Btu_news_apri_06 by domainlawyer

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									Boston Union Teacher
The Award-Winning Newspaper of the Boston Teachers Union AFT Local 66, AFL-CIO • Democracy in Education • Volume XXXVIII, Number 8 • April, 2006
BTU Members Rally for Senator Ted Kennedy

See other Kennedy photo on page 12.

Photo by Mary Glynn

Notes from the President: Richard Stutman

BTU and BPS Reach Agreement on Pilot Schools
Cap on Uncompensated Hours, Control over Teacher Work Schedule, Replication of Best Practices Key Issues Resolved
After almost two years of negotiations, the Boston teachers and the Boston School Department have settled the Pilot School issue. The BTU membership approved the settlement overwhelmingly at its March membership meeting. The BTU Executive Board had previously approved the agreement. You may recall that the union vetoed the creation of the Gardner Pilot School in June 2004 in order to force the school department to negotiate over some concerns we had. Some of these concerns had lingered and gnawed away at our members since the inception of pilot schools 10 years earlier, and we felt that we had to resolve these issues once and for all. The issues were many: First, the system had a mixed practice whereby most of our pilot school members worked a greatly-extended school day and school year without any additional compensation. A small number of pilot staff, on the other hand, did get some pay, but the pay was irregular and quite limited. Making matters worse, different schools required of staf f dif ferent amounts of uncompensated extra time. We had, for example - and still have - some schools requiring as few as 24 hours of extra time per school year and other schools requiring as many as 282. The most extreme example: In 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, the Egleston Square Pilot required over 350 uncompensated hours of its staff. Our new agreement does not equalize these hours, but does set a universal cap on uncompensated hours that can be required of any staff member. Uncompensated hours are limited to 105 in 2006-2007; to 100 in 2007-2008; and to 95 in 2008-2009. The compensation for time above and beyond the hours detailed above will be at the contractual hourly rate ($36.08 as of 8/31/06) and will be retirement-worthy. An explanation of how to calculate the number of additional hours follows at the end of this article*. For our members in pilot schools that means that by 2008-2009, upwards of 71% of our members will see their number of uncompensated hours reduced by 120 hours or more; 59% will see a reduction of 137 hours or more; and 25%, 180 or more. This section on pay for extended hours applies to paraprofessionals as well. (continued on page 3)
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Boston, MA 02109 Permit No. 52088

In This


Number of Hours per School Year

140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 71% 59% 25% Percentage of Pilot School Membership to see a Reduction in Uncompensated Hours

BOSTON TEACHERS UNION LOCAL 66, AFT 180 Mount Vernon Street Boston, Massachusetts 02125

Ed Doherty Intends to Apply for Superintendency 2 Plan Now for AFT Convention 2 The Teachers Union’s Role in Professional Development 4 It’s Time for Health Care for Everyone 5 BTU Students & Teachers Making A Difference 6

Reduction in Uncompensated Hours by 2008-2009
200 180 160

Ed Doherty

“I Intend to Apply for Superintendency”
At the February BTU Membership meeting I announced at the microphone my intention to apply for the position of Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. After representing Boston teachers and paraprofessionals for almost three decades, I did not want the members to hear this news second-hand. After the meeting several members wished me good luck. Some questioned if I was serious. Others asked why I was applying and what I thought my qualifications were for the position. The answer to the first question is yes, I am serious about seeking the position. As to the basis for my application, I thought the best way to answer this is to share with the membership the letter that I have sent to the firm that has been hired to conduct the search. Below is printed the letter that I sent last month. February 7, 2006 Edward K. Hamilton, Chairman Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc. 26384 Carmel Rancho Lane, Suite 202 Carmel, California 93923 Dear Mr. Hamilton: I am writing to apply for the position of Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. I believe that I have the necessary academic credentials, knowledge of the school district, leadership ability, and understanding of the current educational policy issues to enable me to be a successful Superintendent in Boston. I am a life-long resident of Boston, a graduate of the Boston Public Schools, and a former English teacher at Boston Technical High School. Both of my daughters attended the Boston Public Schools from kindergarten through high school. My younger daughter is a special education teacher at a Boston high school. My wife, who is now retired, taught ESL in the school district. My final family connection is my eleven year old granddaughter, who is a 5th grader at the Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Boston. While teaching in Boston, I became actively involved in the Boston Teachers Union; and in 1975 successfully ran for a full time union position. Eight years later I was elected President of the union, and I served in that capacity for twenty years. As President, I was the Chief Executive Officer of an organization representing over 8,000 members and having an annual budget of over four million dollars. Since I was the public spokesperson for thousands of professional educators during a period of rapid change and educational reforms, I decided to keep current in educational policy issues by enrolling in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I received my Doctorate Degree in Education from Harvard in 1998. During my twenty years as President of the Boston Teachers Union, I developed what I believe to be a strong working relationship with parent organizations, community groups, business leaders, and the key political figures in the city and the state. I believe that those relationships are still strong today. My most important responsibility as President was that of chief negotiator for the union. During the 80’s and 90’s I took particular heed to the advice of our then national union President Al Shanker, who encouraged teacher unions to go beyond wages, hours, and working conditions and to use the collective bargaining process as a way to work collaboratively with management to bring about school improvement. I am particularly proud of the contracts that were negotiated in 1989, 1992, and 1995 that introduced such reforms as Lead Teacher Programs, Mentoring Programs, School Intervention Procedures, School-based Management, and Pilot Schools. During this period I was invited by Adam Urbanski, President of the Rochester N.Y. Teachers Association, to become a charter member of a new organization called TURN (Teachers Union Reform Network). My involvement with TURN gave me a national perspective on a wide variety of school reform issues. As a member of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Teachers, I also meet regularly with teacher leaders from across the country. My thirty year career as a union offiistrative experience. Finally, I want to emphasize that I believe that the Boston Public School system is among the finest urban school districts in the country. For the past several years the Broad Foundation has reviewed data from approximately 150 urban school districts and has identified the best, based upon a variety of indicators, including student achievement. Boston has been among the top five finalists each year. Boston also leads urban school districts in the number of graduates who go on to college. But even without such statistics, I know from my own and my family’s experience that the schools in Boston are not given the credit that they deserve. Boston schools have much to be proud of. However, I do not mean to imply that our schools can not do better or that we can relax on the urgent need to narrow the achievement gap. Accomplishing that goal will require establishing a climate in the schools which not only values children and welcomes the involvement of parents; but also respects teachers, recognizes their professionalism, appreciates their contributions, and encourages them to be true partners in the challenging task of educating all children to their full potential. I believe that I have the knowledge and skills to help create such a climate in the Boston Public Schools. As good as our schools are today, as Superintendent, I believe that I can help to make them even better. Sincerely yours, Edward J. Doherty

Ed Doherty cial may place me among the most “nontraditional” of candidates for the position of school superintendent; however, the move from union president to superintendent is not without precedent. My brother John, who was the BTU President a decade before me, went on to become a very highly respected school superintendent in three Massachusetts communities. I also recognize that my never having held a management position within a school district may be viewed as a deficit. However, I believe that my wealth of experience in labor relations and negotiations, my long and active involvement with the Boston media, and my years of dealing with community, political, and business leaders in the city more than compensate for any lack of school admin-

Plan Now for the 2006 AFT Convention in Boston
by Angela J. Cristiani, Psychological Services
Fast forward to July 19th. It is warm, sunny, and the smell of the ocean air permeates the City. Teachers are relaxing after the long school year and enjoying all that a New England summer has to offer...that is...everyone except the more than 4,000 delegates arriving in Boston for the 79th AFT Biennial Convention. The AFT was founded in 1916 and represents 3,000+ locals across the nation and some 43 affiliates. Membership exceeds 1.3 million. The AFT is affiliated with the international union of the AFL-CIO. The elected officers and delegates to the Union’s convention set union policy as well as elect the Union’s officers. AFT Delegates comprise teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, health care professionals, related service providers, public employees, and retirees elected by their respective locals. Originally scheduled with San Francisco as the Host City, the Convention was rescheduled and relocated to Boston. The reason…unresolved labor contracts in San Francisco hotels as of early August 2005. With Boston — and our Union — serving as the backdrop to this year’s convention, plans are well underway to ensure that it is successful. The Convention will be held from July 19th through the 23rd at the South Boston Convention Center. Delegates will stay at 14 Boston hotels located in the Seaport/ Waterfront District, Downtown/Financial District, Boston Medical Center Area, and the Back Bay Area. As it stands now, the Host State Delegates will be housed in the Seaport/Waterfront District. Pre-Convention activities actually begin on July 18th and include meetings of the AFT Executive Council and Executive Committee. On the 19th, registration begins and the exhibit hall opens. The framework includes general sessions each day, convening of seven caucuses and committee meetings. The culminating activity is the election of AFT president, secretary-treasurer, executive vice-president, and vice-presidents. The Biennial Convention always proves to be exciting for delegates. The delegates’ work is relationship building and networking with colleagues from across the nation as well as with international guests. Plans are in process to ensure that the Delegate/Guest Reception, the COPE Reception, and the Pride of the Union Reception are successful and memorable. The BTU/MFT Host Committee is working to see that all necessary details and finer touches are put in place in order that the 2006 Convention is long remembered. There is no doubt that this summer will prove to be exciting. It is an opportunity to showcase public education and unionism within our City and State. It is anticipated that BTU/MFT Ambassadors will assist at the Convention Center and related Convention events. If you are interested in volunteering for this summer’s Convention, please contact Angela Cristiani.

