From the inside looking out, last Wednesday seemed like a typical school day. Staff at the Alighieri, West Roxbury and South Boston HS Complexes, Dorchester Academy, Fifield, Agassiz, Farragut and Middle School Academy went to work as usual, doing what they always do. No staff member at any of these buildings knew that city and school leaders were meeting secretly at the same time with representatives of the charter school association to discuss, among other items, the potential leasing of those very school buildings. Why would staff suspect that anything was amiss? After all, there had been neither hint nor warning.
Staff at the Lee Pilot, Hyde Park HS, Emerson, and East Zone ELC were also at school that day, doing what they always do. They knew that the school-closing sword of Damocles was hanging over their heads. But like their colleagues, they did not know that their buildings, too, were being advertised to potential bidders. Why would anyone suspect that?
In another part of town, charter school operators were getting ready for their meeting with the city. This would be a groundbreaking event. You see, charters need more space, especially now that the new ed reform law has been enacted. And while the state has yet to formally approve their new schools, they can taste victory. All they need is space. They have been waiting for this day for years: The city is about to unload buildings the charters covet. Boy, were they ecstatic last Wednesday!
Here's what Marc Kenan, Masachusetts charter school CEO had to say in an email at 8:30 AM on Thursday, the next morning. Keep in mind that many parents, staff, and students still had yet not been informed the possible closings.
"In an unprecedented meeting yesterday, Boston charter school leaders met with Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson, her staff and high ranking members of the Menino Administration. The topic of discussion was a possible rent "compact of collaboration" between Boston charters...This is being discussed in the city in relationship to the move by the district to close a number of BPS schools and reorganize/consolidate/move others. Such a real estate relationship would obviously be a tremendous breakthrough for charters in the state. As goes Boston so goes....."
See Mr. Kenan's entire email here...
Let's cut to the chase: A deal is in the works to help out charters at the expense of the education of our own children--and all of this accomplished before a final vote is even taken.
Boston School Committee hearing on school closings and mergers
The Boston School Committee will hold a school closing hearing this Wednesday, 12/8, at 6, at English High School. See a list of proposals here. The committee will take a vote on Wednesday, 12/15.
Three of the last four school committee meetings have been held at English High School (EHS) to a standing-room only audience. The first of the three had close to 600 attendees; the 2nd, 400; and last week's had a standing room crowd inside the hall and an overflow crowd in the gymnasium. The BTU asked the School Committee to move the last few meetings to EHS, and they did. The meetings had been scheduled for the Winter Chambers at Court St., which holds a hundred people at best. We have again called upon the school committee to move these upcoming two meetings to a facility that can hold many more than can English High School. We have not received an answer to the BTU request.
Some logistics on this Wednesday's School Committee meeting...We have a membership meeting on the same day. We will try to break a little early, though we cannot predict the timing of the end of the meeting. Meetings go as long as they go. We will start promptly and have food available in anticipation that many who will at the membership meeting will be going directly to EHS (or perhaps somewhere else if it is changed).
On signage-we will also have Save our School signs available, as we will have lawn signs available. The lawn signs (see below) are bulky. We want to get them in the ground before the first deep frost, and will follow this procedure:
To expedite the delivery of our lawn signs (see below) and metal stakes to our members, we will be handing them out as you enter the membership meeting on December 8. When driving into the parking lot, please drive to the entrance of the building that is on the right of the building when you are facing the front. We will have people at that entrance handing out signs and metal stands to be placed in your car.
Contract Negotiations Update
Negotiations will continue on December 9. we will keep you posted as to any developments.
Get Involved in Your Union
BTU Unveils 'Pride' Campaign: All BTU members, not just Boston residents are urged to take signs
We have ample signs available to dot the city and beyond. And that is our goal: to dot the city. After the December 8 membership, Building Reps will be bringing back signs to their schools for distribution. We encourage you to take one.
