP‘teacher bashing’ that seems to be classrooms, from early childhood toeverywhere these days, the harsh high school classrooms and from therhetoric directed at teachers and their small alternative ed programs to theunions that has left many educators large comprehensive high schools.feeling dispirited. Liou’s solution is I’m excited by the possibilities.” 4 The AFT Massachusetts Advocate
  5. 5. BEHIND M ike Regan understands exactly NEW FACES New the kinds of pressures that AFT MA eld THE SCENES educators in Massachusetts representative are facing these days. Regan, AFT Mike Regan, with Massachusetts’ brand new eld his wife Jane, has representative, spent the past fourteen spent the past Michael Regan, years as a social studies and history 14 years as a history and social teacher in the Medway schools. AndField Representative while Regan, who also served as co- studies teacher president of the Medway Federation in the Medway Public Schools. of Teachers, is thrilled about his new That experience, position, he already misses the students says Regan, has he taught and coached at Medway High. given him a clear “I got into teaching for the kids and I’m perspective on the really going to miss having that impact demands facing in the classroom,” says Regan. teachers today. It was Regan’s own high school history teacher—in Medway no less— who predicted that Regan would grow In 2003 Regan moved to Medway about,” says Regan. He also worries up to become a history teacher too. High School—he already coached the that the ceaseless attacks on tenure and The standout football player wasn’t so high school football team—where at last other workplace protections will hit sure. “My dad was a history teacher in he found his dream job. “I taught US outspoken teachers hardest. “If there Dover/Sherborne but my goal was to go history to some of the toughest kids in are no seniority protections it’s the into law enforcement,” recalls Regan. the school and I loved it,” says Regan. teachers who speak out who will be the But a stint as a sub after he graduated He also got increasingly involved in the most vulnerable.” from Maine’s Colby College changed his Medway Federation of Teachers, rst Regan’s new position will take him mind. “I just knew that that was where I as a member of the executive board, all over the state to AFT MA teacher, wanted to be.” then as vice president and nally as co- paraprofessional and library locals Back in 1995 Massachusetts was president with Meg Boland, a 6th grade but Medway remains his home base. mired in recession, much like today, teacher at Medway Middle School. His three children all attend Medway and it would take Regan years to break “Neither of us could have done the job schools, while his wife Jane formerly into his new career. While he scoured alone,” says Regan. “We were both ran a daycare in the community and the state for history positions he painted young teachers with busy lives.” now provides elder care for local houses, worked for the concessions Regan’s years in the classroom have residents. And while his coaching duties department at Foxboro Stadium as well given him a clear perspective on the at Medway High School are over, Regan as for a Budweiser distributor. When a demands that teachers are subject to is more than happy to lend a hand at job nally opened at Medway Middle today, including the relentless emphasis his kids’ sporting events. “I still help out School, an administrator took a chance on testing. “We’re teaching to a test in with softball, baseball, ag football— on him, hiring him to teach 7th and 8th order to produce a product and that whatever they need me for.” grade social studies. “It was an awesome product is a score. You can’t quantify Welcome aboard Mike! experience. The kids could be tough but education like that without losing they were just great,” says Regan. sight that these are kids we’re talking Earn your Master of Arts in Teaching at Northeastern. Offered through Northeastern University’s College of • Online, hybrid, and evening classes Professional Studies, the Master of Arts in Teaching • Part-time and full-time enrollment options allows you to secure your master’s degree and teacher’s • Leads to Massachusetts initial licensure in elementary or secondary education license in as few as 12 months. • PLUS program offering additional licensure in Special Education or a TESOL graduate certificate • Special tuition rate and financial aid available For more information or to apply, visit or call 1.877.668.7727 Next classes begin January 9, 2012 5November 2011