Boston UnionTeacher
Published by the Boston Teachers Union AFT Local 66, AFL-CIO
The Boston Union Teacher is published eleven times a year September - July, inclusive.

Vice President

EDITORIAL NOTE: The opinions expressed in the Boston Union Teacher do not necessarily represent the views of the Boston Teachers Union, or those of its members. WHEN WRITING: All correspondence to the Boston Union Teacher must be typewritten and signed. All articles must be appropriate to the publication, and in good taste. Letters to the Editor should be sent to DEADLINE: The Deadline for submitting articles for the May edition of the Boston Union Teacher is April 12th. All copy should be e-mailed to and This deadline will be strictly adhered to.



Editorial Board

Caren Carew Angela Cristiani Jenna Fitzgerald Robert Jango Michael J. Maguire Michael McLaughlin Eileen Weir

180 Mount Vernon Street ❖ Boston, MA 02125 617-288-2000 ❖ 617-288-2463 ❖ Fax 617-288-0024 ❖


BTU and BPS Reach Agreement on Pilot Schools…
(continued from page 1)

The union also agreed to the creation of seven more pilot schools provided there is sufficient interest among the membership to convert. A conversion takes a vote which garners the support of two thirds of the staff and must be by secret ballot. This conversion process would include the Gardner School too, if it wishes to vote again on becoming a pilot school. The union president retains veto power over the creation of any particular pilot school. In addition to possible conversions, we have agreed to invite Charter Schools to become pilot schools. We’ve gotten some nibbles on this, and we will throw out the welcome mat to all Charter Schools. Last on this topic, the union itself has agreed—actually it was our idea—to open up its own pilot school, run exclusively by teachers, at the school site formerly occupied by the Thompson Middle School in Dorches-ter. This will require a lot of planning on our part, and will take place as soon as the site is vacated by what is now the King Middle School, which is to be relocated to that site for the next two or three years. Other elements of the proposed settlement include : • The proposed work schedule for an upcoming school year will be given to staff by January 15 of a given school. The staff may override the schedule by a vote of two thirds of the staff. An override sends the work schedule back to the pilot school’s Governing Board for possible adjustment and tweaking. (As the settlement of this agreement was reached after the deadlines in this provision, the January 15 date has been moved to May 15 for this year only.) • A new type of school, called a Discovery School, shall be created. Discovery schools shall be allowed to take advantage of a variety of advantages pilot school currently enjoy, such as budgetary and curricula autonomies, subject to the approval of the superintendent. • Both the union and the school department shall be allowed to initiate an intervention process at a Pilot School. The intervention process shall parallel the process currently in the BTU Contract. • Each pilot school’s Governing Board shall include no fewer than four teachers. • The two Boston Horace Mann Charter Schools, the Boston Day and Evening Academy and the

Health Careers Academy, will fall under these new provisions of the BTU Contract. • Teachers in Pilot schools must excess themselves by February 1 of a given school year. Pilot School principals and headmasters must excess teachers by February 1 of a given school year. (The complete agreement has been mailed to all pilot school staff.) We recognize that this was long ordeal for our members and all of us who worked on this appreciate the support we have received from the membership. The BTU appreciates as well the support of former State Senate President Tom Birmingham, who helped mediate this settlement. Senator Birmingham spent untold dozens of pro-bono hours on this initiative, and his help was immeasurable. A good mediator can succeed if he or she enjoys the respect of both parties—and Senator Birmingham does enjoy that respect. No negotiated agreement is perfect, but we believe we have crafted an agreement that resolves this issue favorably so that we can all move on. Presently, we have many significant matters ahead of us, in particular the negotiating of the master contract. As we move forward on the master contract, we will again call on each of you for your help. Have a good spring vacation. ★★★★★ (* Additional Hours: Here’s an explanation of how to calculate additional hours: The school day is defined as 6:30 for elementary teachers and 6:40 for secondary teachers. This is the duration between the required sign-in time and the allowed sign-out time. The school year is 183 days as defined above. These ‘183’ include the Tuesday and the Wednesday after Labor Day, and the day after the Winter/December break—all without students—plus the 180 school days for students. The three non-student days, however, are 6-hour days, not 6:30or 6:40-days. In addition to the ‘183,’ there are 18 required hours of professional development time and 4 required hours of parental contact time. There are no other days or hours required, whether during the school year or over the summer. All time required above and beyond what is defined in this paragraph is considered additional time and would contribute to the limits, which, if exceeded, require compensation. If you have any questions on this calculation, please call the BTU office.)

What Are Pilot Schools?
By Erik Berg
Pilot Schools are one of the Boston Teachers Union’s best-known innovations. BTU President Richard Stutman travels nationally to tout the educational and political benefits of our pilot schools. Pilot Schools have recently been replicated as far away as California and as close as Fitchburg, and featured in publications on labor-management cooperation on school reform efforts. Given all of these accolades, pilot schools are surprisingly low-profile among BTU members at traditional schools. In fact, many teachers do not know exactly what pilot schools are. Pilot schools began with the 1993-1996 contract as a response to the growing movement towards charter schools, which were funded in a way that has been devastating to traditional public schools. The BTU negotiating team devised a type of school, called pilot schools, which would have many of the same freedoms as charter schools, but would remain within the Boston Public Schools. During the course of that collective bargaining agreement, six pilot schools were established. Since that time, 13 more pilot schools have come into being, including some new schools and some schools which converted to pilot status. Pilot schools have been one innovation that union leaders and public education advocates point to in successful lobbying efforts to stem the growth of charter schools, which currently drain 9% of the Boston Public Schools’ budget. Teachers in pilot schools are BTU members and their students are Boston Public Schools students. Teachers and Paraprofessionals at pilot schools must receive the same wages and benefits that are outlined in the contract, and contractual language regarding layoffs must be adhered to. Other than (continued on page 4)

