Boston, MA 02111                                                                                                          ...
BOLD                                                                                              needs improvement, and u...
Big Changes Ahead                                                                                                worked ou...
Diary                                        T                                                       here is a perennial s...
BEHIND                                          as a field representative.                                              In ...
On Campus  Richard Freeland  Commissioner,  Mass. Department of Higher EducationA New Vision for Public Higher Education  ...
Retiree Corner                                                                                         SENIOR SEMINARS    ...
September2011aftma
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September2011aftma

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September 2011 edition of the AFT Massachusetts Advocate.

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September2011aftma

  1. 1. Boston, MA 02111 Suite 402 38 Chauncy Street AFT Massachusetts September 2011Major Changes Ahead date.” From health insurance What do the new measures mean to teacher evaluation, for you? Here’s a look. new measures will Municipal Healthcare 101 have a big impact on When the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill that the lives of AFT MA would have virtually eliminated the members. ability of public employee unions to bargain over health insurance, union leaders knew they had to fight back. A t the end of June, the Board In the following weeks, they pushed of Elementary and Secondary hard for changes to the legislation that Education approved an would protect retirees, mitigate theoverhaul of the state’s teacher impact of cost shifting on low-incomeevaluation system, capping off months members and provide employees withof intense debate. A few weeks later, a greater share of cost savings gainedMassachusetts state lawmakers votedin favor of another controversial through insurance plan changes. The end result, explains Andrew WORKING TOGETHER President of AFT Massachusetts,Tom Gosnell, In This Issuemeasure: a municipal health insurance Powell, an AFT MA field representative speaks on municipal health insurancereform law that weakens the ability and an authority on municipal health at the State House. By working together, public employee unions in 2 President’s Columnof public employee unions—including insurance, was a much better law Bold Printteacher unions—to bargain over health than that passed by the House. “If the the state were able to fight for keycare. And while teacher evaluations unions hadn’t worked together we were protections in the health insurance law enacted this summer. 3 Two complex policies alter the landscapeand health insurance might not seem likely to get a far worse outcome,” saysto have much in common, changes toboth are likely to have a big impact on Powell. “We were looking at losing collective bargaining entirely, but (or increasing copayments and deductibles to the level of the GIC), 4 Diary of a New Teacher: The challenge of reachingthe lives of AFT MA members. by putting our differences aside and they may still engage in traditional academically struggling The two reform packages also working together for common solutions collective bargaining or in coalition studentsshare another important attribute. we were able to preserve a seat at the bargaining with all of the municipalBoth are immensely complicated—even table and secure some vital protections unions. And municipalities that 5 Behind the Scenes: Fieldconvoluted—and will be governed by for our members, especially the most do elect to pursue the new reform Representative Andy Powellregulations that in many cases are still vulnerable.” option must negotiate through whatbeing written. Says AFT MA President Most importantly, notes Powell, are called local Public Employee 6 On Campus: The Vision ProjectTom Gosnell: “These are incredibly the new law is not a mandate. While Committees. “The important thing iscomplicated issues and we’re going cities and towns have the option of that we continue to have a voice in this 7 Retiree Corner The Golden Appleto do everything we can to keep our transferring employees to the state’s process,” says Powell.members well informed and up to Group Insurance Commission (GIC) Continued on page 3Amesbury Paras Fight Off Outsourcing Bid Did you know that yourT he scenario has become AFT MA membership education para and distressingly familiar. An outside building representative entitles you to discounts entity—often a private, for-profit at Cashman Elementary on insurance products?company—rides into a strapped-for- School. “The town reallycash city or town offering a quick-fix For more information see saw this as a straightsolution to local budget woes. The financial issue. I don’t the special ad on page 8magic bullet: replacing some part of the think they ever thought or visit the benefits pagework force with non-union employees about how the kids and of our website:who earn less, receive fewer benefits their families would beand have few if any job protections. www.aftma.net/member- affected.” That’s exactly what happened in benefits/Amesbury last spring when Futures Fact findersEducation, a so-called special The news senteducation turnaround specialist, shock waves throughpromised local officials big savings if Amesbury’s classrooms.they shifted paraprofessional jobs to The plan being PARA POWER When Amesbury proposedthe private firm. With Amesbury facing considered by the outsourcing special education paras, the parasa $400,000 gap in next year’s school school committee fought back. From left: science teacher and unionbudget, the offer sounded too good to would outsource 63 vice president Brian Hopkins, AFT Amesburyturn down. For the paraprofessionals, of the district’s 91 president Cindy Yetman and paraprofessionals Debmany of whom have worked one- paraprofessional Murphy and Priscilla Terry.on-one with the same special needs positions. But even If you’d like to receive anstudents for years, the writing was on as their future employment lay in would they make and what kind of electronic version of thethe wall. doubt, the paras found it nearly benefits would they have? How would Advocate, send an email to “This wasn’t just about protecting impossible to get basic information the new system be managed? How much money could Amesbury really advocate@aftma.net. Pleaseour jobs, it was about the impact that about the outsourcing proposal and itsoutsourcing would have on the kids we implications. How many paras would expect to save? include your home mailingserve,” says Priscilla Terry, a special be employed by Futures? How much Continued on page 6 address for identification.
