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Members are informing themselves and each other about the critical issues we face at the national, state and local levels. But what’s even more important is that they are working together – as we’ve seen this week at our community colleges – to organize and use our collective power in the best interests of our students and our communities. We are making headway. Let’s keep it going.

Charters Exposed in Globe Column
Members are fighting back against five proposed new charter schools. Pro-charter bills are still alive in the Legislature. And a dangerous initiative petition to lift the charter cap is headed for the ballot next fall. We need to keep up the fight. Today’s Boston Globe includes an op-ed by me explaining why we oppose lifting the cap. Please spread the word – for example, by sharing this column on social media, sending letters to the editor either to local newspapers or to the Globe, and having member-to-member conversations about how charter schools undermine equity for students, the rights of employees and the concept of public education itself.

NCLB Overhaul Approved
Today, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a massive overhaul of federal education policy that retains destructive annual testing requirements but returns to states and districts many decisions about how the results are used. Go here for more details and my reaction to the new law. Organizing for the schools our children deserve is just as important as ever.

MCCC Holds Day of Action
The Massachusetts Community College Council held a great Day of Action on Tuesday to highlight the fact that more than 2,500 members have been working without a contract since June – and that attempts to negotiate a fair agreement have been met with horrible proposals from the Baker administration. MCCC members held stand-outs across the state, brought their concerns to a Board of Higher Education meeting and addressed the Massachusetts Community College Trustees’ Association. Go here to read one report about the solidarity they showed.

Important RETELL Update
If you are a core academic teacher who was assigned an English language learner during your district’s cohort training window and you do not earn the Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement on or before Aug. 31, 2016, you will not be able to renew, advance or extend your core academic license or licenses until you obtain the endorsement. Spring course registration closes on Jan. 15. Do not delay in either registering for a course or, if there are no openings, adding your name to a waiting list. According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, no restrictions will be placed on the core academic licenses of educators who place themselves on waiting lists for a course in the spring but cannot take or complete the course because seats were not made available or the course was canceled. Go here for more information.

Speak Out at Forums about Elections and Policy Issues
The MTA wants to know what YOU, the members, think are our most important issues. How can we best use our influence to have an impact on elections and policies? Here are the dates and locations of the remaining forums – the earliest of which is today in Woburn. You can sign up by goinghere. Dinner will be provided.

Dec. 10
4:30-7 p.m.
Northeast – Woburn
Courtyard Boston Woburn
700 Unicorn Park Drive, Woburn
Dec. 15
4:30-7 p.m.
Central – Worcester
Educational Association of Worcester
397 Grove Street #1, Worcester
Dec. 16
4:30-7 p.m.
Massachusetts Teachers Association
2 Heritage Drive, Quincy
Jan. 6
4:30-7 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel-Berkshires
1 West Street, Pittsfield
Jan. 7
4:30-7 p.m.
Delaney House Living Room
3 Country Club Road, Holyoke
Nominations Open for CRC Election

Nominations are now open for the election of a member to the MTA Candidate Recommendation Committee for Congressional District 1. District 1 covers the Western Massachusetts area represented by U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D-Springfield). The CRC is responsible for making recommendations to MTA members in support of candidates for state and federal office. For more information and a nomination form, go here or contact John Connelly in the MTA Division of Governance and Administration. You can reach him by calling 617.878.8305 or e-mailing jconnelly@massteacher.org. The form must be returned by Dec. 30.

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