I have questions about becoming ‘Highly Qualified’ in my subject area and for ELL. The BTU is having an Informational Meeting, Tuesday, April 25th from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the BTU run by Phil Veysey, MFT Director of Educational Policy & Programs which will address issues concerning being ‘Highly Qualified’, Certification, Recertification, NCLB, HOUSSE Plans, as well as changes in ELL and SPED requirements. Participants will have ample opportunity to have their questions answered. If you are attending, please RSVP by April 13th to Caren Carew, or 617-288-2000. In addition, the BPS Human Resources Department has a Director of Licensure, Certification & NCLB, Victoria Hom. She is currently on leave, and Nick Balasalle is filling in. He can be reached at 617-635-9610. Do teachers have to perform non-teaching tasks? The contract states, “The parties [BTU & BPS] agree that the present practice of requiring teachers to perform non-teaching tasks is uneconomical; further it has a deteriorating effect on the vitality and effectiveness of the teacher in the practice of his or her profession. It is therefore agreed as follows: In Elementary Schools – The Committee and the Union recognize the desirability of relieving teachers of non-teaching duties such as lunch duty, duplicating of materials, collecting money for purposes such as milk, insurance, pictures and school banking. As a first step in effectuating these principles, the parties agree that elementary teachers shall have no bus duty before or after school. In Middle Schools – A person will not be required to perform street duty where police protection is considered necessary but it is not available. A person is not required to perform traffic control. Teachers relieved by school paras of administrative assignments shall not be assigned to teaching duties in lieu of such administrative assignments. No industrial arts, vocational education, or home economics teacher shall be required to perform work that is not part of the pupil instructional program or part of the teacher’s job duties. Teachers are encouraged to cooperate in meeting reasonable requests made with reasonable lead time prior to events related to school activities.” The administration wants us to stay after school for more and more time. Is there any limit? On the subject of ‘limits on additional work’, the contract clearly states: “Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement [contract] a teacher shall not be required to be present at a school for more than the regular working day for that level, unless they agree to do so voluntarily.” Teachers work the standard school day and the additional 18 hours of professional development time annually. Special programs at specific schools such as the Timilty, the McKinleys, some pilot schools, Superintendent’s ‘Underperforming Schools’, and the like do have additional required time beyond the standard school day. Additional professional development time, after school tutoring, detention, clubs, etc. is performed voluntarily by teachers, even if additional compensation is offered. Teachers can not be compelled to work any time beyond the contractual school day and year. Certainly, such situations may be beneficial to a particular teacher and they may choose to participate. Keeping students after school to make up work, for remediation, or as a consequence for misbehavior has often proved helpful to me as a teacher. I’ve done it when I’ve initiated it. However, the administration could not assign me to do school wide detention for tardy students and the like; it is my choice. Emphasis is on the word choice. Teachers are pro– choice in this context, and may not be compelled to participate. If we wanted a job that required that, we’d be working at Wal-Mart or for a charter school. When a school is writing its Whole School Improvement Plan (WSIP), teachers should participate and pay close attention to the length and type of professional development and programs being proposed for the upcoming school year(s). The ILT, SSC, and the entire school community have a stake in these plans and should be actively involved in their development. Inattention often results in programs and professional development being included in the WSIP which far exceed the time called for in the contract. A little extra attention up front usually prevents the ‘surprise’ factor when the plan is implemented. If the administrator makes a major push at the school for additional time that teachers have not agreed to, there should be push back. Teachers should constructively participate in their School Site Council and Faculty Senate in order to build community, capacity, and gain a stronger voice in the direction of their professional day and destiny. There is strength in numbers. While we ‘focus on children’ we also need to focus on developing our own efficacy as professionals through ongoing participation in the development of the mission of our schools, the plans to meet those missions, and the thoughtful implementation of same. How may bereavement days are teachers entitled to? “In the event of a death in the immediate family, including mother-in-law, fatherin-law or anyone residing in the same household with the teacher, up to five (5) days without loss of pay shall be provided. Days are consecutive school days immediately preceding, following or including the day of death. Holidays, vacations or suspended sessions shall be considered school days under this provision. One (1) day without loss of pay shall be provided for a niece, nephew, uncle, aunt, and in-law other than above. Three (3) days without loss of pay shall be provided for a grandchild/parent.” What is the ‘contractual hourly rate’ for teachers? The current contractual hourly rate for teachers is $35.68. As of August 31, 2006 it will be $36.08, with any additional raise negotiated for the next school year applied to that figure. During the standard school day, individual teachers are paid at their own rate based on the amount of years teaching (step level) and the amount of educational degrees obtained and graduate credit earned (salary lanes) applied for, approved, and on file at BPS Human Resources. United we stand – divided we beg. I am fighting for you – let’s stand up together! BTUnity!


Commentary by Xochitl Perez-Castillo

The Teachers Union Role in Professional Development
Last fall, I attended a regional “diversity” conference and was alarmed when a teacher stood up and yelled, “Why in the world did 300 of us have to watch Music of the Heart and eat jelly-beans and count that as professional development??!!” She added, “I could have been in my classroom inputting my students’ DRA scores, grading the end of unit math test and making calls to parents! That was a total waste of my time!” The crowd erupted with roaring applause. It isn’t that we all had DRA scores to input or math tests to grade. No. Her question was obviously not going to be answered that day, but it was a generic and rhetorical question many of us ask ourselves every time we sit in a professional development workshop where we struggle to find a connection to our own classroom. Teachers around the country will tell you one sure thing about district provided or contracted professional development services – these services are mostly a dis-service to the teaching profession. Teachers complain that in the era of No Child Left Behind, meaningful professional development is what has been left behind. While policy makers and district leaders have focused on requirements for licensure, processes for hiring (and firing) and on standards for assessing what teachers should know and be able to do in their subject areas, they have neglected precisely the kind of work that we do in our schools ever y day. They have neglected our work with students and their families! How did professional development get to become so mediocre and out of sync with what teachers want? Some researchers (Linda Darling-Hammond and Barnett Barry) will tell you flat out that it is because teachers themselves are not part of the decision-making process for choosing curricula. Teachers are left out of the decision-making process for developing standards for professional development. And, teachers are often shut out from the opportunities to provide exper t knowledge through professional development workshops because districts tend to hire “experts” outside of the district to tell teachers what to do. It’s time teachers and their unions were more involved in professional development. What is to be done? It is important to consider a more direct question: if our school districts are not providing appropriate supports for our teachers, then what is the role of our teachers union in providing professional development? At the heart of the answer is an examination primarily of how professional development can be meaningful and job-embedded. Not surprisingly, to many of us in schools, the best professional development is the kind that deals with tangible day-to-day issues such as teachers conferencing about student discipline and academic progress in a planned and thoughtful format. Professional development that is meaningful also involves opportunities for us to observe one another – in schools and in workshops for teachers provided by teachers. Professional development, growth as it was originally intended, can be more meaningful when we seize the opportunities to learn from one another, remove the isolation of the classroom and even from the school, and work collaboratively across the different branches of our profession. Where could we find such professional development opportunities and who is best positioned to provide such services to our members? Our teachers union is best positioned to become a principal provider of such professional development. Why? Because the teachers union is the only organization in our public school system that encourages interaction between elementar y and secondar y school faculty, that allows for participation and representation of current and retired expert teachers, and that purposely meets to gather the collective wisdom of teachers, nurses, school itinerants, etc. Precisely because the teachers union is a collective of professionals it is the union’s responsibility to engage in professional development, curricular decisions, and academic planning in the district. In essence, unions provide a vital connection to the membership through expanded membership activities and professional opportunities. How can unions become the principal providers of professional development? Let’s look at the area of teacher licensure. If you are moving through the complex licensure process in New Mexico, consider what the Albuquerque Federation of Teachers is supporting this spring. This AFT affiliate is providing teachers with workshops on how to prepare a successful dossier to submit for licensure. (For more information on how this sister union set up these workshops go to Who in this union would like to help us establish a series of workshops to inform teachers on how to move through the licensure and relicensure processes so that we don’t go at it alone? Let’s get some volunteers to help lead our union workshops in these areas. Already licensed? Consider the United Teachers of Dade yearlong series of workshops for a cadre of about 75 teachers to prepare for National Board Certification (NBCT). In this sister union’s coursework educators are led through the NB process with the following courses provided by NBCT teachers: videotape analysis; addressing diversity in the classroom; strengthening writing styles; and authentic forms of assessment. (For more information on how this sister union set up these workshops go to Maureen Roach and Maggie Hoyt of the BTU have embraced a similar approach in our district. What we need to do to support them is lobby the district for greater resources and buy-in to support these talented teachers in their quest to help more BTU members become National Board certified teachers. As an educator in Massachusetts, what if you are beyond the Initial license and are trying to move from the Provisional to the Professional licensure? Did you know that union sponsored and directed courses in Minneapolis in their “Union University” count toward certification? Courses include topics on how to establish appropriate peer coaching relationships and how to help teachers reward progress one student at a time, not one test at a time. This sister union has worked not only on developing their own set of courses but in specifically establishing professional development centers that are teacher led, managed and sponsored. Each teacher center therefore looks at specific areas of teacher development, licensure, mentoring, coaching, collaborative teaching, etc. In Minneapolis, a Professional Development Center is a “learning environment that fosters teacher collaboration and development to improve professional practice and raise student achievement.” (For more information on how these professional development centers are set up in Minneapolis go to In Boston, let’s revive our Teacher Center and our Professional Development schools to focus on such topics! While you are wondering where to become involved, consider how much closer our union could be with widespread participation in our professional development conference, Bridging Culture and Language - Working with ELL students in Our Classrooms. On April 8th, the BTU will sponsor an all day professional development conference specifically focusing on English Language (continued on page 11)

Election Notice


andidates for the position of Executive Vice President of the Boston Teachers Union must submit Nomination Papers to the Elections Committee at the BTU Membership Meeting on April 12, 2006. To be certified, candidates must submit signatures of at least one hundred (100) members in good standing. Members may not sign for more than one (1) candidate. Candidates should also submit statements of two hundred (200) words or less for publication in the May issue of the Boston Union Teacher and include a photo. This submission can either be handed to Mary Glynn or Erik Berg at the April Membership Meeting or preferably e-mailed by April 12, 2006 to and

What Are Pilot Schools?…
(continued from page 3)

that, pilot schools are free from most contractual work rules and School Committee policies regarding curriculum, professional development, schedule, etc. Pilot schools are governed by a Governing Board, consisting of parents, teachers, and community members. With the new

agreement, pilot school teachers will also be compensated when their school’s schedule calls for them to work more than 95 hours annually in excess of contractual requirements. Pilot schools are part of a new movement in school reform, which provides