  2. 2. BOLD needs improvement, and unsatisfactory. However, unions and cities and towns will still collectively bargain over many of the procedures in the evaluation process. Those schools which the Department PRINT Thomas J. Gosnell of Elementary and Secondary Education Print Material President, AFT Massachusetts has labeled underperforming will have Congratulations to Garret Virchick, the new system in place for the 2011-12 editor of the Boston Union Teacher for school year. For all the other schools the winning an Award for Excellence in the AFTMore Challenges Ahead target date is the 2012-13 school year. In this area also AFT MA shall be educating its field representatives and Communications Contest. Girchick received the top prize for his story “Exposing the ManG ood things do end. Summer is one negotiate about health reimbursement Behind the Curtain:What’s Behind Education local presidents about what to expect in Reform?” Also recognized were Peabody of those good things. The longer accounts which will provide assistance upcoming negotiations. English teacher Michalene Hague, whodays, the warmer weather, the greater to those with significantly higher co-pays The financial situation remains won a first place for best editorial for “Why Iopportunity to engage in outdoor and deductibles. No one will lose health precarious. Although the recession has Am Union,” which appeared in the Februaryactivities, and an interesting baseball insurance coverage. not hit Massachusetts as severely as some 2010 issue of the Advocate. Hague shared topseason—all of these contribute to the AFT MA will be educating its field honors with Connie Clauson, a former states, the damage is still significant.good life. representatives, the local presidents, contributor to the Diary of a New Teacher, Our public libraries continue to suffer. Labor Day brings big change even for and local library chapter chairs about who wrote movingly of losing her teaching Although those working in the librariesthose who work during the summer. The the complexities of the law and what to job in the November 2010 Advocate. provide magnificent service, the cities andremainder of 2011 and all of 2012 will expect in upcoming collective bargaining towns continue to reduce their numbers,immerse us in a sea of challenges. negotiations. A summary of the legislation to cut back on hours open, and to For the past several years public is available at www.aftma.net. Library Luminaries purchase fewer books.employee unions have worked mightily During the past school year the Several librarians and members of the Massachusetts continues to fund publicto protect insurance coverage for their Department of Elementary and Secondary Massachusetts Library Staff Association higher education at a level that other (part of AFT MA) were recognized by themembers. However, since health costs Education established a taskforce to states would consider an overwhelming Massachusetts Library Association for theirhave risen enormously, since cities and recommend a performance evaluation embarrassment. great work in spreading the word abouttowns are struggling with the recession, system for teachers. The Race To The Although the federal stimulus package library programs in the commonwealth.and since the private sector has Top grant which Massachusetts received contributed mightily to the maintenance This year’s PR award winners include:dramatically reduced health insurance mandated that the state establish a of k-12 public education, that money is Susan Flannery of the Cambridge Publiccoverage for its employees, the public and comprehensive system. gone and will not reappear while the Library, Sharon Gilley of the Lucius Beebepolitical atmosphere has hurt public sector The use of MCAS scores in the composition of the current Congress Memorial Library in Wakefield, Kathleenunions. Our colleagues in Wisconsin, New evaluation system was a dominant topic O’Doherty of the Woburn Public Library, remains as it is. Layoffs have not beenJersey and Ohio have lost their long held which provoked animated, and sometimes Kathleen Quinlan of Lexington’s Cary multitudinous, but they have happened.right to bargain about health insurance. stormy, discussion. Memorial Library and Libby Fox of the School departments have chosen not to fill In this state the health insurance AFT MA consistently opposed its Middleborough Public Library. Congrats all positions opened by retirement. Studentslegislation adopted in July will change use because we believed that teacher around and keep up the great work! are not getting the resources they need.how we negotiate about health insurance evaluation was not the purpose of the test The elections in 2012 are important,coverage. The public sector unions and that no data existed to prove that it just as all elections are. Democratsmanaged to prevent the most draconian was a proper evaluative tool. The task Tech Talk have disappointed us. Republicans haveproposals that would have given cities force, despite our opposition, decided to Ted Chambers, a social studies teacher assaulted us. Look at Wisconsin, Ohio and at the Edwards School in Charlestown,and towns absolute control over health include it as one factor in the evaluation of Florida where collective bargaining and was selected to represent the AFT at theinsurance coverage. Clearly it will be teachers. No numerical weight was given unionism have been assaulted relentlessly. Democratic Governors Associationeasier for cities and towns to enter the to the use of MCAS scores. Battles will continue. Education Summit. Chambers, who isGroup Insurance Commission and to offer Of course currently only 17% of AFT MA remains committed to fighting helping to design high-quality lesson plansdifferent plans. However, they must also teachers teach subjects tested by MCAS. for its teachers, paraprofessionals, librarians for teachers with Edwards colleagues Tracy A brazen inequity. and all its members as well as the students Johnson and Kevin Qazilbash, participated The Board of Elementary and in Massachusetts. While the road on which in a panel on the ways in which technology Secondary Education adopted this is transforming the teaching profession. we travel will have plenty of obstacles, recommendation and many others. For Chambers and his colleagues received a the command is clear. Move ahead, fight example, throughout the state the rating special shout out at AFT’s TEACH conference tough and smart. If you have questions or