  6. 6. On Campus Dan Georgianna, Political Director UMass Faculty Federation, Local 1895Established Order Meets ‘Generation Why’ always been the weapon of choice in “The young are the KEY QUESTIONS class warfare. By asking a series of decep- losers in today’s political tively simple questions young With their slogan of representing the 99 percent, the occupiers have economy. More of this people are challenging the turned the absurd claims of taxing group goes without political system. While an- the richest 1% in the nation as class health insurance than swers may prove more dif- warfare right-side-up. The have made cult to come by, and solutions obvious the nature of class warfare as any other group and even more so, these questions the powerful 1% controlling everyone student loan debt seem a good place to start. else. The usual goal of protests in the U.S. is to attract the media in order recently surpassed to move some issue forward on the including immediate hand and voice by than questions, and solutions even credit card debt.” signals from participants at the more so. But these questions seem a political agenda. While protests with meeting. Google hand signals for good place to start. social goals such as the right to voteT he Occupy Wall Street (and Occupy Wall Street for some lessons. TV and newspapers have drifted or political goals such as ending an lots of other places) is the rst For the most part, the national away from the politics of the unjust war work better than protestsdirect action in a long time that TV and print media has presented occupiers. TV news presents famous with economic goals, the occupiersopposes U.S. government economic a picture of the occupations as people like Alec Baldwin defending may giving President Obama somepolicy on a wider scale than taxes. disorganized and unfocused protests. banks to the Wall Street occupiers. support for his jobs bill or moreOld fashioned methods like sit-down The opposite seems true to me. The Soon TV and print media will turn its student nancial aid, or even the morestrikes transformed by young people occupiers have challenged the political attention to effects of cold weather ambitious goal of health care for all.with modern technology are uplifting, system with some simple questions. on the occupiers. Political issues have The occupiers want more thanespecially compared to what passes for Why are there no loans for people little place in the mainstream media. this; they want revolution. Theirpolitical action in the U.S. these days, who need them but plenty for high The difference between the mostly recent calls for a national assemblyscripted soap operas aimed at the rollers, no health care for people who young occupiers and the old people mirror the demands of young peoplelowest common denominator. need it with pre-existing conditions, (including me) who attend political throughout the world for democratic The occupiers method of no jobs for people who need them functions is striking. Traditional change. The standard answer is thatorganizing seems far advanced to while there is plenty of work to be political action has become old the U.S. doesn’t need a democraticme, immediate social networks and done, no nancial aid for students people’s turf, fought over by both revolution. I’m not so sure. �democratic decision-making. Having who need it, no housing for people parties, who ignore the young becausesuffered through consensus in who need it while homes stand empty, they don’t vote. The occupiers argue Send comments to dgeorgianna@decision making at seemingly endless and why do millions starve to death that there is no difference between umassd.edumeetings during the 1960s and 1970s when there is plenty of food for Republicans and Democrats, which iswhere the last two or three people everyone? difcult to argue against these days.left at the meeting made decisions (These questions come from But the young are the losersthe majority opposed, I appreciate my grandson, a member of Occupy in today’s political economy. CAMPUS UPDATEthe occupiers method of consensus College Hill in Providence) Unemployment is high among the Movie timebuilding through focused discussion, Answers are more difcult to come young. According to the Bureau PHENOM, the Public Higher Education of Labor Statistics, Network of Massachusetts, is sponsoring nineteen million showings of a new documentary on the 16-24 year olds are student debt crisis. unemployed. More of The group has shown the lm, “Default: this group goes without the Student Loan Documentary,” at health insurance than UMass Amherst and is planning other any other group, and campus screenings in the coming months. student loan debt has Student debt in this country exceeds total recently passed credit credit card debt and recently reached a card debt in the U.S. trillion dollars. That’s $1,000,000,000,000. Unemployment Just how much money is that? Explain rates are still lower PHENOM’s experts: “The height of a for college graduates stack of one trillion one dollar bills would than for