Boston’s Pilot Schools
High Schools Another Course to College (ACC) Boston Arts Academy (BAA) Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA) Boston Day and Evening Academy* Fenway Pilot High School Greater Egleston Community High School Health Careers Academy* Josiah Quincy Upper School (grades 6-12) New Mission High School Tech Boston Academy Middle Schools The Harbor School New Boston Pilot Middle School (to be named the Lilla Frederick Middle School in September 2006) K-8 Schools Patrick Lyndon School Orchard Gardens Pilot School Mission Hill School Young Achievers School of Science and Math Elementary Schools and ELCs Baldwin Early Learning Center Lee Academy Samuel Mason Elementary School *Also Horace Mann Charter Schools

for “high-autonomy schools,” as a way to allow laboratories of innovation within the public school system. These high autonomy schools, of which pilot schools may be the best known example, aim to give teachers more say over curriculum and instruction, and radically decentralize the management of at least some schools. Traditionally, school systems have operated as though all schools are the same, managed from a central administration, and all teachers are interchangeable parts of a system. Implemented well, pilot schools allow much more leeway at the individual school level, and can allow teachers more freedom and authority in their profession. The new agreement between the BTU and the BPS, detailed elsewhere on these pages, paves the way for more pilot schools while insuring that pilot school teachers are included in the school’s decision-making process and compensated for their hard work.

BTU Phone Numbers
Office ................. Taped Message .... Health & Welfare . Mass. Federation of Teachers ...... 617-288-2000 Function Office . 617-288-3322 617-288-2463 Lounge Office ... 617-288-3322 617-288-0500 Vision Center ... 617-288-5540 Tremont 617-423-3342 Credit Union . 781-843-5626


Commentary by Garret Virchick

It’s Time For Health Care For Everyone
This amendment is long overdue. In 1997 a study done by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They estimated that over 100,000 people in the United States die each year because of lack of needed care. This is 3 times the number of people who die each year because of AIDS. What makes this statistic even more outrageous is the fact that we spend more on healthcare (14% of GNP) than any other nation on the face of the earth. To make matters even worse, in the United States 35% of senior citizens report having to cut back on food to pay for their medicine. This is a national disgrace. The elderly do not have to pay for their medication in Canada or any European country. The next time anyone argues with you about the efficiency of the private sector kindly mention these facts. Vicente Navarro, Professor of Public Policy, Sociology and Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, suggests some reasons for our health care problems. Put all modern industrial countries on a continuum from countries that are very corporate friendly (like the United States) to countries that are very labor friendly (such as Sweden) and you find that in the corporate friendly countries you get highly unequal coverage and poor health indicators while in labor friendly counties you find comprehensive health benefits, more equal distribution of resources and better health indicators. No surprise then to learn that under George Bush the profits of medical related industries such as health insurance companies have reached all time highs, while the health of the citizens has declined. And for the first time since 1953, infant mortality rates have increased. Navarro points out that health can also be affected by the amount of social inequality in a country. He contends that measuring inequality needs to go beyond income, and consider the social distance between classes and the lack of social cohesion that results. For example, when you compare a poor person in the United States (average yearly income $12,000) with that of a middle class person in Ghana (making the equivalent of $9,000 per year) you find some surprising results. The poor person in the United States might have more resources than the middle class person in Ghana (a car, better apartment, etc.) but lives on average 2 years less. Why? Navarro contends that the frustrations of living outside the mainstream of U.S. society increases feelings of powerlessness and lack of social cohesion, both giving rise to an increase in health problems. As teachers we see how the lack of adequate health care affects our students. When students do not get the medical attention they need they cannot learn, despite our best efforts. Every day we see the effects of the inequities in our health care system. Obesity is already a national problem. Not making the national news are sobering statistics on teenage depression. It is estimated that 1 in 8 teenagers nationwide may suffer from depression with only 30% getting the help they need. Since many of our students live in poverty I would contend that these statistics may be even higher in our schools. As taxpayers we also bear the brunt of the lack of comprehensive health care. As unions have declined over the past 50 years, fewer and fewer companies are offering affordable health insurance to their employees. One of the most notorious of these companies is Wal-Mart. WalMart’s healthcare plan fails to cover over 50% of its employees. Over 600,000 of its employees do not get any coverage and must rely on government assistance to meet their health needs. Even the most affordable plan that it does offer requires a $1,000 dollar deductible for a single coverage and a $3,000 deductible for a family plan. This one company costs the American taxpayer $210 million annually in health care costs. Nationwide WalMart reaped over $10 billion in profits.

Proposed Health Care Constitutional Amendment
The Language SECTION 1: The People of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hereby declare it necessary and expedient to alter the Constitution by the adoption of the following Article of Amendment: “Upon ratification of this amendment and thereafter, it shall be the obligation and duty of the Legislature and executive officials, on behalf of the Commonwealth, to enact and implement such laws, subject to approval by the voters at a statewide election, as will ensure that no Massachusetts resident lacks comprehensive, affordable and equitably financed health insurance coverage for all medically necessary preventive, acute and chronic health care and mental health care services, prescription drugs and devices.” On May 1, 2006, members of the Massachusetts Legislature will voice their opinion on the above Health Care Constitutional Amendment at the Constitutional Convention. First approved for consideration at the 2004 Constitutional Convention (by a vote of 153-41...three times the total needed), the amendment now needs 50 votes for it to be placed on the November ballot for citizen approval. Why aren’t companies like Wal-Mart required to cover the costs of their employees’ healthcare? In fact, why is healthcare considered a benefit rather than a right? As union members we have affordable health insurance. But do not get comfortable. Nationally the big issue at the bargaining table is the cost of healthcare. Locally we can expect the same. Until there is universal coverage we will always be asked to choose. Do we want lower class sizes, more resources for teaching, a decent salary….or do we want affordable health insurance? These are not choices we should have to make. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Universal Health Care (UHC) could save up to $14 billion annually by spreading the risk over the entire population. Canada, which already has UHC pays 70% less per citizen on healthcare. Call your elected representatives. Tell them to support the Health Care Constitutional Amendment. Despite recent news stories the latest agreement around healthcare on Beacon Hill was not sufficient. The issues are clear. Healthcare is a right and it is time for Massachusetts to enact universal health care for its citizens. (Garret Virchick teaches at Fenway High School and is a member of the BTU Negotiating Team.)

BPS Cell Phone Policy
By Michael J. Maguire
On March 2, 2006 The West Roxbury Transcript ran a story entitled “Stamping out those annoying ring tones.” The article explains how city councilor John Tobin wants to ban cell phones from the Boston Public Schools. Is Councilor Tobin telling us that the BPS still has a problem with cell phones? I thought the School Committee addressed this issue last year. Indeed it did, but sadly the schools themselves are not following the dictates of Court Street. In the article students freely admit to displaying and using their phones frequently during school hours despite the year-old ban on such behavior. More shocking is a quote attributed to Media Communications Technology School Principal Sung-Joon Pai, who stated, “At lunch time, I ask them to put it away.” Ask. Ask? Ironically, cell phones seem like a good tool to have at a school whose name includes communication in its title. But the School Committee has outlawed them, so why does a city councilor feel the need to ban them again? The answer lies not with the policy itself but with the enforcement of the policy; or rather, a lack thereof. The existing policy calls for a person in each school to coordinate the discipline associated with implementing the policy. When the School Committee adopted the policy, I spoke to the committee and asked that a stipend go along with the responsibility. I did so because, while the new policy is a good and needed one, it is in fact an additional requirement on top of many other competing demands. It struck me then and still does so today as unfair to add more demands to an administrator without adding additional resources or rewards. Be that as it may, what if the teachers and principals systemwide confiscated all cell phones, and made all the parents come up to the school in the evening to retrieve them? For a short while there would be chaos and a ton of paperwork generated. Would the BPS cave into parent complaints? I think it would and I think that most administrators are turning a blind eye to the cell phone policy because it is too much work to enforce. I could be wrong but I ask you, who in your school is the coordinator of the cell phone policy? How many cell phones have been confiscated in relation to the number of students who openly display them? And how often do you see an administrator taking a hard line on this policy? Perhaps it is time for the city council to weigh in on the matter. But should they adopt a stricter policy on cell phones, will it even matter? (Michael J. Maguire teaches Latin and Ancient Greek at Boston Latin Academy.)

