NO to PARCC; YES to Moratorium

Send a message to BESE: NO to PARCC, YES to moratorium

MTA’s messages on the destructive impact of high-stakes testing are beginning to get through, but it is crucial to drive them home.

Members are asked to turn up the volume by sending messages right away to members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education before it votes on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The MTA’s message is this: NO to PARCC. NO to MCAS 2.0. YES to a moratorium on high-stakes testing.

Across the country, educators, parents and students are making their voices heard on how high-stakes testing undermines teaching and learning. MTA members need to continue to raise their voices in that chorus.

Please click here to send your e-mails right away. Feel free to elaborate on the message the MTA has developed to describe your own experiences with PARCC and high-stakes testing.

In addition, members are urged to come to the BESE public hearing on the future of testing in Massachusetts. The hearing is Monday, Nov. 16, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Malden High School, 77 Salem St., Malden.

Membership Update Turnaround Plan

Members of the HTA,

Thursday, October 1, the leadership of HTA met with Dr. Zrike in order to discuss the changes that will be taking place as a result of the Turnaround Plan. (http://www.hps.holyoke.ma.us/pdf/receiver/turnaroundplan.pdf)

While there are many issues that we will be facing in the coming year, we would like to take a moment to make sure you are all aware of some of the more pressing matters regarding the Turnaround Plan.

1. Receiver Review

  • Effective immediately, anyone on a Directed Growth or Improvement Plan will be under review. The receiver will establish a process for review that will be shared in advance with each staff member identified for review.

2. Evaluation

  • Effective immediately, the evaluation will more closely reflect DESE model language for evaluations. More specific guidance will be shared next week and staff will be trained on the new model.

3. Grievance Procedure

  • Effective immediately, any grievances that fall within the boundaries as put forth by the Turnaround Plan will be subject to the grievance procedure laid out in the Turnaround Plan.

4. Performance Pay

  • The performance-based salary system will not be implemented until the 2016-2017 school year. For the remainder of this school year, all salary schedules will remain. For clarification, the plan does not call for union staff to reapply for their positions at the end of the school year and any changes in the compensation system next year will not result in a reduction to someone’s pay.

5. Extended Day

  • Any implementation of an extended day will not take place during this school year. The earliest that we will see this implemented is at the outset of the 2016-2017 school year. We will be going from 990 hours of instruction to 1330 hours of instruction.

There are many more things that will surface as we have the time to delve deeper into the document. We will keep you posted as soon as we know anything. We realize that many of you will have questions and we ask that you be patient, as this will be ongoing. Dr. Zrike will be visiting all schools over the next 2 1/2 weeks to answer any questions staff might have about the plan. We will continue to meet with Dr. Zrike and figure out exactly how all of these changes will affect us this year and the following year.

In Solidarity,

HTA Leadership

Revenue Campaign

The MTA has joined an effort by the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition to raise revenues for education and transportation through an amendment to the state Constitution.

The Raise Up Massachusetts Amendment filed on Aug. 4, 2015, would:

  • Add a 4 percentage point tax on the portion of a filer’s income in excess of $1 million. Income tax rates would remain unchanged for the bottom 99 percent of the population.
  • Index the $1 million threshold to inflation so that it would never affect anyone but the very wealthiest taxpayers.
  • Dedicate the more than $1 billion raised annually to public education, public higher education and transportation infrastructure.

From Coping to Hoping @HHS Friday September 25th 4:00pm-5:30pm

Social Justice Education &  Center for Youth Engagement present: Patrick Camangian, Ph.D (University of San Francisco) In this presentation, Patrick Camangian, Ph.D. examines interpretive case studies from his work in California schools to illustrate a pedagogical lens for how to adequately teach the sensibilities needed to deal with the traumatic stress of everyday, urban life & create classroom learning conditions that foster radical healing & critical hope. Dr. Camangian will draw from historical materialism and the health sciences (public health, epidemiology, psychology) to inform his research findings on complex traumas and urban education. This discussion will provide the opportunity for attendees to explore the relevance of these approaches to their practice as educational leaders & classroom teachers of all subject areas & grade levels. Friday, September 25th 2015 Holyoke High School, 500 Beach Street, Holyoke from 4-5:30 pm
Social Justice Education &
Center for Youth Engagement present:
Patrick Camangian, Ph.D (University of San Francisco)
In this presentation, Patrick Camangian, Ph.D. examines interpretive case studies from his work in California schools to illustrate a pedagogical lens for how to adequately teach the sensibilities needed to deal with the traumatic stress of everyday, urban life & create classroom learning conditions that foster radical healing & critical hope. Dr. Camangian will draw from historical materialism and the health sciences (public health, epidemiology, psychology) to inform his research findings on complex traumas and urban education. This discussion will provide the opportunity for attendees to explore the relevance of these approaches to their practice as educational leaders & classroom teachers of all subject areas & grade levels.
Friday, September 25th 2015
Holyoke High School, 500 Beach Street, Holyoke from 4-5:30 pm

President’s Message / Back to School BBQ

Members of the HTA,
For our newest members, welcome to the Holyoke Public Schools and to our Holyoke Teachers Association family.
For those returning, welcome back and thank you for your continued service.
Now that you are getting ready to wrap up the first week of school with the kids it is important that we take the time to reflect. In the coming weeks I will be soliciting feedback from the membership on what goals the HTA should be focused on for the upcoming school year. It is important to promote peace and unity throughout our union and focus on creating the most positive space for all of us to thrive.
With the first week almost over, it is the perfect time for all of you to send pictures of your classrooms and reflections on what the first week was like via Facebook (www.Facebook.com/PresidentHTA) or Twitter (@PresidentHTA or link www.Twitter.com/PresidentHTA). The message should be one of positivity and continue the momentum begun at convocation.
On Saturday, September 12, 2015, the HTA will be taking part in a Back to School BBQ from 11-3 at Pulaski Park in Holyoke (link: https://www.facebook.com/events/934194853313097/#). This is an opportunity for us, as educators, to engage with the community and put a face to the teachers of Holyoke. It would be great to see as many of you there as possible and take part in a community celebration. 
I hope everyone has a good Friday with their students and please feel free to reach out anytime.
​In Solidarity,

Gus Morales

HTA President

President’s Message

What a difference a year can make.

I remember last year’s convocation leaving many teachers frustrated, anxious, and dismayed at the outlook for the year. Troubling comments were made about the Holyoke teachers not doing enough as well as an overall feeling of blame directed at them. Veteran teachers felt disenfranchised and clearly heard the whispers that the district’s predicament was mostly their fault. While it is true that we must all put the past behind us, only a fool forgets the context which makes up the present.

This year’s convocation was an absolute contrast. It is amazing what small gestures can mean to the hardworking teachers of Holyoke. A good chunk of time was allotted to celebrate our veteran teachers who’d been serving Holyoke for more than 25 years. It was nice to see all the educators who’ve given so much of themselves to Holyoke be given proper accolades and acknowledgment that they are the backbone of our Public Schools. We saw teachers get called in bands of 25+ years, 30+ years, 35+ years, 40+ years, and then finally only one was left standing to claim the very distinguished 50+ years of service to Holyoke Public Schools.

This year’s convocation set the tone for how future ones should look and feel like. Time was taken to welcome the newest members to the Holyoke Public Schools in a meaningful way that did not feel like an afterthought. Instead of the very dark auditorium, the gym was used and was very bright. There was singing and there was a great deal of laughter and applause. An atmosphere of positivity took place and we should look to capitalize on it. Let us hope that we can all work together to make this year a raging success that brings enjoyment to the students and the staff. Welcome back!

Gus Morales
HTA President