people reach more than one quarter of the way with less education. from the earth to the moon.” If you’d like In the current to arrange a screening of “Default” write recession, however, to or call unemployment 413.461.3300. has risen sharply � � � � among recent college graduates. College graduates who take Author, Author Congratulations to UMass Dartmouth jobs that don’t require history professor and AFT MA member a college degree Brian Glyn Williams on the publication bump high school of his new book: Afghanistan Declassied: graduates out of A Guide to America’s Longest War. Williams, employment. Andrew who has traveled to Afghanistan frequently Sum from Northeastern over the past decade, provides essential University reports that background to the war, tracing the rise, almost half of college fall, and reemergence of the Taliban.Wil- graduates under 25 are liams was awarded the scholar of the year unemployed or working award in 2007 by the UMass Dartmouth in jobs that do not Faculty Federation. require college degrees. Unemployment has 6 The AFT Massachusetts Advocate
  7. 7. Retiree Corner SENIOR SEMINARS How to Protect Your Nest Egg Marie Ardito, Co-founder and Plan for the Right Outcome Massachusetts Retirees United for Your Family This popular seminar, given by elder law attorney Mary Howie, looks at many issues involving probate, trusts,Hunger a Growing Problem for Seniors Medicare Trusts, Benets for veterans and their spouses and much more.E ach time I go to the grocery store these days, I am taken abackby the weekly increases in the price to eat; they are not the ones who skip a meal, but it is those who must eat to live who are most vulnerable. allowed from one’s gross income to get this net. They include medical expenses, dental care, health When: Saturday December 3, 10 to noon.of food. Not only is the cost of food The next time you stop into a insurance premiums, deductibles, co- Where Presidential Park, 314 Mainincreasing, but the weight of the Dunkin Donuts or comparable place pays (including Medicare), eyeglasses, Street, Unit 105,Wilmington, MA (Mainproducts is decreasing. What was where a table of retirees sits talking home health aides, dentures, hearing St. is Rt. 38.The entrance to the park isformerly a pound of coffee is now over a cup of coffee, take note. aides, and just about all medical across from the Wilmington House ofabout twelve ounces. The size of a Conversely, a person sitting alone in expenses that are not paid for by Pizza sign.)cereal box has also decreased while a restaurant very often is up and out insurance or someone else can bethe cost has gone up. Even vegetables in no time after having consumed a deducted. You may also deduct shelter Preparing for Retirementare being packaged in a way intended whole meal. costs including a certain amount of Currently scheduled for the followingto drive up their cost. It is important If affordability is why you, or rent, mortgage, condo fees, property dates and locations:that we observe the unit pricing on someone you know, is not eating insurance and property taxes. Thereshelves so that we get a true picture enough you may want to look into the are also deductions made for utility • Amesbury High School library, 5of what we are actually paying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance allowances. Highland Street, Amesbury, Mondayproducts. Program (SNAP), formerly known To learn more about SNAP November 14th, 3:30-5:30. Affordability of food plays a large as food stamps. Unlike the previous call 1-800-221-5689. Those in • Stoneham/Melrose/Wakeeld—factor in why seniors are not eating program in which you were given a Massachusetts can call the State date, time and location to beproperly. book of paper stamps to use in the Information Hotline: 1-866-950-3663. determined. Contact Marie Ardito if Even when they can afford food grocery store, the new method uses Massachusetts residents may also call you’d like more information.their meals are often not prepared a card similar to a credit card called Project Bread at 1-800-645-8333 tonutritionally. They do not include an EBT card (Electronic Benet learn about sources of food within the Attention teachers: if you would like onevegetables regularly as part of their Transfer.) On a monthly basis money state. of the above free seminars presenteddiet. Their diets are often lacking in is deposited to this account and one Some say that they are in your school district, ask your unionvariety and may not contain enough simply transacts business as if it were embarrassed to take part in these and president to contact Marie Ardito.calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B, protein a credit card. A receipt reects the similar programs. Consider how manyor iron. balance in the account. As a senior years you spent