Cartoon by Gary Huck

The Current State of Education
By Barbara Wilson
The job description of a teacher would seem to be very simple. We are hired to work each day to educate children. It is really not more complicated than that. We must use whatever we have learned along the way either in college, in our continual studies, in our daily lives, or more likely in the classroom to make sure the children in our care learn what we are supposed to teach them. The actual job itself is no easy task. Many of us interact with about 100 students each day and try to meet the needs of each of them as best we can. Others teach smaller numbers of children for longer periods of the day and must teach the three R’s along with whatever else society deems important during this particular time in history. The job of the school administrator, as I see it, is much less complicated. Today’s administrator must do all in his/ her power to make sure that the teachers in each and every school are supported and encouraged to perform as best they can in the classrooms. I will again stress that this is not an easy task. Teachers are as different as the students they teach. We all have different styles of instruction, interacting with students, and dealing with parents and other ancillary personnel in the schools in which we work. There is no magic formula for being an administrator in a school any more than there is a magic formula for teaching children in a classroom. What has remained constant through the years is that administrators will achieve the best results with their teachers in the same way teachers achieve the best results with their students. No child can be badgered, threatened, or coerced into learning. No teacher can be badgered, threatened, or (continued on page 10)


NEA President Reg Weaver and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney announce the partnership agreement between the two organizations. – Photo by Virginia Lee Hunter

NEA and AFL-CIO Announce National Partnership
Local NEA Affiliates May Be Interested
By Erik Berg
The National Education Association, the AFT’s counterpart national teachers union, recently announced a breakthrough partnership with the AFL-CIO that will allow local affiliates of both organizations to work together to meet the needs of working families, and may bring the two national teachers unions closer to a merger. Nationally, the AFT represents more large cities, and was founded as an unabashed labor union, while the NEA, representing more suburban and rural teachers, has maintained some distance from the AFL-CIO as a professional organization, although it represents its members in the collective bargaining and grievance processes just like AFT affiliates. In Massachusetts, the BTU is affiliated with the AFT and the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, while the NEA affiliate is the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which represents teachers in most suburban towns, as well as cities such as Worcester and Springfield. “In this political climate, our organizations need to build on our common goals, and advocate together for our members and our children,” said Reg Weaver, president of the NEA. “Our unions, like our public schools, are fixtures of local communities. Through joint activities we can better strengthen our communities, strengthen our public schools, and strengthen our organizations.” “By giving NEA local members the opportunity to unite with our members, we’ll be able to wage stronger campaigns to help working families fend off escalating assaults on family incomes, education, health care, pensions, and public services,” said AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney. “And we’ll be stronger in the fight for quality, affordable health care for all, retirement security, and a great education for our children.” Affiliates will collaborate on common local goals, like increasing parental involvement in public schools and protecting members’ rights. Both organizations noted that students benefit when their parents earn living wages and have health benefits for their children. This isn’t the first time the two organizations have come together. NEA frequently works with the AFL-CIO to analyze federal and local policy on issues like health care. The two organizations collaborated on proposed Medicare reform legislation. Already, over 220,000 NEA members are affiliated with the AFL-CIO through local and state joint affiliations with the American Federation of Teachers. Statewide teachers unions are merged in Minnesota, Montana, and Florida, while local unions are merged in many other cities. The BTU’s parent organization, the AFT, has long been an AFL-CIO affiliate, and has expressed its support for the labor solidarity agreement. The NEA and the AFL-CIO will remain independent organizations. For the first time, though, NEA locals may become affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The locals must apply through the NEA, and once approved may participate in the AFL-CIO’s community labor councils, such as the local Greater Boston Labor Council. Previously, AFL-CIO and NEA policies prohibited the affiliates from joining the AFL-CIO. AFT President Ed McElroy hailed the accord, as did BTU President Richard Stutman. “Any activity that brings NEA locals and AFT locals under the labor ‘tent’ is worthwhile,” said Stutman. “I look forward to a day when all teachers in this country are united under the same banner fighting for equity in resources for our students, increased professionalism for our members, and true educational reform. We will be successful only when we become a united force.” In the Boston area, reaction from NEA-affiliated union locals was mixed. Phil Katz, president of the Brookline Educators Union, noted that he and his local supported the proposal for a national merger of the NEA and the AFT several years ago. “I already come with a predisposition to join coalitions and build stronger unions.” Katz noted that his local recently changed its name from the “Brookline Educators Association,” and has joined forces with a number of Brookline unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO to fight for health care benefits and civil service rules. He said that when the time is right, he would be putting forth the question of whether his union should join the AFL-CIO. “I see this as a natural step in our progression,” he said. By contrast, Cheryl Turgel, president of the Newton Teachers Association, said that many members of her local would prefer to think of their organization as a “group of professionals,” and contrasted that with a union. Linda Vitiello, longtime president of the Somerville Teachers Association, emphasized that the partnership was a brand new agreement, and that it would take some time for each union local to examine the issue and make a decision.
Boston International High School and English High School students in a far-away place – Photo by Bob Jango helping those less fortunate than themselves.

Bob Jango

BPS Students and Teachers Making A Difference
A group of Boston International High School students spent their February vacation helping the residents of Biloxi, Mississippi to clean up the debris in their yards, still present six months after Hurricane Katrina. Led by Claudia Bell, a history teacher and Anne Wachtmeister, Student Support Coordinator, these energetic students helped six Biloxi families. They also spent a day in the Distribution Center, sponsored by the Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response Team. Their responsibilities included loading boxes of supplies into trailers, filling food and clothing orders for the needy, distributing school supplies to a relocated school and delivering baby blankets to the local hospital. As an introduction to their Facing History and Ourselves course last September, the students had studied the Gulf Coast disaster that occurred during and after Hurricane Katrina. They investigated the effects of inadequate evacuation and recovery efforts as they affected the marginalized residents of the Gulf area. However, nothing prepared them for the shock of seeing first hand the massive piles of rubble where entire neighborhoods of houses once stood, or listening to the stories of gripping experiences and feelings of loss that each family shared with the group. This was a transformative learning experience for both students and teachers. As one student, Stevenson Jean, stated, “When we went to Biloxi, Mississippi to aid the people affected by Hurricane Katrina, I was surprised to see that the well-to-do, as well as the less affluent, both suffered from the ravages of the storm. After Team Mississippi helped many of the afflicted, we felt with us a sense of pride that we made a big difference.” This trip was made possible through individual fund raising of each student, the financial support of the Boston International High headmaster, Oscar Santos, and a $5,000 grant sponsored by the nonprofit organization Collective Planet. This organization, led by Anne Wachtmeister, supports public high school educators in working with their students to create (continued on page 10)

AFT Executive Vice President To Speak at BTU Forum
How has the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) affected your classroom? The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) wants to hear about your experiences in implementing NCLB. AFT Executive Vice President, Antonia Cortese, and the Boston Teachers Union will host a Town Hall Meeting on Monday, April 3rd, at 4:00 to listen to your experiences with the law. Cortese will briefly explain AFT’s campaign to secure needed changes to NCLB and will then ask members about the successes and failures of the law in your school. These anecdotes will be collected to be used by the AFT to provide raAFT Executive Vice President Antonia Cortese tionale for securing needed changes – Photo by Michael Campbell/AFT in the law. In speaking about the Town Hall Meeting, Cortese said, “there is nothing more convincing then being able to say to a Congressman or Senator, ‘I was talking with a group of teachers the other day and they told me that….’” Please attend this important meeting to make sure that your voice is heard! For more information about AFT’s ef for t to change NCLB visit



Photos by


March 10, 2006

Retired TeachersNews
Minutes March 1, 2006
Members Present: Kathleen Connolly, Bill O’Connell Bob Jango, Eileen Ganley, David Donovan, Leonard Miraglia, Anne Broder, Linda McNamee, Mary Cahalane, Sandy Carle, Suzanne Bere, Sue Costello, Sandy Baler-Segal, and Larry Connolly. 1. Meeting called to order by Eileen Ganley at 10:00 a.m. 2. Secretary’s Report presented by Sue Costello. Report accepted. 3. Treasurer’s Report presented by Anne Broder. Report accepted. 4. RTC Coordinator’s Report presented by Bob Jango. Bob has been appointed to the Newspaper Board. Report accepted. 5. Assistant Coordinator’s Report presented by Lenny Miraglia. Delta increase of $2.00 monthly for 2006. Little movement in membership this month. Report accepted. 6. Membership Committee Report presented by Bill O’Connell. We now have 2,076 members. Report accepted. 7. No Remembrance Committee Report this month. 8. Travel Committee Report presented by Mary Calahane and Sue Bere. Rockies trip in May has been cancelled. The new date is June 24. Report accepted. 9. Social Committee Report presented by Eileen Ganley. Spring membership meeting is on Thursday, April 6, and the May Spring Luncheon is May 4. The Fall Luncheon is scheduled for Thursday, September 21. Report accepted. 10. Legislative Committee Report presented by Sandy Carle and Larry Connolly. Janey Frank is still working on a spreadsheet based on activities that people checked off and the cards will be used to add to the emails and update those who have changed their servers. April 6 membership meeting will feature Richard Stutman and Ed Welch as speakers. “Day on the Hill” is scheduled for April 11. Sandy Baler-Segal is working on an automated calling system for “Day on the Hill.” The presentation of plaques to Jay Kaufman and Jamie Murphy took place on February 7. Report accepted. 11. Scholarship Committee Report by Dave Donovan. Applications are coming in with March 17 postmark deadline and in office by March 20. The Chair questioned whether some applicants are family members. Report accepted. 12. Motion to adjourn at 11:30 a.m. New Business: Bill O’Connell has a list of questions for Ed Welch and Richard Stutman to be considered for their agendas on April 6. (Respectfully submitted by Sue Costello.)

