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February2012 aftma

  1. 1. Boston, MA 02111 Suite 402 38 Chauncy Street AFT Massachusetts February 2012The Year Ahead: Changes, ChallengesT he new year is barely a month old but already 2012 is shaping up to be a period of immense challenge.A major election looms, includinga ballot initiative that, if passed bythe voters of Massachusetts, wouldeffectively end tenure for teachers inthe state’s public schools. Meanwhileteachers and other public employeescontinue to deal with the impact ofnew legislation and regulatory changes Photo by Michael Maguiremade during 2011, including the state’smunicipal health insurance law, passedlast summer. While plenty of changes loom, someconstants remain, says Tom Gosnell,president of AFT Massachusetts. “It is In This Issuerather remarkable that the assault onteachers and their unions never ceases.” MESSAGE SENT Educators in Boston brave frigid temperatures to send aGosnell predicts that such attacks on message to city officials: ‘Talk to Teachers.’ Their wish for 2012? A contractteachers—and on public sector union that’s fair to educators, good for students and affordable for the city. See p. 5.members more broadly—will endure 2 President’s Columninto 2012. “The year ahead will pose ballot, would effectively end tenure the measure—pushed by an outside Bold Print for teachers. If voters approve the group—would strip school districts ofchallenges that will require us tocontinue to fight hard and smart, to measure, seniority will no longer be a local authority. 4 Diary of a New Teacher: The determining factor in teacher layoffs. Late last month the Massachusetts many challenges of teachingthink creatively, to work collaboratively Furthermore, if a school closes, teachers Teachers Association filed a complaint at a “turnaround” schoolwhen we can, and to get for the studentsthe resources they need to obtain a in that school will no longer have a right with the Supreme Judicial Court Survey Lets Teachers TELL Allsuperior education.” to an assignment elsewhere, no matter asking that the initiative be barred Here’s a look at what’s ahead. how many years they’ve taught or how from the ballot due to its confusing 5 The Teaching Pulse: an good their evaluations are. and misleading nature. The MTA’s educator hopes to get hisTenure on the ballot The far-reaching ballot measure complaint was filed on behalf of seven colleagues talking Advertisements by the group Stand has attracted a growing body of critics plaintiffs, including three formerfor Children assert that the aim of including the state’s Secretary of Massachusetts Teachers of the Year. 6 On Campus: Confrontingtheir ballot initiative is “a great teacher Education, Paul Reville, who warns For now, though, the controversial economic nonsensein every classroom.” Who would that the ballot question will trigger question remains on the 2012 ballot—disagree with that worthy goal? But a “distracting and divisive battle.” and key rights for educators hang in the 7 Retiree Corner The Golden Apple: A retiredthe ballot question, which, as of now Meanwhile superintendents and balance. Stay tuned. teacher goes space agewill appear on the 2012 Massachusetts principals’ groups have charged that Continued on page 8Pittsfield Turns a CornerM embers of the Pittsfield Federation of School Employees finally havesomething to celebrate. Last month, the tucked into the banks of the Housatonic River, has spent decades attemptingfive chapters of the PFSE, representing to bounce back from thecafeteria workers, bus drivers and loss of its major employer, If you’d like to receive anmonitors, clerical, custodial and General Electric. GE’s electronic version of theparaprofessionals, each ratified a three- decision to leave the city, Advocate, send an email toyear deal. At a time of deep economic taking roughly 10,000 jobs advocate@aftma.net. Pleaseuncertainty, members of the support with it, devastated Pittsfield,staff union say that the agreement draining the city not only include your home mailingrepresents an increasingly valuable of jobs but of optimism. address for identification.commodity: security. Linda Connors, The result: a slide in thewho has spent 18 years as a cafeteria city’s population. In recentworker at Taconic High School, says years Pittsfield has sought Did you know that yourthat after years of negotiating with the to remake itself as the AFT MA membershipcity one year at a time, a multi-year culture hub of Western entitles you to discountsagreement comes as a relief. “I’m just Massachusetts, promotinglooking forward to signing my name,” on insurance products? the arts as a way to attractsays Connors, who serves as chapter both jobs and tourist dollars. SPECIAL DELIVERY Bus drivers and monitors For more information visitchair of the cafeteria unit. Today art galleries and music in Pittsfield where the Pittsfield Federation of the benefits page of our venues increasingly fill the School Employees recently five settled contracts.Recession runs through it website: buildings that industry long honor. Unlike so many of the city’s The economic recession that has ago vacated. www.aftma.net/member- former inhabitants, the PFSE membershad a grip on Massachusetts for nearly benefits/ have chosen to stay. “It’s a nice littlefour years has been particularly hard The ones who stayed town,” says Nina Pyrzanowski, a buson places like Pittsfield—cities that The 500 members of the Pittsfield monitor who also serves on the unionbore the brunt of previous downturns. Federation of School Employees wear negotiating committee.This one-time manufacturing hub, their residency here as a badge of Continued on page 3