marks must be exemplary, proficient, in Washington this summer.The crew won The official publication of comments, contact tgosnell@aftma.net an Innovation Grant from the AFT last year AFT Massachusetts, AFL-CIO for their proposal to design and share lesson Thomas J. Gosnell, President Local Educators Join ‘Save our Schools’ March plans, the first of which are being rolled out Mark Allred, Sr., Secretary-Treasurer this school year. By Garret Virchick, Boston Teachers VICE PRESIDENTS Union Patricia Armstrong Deborah Blinder Kathryn Chamberlain O n July 30th the temperature in Washington, DC was hot, topping 100 degrees. And almost 5,000 teachers, Gold Standard Apostolos Paraskevas, a professor in the Composition Department at Berklee Brenda Chaney parents, students, education writers and College of Music, was awarded a Gold Level Kathy Delaney Award at the California Film Awards for his supporters of public education were Catherine Deveney steamed. The impetus: ten years of the film “I Finally Did It!” Dr. Paraskevas, who Patricia Driscoll Marianne Dumont failed education policy No Child Left co-directed the film with filmmaker-director J. Michael Earle Behind and the recent attacks on public Mathew Tucciarone, authored the script and Margaret Farrell composed the score for the feature-length education and public school teachers. Mary Ferriter documentary that explores the power Joining the Save Our Schools rally and Jenna Fitzgerald of friendship, music, and death via a most Richard Flaherty march was a contingent of 30 members of TIME TO MARCH A contingent of unusual, yet sympathetic character. The film Paul Georges the Boston Teachers Union who took time Boston Teachers Union members at also features a soundtrack of Paraskevas’ Alice M. Gunning off from summer vacation to come to the Save Our Schools march and rally. original music. Daniel Haacker DC. The group included veteran teachers his impassioned defense of the profession. Joyce Harrington and provisional teachers, substitutes and Damon, the son of a former Massachusetts Susan Leahy Rebecca McInnis retirees. Marching behind the BTU banner school teacher, had some reassuring words Silver Screen Francis McLaughlin were other teachers from Massachusetts for the audience. “The next time you Boston teachers Robert and Yvonne Bruce Nelson schools as well as graduate students encounter some simple minded punitive Lamothe screened their documentary Catherine Patten from local colleges along with supporters policy that has been driven into your life “TEACH:Teachers are Talking—Is the Nation James Philip Bruce Sparfven of public education from across the by some corporate reformer who has Listening” at the Save Our Schools march Richard Stutman Commonwealth. literally never taught anyone anything, and rally in Washington, DC this summer.The Gale Thomas A pre-march conference and please, please, please know that there are documentary features conversations about rally featured some of the country’s millions of us behind you. We love you, we the art of teaching and learning by teachers Jennifer C. Berkshire, Editor themselves. For more information about preeminent defenders of public education, thank you, and we will ALWAYS have your 38 Chauncy St., Suite 402 how to see the film for yourself visit www. Boston, Mass. 02111 including Jonathan Kozol, Diane Ravitch back.” filmourways.com. Tel. 617-423-3342 /800-279-2523 and former BPS principal Debbie Meir. But Fax: 617-423-0174 the surprise star of the event may have Learn more about Save Our Schools and hear Damon’s entire speech on our The Advocate loves good news. If you’ve www.aftma.net been actor Matt Damon who wowed the got news to share, send us an email at: 2 advocate@aftma.net crowd—and teachers—everywhere with website: www.aftma.net advocate@aftma.net.
  3. 3. Big Changes Ahead worked out. and educator to reflect the educator’s “The primary goal is to create fair specific strengths and weaknesses, as and workable evaluation systems that well as school and student needs. Each Continued from page 1 Big picture are about support, not ‘gotcha,’ and plan must spell out the actions that the Although the law lays out a process the regulations only provide a rough educator will take to achieve the plan With two complex for municipalities to follow, many of the framework for that,” says Dan Murphy, goals, as well as the support, assistance, AFT MA’s director of educational and professional growth opportunities new policies, the details remain to be worked out, notes policy and programs. “The hard work that will be offered by the district Powell. “The law will be driven mostly devil is in the by a set of emergency regulations will be done during bargaining and and school. The educator receives an implementation when teachers and evaluation and overall rating at the end details—and in the issued by the states Administrative and administrators get into the nitty-gritty of the plan, and a new cycle begins. Finance division. The regulations were implementation. issued August 12th and are still being of protocols and procedures, tools and Multiple sources of evidence reviewed.” Locals are advised to not resources, checks and balances. AFT Massachusetts stands ready to help with The new regulations are explicit thatKey components rush into implementing the new reform evaluations and performance ratings law as both labor and management that process.” How will the new law work? If must be informed by multiple sourcesa municipal governing body votes officials are still determining how the System in a nutshell of evidence. Traditional classroom new law will work. And while many of The new evaluation system is peggedto exercise the local option given to observations, including unannounced the details remain in question, the big to four performance standards and fourthem by the law, it must notify public classroom visits, are one major source picture does not, says Powell. “We’re all performance ratings. The standardsemployee unions, propose a plan of evidence, but the regulations also going to be paying more out of pocket. are: 1) curriculum, planning, anddesign change or propose transferring allow evaluators to consider evidence The reform law isn’t designed to lower assessment; 2) instruction/teachingemployees into the GIC. Any proposals of student learning and growth; so- health care costs but rather to lower all students; 3) family and communityput forward by the municipality (public called artifacts of professional