working, paying taxes All the above seminars are free.To For many people, eating is more you qualify for this benet as long as and taking care of the needs of others register call Marie Ardito at 1-617-482-than just a way to fulll nutritional your net monthly income is $903 or with your tax dollars. Now is your turn 1568 or e-mail mardito@retireesunited.needs, it is also a social event. Eating less. If the amount is slightly above to be on the receiving end for your org. Make sure to specify which seminaralone may lessen the desire to eat. this amount you may still qualify for lifetime of giving. you plan to attend and the number ofMany times meals are skipped because some assistance. The amount one individuals who will be attending.the social atmosphere eating together has in savings is one of the only other Send comments and suggestionsprovides is not available. Hunger is factors considered. for future columns to mardito@not the motivator! Some people live There are a number of deductions retireesunited.orgThe Golden On Veteran’s Day, A Salute to Service Apple of Advanced Study from Harvard University. At Boston College Lister took still more college, many of the noisiest?” As president of the Leominster Education Association, Lister which he credits for helping him to negotiated their very rst contract.By Patricia Delaney, Massachusetts Re- navigate the winding road of collective Many a teacher who works in thattirees United, retired teacher, North bargaining. district has Lister to thank for pavingReading, MA, Lister put all of this knowledge to the way to a fair and equitable work as a teacher, with a career that contract. spanned 27 years. When he began We thank you Victor for yourM eet Victor Lister: the oldest living World War II veteran in theMassachusetts retirement system. teaching in Stockholm, Maine, Lister earned $2,400 a year. As a classroom service to our country and for your service to our beloved teaching teacher, a curriculum coordinator in profession.As a member of the U.S. Army’s First North Attleboro, a department head inInfantry Division he served in North Manchester, New Hampshire, and an Victor Lister lives in Athens, Maine.Africa, Sicily and elsewhere in Europe. administrator in both MassachusettsAfter his LCVP landing craft hit a and New Hampshire, Lister sawmine en route to Omaha Beach, Lister teaching evolve into a 21st centuryswam tirelessly just to stay alive. profession. His students in the schools Lister volunteered for the army where he taught honored him byin 1940, just before the draft was dedicating their year books to him.initiated. At the time there was no While reviewing his past, Listersuch thing as Basic Training; he also looked to the future. When askedlearned the skills he’d need on the job. what advice he would give to youngTo this day Lister remains a big fan people choosing a teaching careerof the military. “Thank God for the today, he quipped: “Be sure not toarmy,” were his exact words to me. be eaten alive by the kids.” He alsoHe credits the army for building his expressed concern about threats tocharacter as well as preparing him for seniority and the possible corruptinghis next career: as a teacher. inuence of merit pay. “It’s difcult At age 30, with the backing of to tell who the best is and who thethe GI Bill, Lister entered Boston worst is,” says Lister, who warned thatUniversity. A life-long learner, he teachers that veer from the “beatenwould go on to earn an MA in history path” could be punished. “Is the bestfrom Northeastern University as SALUTE TO SERVICE World War II veteran and retired North Attleboro [teacher] the quietest and the worst history teacher Victor Lister, the oldest living veteran in the Massachusettswell as an MA and a Certicate retirement system.November 2011 7
  8. 8. ‘Occupy’ Strikes a Chord VIVID STATEMENT A teacher participates in the Continued from cover Mira Brown, a physics teacher in growing protest While none of the executives Boston, joined her colleagues in the movement againstbehind the nancial crisis has gone symbolic grading of papers and tests. income inequalityto jail as a result of their actions, the “People think I have an easy deal and corporate greedeffects of the recession—the worst because I get summers off,” Brown in the United States.since the Great Depression—linger on. told the Globe. “But I work 78 hours a Teachers, nurses andIn Massachusetts, cities and towns week.” other public sector employees have beencontinue to battle a rising tide of red The contract covering some 6,300 regular participantsink, leading to layoffs and reductions teachers and paraprofessionals in the protests. “It’sin services. Kelly’s own community of expired more than a year ago and have hard for teacherspublic librarians has been especially stalled over the issue of