  2. 2. BOLD Massachusetts teachers say that the professional development to which they are exposed is weak or irrelevant or boring or disconnected from their PRINT Thomas J. Gosnell daily experience. Any professional in any profession in a world of constant President, AFT Massachusetts change must have professional Higher Education Honors development that is relevant to his UMass Faculty Federation, Local daily experience. 1895 has presented its annual awardsEnd the Attacks on Teachers Is it any wonder that even during to outstanding faculty and staff at UMass Dartmouth. The Scholar of the Year an economic recession that almost award was given to Vinod VokkaraneI t is rather remarkable that the status of the family is a decisive factor. fifty percent of teachers leave the Ph.D., a dynamic researcher in optical assault on teachers and their unions Certainly national study after national profession within five years of and wireless networks. Raymond never ceases. The initiative petition study has revealed that the income employment? On the one hand critics Laoulache, a student-orientedadvocated by Stand for Children is of a family plays a pivotal role in say that good teachers are essential for mechanical engineering professor ofonly the latest example. Yet students student achievement. Some maintain the establishment and maintenance fluid dynamics and wind power, wasin the Massachusetts public schools that poverty is used as an excuse for of quality public education, but named Teacher of the Year and the ESUare the highest achieving in the nation students’ failure to achieve because on the other hand their relentless Service Award went to Jessica Arruda attacks demean the teachers and their M.A., assistant director of IT Servicesaccording to the National Assessment some students from a poor background profession. and union area representative. Eachof Educational Progress (NAEP) test. do achieve. Of course, poverty is not The United States of America was award recipient received a $1000 cashAll students in the regular public an excuse, but it is an explanation. award in addition to their certificates.schools are taught by teachers who Girls and boys without good nutrition, the first major nation to advocate Congratulations to all on your terrificwork under a collective bargaining without sufficient medical and dental education for all, Massachusetts was accomplishments!agreement. The states whose students care, without adequate housing, and the first state to establish schools forrank lowest on the (NAEP) test without safety and security in their all, and Boston is home to the oldestare taught by teachers, very few of communities are coming to school public school.whom, if any, work under collective with serious disadvantages. Certainly our schools can do better. Sing it proudbargaining agreements. So much for During the past two decades They can always do better. However, Lisa Bello, a 7th and 8th grade teacherthe argument that unions interfere Massachusetts has provided more whatever their flaws, our public at the James P. Timilty Middle Schoolwith educational progress. resources for public schools, but schools have contributed mightily to in Roxbury, was named Best Female this nation. Those who carp without Vocalist at the 2011 Boston Music Massachusetts needs to do a a couple of economic downturns, end threaten to undermine these Awards. Bello, who not only sings butcomprehensive study of our students’ particularly the current one, has made continuing achievements. writes and produces music, is a wellachievement. What are all the factors life in our schools much more difficult. known figure on the city’s music scenethat contribute to their achievement? If you have any questions or and is a frequent guest on the 94.5 comments on this column, you can ▪While we can certainly speculate, morning show. While Bello has beenspeculation is no substitute for hard Is it any wonder email me at tgosnell@aftma.net. nominated for the award in previousdata. Nonetheless, since we do not yet that even during an years this is the first time she’s takenhave hard data, I shall engage in somespeculation. economic recession AFT MA Welcomes home top honors. Here’s to another break out year for Bello in 2012! Important factors are very fineteachers, parental support, community that almost fifty percent New Staff Members of teachers leave thesupport, adequate funding, sufficientsupplies, and first rate professionaldevelopment among others. profession within five A FT Massachusetts is pleased to welcome two new staff members aboard. Eileen Carney joins the staff Perfect postures Staff at the William P. Connery I also suspect that comprehensive years of employment? as the new full-time secretary. She Elementary School in Lynn have come up with a novel idea to help them relax.study would reveal the economic takes over for Mary Ann Dority, who Teacher Rita Gallo came up with the retired last month. Also joining us is a idea of introducing yoga at the school Until society realizes that wrap around new part-time receptionist, Carmella to help educators there deal with services are essential for many of Dyette. stress. With the aid of some talented our students, many of these students Eileen is a Dorchester native instructors from North Shore Yoga will continue to have difficulty in our and currently lives in Winchester. staff members at the Connery say that schools. Her two children are products they’re breathing in, stretching out and The official publication of releasing the tensions of the school day. While poverty has a profound of Massachusetts public school AFT Massachusetts, AFL-CIO Sounds like a program that plenty of impact wherever it is present, it is systems and are currently pursuing Thomas J. Gosnell, President educators could benefit from these days! hardly the only issue. Perhaps we public higher education here in the Mark Allred, Sr., Secretary-Treasurer can leave important lessons about Commonwealth. education from other places. Let’s look She completed her bachelor VICE PRESIDENTS at Finland, a country whose students of arts degree at Boston College Wanted: top teachers Patricia Armstrong achieve very well. and has a master’s in TESOL from The search for the state’s top Deborah Blinder Finland, while not homogenous, UMass Boston, having lived in teachers is underway once more. The Sean Bowker Kathryn Chamberlain is certainly far less diverse than our France, Mexico and Italy. A past Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Brenda Chaney country. However, it is worth noting a member of the US-China People’s Program, coordinated by Massachusetts Kathy Delaney few things about Finnish education. Friendship Association, Eileen now Department of Elementary and Catherine Deveney The teaching force is completely studies Mandarin in her spare time. Secondary Education and Hannaford Patricia Driscoll Supermarkets, is now accepting unionized. Attacks on teachers and Eileen says that she is committed Marianne Dumont nominations for the 2013-2014 award. J. Michael Earle their unions are virtually non-existent. to excellence in public schools and Now in its 51st year, the statewide Margaret Farrell Teachers are highly esteemed, and are fairness for public employees, and program honors a Massachusetts Mary