practice government’s share of health care engagement; and 4) professionalauthority), must clearly demonstrate (such as lesson plans); evidence spending.” (For more on the new health culture. The ratings are exemplary,estimated savings and the methodology of peer collaboration, professional insurance law go to www.aftma.net). proficient, needs improvement, andarrived at estimated them. The development, and outreach to families;municipality and the employee unions unsatisfactory. Operation evaluation Upon being evaluated at the end of and, beginning in the 2013-14 schoolthen have 30 days to negotiate over the After months of feedback—and year, student feedback to teachers andproposed changes. Twenty five percent an evaluation cycle, educators receive a staff feedback to administrators. pushback from educators—the Board of rating on each standard and an overallof savings from plan design changes Elementary and Secondary Education The new regulations will be phasedmust go to help employees defray performance rating. The overall rating in over the next three years, beginning voted to approve new educator then determines the educator’s planincreased costs, while retiree premiums evaluation regulations at its June this school year in Level 4 schools andcannot increase for the next three for the next evaluation cycle. Educators in a handful of “early adopter” schools. 28 meeting. Many educators agree rated proficient or exemplary areyears. In cities or towns that vote not that the final version is a significant All Massachusetts school districtsto use the new reform law, traditional placed on “self-directed growth plans” are expected to have new evaluation improvement over earlier drafts, of up to two years, while those ratedcollective bargaining remains in place. thanks largely to the input provided by systems in place by the 2013-2014Municipalities are also prohibited needs improvement and unsatisfactory school year. teachers in the field. Still, educators and are placed on “directed growth” andfrom unilaterally increasing premium policymakers warn that the real testrates; these rates must continue to “improvement” plans respectively that Note: the complete text of the new of the new design will be how it plays may be shorter than a year. regulations and other relevantbe negotiated through collective out in the real world of schools andbargaining. The goals and contents of each plan materials can be found at www.aftma. classrooms, with many details yet to be are jointly developed by the evaluator net under ‘educator resources.’ ENGAGE, MOTIVATE, and EDUCATE the 21st-Century Learner Master of Education Learning and Instruction Specialization Designed for a broad range of educators, the Master of Education with a specialization in Learning and Instruction provides an in-depth look at themes that are transforming education — technology and distance learning, globalization, creative and critical thinking, assessments, and learning outcomes. Complementing these themes are seven areas of focus: • Adult and Organizational Learning • Math • English Language Learning • Science • Literacy • Technology • Leadership Offering online and on-campus courses as well as flexible enrollment options, this program allows you to study where and when it’s convenient for you. Learn more: Call 1.877.668.7727 or visit www.northeastern.edu/cps/MED-LI 3September 2011
  4. 4. Diary T here is a perennial strain of teacher-to-teacher conversation with which you may be familiar. It arrives in June and goes something like this: “I can’t believe they’re of a New Teacher letting Christina attend summer school when she got a 45 in my class.” When kids fail a class but are By Bill Madden-Fuoco, eligible for promotion via summer Humanities teacher, school, a teacher may perceive the Urban Science Academy, event as a blow to the integrity of the West Roxbury, MA education system. Others bridle at the administration’s hijacking of teacher authority and the travesty of going soft on kids who “deserved” to be held Meet the 2011-2012 back. New Teacher Diarists What the next steps should be for a student who fails a class is a worthy topic of discussion, but the umbrageThe Advocate is pleased to introduce that some teachers take as the schoola number of new contributors to thisyear’s Diary of a New Teacher column— year closes strikes me as misplaced. We know by October which students OPERATION ENGAGEMENT Humanities teacher Bill Madden-Fuoco saysand to welcome back some familiar are at risk of lacking credit when June that the most important lesson he has learned in his first three years as anfaces. rolls around. Yet, in my observation, educator is the difference between teaching and making sure that students our conversations about student learn. “The work of making sure that every student learns—not merelyBill Madden-Fuoco teaching them—is incredibly hard, but in the end, that’s the job.”A humanities teacher at the Urban Science performance during the fall and winterAcademy in West Roxbury, Bill was also a rarely hit the urgent notes heard in here at school, I might as well just wrote about in the October 2010semi-finalist in the state’s 2012 Teacher of the waning weeks of the year when it’s do the work.” “That’s it?” I asked, issue of Educational Leadership. Itthe Year contest. too late. A bigger problem than easy disappointed. “That’s it, man.” involves establishing objective signals bridges to promotion is the fact that In their book Reaching Boys, that trigger support actions beforeRobert Tobio we fail so many students in the first Teaching Boys, Michael C. Reichert students are mired in failure. My goalRobert teaches math and special education place. and Richard Hawley present is to tighten up the data tracking andat the Mary Lyon Pilot School in Brighton. During my teaching residency compelling evidence that for many intervention part of my teaching game.He previously taught at Monument High year, a ninth-grade student named students, an authentic teacher- My fear is that we are inured toSchool in South Boston, which closed at Jonathan would shuffle into every student relationship is a prerequisite high failure rates and see them asthe end of the school year. class a minute or two late and slump for classroom engagement. I don’t inevitable. The work of making sure into his seat as if he had just walked credit myself with Jonathan or Gio’s every student learns—not merelyMelissa McDonald all the way from Alaska. His classroom academic turnarounds, but