Retired Teachers Chapter Calendar of Events • 2006
April 3 April 5 April 6 April 11 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 16 May 16 June 7 June 15 June 22-23 June 29 Open enrollment begins – Health Insurance RTC Executive Board Meeting – 10:00 a.m. at BTU RTC Annual Meeting – 11:00 a.m. at BTU Second annual “Day On the Hill” – (State House) – 9:00 a.m. at BTU RTC Executive Board Meeting – 10:00 a.m. at BTU RTC Spring luncheon – Scholarship winners announced Open enrollment ends – Health Insurance RTC – Norman Rockwell Museum & Red Lion Inn trip (Stockbridge) RTC – Foxwoods Trip RTC Executive Board Meeting – 10:00 a.m. at BTU RTC – Mohegan Sun Trip RTC – Maine Coast Adventure (Camden, ME) RTC – Thimble Island Cruise (Connecticut)

Boston Teachers’ Retirement Association To Reduce Monthy Annuity by $3.00
The Board of Trustees of the Boston Teachers’ Retirement Association, upon the recommendation of its Secretary Jim Keenan, has voted to reduce the amount of the monthly annuity to retired teachers by $3.00. Annuitants are being notified of this change during the month of March with the reduction to take effect in the April payment. All annuities are paid by direct deposit and beneficiaries should be aware that the direct deposit posted at the end of that month will reflect the reduction. The reasons for the action are outlined in the letter to the annuitants. In summary, the number of retired teachers receiving the annuity has reached its highest number in the Fund’s history, more than 2,000, and the investments of the Fund’s annuity have declined for the past two years owing to lower returns on investments. This was directly influenced by the low interest rates being paid during that time. Prior to the decline, the Fund stood at more than five million dollars, a historic high level. At its inception in 1900 under the provisions of Chapter 237 of the Acts of the State Legislature, the Board of Trustees was invested with the responsibility of setting the level of benefits to retired members and of custodianship of the investments of the annuity. It is in keeping with this charge that the decision to reduce the benefits was taken. It is intended that this will be a temporary measure and that a restoration to the prior level will be accomplished as soon as is deemed advisable in keeping with the best interests of all members of the Association, active and retired.

Reminder to RTC Members: Please Access Our Web Pages for RTC Information and the Dates of Upcoming RTC Events.

For Only $5.00 per month

Benefits: ➤ Socialization ➤ Luncheons ➤ Political Activities
Call Bob Jango – Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or Leonard Miraglia – Thursdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 617-288-2000

BTU Retired TeachersChapter

180 Mount Vernon St., Boston, MA 02125

Complete the information below and we will send you the application form: Name _____________________________________ Address ____________________________________ City/Town __________________________________ State/Zip ___________________________________ Telephone __________________________________ Social Security No. ___________________________ Date Retired ________________________________ Retirement No. ______________________________ ❏ Teacher ❏ Paraprofessional

Marlborough St. neighborhood anticipates a long-awaited spring to see the blossoms of last year. – Photo by Bob Jango


Boston Teachers Union Retired Teachers Chapter

Teachers Scapegoated for Disruptive Behavior in Schools
BPS Won’t Fund Appropriate Support Services for Children
By Tom Maher
On October 24, 2005, one of our BTU teachers was threatened with termination or suspension by Superintendent Payzant. The offense – calling 911 to report a student assault against both a teacher and student at a BPS elementary school. The battered student is physically disabled. The teacher has a medical condition that precludes involvement in physical altercations. At the onset of the assault, the “offending” teacher asked school administrators (by school intercom) to intervene, but none would. The teacher was left hanging, thus the call to 911. Nonetheless, the superintendent claims that teachers are prohibited, by BPS personnel policy, from calling 911. On behalf of the teacher, the BTU is fighting the Superintendent’s fallacious claim. The compelling issue, however, is not the aforementioned insident. Rather, it is the twin crises of out-ofcontrol student behavior at some of our schools; and the rebuff by the BPS administration to effectively combat such disorderly behavior. In fact, the BPS is more inclined to cover up the problem rather than face up to it. Those that bear the brunt of such negligence are the students themselves. They deserve all the support they need to eliminate or minimize any obstacles impeding their educational and social progress. The prevalence and severity of violent, disruptive and injurious behaviors has become a major impediment to student learning, and to teachers’ capacity to teach. Alarmingly, it seems to be becoming increasingly common in many schools; and this phenomenon may broaden. Schools are not healthy learning environments for our children when violent, disruptive behaviors are unconstrained. Furthermore, many teachers are spending more and more time dealing with inappropriate behaviors; and increasingly less time dealing with actual classroom instruction. Moreover, incidents of student violence are being covered up – systematically and intentionally. The Superintendent will not acknowledge the crisis. In several schools, administrators will not intervene with students who behave violently or disorderly. They don’t support their teachers; and they don’t offer alternative settings nor warn students about programmatic consequences. They do, however, systematically blame teachers. In numerous schools, working relationships with administrators have become blatantly hostile. Teacher morale has been decimated at many of our schools. As a cruel hoax, teachers are told their poor management skills, or an inability to understand their students and develop a rapport/ triggers the negative behaviors. To add insult to injury, many face disciplinary action and unsatisfactory performance evaluations because we’re held responsible for the violence and disruptions. Teachers are being scapegoated because the system will neither acknowledge nor pay for the necessary interventions and support services many of our children need and deserve. No data is being collected consistently and methodically on incidents of violence and school/classroom disruptions. Teachers are routinely discouraged from reporting incidences at several schools, and endure retribution from their administrators should they do so. If trends are not officially documented, they simply don’t exist. The administration is as silent as death. The harsh reality is that schools cannot improve, test scores cannot pick up, educational attainment cannot progress, and the achievement gap will not narrow appreciably, until we proscribe disruptive behaviors wherever necessary. We must call for a safe, nurturing and cooperative school culture. It’s time to expose the truth, by acknowledging the actual breadth and scope of disruptions in our schools. By doing so, we, as both union and public school educators, can responsibly advocate for the support services that we know our children need. Before we solve a problem, we have to acknowledge it – let’s begin with that. Once we do, it’s time to take a bold initiative. Let’s demonstrate once again how we’ve never been about just salaries and benefits. In truth, we’ve fought for our students as much as we have for any cause. In spite of the contemporary political climate affecting public spending, let’s begin an initiative that speaks to the need for more comprehensive and enduring student interventions. In so doing, let’s call for judicious restrictions on punitive, unproductive responses such as expulsions. We need to keep our students in school, but with a full array of supplemental support programs and services that ultimately help them succeed academically and socially. If teachers don’t do this, nobody will. We’re educators first and foremost, and we’re not going to abandon our children. We’re going to embrace them and we’re going to empower them. That’s how teachers focus on children. It’s the Union way. (Tom Maher is a teacher at the Marshall Elementary School.)

Join us at the Norman Rockwell Museum which houses the worlds largest and most significant collection of original Rockwell art. Highlights include enduring favorites from Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers, the powerful Four Freedoms, and the nostalgic Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas. The Norman Rockwell Archive contains more than 100,000 photographs, letters, and other rare mementos. We will also enjoy a complete luncheon at the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge with time for browsing in downtown Stockbridge after lunch.