Ferriter considered valuable contributions to very proud to join the staff at AFT Jenna Fitzgerald teacher who represents the positive the nation’s future. Would that those Massachusetts. contributions of all teachers statewide Richard Flaherty who engage in such attacks in the USA Carmella grew up in Boston and and energizes the teaching profession. Paul Georges Alice M. Gunning would realize how they hurt public attended a number of public schools The selected teacher will be announced Daniel Haacker education and lead to an incredible here before graduating from Madison on May 8, recognized as National Joyce Harrington production of negative energy. Park High School. She is now studying Teacher Day. The current Teacher of Susan Leahy Collaboration among teachers and architectural technology at the the Year is Boston teacher Adam Francis McLaughlin Gray. Nominations are due by Friday, between management and teachers Wentworth Institute of Technology Bruce Nelson is a prime value. Both realize that and hopes to complete her degree next Feb. 3. For more information about Catherine Patten James Philip they are professionals and that by year. Carmella says that her passion the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Bruce Sparfven working together they will enhance Program, contact Deborah J. Walker at is interior design, and when she’s not Richard Stutman 781-338-3347 or via email at djwalker@ the education of their students. In studying or working at her new job Gale Thomas doe.mass.edu. this state and nation collaboration is she’s building a portfolio to showcase Jennifer C. Berkshire, Editor not valued. We talk abut it, but we her unique style. 38 Chauncy St., Suite 402 don’t practice it. One would think that Please join us in giving Eileen and The Advocate loves good news. If you’ve won Boston, Mass. 02111 in a profession where everyone is so Carmella a warm welcome—and be an award, attended a conference, given a Tel. 617-423-3342 /800-279-2523 highly educated that we would prize sure to say hello when you call the AFT performance, etc, let us know. Send your 2 Fax: 617-423-0174 www.aftma.net advocate@aftma.net collaboration. Finnish teachers have superior MA office. ▪ good news to advocate@aftma.net or call 617.423.3342 x 235. professional development. Most
  3. 3. Pittsfield Turns a Corner Continued from cover Member to member The 500 members of the PFSE enjoy another distinction that sets“It’s a great place to raise a family— compensation, members of the PFSE them apart from many of their publicnow we just need more good paying say that the city’s willingness to enter employee colleagues in other citiesjobs,” says Pyrzanowski. “We need the into a multi-year deal feels like a and towns. Because their contractskind of jobs that will allow our kids to confirmation that the work they do is lack something called a “fair-share”stay here and raise their families,” says appreciated. Brian LaPierre, the AFT provision, employees must choose toPyrzanowski, who notes that her own Massachusetts field representatives be part of the union. That means thatchildren have left Pittsfield for New who assisted the five chapters of every time a new employee is hiredYork and Colorado in search of just the PFSE in their negotiations, says to drive a bus, prepare a meal in onethose kinds of jobs. the members have made plenty of of the Pittsfield school cafeterias or sacrifices over the years. “These are perform clerical or custodial work,A family feeling the people who live in Pittsfield, members of one of the five union On a recent winter day, the they’re raising their families here. chapters must recruit their newPittsfield bus barn, from which 60 They’re trying to pick the city up,” colleagues. When a new bus driverschool buses depart in two shifts on says LaPierre. “I think that everyone arrives at the bus barn on this wintereach school day, felt like a family in Pittsfield appreciates the services day, she is quickly surrounded bygathering. The predominantly female they provide. These folks are really the members of the driver and monitoremployees—most of the bus drivers backbone of this city.” unit who extol the importance ofand all of the monitors are women— joining up and paying union dues. “We CHIEF CHEFS Linda Connors (left),often bring their own small children Behind the scenes explain that one of the things that we chapter chair of the cafeteria workersto work. “We’ve got car seats in the For the bus drivers and monitors have going for us is that we’re part of a with Sara Aserr, who serves asbuses,” says Christine Bossana, who is that behind-the-scenes work starts union,” says Bossana. In the cafeteria president of the Pittsfield Federationthe chapter chair of the bus drivers and not long after sunrise, with the first at Taconic High School, virtually all of School Employees (PFSE).monitors unit and also served on the shift of the day. Carol Francesconi of the employees who prep more than insurance is paid for by the sale ofnegotiating committee. has been a driver for the past 10 years 800 lunches per day—the most in the meals. While the arrangement means But it’s more than just the presence and transports children to Pittsfield’s school district—belong to the union. that the cafeteria is self-sufficient, theof children that lends the bus barn its alternative school. While the route is Says Connors: “I think they understand need to keep costs low for students—family air. The drivers and monitors regarded as among the most difficult— that we’re stronger together.” lunch tops out at $1.80—has meantregard themselves as something of many of the students have behaviorala family. Says Bossana: “We can issues—Francesconi notes that it’s a Eye on the future low pay for cafeteria workers. “We’re While there was plenty of relief still having to fight for a decent wage,”be dysfunctional—but we all stick run she selected. “These kids are real after members of all five of the PFSE says Aserr. Sandy Rawson has workedtogether.” And stick together they have. and I like being able to give them the chapters ratified the new contract, at the Taconic High cafeteria for nearlyIn recent years, as Pittsfield has been attention they need,” says Francesconi. union leader Sara Aserr says that she’s three decades. As the lunch hour nears,battered by the recessionary economic And while the drivers and monitors focused on the future of her members— and Rawson prepares quesadillas withtide, these support workers have had remain