my teaching them—is incredibly hard, butA fifth grade teacher at the Parthum contributions proved his intelligence, experience working with them showed in the end, that’s the job. Students’Elementary School in Lawrence, Melissa yet at the end of every class his work me that delivering strong curriculum statuses in June are wide-open butis returning to teaching after a year of was half-completed at best. Forget is necessary but insufficient. It must taking shape now.maternity leave. about homework or writing projects. be accompanied by actively reaching Let’s talk about that. Substitute Jonathan’s torpor for flash, struggling students.Joyce Melker and you had Gio, a similar case. With a When we think of the job as notA paraprofessional at the Henry Lord Mid- penchant for wearing NBA warm-ups simply teaching, but making suredle School in Fall River, Joyce is currently and airing any joke that came into his every student learns, the importancetraining to become a teacher through the head, Gio exuded charisma, but little of personalized interventions becomesJET program at UMass Dartmouth. evidence of learning. clear. Under this framework, it is no I found these students longer acceptable to deliver the bestMatthew Robinson simultaneously endearing and classes possible and then place theMatthew is beginning his second year infuriating. Their lack of work onus for success solely on students’teaching English and journalism at the shattered my presumption that shoulders. Such an approach assuresBurke High School in Dorchester wherehe also oversees the student newspaper. if teachers deliver accessible, four-year graduation rates in urban challenging, and engaging curriculum, schools that remain around fiftyRiana Good student learning will take care of itself. percent. Yet, many teachers sendWhile Riana is technically no longer a new Further, the knowledge of the lives underperforming students the messageteacher, this Spanish teacher at the Boston that likely awaited them if they didn’t that “your education is here if youTeachers Union School in Jamaica Plain says make it out of high school nearly drove want it.”that she still feels like a ‘newby.’ me to depression. A mindset in which a teacher takes My mentor teacher urged me responsibility for student learning is to stay on both of them. I did, first critical. But again, while necessary, making sure that they understood this mindset is insufficient. In each the material. I scheduled conferences of my three years as a high school with their families. Jonathan’s parents humanities teacher, I have had 100 came in one day in November and or more students in my care. My several adults basically harangued approach to reaching for struggling him for a half hour. I had no students is zealous but scattershot; success arranging a conference with it lacks organization and systematic Gio’s mom. Month after month, I rigor. Too many students fail my encouraged these boys daily and tried courses, and many who should be to prove to them that their success making the honor roll hover below it. mattered to me and that I wouldn’t The start of another school year give up on them. Miraculously and represents another chance to get it without warning, Jonathan and Gio right. This past summer I read Isabel started producing work sometime in Wilkerson’s amazing The Warmth March and earned B’s for the third of Other Suns to bolster my content quarter. knowledge about the Great Migration, I ran into Gio on the subway one and researched ways to improve day in June. I asked him what it was vocabulary instruction. In addition to that made him start doing work. “I developing the curriculum delivery don’t know, man,” he said, a smile side of my teaching, I also read spreading across his face. “Wait,” about classroom-based systems for he corrected himself. “There was tracking student data and providing something.” The greatest mystery in personalized interventions. I plan to education was about to reveal itself adopt an approach called “Flagged to me. “One day I just figured, if I’m for Success” that Robyn Jackson 4 The AFT Massachusetts Advocate
  5. 5. BEHIND as a field representative. In 1995 Powell moved to Dracut to become a full-time firefighter, THE SCENES but his role as an expert on health insurance was only beginning. He quickly got involved in his union, Andrew Powell, joined the executive board and was asked to represent the firefighters and Field Representative other public employees in Dracut in negotiations with the town over—what else?—health insurance. With costs rising, Dracut officials wanted big AFT MA’s newest staff changes in employee health benefits. member got his start Explains Powell: “I think the local union members knew that I had as a firefighter—and their best interest at heart.” Powell went on to become and other union leaders in Dracut formulated a proposal to completely an expert on the issue overhaul the town’s employee benefits of municipal health package through a process known as coalition bargaining. “We saved the DETAIL MAN New AFT MA field representative Andrew Powell spent the last insurance. town substantial money and ended up five years advising Massachusetts public employee unions on health insurance. strengthening the unions’ bargaining “Now my goal is to become an expert on all of the issues affecting AFT locals.”A position as a result,” says Powell. s a young boy in the Merrimack a dramatic change. (See this month’s policy on his mind. Just two months And while most union members Valley, Andy Powell knew exactly cover story: “Changes Ahead”). ago he and his partner Eileen might have been happy to put the what he wanted to be when he Massachusetts lawmakers passed welcomed twin boys, Dillon and experience of negotiating over healthgrew up: a firefighter. “It was my a measure over the summer that James, to their family; Powell also insurance behind them, Powell wasdream,” says Powell. “I was a big fan weakens the ability of unions to has an eleven year old son named just getting started. In 2005 he joinedof the show ‘Emergency.’” He realized bargain over health benefits. And while Samuel. And after spending most of forces with Boston Benefits Partners,that dream at the ripe old age of 18 Powell is concerned about the financial his four decades in and around the which advises public sector unions inwhen he joined the volunteer fire burden members are likely to face— Merrimack Valley, Powell has made a Massachusetts on employee benefits.department in