E Bulletin #5 2010-11


Good Day.

First day of school is Tuesday, September 7, which is a shared day. The administration gets three hours and our members get three hours. See below detailed explanation. As part of our first day activities, BTU Building Reps will run a :30 workshop in our buildings detailing the rights and benefits of being a BTU member. The opening-day newspaper that is customarily handed out that day is being sent this week to all BTU Reps of record as of June, 2010. Sufficient copies will be mailed to each school. If you need additional copies, call the office today. You can also see the edition on-line

Teacher orientation was held at U Mass. and the BTU had a table of volunteers present to meet some of our new teachers, nearly 370 in number.  Please extend a warm welcome to our new members as you meet them this week and next.

Now for the news...

The Globe and the Herald ran pieces this week detailing the upcoming collective bargaining talks. No surprise here. We began talks on a successor contract in March and will continue until we reach agreement. We will keep you posted. What we hope to obtain in these talks is a contract that is good for both students and our members. These twin goals are not mutually exclusive--no matter what propaganda the public is fed. The targeted reading program we are seeking, the team of social service providers we are seeking, and the improvement of our schools' infrastructure--these are worthy goals, and we are proud of them. We also seek to keep Boston as a desirable place so as to attract and retain the best teachers. And that means keeping our benefit and salary package competitive. This, too, is a worthy goal.

A large issue looming in upcoming talks is the length of the teacher work day.  There are many different ways to calculate 'work' day. Everyone knows that the teacher work day does not start at the first bell nor end at the last. There'll be no preaching to the converted in this space. Reasonable estimates add another two hours per day to the so-called, on-the-clock teacher day of either 6:30 (elementary) or 6:40 (secondary).

All of this said, here's what the superintendent said last week in the Herald: "Great teachers should be paid well, but they should work at least seven hours a day."  She told the WBZ audience on the Dan Rea show last week that our work day and year is in the lowest 2% among the country's top 100 school districts. For that claim, she relied on data gathered by the National Center of Teacher Quality (NCTQ). A few business leaders essentially reiterated this claim later last week at a press conference. Here's the problem: The claim is based on misleading data.

  • Only elementary schools were considered in their data gathering. Secondary schools in Boston have a longer day than elementary schools.
  • NCTQ incorrectly stated that Boston teachers work 182 days per year. We work 183 plus another 18 hours.
  •  The 18 hours weren't counted. That adds another 3 days.
  •  10% of our staff work in pilot schools, for an additional 30 to 145 (or more) hours per year
  • 10% of our staff work in Turnaround Schools, for another 190 hours per year
  •  We have four extended day programs and four McKinkleys--many hundreds more staff work up to 2 hours extra per day

Bottom line: These few corrections would drastically change our national ranking.

High Stakes Governor Loses Bid in High Stakes RTTT Competition

"Clerical mistake' and failure to collaborate with Teachers Union costs NJ precious points in RTTT competition. See how NJ Governor Christie assesses blame . See Governor Christie find a scapegoat .

Salary Information

The salary schedules in effect at the end of the 2009-2010 school year (teachers, paras, and substitutes) remain in effect until a successor contract is negotiated. As part of our collective bargaining package, we ARE seeking a cost-of-living salary increase for all members of the BTU retroactive to 9/1/10. In the meantime, salary adjustments that have been negotiated in the past (steps, lanes, and career awards) continue. So if you are due a salary increase this year based on salary step advancement, for example, you will find the increase reflected in your first paycheck for 2010-2011.

Opening Day Schedule

The first day of school is Tuesday, September 7. The administration gets three hours, as does the BTU. The BTU's time is divided up as follows: 30 minutes for BTU orientation, during which time B Reps. will give a brief introduction, using our opening day newspaper, as to what the BTU does, how to access your benefits, and so on. The remaining 2 1/2 hours are set aside by BTU contract to give you time to set up your classroom. You also get 'credit' towards your work year for an additional three hours spent on your own time, from  8/6/10 through 9/10/10. In other words, any time you spend preparing your classroom on non-school time during that time period will count towards the three hours required. With all of these changes, the school year (total hours) remains the same, and this is for  this year only.

Welcome Back Party to Aid Cancer Drive

Making Strides SweatshirtAmerican Cancer Save the Date: Welcome Back Party, September 24, 3-8 PM, BTU Hall, Proceeds to go to Cancer Drive.

Also check out the following new web page for the Making Strides Walk. You can sign up for one of our teams or make a donation at this page.

The Boston Teachers Union will be selling Making Strides Against Breast Cancer T-shirts at the September 8 meeting. The cost for flagships is $7.50. The order has to be in by September 10. The date of the walk is October 3, 2010.

AFT Innovation Grant Seeks Middle School Math Teachers

Attention Middle School Math Teachers: Looking for Lesson Designers for AFT Innovation Fund Grant

Type of Position: Part-time
Compensation: Stipend $7,500-$10,000
Start Date: Early to mid-October

The Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Public Schools have received a planning grant from the AFT Innovation Fund to create world-class lessons that will engage today's students and can be distributed online. We are currently recruiting exemplary math lesson designers with middle school experience to help create a unit of high quality, multi-media based lessons.This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of an innovative new project that brings great teachers together to create these exemplary lessons that will be available to other teachers for free.  Preference for candidates who the meet the following criteria:

  • Strong middle school math experience.
  • Experience teaching with PowerPoint.
  • Experience designing lessons with PowerPoint.
  • Flexibility, ability to work in teams, and accept feedback.
  • Must be available for approximately six to eight weekend and/or vacation days during the school year, as well as two to three weeks during summer of 2011.