responsible for making sure particularly those who earn the least. super-human speed, she reflects thatto hang tough merely to hold on to the that their young charges get to and She notes, for example, that cafeteria this year will probably be her last. Aswages and benefits they have. from the correct destination, the job workers who’ve worked for the school for her plans in retirement, Rawson doesn’t stop there. These positions nowPicking the city up require medical training to deal with district for three decades still earn less knows exactly what she wants to do. Four years ago, Pittsfield’s public than a decent wage. “In the past the “I’m going to relax and work on my the growing number of students whoemployees joined the Group Insurance people who earn the least haven’t had crafts,” says Rawson. “Anything but suffer from life-threatening allergies.Commission, becoming one of the enough of a voice,” says Aserr, who prepare meals.” Says Pyrzanowski: “We’re trained tofirst municipalities to do so and took over as president of the PFSE two AFT MA congratulates the use EPI pens, to give CPR, to deal withsaving the city millions of dollars in years ago. Cafeteria workers here are members of the Piffsfield Federation of asthma attacks—we’re really on the School Employees on their successful ▪the process. While their new contract front lines.” paid from the proceeds of the revenuedid not include a significant boost in they generate; even their health contract negotiations! Lesley University School of Education 3February 2012
  4. 4. Diary B eing at one of Boston’s TURNAROUND “turnaround” schools is a TIME Matt Robinson, challenge and an education. As an ELA and we have been charged with lowering journalism teacher dropout rates and raising attendance, at the Burke High of a New Teacher grades, and MCAS scores, we have to School in Boston, says be extra determined, extra committed-- that he is learning and extra patient. to juggle the needs By Matt Robinson As I had taught every age and grade of his students, ELA, journalism and boxing teacher from pre-K to adult at public, private, the demands of a Jeremiah E. Burke High School “turnaround” school and parochial schools, I thought I Dorchester, MA and the requirements was ready for whatever might come of his graduate along. Teaching at one of Boston’s studies. Pictured Meet the 2011-2012 famed exam schools while working here: Burke juniors New Teacher Diarists towards my second master’s degree Cherokee Brown and in education added to my confidence. Prince Papa Collins.Bill Madden-Fuoco When I got to the Burke, however, IA humanities teacher at the Urban Science was still thrown for a loop. Many of my students, colleagues and the many seminar every week and coming intoAcademy in West Roxbury, Bill was also a other people who were constantly my classroom each Monday with a new students had just recently arrivedsemi-finalist in the state’s 2012 Teacher of coming in and out of the building). completely new plan and way of seeing in the United States or came fromthe Year contest. Soon the process began to sort itself things. Posters went up and then came homes where there was little parental or familial support. Some of them, out and the truer, deeper lessons down. Student work went into folders,Robert TobioRobert teaches math and special education in fact, lived on their own and even began to be revealed. Among these was then binders, then back to folders. Iat the Mary Lyon Pilot School in Brighton supported siblings and other family the lesson that, despite my training lectured more, then less, then moreand previously taught at Monument High in members. It was an environment and and past experience, I would have to again. All the while, I began to noticeSouth Boston, which closed last spring. an educational scenario for which I was take on this task as a completely new that I was not the only one who was not fully prepared. venture with no preconceived notions becoming confused. Even if they wereMelissa McDonald Fortunately, the Burke has plenty of whatsoever. I even heard someone having difficulty keeping up with theA fifth grade teacher at the Parthum support systems in place for both the describe working at a turnaround workload of the “new “ Burke, manyElementary School in Lawrence, Melissa students and the staff. In its effort to school as teaching in an institution that students began to make it clear to meis returning to teaching after a year of create an academy system that starts was “not school as you might think of that they were having trouble keepingmaternity leave. with the freshmen I was teaching and it.” I had dealt with a wide array of ages up with me! follows them up through their eventual and abilities before, but never all in the It was time to go back to basics.Joyce Melker same building. The range of skills and After a number of extended and graduation, we have all sorts of expertsA paraprofessional at the Watson Elemen- needs was impressive, to say the least, engaged discussions with my amazing and consultants coming through thetary School in Fall River, Joyce is a student building, offering a bevy of professional and in order to be successful here, I mentor, Frank Pantano, I returnedin the JET teacher training program at development courses and other knew I would have to be open minded from a long weekend with one last newUMass Dartmouth. programs that are intended to help us and open to the many ideas that were plan: follow the students. In order toMatthew Robinson clarify our mission and focus on our presented to me. turn a student and a school around,Matthew is beginning his second year goals. We even have City Year corps Unfortunately, I went a bit I realized that I had to stop spinningteaching English and journalism at the members in our classrooms to help us overboard in those early months, and go back to what I knew to be true.Burke High School in Dorchester. deal with our often challenging and signing up for additional trainings in It was the same lesson I had learned challenged students. an effort to maintain and improve my nearly 10 years ago when I first beganRiana Good At first though, the near constant licensure status and to learn even more my teacher training. Despite the myriadWhile Riana is technically no longer a new meetings felt trying, and the about the educational theories that new theories that have come and gone,teacher, this Spanish teacher at the Boston information garnered from was both had so intrigued me in my master’s gained and lost credence and come intoTeachers Union School in Jamaica Plain says confusing and often overwhelming— coursework. and fallen out of vogue since then, thatthat she still feels like a ‘newby.’ It seemed like I was reading a lesson—follow the students—feels just ▪ especially during the early weeks when I was also trying to get to know my new treatise or attending another as true today as it did back then. Survey Lets Teachers TELL All Would you like to travel abroad onW hat are the teaching and learning conditions like at your school?Next month, educators from all 404 year, survey administrators are hoping for a significantly higher rate of participation. The New Teacher Center an inexpensive trip designedschool districts in Massachusetts at the University of California-Santa specifically for educators?will be asked to participate in an Cruz is conducting the survey, whichanonymous survey about the state is sponsored by AFT Massachusetts GEEO is a non-profit organization that runs travelof their schools. The survey, known and the Massachusetts Teachers programs for educators. Detailed information includingas Teaching, Empowering, Leading Association as part of a coalition of itineraries, costs, travel dates, and more can be found atand Learning in Massachusetts, or policy organizations, civic groups and www.geeo.org or call toll free 1-877-600-0105.TELL MASS, will be conducted online the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.starting March 12 through April 6th. Mike Regan participated in the The survey, which takes survey last time around as a teacherapproximately 20-30 minutes to at Medway High School. Now he’scomplete, is voluntary and completely encouraging teachers to use the surveyanonymous. Starting March 5th, every to amplify their voices. “Teachers’school-based educator in the state voices have really been limited onwill be provided with a confidential education issues,” says Regan, whoaccess code that can be used to access is now a field representative for AFTthe survey from any Internet location. Massachusetts. “This is our chance toParticipants will be asked for their weigh in and have an impact.”views on a wide range of issues, Staff in any school in which at leastincluding whether educators have 50 percent or more of educators takemeaningful involvement in decision the anonymous survey will be able tomaking at their schools, whether they access their individual school resultshave enough time to teach the required by the end of May 2012. For morecurriculum and what external factors information about the TELL surveymost influence student achievement attheir schools. visit www.tellmass.org. ▪ When the survey was lastadministered in 2008, 40,000educators, roughly half of the state’steaching force, completed it. This 4 The AFT Massachusetts Advocate
  5. 5. BEHIND intimidating (I mean motivating) LOGGED ON instructor named W. Reason #3: The James Liou, a orientation of the YMCA is all about THE SCENES overall health and wellness. Learning, peer assistant in the Boston Public asking questions, trying out classes Schools, at work and experimenting with machines on his website, are encouraged. I’ve learned from The Teaching The Teaching more experienced gym-goers as well Pulse. Liou wants to create Pulse as oriented other less-experienced exercisers. Reason #4: True, it starts a forum in which educators can out feeling bad. But then it starts share ideas aboutwww.theteachingpulse.org feeling good. And going to the gym has what’s working in now become an integrated part of the the city’s public weekly routine. schools. Says Liou:By James Liou So how do my hopes for The “I want us to havePeer Assistant, Boston Public School Teaching Pulse connect to the a real dialogue.”Last year I created a website called the lessons learned from the YMCA? IsTeaching Pulse—a teacher voice project it reasonable to connect the flexing experiences. individual classroom practices andthat emphasizes teacher collaboration and development of physical muscles Reason #2. Just as organized professional lives. There are risks inthrough a focus on teacher leadership, with our intellectual ‘teacher muscles’ groups of exercisers benefit from doing so. But there are also rewards.education policy and classroom as thinkers, collaborators and each other and individual learned There is a risk to publically sharing anpractice. It is my hope that The practitioners? Let me give this parallel experiences, teachers can do the same. idea and asking a question, but alsoTeaching Pulse becomes a forum for reasoning a try. Whether a formal professional learning the reward of getting responses fromteachers in the same way that the Reason #1. As the YMCA is used community or an informal opportunity others who may have that exact sameYMCA serves as a gathering place for by regular folks, our teacher corp in to discuss issues, opportunities or thought or other opinions; we can feelexercisers. the Boston Public Schools is composed concerns, there is something powerful less isolated and more connected. And Please bear with me as I explain of thousands of ‘regular folks’ as about gathering around a common if we are able to get through the initialthis analogy. well—and there is less reason to feel topic or theme. Let’s talk about teacher rough patch of commitment, imagine There are a lot of reasons why I like self-conscious if there are people of leadership and collaboration in our the good there is to gain.the YMCA, which my then fiancée and I all different levels around. I believe union and district. Let’s talk about the As I mention on The Teaching Pulsejoined nearly a year ago on an inspired, our collective, untapped voices are an education policies that affect our work. website, my hope is that it becomes anmid-December winter day. Reason #1: undeveloped strength. There are too Let’s talk about and share our best avenue to not only connect with otherRegular people of all ages and levels of few opportunities for the thousands classroom practices. educators across the city, but to alsofitness go there. Reason #2: We like of teachers in our schools—from Reason #3. Similar to exercisers learn, be challenged and be activelythe group classes—ones where we’ve newer to veteran teachers and from a learning from each other, we as involved in aiding and elevating ourbeen able to meet neighbors, fellow huge range of teaching and learning teachers can do the same. I’ve profession—and our professionalexercisers and invite