Price: $82.00 per person Thursday & Friday, June 22 & 23 MAINE COAST ADVENTURE – CAMDEN, MAINE
Join us on this unforgettable two day trip to Maine. We will stop at Norland Living History Center for an old-fashioned country meal served “family style” and the participate in two “Laugh & Learn” experiences. That’s exactly what the 445 acre site is all about – giving people living history experiences which are packed with laughter and learning! We’ll then continue to our accommodations at the lovely COUNTRY INN located in a quiet, wooded setting one minute from Camden with time for shopping or sightseeing in downtown Camden. Enjoy funfilled entertainment at the Inn or just relax in the indoor pool. On day two, we’ll continue to Boothbay Harbor with time for shopping and sightseeing prior to boarding “The Argo” to Cabbage Island for “The Original Downeast Lobsterbake.”

Are you concerned about new licensure requirements? Do you want to be sure you are “Highly Qualified?”
The BTU is hosting a meeting regarding Certification, Recertification, NCLB, HOUSSE Plans, and related issues on Tuesday, April 25th from 4:006:00 p.m. at the BTU. Phil Veysey, MFT Director of Educational Policy & Programs will lead the session and take question from members. If you are attending, please RSVP by April 13th to Caren Carew, or 617-288-2000.

Price: $264.00 per person double occupancy

Board the Sea Mist for a tour of the Thimble Islands and take a voyage back in time. Located just off the shoreline town of Stony Creek, “The Thimbles” have oftern been described as a piece of the Maine coast that drifted into Long Island Sound and came to rest at Stony Creek.” A complete luncheon is also included at the Stone House Restaurant, Guilford, Connecticut and time for browsing in Guilford, a quintessential New England town nestled along the lower Connecticut shoreline. Guildford Handicrafts Center has made the community a destination for skilled jewelers, potters, weavers and others interested in the art of fine crafts.

Harvard Graduate School of Education Askwith Education Forum Announces Upcoming Lectures
Harvard Graduate School of Education is sponsoring a series of lectures related to the achievement gap issue. A schedule of upcoming sessions is found below: ➤ Inspiring our Students for Success: There are No Shortcuts Tuesday, April 4 • 5:30-7:00 p.m. ➤ Participatory Action Research and Education: Moving Beyond the Research-Practice Gap Monday, April 17 • 5:30-7:00 p.m. ➤ Why High School Graduates Become College Dropouts and What to Do About It? Tuesday, April 25 • 5:30-7:00 p.m. ➤ Schooling America: How the Public Schools Meet the Nation’s Changing Needs Wednesday, May 10 • 5:30-7:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the general public. More details about all of these events can be found at

Price: $76.00 per person

For Information Contact: BTU Retired Teachers Chapter Wednesday mornings between 10 am & 12 NOON (617) 288-2000 (Please call for individual flyers)


Bob Jango

BTU Affiliates
The Boston Teachers Union, Local 66, is a local union affiliated with a number of larger organizations: ❖ The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a national federation of 52 unions, representing more than 9 million working men and women ❖ The Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the state affiliate of the AFL-CIO ❖ The Greater Boston Labor Council, the AFL-CIO’s branch for the Boston area ❖ The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a national union representing teachers, education support personnel, health care workers, and public employees ❖ The Massachusetts Federation of Teachers (MFT), a statewide organization of local unions affiliated with the AFT ❖ Education International, an international organization of teacher unions representing teachers worldwide

Commemorative Dates Barely Noted
During the end of December, I often look over the many calendars I acquire. One especially impressed me because it listed many interesting occurrences on a wide variety of events that are not particularly known or acknowledged. The years of this listing range from 1215 A.D. to 1911 A.D. I have ignored many events because they are very well known. Hopefully my dates contain elements of humor, anomalies, little-known individuals and an assortment of inventors of many commonly-used contrivances, or objects that today are not fully appreciated. They are listed by the month followed by the day: January 12 1906 13 1910 14 1794 21 1908 26 1875 27 1910 31 1905 Forward pass in football made legal Opera was heard live on radio for the first time First successful Caesarean operation in the U.S. Smoking in public illegal for women in New York City Dental drill patented Inventor of the flushing toilet Thomas Crapper died The Napier Auto exceeds speed of 100 mph (104.5 mph)

The Current State of Education…
(continued from page 5)

February 3 1831 U.S. copyright law began protecting music 10 1863 Circus performer General Tom Thumb married Lavinia Warren 23 1893 Rudolph Diesel patented the Diesel engine March 3 1903 Sing Sing Prison began finger printing inmates 24 1900 Ground-breaking for New York City subway system 30 1858 H. Lipman patented the pencil and eraser combination April 6 15 22 28 28 May 6 21 24 26 31 1904 1819 1914 1901 1789 1851 1881 1883 1721 1889 North Pole discovered First School for the deaf established Babe Ruth’s pitching debut with the Red Sox Auto license plates required Mutiny of the Bounty occurred Linus Yale Jr. patents the lock and key American Red Cross founded Brooklyn Bridge opened Small pox epidemic on Boston Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood kills 2,300

June 15 1215 King John sealed Magna Carta 16 1883 First Ladies Day in baseball 17 1885 French vessel Isere delivers Statue of Liberty to New York City 20 1893 Lizzie Borden found “Not Guilty” July 8 1796 Francis M. Barrere receives first U.S. passport 23 1868 First typewriter patented August 6 1762 10 1846 12 1851 15 1502 22 1865 September 5 1847 13 1814 14 1716 October 1 1908 8 1871 10 1845 13 1893 16 1793 18 1867 28 1466 The Earl of Sandwich made the first sandwich Smithsonian Institute founded in Washington, D.C. Singer patented the sewing machine Christopher Columbus “discovered” the cacao bean Liquid soap patented Jesse James born Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” First lighthouse in North America lit in Boston Henry Ford introduces the Model T Great Chicago Fire U.S. Naval Academy founded in Annapolis, Maryland Happy Birthday sung for the first time Marie Antoinette beheaded Alaska sold to the U.S. for $7.2 million Erasmus Desiderius born

coerced into being a good teacher. It simply does not work that way. As we move into the new millennium, I am told that we cannot teach children the way we learned. Children are different now and we must conform to new methods of instruction in order to effectively teach them. I adamantly disagree with this thinking. I admit the children of today are different in many ways than decades ago. They are smarter in many ways, more informed about the world around them in some ways, much more “street smart” than we were. However, I believe that they are the same as I was in many more ways. Children want to learn. They want to know that their teachers care about them and in fact, want to teach them. They may not always act that way, but it is clear to me from my years of experience in the classroom that the teachers children admire are the ones who teach each and every day. Children want to know what is expected of them and they want to know that the teacher in the classroom is in charge of the class. Many of the changes mandated by the school system support the classroom teacher and the children in his/her charge. However, some changes are just change for the sake of change. Teachers and students know this. We are not robots who go in to classrooms each day without knowledge of what works and what does not. Even the novice teacher who takes on the responsibilities of this awesome profession will learn quickly how best to teach our children. It has always been my opinion that the excitement of teaching is maintained each day not so much by what I teach but by what I learn from my students about how best to teach them what they need to know. I would suggest that our novice administrators take a lesson from this and learn from the teachers in their charge about what makes good education in their schools. We have so much to offer.

Education today is driven by a political agenda and mandated testing. The logical person to blame for low test scores and the achievement gap is the classroom teacher. If we were just a little better at what we do, our children would all pass and in fact, excel on these statewide exams. And so our school system has become top heavy with administrators, assistants, program directors, consultants, coaches, and any number of people who are hired to show our teachers how to teach. How very convenient for those who are actually responsible for the education of our children. It is my belief that the administrators of the schools today actually surrendered their responsibilities to the children of our schools. They meet, consult, write memos, create prescriptions for teaching instead of actually doing the job as it is supposed to be done. Support the classroom teacher in the work he/she does everyday with the children and the schools will become superior places of learning again. Acknowledge the wealth of information, experience, expertise and creativity that each teacher brings to the classroom and the schools will show improvement. There are still some administrators in our schools who believe in their teachers — and I have been blessed to work for some wonderful men and women over the years. However, the number of administrators who have little or no respect for their teachers seems to be growing. This has not gone unnoticed by those of us who are working directly with students in the classroom each and every day. Do not assume that teachers are imposters, that our credentials are suspect, and that we really don’t know what we’re doing. Assume the best in us as we do of our students. Most often, we all rise to a level of expectation based on trust and an acknowledgement of integrity. (Barbara Wilson teaches at West Roxbury Education Complex.)