Merrimac, MA, but he notes that the new law was never major transition, to the South Shore His job: working as a professionalPowell still had to earn a living. When intended to lower health care costs but community of Marshfield, or “Marsh advisor to unions, including AFT localshe wasn’t fighting fires or responding to shift those costs onto users—he also Vegas,” as he likes to call it in tribute in Lawrence, Lowell and Chelmsford.to emergencies in the small town near points to several important protections to its historic role as the gambling “As an expert on municipal healththe New Hampshire border, Powell in the law. “There are protections center of the state. insurance, my job was to educatehad a very different line of work, as for retirees and the law also requires As for hobbies, Powell loves local leaders on an incredibly complexa customer service representative for municipalities to offset some of the camping and the outdoors and is an subject,” says Powell. “Now my goal isJohn Hancock, a health insurance cost shift for the most vulnerable,” amateur musician who plays guitar to become an expert in all of the issuescarrier. “I learned an incredible says Powell. “Now we have to figure as often as he can—which isn’t much affecting AFT locals. I have a lot toamount about health insurance and out a way to focus on the real problem: since the twins arrived. “My hobby learn.”I’ve been able to use that knowledge the cost of health care is out of control. right now is changing diapers,” says Powell joins the staff of AFT MAover the years to help municipal What are we going to do about it?” Powell. at a time when the health insuranceemployees,” says Powell, who recently These days Powell has more than landscape in the state is undergoingjoined the staff of AFT Massachusetts the fine details of health insurance Welcome aboard! Lesley University School of Education 5September 2011
  6. 6. On Campus Richard Freeland Commissioner, Mass. Department of Higher EducationA New Vision for Public Higher Education nation. Our focus through the Vision public campuses intensify their work on “Public higher Project will be to boost the readiness of Vision Project goals. Though the size of those high school students least likely to this fund is modest, it constitutes a ma- education has never enroll in college. Last spring the Board jor vote of confidence from Beacon Hill been more important of Higher Education voted for a new in the importance of our work and the to Massachusetts than standard requiring four years of high kind of effort that is likely to earn future school math in order to qualify for ad- financial support. it is today. Our state mission to the state colleges and UMass, The second reason is that we simply is engaged in a fierce beginning in 2016. Research shows that cannot afford to hunker down and await global competition for a rigorous high school curriculum is the better times. Public higher education greatest predictor of college success. has never been more important to Mas- talent, investment and Every Massachusetts high school student sachusetts than it is today. Our state is jobs.” deserves access to such essential college engaged in a fierce global competition preparation. for talent, investment and jobs. OurI t is a privilege for me to be able to share a few thoughts with AFTmembers as we begin a new academic Another focus of Vision Project work involves STEM education. The needs of the Massachusetts’ economy require us primary assets in this competition are the educational level of our citizens and workforce, and the inventiveness andyear. This promises to be a busy year for to attract more students into the fields of competence of the creative individualsthose of us working at or on behalf of EDUCATED STATE OF MIND Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and organizational leaders who drive ourthe state’s 29 public college and univer- Richard Freeland, Commissioner of where some industries report near-zero innovation-dependent, knowledge-basedsity campuses, as we collectively pursue the Massachusetts Department of unemployment. A final example of Vi- economy. A state that has historicallyan ambitious agenda called The Vision Higher Education, with some of the sion Project work involves the area of undervalued its public higher educationProject. students who attend the state’s 29 learning outcomes assessment, where institutions must begin to change course This strategic plan for Massachusetts public colleges and universities. a working group of campus leaders has if it is to remain competitive. Collectivelypublic higher education was approved level of research linked to economic de- recommended an ambitious approach to our institutions now educate two thirdsby the Board of Higher Education in velopment and level of business activity documenting student achievement. of all residents who remain in state forMay, 2010. It seeks to focus the work of derived from academic research. Good intentions notwithstanding, post-secondary education. They needour public colleges and universities on Through the Vision Project we will AFT members might well question the and deserve greater public support.seven aspirational goals to assure that quantify our standing with respect to wisdom of proceeding with such a bold As educators, you play a critical roleMassachusetts has the best educated these goals, celebrate our achievements, agenda in the midst of a fiscal crisis. in helping students get to or graduatecitizenry and workforce in the nation and identify areas that need improvement, Indeed, with the stresses on our system from college. I welcome your ideas andthat we are a leader in academic research and document our progress. Next spring translating into a heavy workload for feedback. Please feel free to contact methat drives economic development. The we will issue the first in a series of an- faculty, what is to be gained by compar- at commissioner.freeland@bhe.mass.seven goals are designed to position nual reports documenting our standing ing ourselves to other highly competitive edu or visit the Department of HigherMassachusetts for national leadership among the 50 states with respect to these public systems? Education web site: www.mass.edu.in the following areas: college-going areas of educational achievement. The answer, I believe, has two keyrates, college completion, the alignment The good news for Massachusetts cit- parts. First, even in this time of severe Richard Freeland is a guest