friends. Sarah experiences—to participate and share benefited tremendously from meeting, organizations—for the benefit of ourhas been taking a swimming class and their opinions in centralized places. collaborating and learning from other work and our students. My hope isI’ve had a seemingly self-flagellating We need to have environments where teachers and I’ve had the opportunity that it helps to tap the latent voicesinterest in doing the ‘bootcamp’ we can feel safe and be in the company to offer that same value to other of the many dedicated, and at timesclasses, which are led by an effectively of other educators and their diverse teacher friends in Boston and beyond. invisible, educators throughout the I am a firm believer in the idea that this city and becomes another avenue toState Names Receiver for kind of teacher-to-teacher networking and learning can have transformative be more effective at our work–both individually and collectively.Lawrence Public Schools value in our profession. Reason #4. And finally, just as there is a physical and psychological Please do join the conversation at www.theteachingpulse.org. Do invite your friends. And believe me—unlikeT he former principal of a Boston middle school where union of this great city.” The Edwards Middle School, where learning curve in getting to a regular exercise routine, I believe there is a my bootcamp class experiences at the YMCA (which I truly do like), I promisemembers and administratorsworked together to improve student Riley served as principal from 2007 to 2009, is often featured as a model similar curve in developing a public opinion and voice regarding our ▪ not to yell at you.performance will oversee the school of collaboration between teachersystem in Lawrence, Massachusetts. union members and administrators. ON A ROLLJeffrey Riley, who was formerly the Faculty and staff at that school. Once A travellingprincipal at Edwards Middle School in slated for closure, the Edwards is now billboardCharlestown sponsored byand A former principal once helped to turn a school the Bostoncurrently around by making the teachers union a partner. Teachersserves as Unionthe chief has beeninnovations officer for the Boston one of the top performing schools in making itsPublic Schools, was named as the Boston. Teachers and administrators way through the city ofstate-appointed receiver by Education there worked together to implement Boston inCommissioner Mitchell Chester. an extension of the school day. recent weeks, In the coming weeks Riley will lay Teachers who elect to participate in the en route toout a plan to turn around the Lawrence program, which includes tutoring as City Hall.Theschools, based on the input of teachers, well as music, drama and arts-related message: “Talkcommunity organizations, parents and electives, are compensated for the extra to Teachers.”other stakeholders in that city. The time they work. Tstate took over the Lawrence schools Last spring AFT president Randi alk to Teachers was the message that the city’s increasingly antagonisticlate last year, citing continued low Weingarten visited the Edwards and as 1,000 Boston teachers, tone towards the men and women wholevels of achievement among the city’s praised the culture of shared leadership paraprofessionals and their supporters teach the city’s children is taking a tolllargely immigrant student population. and accountability that has allowed rallied outside of Boston School on them. Lawrence Teachers Union president students at the school to thrive. Department headquarters last Negotiations were scheduled toFrank McLaughlin says that teachers McLaughlin says that the city’s month. The educators were out in resume in late January and continue inare eager to begin working with Mr. education professionals are encouraged force on a cold January night to urge early February. Boston Teachers UnionRiley. “Jeff Riley is a well-respected that collaboration may finally take school officials to get serious about president Richard Stutman says thatinnovator with a reputation for fairness root in Lawrence, where division and negotiating a new contract. while some limited progress has beenand hard work,” McLaughlin said. “The an absence of leadership have so long Negotiations have dragged on made in recent sessions, the union’steachers of Lawrence welcome him to been the norm. Says McLaughlin: “The for nearly two years and substantive goal remains unchanged. “We wantour troubled schools. We know that Receiver faces great challenges and issues, including a demand by the a contract that is good for students,many changes are ahead for students wields enormous power. The Lawrence Boston Public Schools that teachers affordable to the city and fair to ourand teachers, but the entire school Teachers Union looks forward to work a longer school day with no members,” says Stutman. “We can’t getcommunity is ready to work with Jeff building a successful partnership with ▪ additional compensation, remain there on our own. The city needs to talkto build a better future for the children Jeff in the months ahead.” unresolved. Meanwhile, educators say to teachers.” ▪ 5February 2012
  6. 6. On Campus Dan Georgianna, Political Director UMass Faculty Federation, Local 1895With Economic Nonsense, Costs are High “The dogma of evil VISIBLE CUTS during a recession. As with government spending Reduced government spend- government fails to ing eliminates jobs. As state and debt, there are good tax cuts and bad tax cuts. Good tax consider the basic revenues have fallen, states cuts, such as tax cuts on low and have been forced to make differences between painful cuts. Nearly 700,000 middle income households, lead to increased spending by those good and bad gov- jobs at the state and local households, causing an increase level have been eliminated in jobs. Tax cuts on high income ernment spending, since 2008. households buy financial assets, debt, employment, such as stocks, bonds, and financial derivatives. and taxes.” between 1.5 million and 3 million jobs. His current $300 billion stimulus but much of this money found its way into the stock exchange, raising stock Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney does not package to create additional jobs has prices but cause little employment.P pay a low tax rate because he was a eoples’ blank expressions been stalled for months in Congress Reduced government spending productive entrepreneur. He pays a when I say I’m an economist by Republican leadership. eliminates jobs. As Joseph Stiglitz, lower tax rate because taxes on the should stop me from foisting The $2-$4 trillion spent on the Economic Nobel Laureate, wrote in top one percent have been reducedthe dismal science on anyone. But war in Iraq, which includes future the magazine Vanity Fair, almost steadily since President Reagan wasthere is simply too much nonsense obligations incurred from the war, was 700,000 state and local government in office.about economics and the U.S. bad government spending, used to jobs have been eliminated since The policy choices before useconomy circulating these days as kill hundreds of thousands, including 2008. The total number of teachers, are increasingly clear. Reducecommon wisdom. 