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Friday, December 30, 2016

Thankful for the Teachers Union: Planning for the Year Ahead

Truly the teachers union has come to my rescue with respect to needed support with regard to freedom of speech, professional learning, academic challenge, and collegiality.

Years ago I was challenged for speaking up. As I've noted numerous times I did speak up with a lot of passion and a strong voice, but essentially I was sharing my opinion about teaching and learning and was chastised heavily for it. The teachers union supported me essentially noting that I had the right to my opinion. My impassioned plea was related to gaining better access to good resources for student learning.

Not only did the teachers union support me, but they challenged me to develop my ability to advocate in ways that are respectful and influential. That challenge came in the way of good programming including The Teachers Leadership Initiative, The MTA Summer Teachers Conference, The Next Generation Leadership Program, and the MTA's Presenter Bootcamp. All of these programs respectfully welcome educators and positively challenge us too.

This fall the Massachusetts Teachers Union (MTA) contributed substantial dollars and time to keep the cap on charter schools. The efforts of countless teachers contributed to this action which served to support our public schools in ways that matter. Rather than giving away public money to private enterprise, keeping the cap on charter schools essentially kept public money within the hands and decision making of public bodies. In other words, keeping the cap, allowed the public to maintain control over the dollars they collectively contribute to support good schools for all children.

The teachers union is continuing their commitment to quality public schools with a host of regional forums. I recommend that every teacher in Massachusetts plan ahead to attend one of those forums. Our busy lives as educators make it difficult at times to contribute outside of our work at home and work in school, yet our teachers union is making it possible for us to learn and contribute in cost-effective, time-sensitive ways. Attending a regional forum is one way to get involved in making our public schools in Massachusetts the best possible schools--Massachusetts is leading the way with our strong unions, terrific state leadership, and the contributions of almost all citizens. We have what it takes to continue to be international leaders in education, and this is cause for celebration and continued commitment and contribution. It won't happen without the efforts of every educator.

Further, I recommend that every educator in Massachusetts and beyond make a commitment to get involved in worthy teacher organizations such as their unions in one more way, a way that will stretch and challenge their current practice. This could mean applying to present at a conference, attending a leadership program, signing up for a professional development course, or serving on your local union. As educators, we are also child-advocates, and as advocates it's essential that we contribute to the development of schools that serve children and their families well. There's lots of work to do, and one thing we know about teachers is that they have the heart and energy to do this work.

How will you get involved?

What will you contribute?

Where will you stretch and challenge yourself?

I'm planning to attend the Central MA forum on January 24th. I hope to see many of my teacher friends and relatives there as well.

We can do this!