compensating to ignore inequalityhard hit, with one library after another educators for extra time worked. The when we see thelosing staff and operating hours. In BPS has proposed that teachers be effects of poverty inFranklin, the nation’s rst public paid for the additional time on the our classrooms,” sayslibrary has lost nearly half of its staff basis of student performance but has teacher Jessica Tang.due to budget cuts. And with the provided few details about how such a “The parents of ournancial forecast predicted to be bleak plan would work. students don’t havefor the forseeable future, there is little jobs and educationhope that things will get better in the The poverty problem suffers as a result.”near term. For Kelly, the disconnect In addition to their recent “grade-between bank bailouts and shuttered in,” members of the Teacher Activistlibraries is too big to ignore. “I fully Group have been regular participants Teachable moment The demands of the protestersexpect to be responsible and pay my in Occupy Boston events. TAG co- should serve as a wake up call, says The future of the sprawlingfair share of taxes; I want corporations founder Jessica Tang says that American Federation of Teachers Occupy movement remains unclear.and the wealthy to do the same.” the issue of income inequality in president Randi Weingarten. Protesters in Boston maintain that particular is one that resonates with “We need to listen to what the they plan to continue their ‘camp-Classroom contradictions many teachers. “Teachers are a large individuals camped out in Liberty in’ despite winter’s looming arrival, In Boston, the members of the part of what’s left of the middle class,” Plaza for Occupy Wall Street—and while in cities from Chicago tonewly formed Teacher Activist Group says Tang. “We really are the 99%,” those marching in the streets from Cincinnati, police have forcibly evictedgot the idea for their “grade-in” from she says, citing a popular protest Boston to Denver to Los Angeles— demonstrators from city centers.colleagues in New York and Los slogan. EvenAngeles. But their protest, intended more important “Teachers relate to Occupy Boston because we’ve beento make visible the work that teachers may be theput in outside of the classroom, had effects of poverty used as scapegoats to account for this economic crisis.”a distinctly local target. The Boston that teachersPublic Schools want teachers to confront in —Riana Good, Spanish teacher,agree to work an additional half their classroomshour per day—but with no additional everyday, says Boston Teachers Union School, Jamaica Plain, MAcompensation. For months, the BPS Tang, whohas maintained that its teachers work teaches sixth have to say. And then we need Whatever the long-term outcomejust six hours a day, a claim that has grade humanities at the Young to get serious as a nation about of the protests, they have alreadybeen ceaselessly echoed in the pages Achievers Science and Math Pilot working together to create economic had an impact. Across the country,of the Boston Globe. School in Mattapan. “The biggest opportunities for all Americans, income inequality is now a hot topic of single cause behind the achievement including young people, so we can get conversation, while the national policy gap is poverty. Teachers can have a our country back on the right track.” debate seems to have shifted, at least huge impact on our students but we for now, from austerity and budget have to address just how signicant Join the conversation—send cuts to the desperate need to create a factor poverty is.” For teachers in comments to new jobs. the urban schools in particular, the extent of the Great Recession’s reach is undeniable. Unemployment in Boston’s minority neighborhoods is more than 15 percent—a gure that doesn’t include people who’ve given up on the prospect of nding a job. “The parents of our kids don’t have jobs,” says Tang. “Education suffers as a result.” Blame game Spanish teacher Riana Good made her rst trip to the Occupy Boston encampment for a Yom Kippur service organized by local Jewish community leaders. Since then she’s been making regular visits, bringing other teachers with her. For Good, who teaches at the Boston Teachers Union School in Jamaica Plain, the Occupy cause feels deeply personal. She feels that teachers and other public employees have been unfairly blamed for the nation’s economic woes. “Teachers relate to Occupy Boston because we’ve been used as scapegoats to account for this economic crisis.” One need not look far to nd evidence of Good’s claim. As the economy has deteriorated, the harsh rhetoric directed at teachers and their unions has grown ever more pointed. In state after state, teachers, librarians and other public employees have seen their rights curtailed and their benets slashed.