5,000 U.S. soldiers with 30,000 including college faculty, has government spending on human The problem with the U.S. wounded, without any economic remained about constant but the services, such as education andeconomy is quite simple. There are or political improvement in Iraq or number of students in kindergarten infrastructure or as Stiglitzabout seven million fewer jobs in improved security in the U.S. I have through college has increased by about suggests, “embark on a massivethe U.S. than there were in 2008. yet to hear plausible reasons for the 3 million over the same period. This investment program that willAccounting for the increase in the war in Iraq or positive gains from the was supposed to increase employment increase our productivity for yearspopulation of working age Americans, war. in the private sector through lower to come, and will also increaseten million additional jobs would beneeded to equal the percentage of suchAmericans four years ago. Digging The $1 trillion bailout of the banks was bad government spending. It was supposed to restore banks finances taxes. But it didn’t. State revenues have fallen because income and sales tax employment now.” ▪ Dan Georgianna is the Chancellordeeper into employment statistics so that they would lend more to revenues have fallen. Most states Professor of Economics atreveals worse problems. An additional businesses leading to more jobs. Some have prohibitions against long term UMass Dartmouth. His column10 million people are working part- of the funds went into bonuses for borrowing to fund current expenses, appears monthly in the Advocate.time who would prefer full-time work; managers, some went into bank vaults causing state and local governments Share comments with him atthe number of people out of work but very little went into business to lay off employees. Tax cuts can only dgeorgianna@umassd.edufor at least 6 months is the highest loans, causing little or no job growth. increase spending at the federal levelon record, and more recent college Good governmentgraduates can’t find jobs than ever debt is funding forbefore. useful investments Unemployment is the simple for future benefitshuman measure that most people and bridges theunderstand. Most of what we see in gap betweenthe media, however, especially from good governmentRepublican Presidential candidates, spending and taxespaints a rosy picture of jobs in the during recessions.future if only we reduce the “evils” of Investment ingovernment spending, government schools, science,debt, government employment and technology, roads,high taxes. and bridges are The dogma of evil government examples of goodfails to consider the basic differences government debtbetween good and bad government used to financespending, debt, employment, and productivetaxes. investments, Good government spending especially nowsupplies services that people need and when the Federalinvestment that lead to improvements government canin the future. Government borrow at 1% or less.spending to maintain and improve About $2 trillioneducation, police and fire protection, of the $3 trilliontransportation infrastructure, that the Federalcommunication systems, basic science, Reserve Bank (the UShealth, and overall quality of life is government bank)good government spending. lent to commercial Good government spending creates banks since 2008jobs during economic recessions. was bad governmentPresident Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan debt. Some of thisthat spent $800 billion on education, debt was needed tohealth, other social investments, increase the supply ofand infrastructure created or saved funds to the economy 6 The AFT Massachusetts Advocate
  7. 7. Retiree Corner SENIOR SEMINARS Protecting Your Nest Egg Marie Ardito, Co-founder Two hour seminar, presented by Elder Massachusetts Retirees United Law Attorney Mary Howie www.retireesunited.org When: Saturday March 10, 10 - Noon Where: Presidential Park, Unit 105, 214 Main Street (Rt. 38), Wilmington, MAGet Smart about Medicare Surcharges Move or Stay Put? A comprehensive 2 hour seminar on retiree housing choices.I n a previous column I wrote about the Medicare B surcharge. It isbased on your adjusted gross income • You married, divorced, or became widowed; • You or your spouse stopped are not required to take Medicare B. If you opt not to take B and take it later you will receive a 10% penalty per year When: Saturday March 24,10 - Noon Where: Presidential Park, Unit 105, 214and your tax-exempt income (MAGI) working or reduced your work above your 65th year. Once the penalty Main Street (Rt. 38), Wilmington.during the two years previous. Now hours; is on you pay it for life. However, if Preparing for Retirementthere is also a Medicare D surcharge • You or your spouse lost income- your community adopts 32B after A comprehensive 2 hour seminar for(for prescriptions) that made its producing property due to a you have already decided against the those within 5 years of retiring. Note:appearance in 2011. disaster or other event beyond Medicare B, by law the community seminar is offered on multiple dates. Whether you will be surcharged your control; must pay the penalty. When: Thursday, February 2,4:30-6:30or not in 2012 will be determined by • You or your spouse experienced As for Medicare D, if the PMSocial Security and will be based on a scheduled cessation, pharmaceutical plan you are on prior Where: South Shore Collaborativeyour 2010 tax form. If your MAGI termination, or reorganization to reaching 65 is as good as or better (cafeteria), 40 Pond Park. Hingham, MAincome on your 2010 tax form as a of an employer’s pension plan; than Medicare D, all you need to dosingle individual is $85,001 or higher, or is get a letter from the plan stating When: Saturday, March 3,10 AM-Noon Where: Presidential Park, Unit 105, 214which is doubled if married, you will • You or your spouse received a you are on a “creditable plan.” (These Main Street (Route 38), Wilmington, MAbe surcharged. You do not notify the settlement from an employer or words must be in the letter.) And beSocial Security Administration; Social former employer because of the sure to save the letter for your records. When: Tuesday, March 20, 3:30-5:30 PMSecurity notifies you as to what your employer’s closure, bankruptcy, If your plan later states that you must Where: Robert Adams Middle School,additional premium per month will or reorganization. go on Medicare D, you may avoid the 323 Woodland St. Holliston MAbe in 2012. The normal Medicare Currently, only 4% of all penalty by producing the letter. When: Thursday, March 22, 2:15-4:15B payment for 2012 is $99.90 per beneficiaries pay the surcharges. If you have 40 units in Social PM and 3:45-5:45 PMindividual. Remember there is no Would it pay for a married couple, Security, are married to someone who Where: Methuen Educational Associa-family plan in Medicare so each when one is still working and the has 40 units in Social Security, were tion Union Office, 184 Pleasant Valley St.spouse pays the same. The Medicare D other is on Medicare to file separate married for ten years and are now Suite 1-204, Methuen, MApremium varies per plan. taxes? If you are on the working divorced from someone with 40 units, To register, contact Marie Ardito for details The Medicare B surcharge ranges individual;s health insurance and you are eligible for Medicare and must at 1-617-482-1568 or e-mailfrom $139.60 for those earning you file for Medicare three months sign up for it 3 months prior to your mardito@retireesunited.org.between $85,001-$107,000 up to $319 before your 65th birthday, you will be 65th birthday. If at that time you dofor those earning more than $214,000. covered by Medicare A. With respect not have the 40 units but are working(Note: this surcharge is doubled for to Medicare B, you are not required toward them go to a Social Securitymarried couples). to take it until the month your spouse office and have them tell you that you Attention retirees: Towards the The Medicare D surcharge ranges retires. You may want to consult with are not eligible. Also ask that they put end of February a letter and ap-from $11 to $66 based on your an accountant about the advisability that response on your computer record plication will be sent out to allearnings. Both surcharges will be of filing separately.The increased taxes so that when you become eligible later women who retired prior to Sept.based on your 2010 tax return. If you pay the IRS may make the increase you avoid the penalty. 1, 2000 at less than 80% to deter-you have seen a significant decline in in the Medicare surcharges minor in Medicare is complicated and mine eligibility for maternity leaveincome since 2010 there is a way to comparison. ignorance of the penalties and service. Keep an eye out for thisdispute the surcharge. The following Remember, Medicare B is an surcharges is not going to excuse you, ▪ important document as you mayrepresent some reasons Medicare will option. Unless your community has so keep informed. be eligible for benefits.accept for the decrease in income are: adopted MA Law Section 18 of 32B youThe Golden A s a high school student in the 1960’s, Pat Berlandi knew exactly what she wanted to do when she grew NASA’s Mission Control Center, or onboard the “space craft,” a space station interior. During the two- come in thinking that they’re too cool for this. Seeing them get so excited about learning and science is a real Apple up. “I wanted to be a meteorologist for NASA but I was talked out of it because I was a girl,” recalls Berlandi. hour mission, students apply the principles of physical science to the real-time challenges of a simulated pleasure,” says Berlandi. Berlandi’s connection to the McAuliffe Center goes beyond a life- Instead she trained to become a space flight. They learn plenty about long interest in space and science. In teacher and spent 35 years teaching space but the exercise also affords 1970 she graduated from FraminghamPat Berlandi music and geography in the Boston them the opportunity to work on such State with Christa McAuliffe, theFlight director Public Schools. land-based skills as decision making, Concord, NH teacher who traveledChrista McAuliffe Challenger These aboard the Challenger space shuttleLearning Center, Framingham days A retired teacher realizes a life-long and died in the explosion thatState University Berlandi is dream—space exploration. occurred just after take off. Berlandi’s retired and involvement with the center named living in in McAuliffe’s honor began soon after Holliston—and she’s finally realizing communication and teamwork. she attended the 35th reunion of that long-ago dream of a life in the Midway through the exercise the FSU’s graduating class. “I ran into the stars. Twice a week she heads to students swap missions. center director, Mary Liscombe, and the Christa McAuliffe Challenger “They read books and told her that I was retiring. She said Learning Center at Framingham State collect samples, take essential something like ‘I might have a mission University where she leads groups of measurements—the kids get very for you,’” recalls Berlandi. Her own middle school students on simulated into it,” says Berlandi, who notes that response was instantaneous. “I said space flights to Mars—in the year the center attracts students from all ‘sign me up!” 2076. She even dresses the part, says over Massachusetts. In addition to Five years and countless missions Berlandi. “I get all dressed up in a real simulated space flights, students may to Mars later, Berlandi is as enthralled blue NASA jumpsuit.” also visit Framingham State’s newly with the stars as ever. “This is what Berlandi’s official title is flight renovated planetarium. Berlandi I always wanted to do. I feel like I’ve director—a sort of teacher/facilitator— and she presides over two “missions” says that she has a soft-spot for eighth graders who come through kind of come full circle.” ▪ per day. The students are assigned the program—more than 10,000 For more information about the either to Mars control, which takes students visit the Challenger Learning McAuliffe Center, visit www.christa. place in a full-size mock up of Center each year. “The older kids orgFebruary 2012 7