columnistbetween degrees offered and workforce izens and taxpayers is that we are already fiscal constraint, the Governor and leg- this month. The regular “On Campus”needs, student learning outcomes, prog- making strides in key areas. Our college- islature have found room in the budget contributor, Dan Georgianna, will re-ress made in closing achievement gaps, going rates are among the highest in the to support a new fund that will help our turn to this spot next month.Amesbury Paras Fight Off Outsourcing Bid Continued from cover The union is the solution This fall the paras will go back to the “We needed to find out what Futures Parental involvement school committee remained steadfast in bargaining table to try to restore some The paras also enlisted the help of a its commitment to the outsourcing plan. of the lost benefits. (The town’s financialwas all about and doing the research Explains Murphy: “The town’s message situation has improved somewhat natural ally: the families of the childrenhelped us get a bigger picture,” says from the very beginning was ‘this is since the outsourcing plan was first they cared for every day. “These wereDeb Murphy, a special education para not about the quality of the work—this announced). When they do return, says the people who were going to be mostat Amesbury Elementary, who came is about saving money. They had a Murphy, it will be as the strongest, most affected and we wanted to make sureto be known to her colleagues as the financial goal in mind and the only way united force they’ve ever been. “This that they had a say about who would‘researcher in chief.’ Before long a squad they would budge is if we matched that,” was an organizing campaign for us. It be caring for their kids,” says Cindyof para researchers was delving deep says Murphy. changed the way we communicate, it Yetman, president of AFT Amesburyinto Futures’ background. Matching the savings that the changed the way we think about local and an education technology teacher at The paras quickly discovered that town expected to realize through the politics and it made us realize the deep Amesbury High School.the company that proposed taking over deal meant that the paras would have support we have in the community.” When the school committee met totheir jobs had no experience providing to make sacrifices—in many cases For AFT MA field representative discuss the outsourcing plan, students,special education paraprofessional deep sacrifices. “They gave up a lot to Dianne Heeley, the paras’ fight against families, even concerned communityservices. (Futures was hired by maintain their positions and to continue outsourcing was deeply personal. She’s members packed the auditorium. For aAmesbury last year to analyze the to deliver the quality of the services that retiring this month and the thought of full three and a half hours they testifiedtown’s special education programs). the children of Amesbury need,” says seeing so many of the paras lose their to local officials about the potentialAnd in communities where Futures Yetman. jobs was unbearable. “I couldn’t go out impact of losing their paraprofessionals.was providing outsourced therapy The paras don’t sugar coat the hit on that note.” She offers effusive praise “The passion of the parents andservices, notes Murphy, former district that they took in order to continue to for the paras’ hard work. “They were the community members was justemployees didn’t appear to work for do their jobs. “People who’d been here so focused and they really rose to the incredible,” says Deb Murphy. “Theytheir new employer for long. The the longest lost the most,” says Terry. challenge,” says Heeley. And while the had all the same concerns and feelingsfinancial data also painted a troubling Among the concessions the paras made: paras were forced to give up significant that we did.”picture. “There was no long term data giving up vacation pay, holiday pay, benefits, Heeley is convinced that theshowing how much money Futures A financial fight longevity bonuses, sick leave incentive ultimate agreement was a victory forsaved for these districts after the third But even as support for the pay and reimbursement for professional the paras—and for the union. “Not onlyyear,” says Murphy, who likens the paraprofessionals grew within the training and education. “We made sure did we save all of these jobs but wearrangement to a credit card with a community—and questions about that the town understood that they were really showed that the union wasn’t thespecial low introductory rate. “Futures Future’s ability to deliver the services taking money from the people who are problem, it was the solution. That washad a very well-rehearsed sales pitch.” it promised continue to emerge—the already the lowest paid,” adds Terry. the most important thing.” 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 www.retireesunited.org This popular seminar, given by elder law attorney Mary Howie, looks atA Testament to the Power of Empathy many issues involving probate, trusts, Medicare Trusts, Benefits for veterans and their spouses and much more.W hat is empathy? According to special talent is portrait work. She is and becomes even harder when it is the When: September 24, 10 to noon Wikipedia, the free online ency- special because of the select group she loss of a young person denied a full life Where Presidential Park, 314 Mainclopedia: “Empathy is the key corner- paints: those who have given their lives because of their willingness to serve our Street, Unit 105,Wilmington, MA (Mainstone in genuine human relationships. in service to our country. Her mission country. St. is Rt. 38.The entrance to the park isEmpathy is conscious. It means one with began with those who died in Iraq and MRU has spent time this past year across from the Wilmington House ofempathy feels compassion, while those Afghanistan, and has since extended to acknowledging our members and teach- Pizza sign.)without do not take into account other include those who’ve made the supreme ers who have served. We honor Ginapeople’s emotions.” Empathy is a capac- sacrifice in any war for our country. and her tribute to those who served and Living in Retirement as an In-ity to feel with someone. It is common Gina will be the keynote speaker died for us by featuring her talent at our formed Retireeknowledge that one must have a certain at the Massachusetts Retirees United annual meeting. Here is an inspirational This two hour seminar will help youamount