Email your resume or a letter detailing your qualifications to Tracy Young. Any questions, email Tracy or call her at: 781-724-3710.

Winthrop Teachers Need Our Help

The members of the Winthrop Teachers Association will have been working without a contract for three years when the Winthrop schools open on Wednesday September 1st. Prior to the schools opening at 7:30 AM on September 1st they will be rallying outside the Cummings Elementary School, 40 Herman Street Winthrop. They would very much welcome the presence of Boston area union leaders and activists. Michael McLaughlin, BTU Elementary Field Rep., will lead our contingent.  We are meeting at Michael's Mall parking lot from 7-7:30.

Annual Boston Harbor Educators Conference

The Annual Boston Harbor Educators Conference will be held this year at University of Mass/Boston Campus on Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 8 A.M. (Registration) until 4 P.M. Continental Breakfast, Keynote Speakers, Workshops, Boxed Lunch and a Narrated Tour of the Harbor. Everyone is welcome especially those who have never been out and around the Harbor. 

This Conference is sponsored and organized by the Mass. Marine Educators, National Park Service, U.Mass and others. Come one, come all. Elementary, Middle, High School and College Teachers and students. $40 for the day.  Any questions, concerns, complaints, call Carl Johnson, retired BPS Science Teacher, at 617-970-3952.

O'Bryant and BLS Students Competing for Grant Need Our Help

Two of our schools are competing in the Kohl's Care School competition for $500,000. They need our help. Last week we mentioned BLS; O'Bryant is also competing and really needs some votes!Here's what we received from O'Bryant teacher, Joan Williams: Vote here. Also, voters must spell the school's name as follows: O'bryant .  Thanks for any help the BTU can give to the O'bryant School.

Link is: http://apps.facebook.com/KohlsCares/school/431651/o-bryant-sch-math-science. School website: obryant.us  NOTE: No www in the site name.

And here's last week's notice from BLS...

Students at the Boston Latin School founded a network of youth member groups called the Youth ClimateAction Network, that now has 18 member groups in Massachusetts. The network has an annual climate summit for youth and educators at MIT every spring and is promoting a statewide effort to incorporate education for sustainability curriculum.  BLS Youth CAN students have also proposed an innovative green roof and community learning center on the roof of the Boston Latin School that is designed to be a shared learning space where schools can visit outdoor classrooms, greenhouse and gardens as well as work with state-of-the-art energy technologies, all while learning about the big ideas of sustainability.

BLS Youth CAN students are competing in the Kohl's Cares School competition for $500,000 to help fund the roofscape learning center.  You can support BLS Youth CAN students by voting for them five times on Facebook at this link. You may also vote by going to the BLS Youth CAN website  and clicking on the blue Kohl's link near the top left of the page.  The competition ends September 3rd. Help us make it into the top 20 schools and fund this worthwhile educational project.

Retired teacher heads non-profit effort that organizes nat'l and int'l servicelLearning trips to hold first fundraiser

All--As some of you might know, I retired from teaching in 2008 and started a non profit,called Quest Adventures, so that I could focus on helping Boston Public School middle and high school teachers and their students to take national and international service learning trips. I led 9 trips to Honduras and the Dominican Republic while I was teaching at English High and Boston International High and my organization has sponsored 11 trips since 2008.  Claudia Bell
Quest Adventures 5k Walk on Sunday, Sept. 19. Quest Adventures, co-founded by Claudia Bell and Anne Wachtmeister, would like to invite all BTU members and their students to the first annual Quest Adventures 5K Walk on Sunday, September 19, 10am-2 pm at the Franklin Park Golf Course.  The goal is to raise $5000 for a seed grant to be awarded to a BPS team of teachers and students for a national or international service learning trip. Cost  of 5K Walk is $15 per student and $20 per adult. Please register and/or donate on the Quest Adventures website.

Savings Bond Changes: Notice from the BPS

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced it will stop issuing paper savings bonds through payroll savings plans as of January 11, 2011.  The decision is a result of cost reductions associated with the U.S. Savings Bond Program and the Treasury's long-term plan to issue all securities electronically.

As a payroll administrator, the City of Boston has been advised to take the necessary actions to discontinue the Payroll Deduction Plan for U.S. Savings Bonds. As of July 30, 2010, the City of Boston no longer accepts applications for savings bond payroll deduction requests.  For those employees currently enrolled, the last date a savings bond payroll deduction will be processed by the City of Boston for pay end date October 8, 2010. The City of Boston Auditing and Treasury departments will then review all savings bond plan program balances for employees and process any remaining balance as a refund to employees by November 19, 2010.

City of Boston employees are able to sign up for various U. S. Treasury savings plans by going here and providing personal banking account information.  If you have any questions, please contact your Treasury Retail Securities site at 1-800-245-2804, select Menu Option 7, select Option 5 when prompted. If you have any concerns or questions about your current savings bond payroll deduction, or wish to terminate your payroll savings bond payroll deduction earlier than October 9, 2010, please contact the Central Payroll Unit at 617-635-3967 or the Treasury Department at 617-635-4151.

Richard Stutman
Boston Teachers Union