New BTU Reps' Workshop Scheduled
A workshop for new building reps is scheduled to be held on December 14 at 4:00 PM. All new reps are invited, as are any reps who wish to attend. Please call or email Jeannie at the BTU office and let us know if you are attending. There will be refreshments.
New Charges of Discrimination at UP Academy
We reported last week that UP Academy, the charter operator which was given the no-bid contract to take over the Gavin Middle School next year, was cherry picking its incoming student body. Specifically, we mentioned that the UP recruiters had invited selected fifth grade students, specifically Advanced Work (AWC) students, to attend UP next year. The mother of one of those selected children, herself a Boston teacher, contacted us.
Yesterday we got another verified report from a different school. In this school, which has two classes of students, each with both AWC and non-AWC students 'mixed-in' together, the teacher reported that the AWC-coded children came to school with invitations from UP Academy that had been mailed to their houses. The non-AWC students did not receive the invitations. UP got the coded AWC lists from the school department.
Memo to the school department: Who gave UP permission to discriminate? Consider this as well: If this type of discriminatory practice happens right under our nose in a Boston Public School, imagine what happens outside.
BTU Holiday Party for Adults
Friday, December 10,3:00 - 8:30 PM, BTU Hall
Begin your holiday partyy season by celebrating with friends and colleagues at the BTU Holiday Party. Food, music, and cash bar.
The theme: Big Wishes for Little Wanderers. Please help The Home for Little Wanderers provide children with a gift this holiday season. Please bring an unwrapped gift to the holiday party. For more information or to view a child's specific wish list please visit this link.
BTU Children's Holiday Party
Wed. December 29, 12:00 - 2:00, BTU Hall
Bring the children for a fun afternoon of food, games and a visit from Santa Claus.
Tickets available at the BTU office. Volunteers and helpers Needed. Please call the BTU office to sign up.
Personnel Information on ERI, LOA, and Tuition Reimbursements
The School Department has announced an ERI program. Deadline is January 5, 2011. See HRS-PP8 to learn more.
As part of our contract, there is a tuition reimbursement program for teachers who are permanent and on steps, but not yet getting their first career award. The tuition reimbursement also goes to paras with 5 or more years. We have a contract proposal on the table to extend the reimbursement to provisionals and increase the dollar amount. See HRS-PP3 for more information on how to apply.
Career Transition Leave
The School Department will shortly announce a Career Transition Leave for permanent personnel. The leave is good for one year and the deadline for application is May 1. When more information is available, we will announce it. While on the leave, there are no restrictions as to what the employee can do. The employee can work in another job, for example. This is a great opportunity for those who wish to take advantage.
Education in the News
Petition Seeks to Delay History MCAS
After a two-year delay, the State Board of Education has reintroduced a plan to implement a history MCAS. In addition to its having questionable value, it is expensive and will prove disruptive to curricula already in use. The Citizens for Public Schools has circulated a petition for people to sign in opposition to the petition.
Ravitch Answers Bill Gates in Blog
Read a great blog by Diane Ravitch in the Washington Post, entitled "Ravitch answers Gates." In a Newsweek piece, Bill Gates threw out a challenge in the form of questions to Diane Ravitch. Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss asked Ravitch to answer them, introducing her piece as follows:
"...Ravitch, the author of the bestselling The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has become the most vocal opponent of the Obama administration's education policy. She says Gates is backing the wrong initiatives and harming public schools."
In the Newsweek piece, Gates poses some questions aimed at Ravitch. I asked her to answer them. Below are the questions Gates asked, in bold, and the answers, in italics, that Ravitch provided in an email."
Career, Learning and Training Opportunities
Fund for Teachers Announcement
Fund for Teachers awards grants directly to preK-12th grade teachers for self-designed professional development experiences. Apply online beginning November 1, 2010. The deadline to submit applications is January 28, 2011. Visit here for eligibility requirements and begin your application today!
INFORMATION Sessions, 4:30-6:00pm:
Monday, December 13 - Haley School
Wednesday, December 15 - Boston Latin School
Wednesday, January 5 - Mission Hill K-8
Thursday, January 6 - Boston Teachers Union Hal
For additional information or questions please email.