of empathy in order to feel com- Annual Meeting held at the Hillview woman who truly feels with and for understand eligibility for Medicare,passion for another. Country Club in North Reading on Sep- others, a true testimony to the power of including the Medicare B penalty and I don’t need to be poor to feel tember 22, 2011. Her Traveling Tribute empathy. surcharge. Also covered: new tax lawscompassion for the poor, nor must I Wall, Faces of Remembrance will be on Come join us on September 22, 2011 regarding the sale of a second home,be diagnosed with a life threatening or display there. Gina’s commitment to our and bring a portrait of your loved one tax sheltered annuity distributions, lawsdebilitating illness in order to feel for a military comes from deep within her for Gina to sketch. Details about the regarding working in retirement, andperson in that position. soul, as she believes in “paying forward” state meeting can be found in our July many other issues. Nor must I think of myself as old in to the families of those who have died in 2011 Newsletter, MRU Matters or on When: October 1, 10 to noonorder to feel the fears, the loneliness and service to our country. The long hours our website at www.retireesunited.org. Where Presidential Park in Wilmingtonthe uncertainty of someone who is old. she spends giving of her time and talent, (see above). In too many instances empathy has while still maintaining a full time jobbeen replaced by greed, power and a and raising a family on her own make All the above seminars are free.Tosmug belief that ‘that could never hap- Gina an inspiration for us all. register call Marie Ardito at 1-617-482-pen to me.’ Some of us are too wrapped Gina presents each original detailed Attention MRU members: 1568 or e-mail mardito@retireesunited.up in ourselves to imagine walking in pencil portrait to the military families. Our address was listed incorrectly in the org. Make sure to specify which seminaranother’s shoes, much less trying to feel Not only does she do the portraits for most recent issue of MRU Matters. The cor- you plan to attend and the number ofwith them. free, she also bears the expense of mail- rect address is: individuals who will be attending. I recently encountered someone ing and supplies. Massachusetts Retirees Unitedwho defies this attitude, whose whole She will share with us how she began P.O. Box 4015life is a testimony to empathy. Let me this journey and some of the experiences Chelmsford, MA 01824-0615introduce Gina Johnson, an artist whose she has had. Loss is always difficultThe Golden A Friend and Mentor Inspires a Change Apple see them learning to read, developing social skills, sharing with their friends and understanding the expectations that a public school education brings.By Marcy A. Winer, paraprofessional, I owe all of this to Paula Tye-Greenhalge School, Lowell, MA Flagler, an amazing, inspirational woman. Paula got her start in theS ometimes the toughest jobs are the most rewarding. Sometimesyou need someone to ‘shake you up’ Lowell Public Schools in 1982. She began at the Laura Lee School and later moved to the McAvinnue Schooland help you realize that a profession where she teaches preschool to specialyou’d never thought of entering, was needs children. She has also served asin fact just what you needed after a mentor to new student teachers.all. That is exactly how I became a Paula has an amazing way withparaprofessional. I was due for a children. She lights up whenever shechange in profession after working sees little children at the park, at themany years, first for the federal beach or in stores. At times whengovernment, then in business. I we are out together, she will stopneeded to find something that added to talk to children and they always CHANGE AGENT Paula Tye-Flagler (left), a teacher in the Lowell Publiczest and more happiness to my life. respond with smiles and giggles. Her Schools, inspired her friend Marcy Winer to take a leap of faith and becomeMy best friend, Paula Tye-Flagler connection with children is immediate a paraprofessional. “Paula’s confidence in me is the reason I took a leap intosuggested that I consider becoming a and long lasting. She has long-term education,” says Winer. “She has always been my biggest supporter.”para. I took her suggestion seriously, relationships with former studentsand within that very week I was hired and often visits them in the summer sounding board for me for many years. tried to remember that. I grew veryto work at the Greenhalge School in and goes on ice cream outings with One year, I had a very challenging little attached to him and felt a deep senseLowell. them. They love her so much! Paula boy who came from a broken family. of satisfaction at the progress he made. The six years I’ve now worked as also takes the time to really understand He had behavior problems that could Paula’s confidence in me is the reason Ia para have been both rewarding and the unique family situations that often disrupt the classroom in an instant. took a leap into education. At the timechallenging. If I wake up in a grumpy occur in an urban school district such It was Paula I called on for help. I’d I had to trust that this would be a goodmood (a rarity!) I know that as soon as as Lowell. Many times she has gone vent that I was at my wits end with this change for me and she was right. SheI get to school, there will be 22 faces out of her way to educate the families student. Paula reminded me that he has always been my biggest supportersmiling at me, ready for a brand new who may require additional readiness needed me to provide discipline and and I know that she always will be rightday. I know that I add value to these materials to help their children structure at school because he wasn’t there, lending me an ear when I needchildren’s lives each day that I am succeed. During the school year, Paula getting it at home. She reminded me it. Her preschoolers are lucky to callthere. They need me and sometimes rewards her students with special gifts that this would benefit him in the long her Miss Paula and I am blessed to callthe only structure they have for the for their hard work. run. She was right. I remained tough her my friend.day will be the six hours I spend with Paula has been a tremendous role yet loving. At the time, his motherthem in school. I get excited when I model, teacher, friend, advisor and was absent from the home and ISeptember 2011 7

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