BPS Students and Teachers Making A Difference…
(continued from page 6)

November 5 1872 Susan B. Anthony is fined for voting 6 1861 The minister James Naismith invents basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts 18 1307 William Tell shoots apple off son’s head 20 1866 Yo-yo patented December 8 1894 18 1737 28 1869 30 1894 E.C. Segar creates “Popeye” Antonio Stradivari died Chewing gum patented by Mr. Wrigley Amelia Bloomer (undergarment designer) died

(Bob Jango is the RTC Coordinator and is a member of the BTU Executive Board.)

transformative learning trips that engage and challenge the ways young people view themselves and the world around them. To this end, Collective Planet will also help to sponsor a community service trip to build houses in Honduras. During April vacation, 33 students and teachers from Boston International High and English High will travel together to Tegucigalpa to build a house and renovate a small school in the village of Mulular. This will be English High’s fourth visit and Boston International High’s first visit to the area. Coordinated by history teachers Claudia Bell and Rajeeve Martyn, Team Honduras from both schools has been participating together in team building

and fund raising activities for this trip. Even with the financial help of Collective Planet and the administration of both schools, Team Honduras has the challenging task of raising $40,000 for building supplies and traveling expenses. If you would like to support Team Honduras, please send your tax-deductible check, made payable to either school (with “Team Honduras” in the memo line) and mail to: Claudia Bell, Boston International High School, 25 Glen Road, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 or Rajeeve Martyn, English High School, 144 McBride Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. (Bob Jango is the RTC Coordinator and is a member of the BTU Executive Board.)


Teacher of the Year Nomination Forms Available
Do you know a colleague who is an outstanding educator? Consider nominating him or her for a Boston Teacher of the Year award! Too often, we teachers are so busy working hard on behalf of our students that we forget to publicly recognize the good work that goes on in our schools. The Teacher of the Year program, jointly sponsored by the BTU, the Mayor’s office, and the School Department, is a good opportunity to provide some recognition for our members, the unsung heroes who go above and beyond for their students day after day, year after year. If you know of a colleague who fits this description, please submit the application form found at the right by April 6 to nominate that teacher for this prestigious award.

Dear principals, teachers, parents, and BPS partners: We are delighted to announce that planning is already underway for our 2006 Boston Teachers of the Year celebration - this year scheduled for June 12. At that time, we will publicly honor a select group of Boston’s outstanding teachers — educators who have made a unique contribution to their students, their classrooms, and their schools. Each year we are impressed by the quality and breadth of the nominated teachers and by all who participate in the process. We know that you work with a number of terrific teachers and ask that you please take the time to help with the nomination process. In conjunction with your school community, could you please select teachers who best meet the criteria as outlined on the form below? Please consider all teachers, from all programs. Our focus will be on acknowledging the individual teacher, recognizing that all good teachers are strong team players. It would be most helpful if you could also include additional letters and information to support your nomination(s). Letters from parents and co-workers are particularly useful, though form letters are not. At your earliest convenience, but no later than April 6, please fill in the attached form and either mail it to Martha Pierce, Mayor’s Office, City Hall, Boston, MA 02201, or fax it to her at 617-635-2858 (phone number: 617-6354476). Letters of support may be e-mailed to: An independent committee composed of a School Committee member, principals, teachers, and parents will make the final selections. We welcome you to join us on June 12 to celebrate our 2006 winners. Details of the event will be forthcoming. We thank you in advance for your cooperation in recognizing outstanding educators and for once again helping to make this celebration a great success. Sincerely, Thomas M. Menino Mayor of Boston Thomas W. Payzant Superintendent, Boston Public Schools Elizabeth Reilinger Chair, Boston School Committee Richard Stutman President, Boston Teachers Union

Take One!

Get In On the Act for National Board Certification
By Maggie Hoyt and Maureen Roach
Want to raise your salary by 4% and be singled out as an expert in your field? The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) has a new program which can start you on your way. NBPTS has a new offering for educators called Take One! which is a classroom-based professional development program available to all teachers and school counselors regardless of their experience level. Take One! participants are expected to study the NBPTS Standards, complete one portfolio entry in their area of certification using their classroom, and submit the entry to NBPTS to be scored in accordance with the deadlines and policies of the current NBPT assessment. The classroom-based portfolio entry requires that participants provide video recordings of interactions between themselves and their students, and collect particular kinds of student work. The entry also requires a 10-12 page written commentary that describes, analyzes, and reflects on the evidence of teaching and learning contained in the submission. Take One! can be ordered now for the 2006-2007 cycle, which means that the entries will be scored in the summer of 2007, with scores released no later than December 31, 2007. Portfolio entries will be due back to NBPTS on April 15, 2007. • Take One! provides a job-embedded and sustained staff development experience that helps build learning communities in schools, and strengthens professional collaboration among teachers in the same learning community. • Take One! provides an opportunity for teachers who have been considering seeking National Board Certification to enter the process and begin to see themselves as highly qualified practitioners. Added Bonus –Those who choose to become candidates for National Board Certification (within a three-year window), and who have submitted their portfolio entry in accordance with policies of the current NBPTS assessment program, can also choose to transfer their Take One! score and simply complete the remaining nine components of the assessment to continue their pursuit of National Board Certification. Further information about Take One! is available on the National Board website ( (Maggie Hoyt teaches Media Communications at Technology High School and Maureen Roach is a retired teacher.)

Only one form per teacher is necessary, but additional letters of support are welcomed – by mail or e-mail at addresses below: Your name: ___________________________________________________ Your affiliation: ________________________________________________ Address: _____________________________________________________ Phone: _______________________________________________________ Teacher’s name* (not a dept. head, please): _________________________ Teacher’s school: ______________________________________________ Number of years teaching / as teacher with BPS (must be at least 3)_____ / at your school______ Teacher’s grade, subject, and/or program: __________________________ Teacher’s home address: ________________________________________ Teacher’s home phone number: __________________________________ Signatures: _______________________________________ Principal/Headmaster _______________________________________ Nominating Signature (if different) _______________________________________ School Site Council Co-Chair _______________________________________ BTU Representative Please comment, giving concrete examples that reflect the criteria below, on why you believe this teacher should be honored. Award Winners: • Have demonstrated a deep commitment to the students in their classrooms, to their school as a whole, and to their subject matter; • Have shown a willingness to adapt to changes in teaching and learning and working with children of all abilities; • Have reached out to parents; • Have “gone above and beyond” and have taken on additional responsibilities outside of their own classrooms (such as mentoring and helping other teachers, engaging in extra-curricular activities, working with the local community, furthering their own professional development); • Teach their subject with creativity, innovation, passion, and depth; • Have taught in the Boston Public Schools for at least three years and have clearly developed an enthusiasm for teaching Boston Public School children. Please mail or fax by April 6, 2006: Martha Pierce, Boston City Hall, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02201 Fax: 617-635-2858 Letters of support may be e-mailed to: Questions, call Martha at 617-635-4476

The Teachers Union Role in Professional Development…
(continued from page 4)

Learners (ELL) students in Boston. Teachers, paraprofessionals and other BTU members will be able to receive PDPs for engaging in workshops focusing on strategies for working with students from diverse backgrounds, specific sheltered English immersion practices, and strategies for working with newcomers to the district. Attendees will also learn what specific requirements for Highly Qualified Teachers they must meet under NCLB. The opportunities for teacher unions can be and should be to learn to get comfortable living in both worlds – strategic bargaining for sound professional development and involvement in operational aspects to ensure high quality professional development. So, if you would like to share some ideas or take the lead on any number of professional

development opportunities or committees mentioned here please contact me. Together we can do it and you can help! (Xochitl Perez-Castillo teaches at the John F. Kennedy Elementary School and is Co-Chair of the BTU Professional Development Committee.)

President of New Orleans Teachers Union to Visit Boston
Brenda Mitchell, the President of United Teachers of New Orleans, will speak at the next BTU Membership Meeting on April 12, 4:00 p.m. at the BTU. Please attend to hear about how hurricane Katrina affected the schools of New Orleans and how the Bush administration and other shameless opponents of public education are taking advantage of this tragedy to implement their right-wing agenda.

Contribute to the AFT Disaster Relief Fund
BTU members can help our brother and sister teachers in New Orleans and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina by making contributions to the AFT Disaster Relief Fund, which provides direct assistance to AFT members who are victims of natural disasters. You may contribute online at or you may send your contribution to: AFT Disaster Relief Fund Attn: Connie Cordovilla 555 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001 The IRS has now approved the AFT Disaster Relief Fund as a charitable entity under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to the fund made since the hurricane’s landfall (Aug. 28) are tax deductible to the extent permissible by the law.


BTU: Active On All Fronts!
Photos by Mary Glynn
Senator Ted Kennedy “rallies the troops” at his unofficial kick-off celebration.

BTU Members Listen Attentively to President’s Report.

Election Committee Chair Kristen Pinto Nominates Members to the Committee.

BTU Building Representatives Diligently Take Notes at the March Membership Meeting.

Nia Burke Announces the Trena Atkins & Family Benefit.


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