Attention 6th Grade Math Teachers: Your Chance to Get a Free LCD Projector for Classroom.
Are you a 6th grade mathematics teacher that follows the Boston Public Schools' scope and sequence? Will you be teaching concepts that involve determining the area and circumference of circles as well as how to find the surface area of rectangular prisms in January?
The 21st Century Lessons Initiative is a group of BPS teachers looking to pilot approximately one week's worth of 6th grade mathematics lessons with your help! For your time you will receive lessons designed by other highly effective math teachers, an LCD projector, a set of speakers or a gift certificate to Staples!
Please contact by email or by phone at 978-505-8259 for more information.
School Site Council Training Scheduled
SSC Budget Basics with BPS CFO John McDonough at BTU:
December 7, 5:30 - 7:30 PM; or
December 21, 4:00- 6:00 PM
Please email Caren Carew.
Congratulations to Brighton HS Football Team
Congratulations go to the Brighton HS Bengals for participating in the Division 4A Superbowl. Even though they lost to Northeast 38-14, Brighton HS played a good game. Northeast led 35-0 going into halftime but Brighton battled back, losing 38-14. The event was held at Curry College.
The Globe ran a story in Sunday's paper and quoted head coach and BTU Executive Board member Timo Philip saying: "...I'm always proud of our team, whether we win every game or lose every game." See news coverage here.
The AFT-MA AFT scholarship program will be awarding 8 $1500 scholarships to eligible high school seniors, who are dependents of AFTMA members only. The program uses an exam administered by the Mass AFL-CIO in cooperation with the Mass DESE. See here for more information. Application DEADLINE is December 13! Exam is on 2/2/2011.
Arctic Temperature of the week
This weeks' sweatshirt goes to the Perry school, where temperature dipped to 54 degrees yesterday. Brrr.
Help Requested from the Boston Musicians Association
We are in the midst of a public awareness campaign promoting Live Music in Boston's Theaters. Unfortunately the Wang Theater and Madison Square Garden Entertainment are bringing in a watered-down production of the Radio City Rockettes that uses taped music rather than a real orchestra. This is detrimental to the arts community, the patrons who deserve a first rate show, and the children who should be experiencing the best from a theater so prominent as the Wang. Help us make the following corporate spomsors take notice: John Hancock Financial Services is identified in ads as the Presenter of the Rockettes at the Wang Theater in Boston. WGBH (WCRB) is running yet another fund-raising drive, promoting WCRB and the Rockettes at the same time, tying the two enterprises together in the same ad.
Let John Hancock know that you are unhappy about their business partnership with a New York company that harms Boston's cultural economy at a time when jobs for musicians are scarce. If you are a listener or a supporter of WGBH, let them know that you plan to withhold your support. (WGBH is promoting the Rockettes through WCRB.)
Call WGBH at 617-300-5400; Email John Hancock here.
The Boston Teachers Union regrets to announce the passing of Ms. Eleanor Kearse Perry, the retired principal of the Hennigan Elementary School. Ms. Perry was a former teacher in the BPS. Please see her obituary here. The Boston Teachers Union sends its most sincere condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.
The BTU regrets to announce the passing of Ms. Christine A Hatch, 43, of Watertown, MA, a teacher at Brighton High School, on December 4, 2010. She leaves a loving family and two lovely children. Funeral from the Faggas Funeral Home, 551 Mt. Auburn St.,Watertown, MA, will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 9:30 am followed by funeral Mass in Sacred Heart Church, Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, MA. at 10:30am. Visiting hours 4 to 8pm on Wednesday a the funeral home. In lieu of flowers donations in her memory may be made to the Victoria T. Hatch Education Fund, c/o Brighton High School. The BTU sends its most sincere condolences to her Brighton High colleagues, her friends, and her family.
The BTU Online
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Boston Teachers Union