Maskachusetts Teachers Consider Returning to Work

“Reopening and Reimagining Our Public Schools”, from the Massachusetts Teachers Association (a.k.a. “teacher’s union”), describes a theoretical world in which those who are paid to teach actually have to work more than an hour or two per day and may have to commute to a physical school.

Do you send out one email every Monday morning and then host a couple of group video chats later in the week? You’re a hero!

Educators will continue their heroic efforts from this spring and will work hard to make our schools ready for our students this fall. Educators, through their unions and in collaboration with students and families, must play a central decision-making role in the return-to-school plan, district by district. Ultimately, we will decide if these directives have been met by the state and the districts.

Everywhere that the schools previously had a rainbow there will now be a double rainbow:

We cannot go back to the status quo, which was actively harming many of our youth, families, and educators of color, as well as people from other marginalized groups, including our LGBTQ+ students. We must instead be bold and create free and equitable schools where education liberates and empowers our youth so a brighter future is possible for all of us.

[among the “Key Directives”] Curriculum must reflect and affirm our LGBTQ+ students.

This is a bit odd when you think about it. LGBTQIA+ students weren’t being reflected and affirmed previously. I am sure that we will all agree that this was a terrible situation. But who created that situation if not the very unionized teachers who now say that the situation must end? What was stopping them from reflecting and affirming LGBTQIA+ students six hours per day every day?

There is one Key Directive that is worth putting in bold:

Eliminate MCAS and reevaluate the ways our public schools are assessed.

In other words, the only objective test of student learning has to be tossed out. (Admittedly, the raw MCAS does not measure school performance that well since the children of well-educated parents tend to score highly even if their teachers don’t teach anything.)

Teachers should be hired and promoted based on skin color:

We must prioritize hiring, retaining and promoting educators of color.

But will the older white teachers resign or subject themselves to firing in the event of poor performance in order to make room for educators of color?

Here’s a principle that I can support wholeheartedly:

Every student — and every educator — deserves access to the basic tools of a modern society: a computer and reliable internet access.

Would someone please tell this to Comcast?

As soon as the first person anywhere in the state gets a fever in November and a positive coronavirus test, the teachers will go back home to their pets and gardens:

Educators must be supported with … effective practices for crisis learning remotely.

Districts must provide support … if we are again forced to return to crisis learning remotely.

One fact that I learned about a private school was that they have already wired up every classroom with video cameras so that students who need to stay home for any reason can participate remotely and see what is going on in the physical class.

A related document from the same union: “Facing the Coronavirus as a Just Community: An Agenda for Our Public Schools and Colleges and for the Common Good”. Some excerpts:

The MTA is a union of 116,000 educators … We are entering a dangerous and unknown peak period of this pandemic. … We present these demands of local and state officials …

Keep schools closed statewide for as long as necessary to ensure the health of students, faculty, and staff. No educator should be required to come to work when schools are closed for students. Any vulnerable staff should be able to stay home with no loss of pay or benefits.

All educators – full-time, part-time, hourly and per-diem workers, including teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers – must be fully paid during this time,

Guarantee that pay and pensions are not affected by the pandemic.

Declare a moratorium on all educator evaluations

Based on the above, I don’t think my friend is going to get that property tax refund he had been expecting based on the fact that his middle schoolers did not receive any education after mid March.

[Our own town of Lincoln, Massachusetts will presumably be one of the last to reopen its schools due to the fact that the square footage is going to be dramatically reduced via a $110 million construction project that moves children into cramped trailers with minimal windows and doors from 2020 through 2023:

They couldn’t find a place to build a new building on the 70-acre campus (above) while continuing to use the old building.]


15 thoughts on “Maskachusetts Teachers Consider Returning to Work

  1. I was in a large, southern Walmart Supercenter on Saturday afternoon. The store was busy and bustling. The auto repair business was closed until further notice. All entrances, except for one main entrance, were cloesed. All employees wore facemasks. About 50% of the customers were black and all of them wore facemasks. All Hispanic customers wore facemasks. Beside myself, the only people not wearing facemasks were a handful of younger White people.

    In an apparent cost-savings attempt, fifteen registers were self-checkout, while four were staffed with register clerks fronted with a 3×3 sheet of plexiglass.

    • Yesterday I splurged on myself and ordered a pizza and an order of garlic bread from a chain restaurant. They’ve jacked all their prices into Fifth Avenue territory because business has not rebounded, even though restaurants were allowed to reopen for indoor dining. A 10″ individual-sized pizza and a box of stale garlic bread cost $26. I did curbside pickup in an empty parking lot, with perhaps 2 or 3 customer cars in the lot.

      These restaurant businesses are all still tanking, they’re not recovering. They’re not employing any kids out of school for the summer, either. This was a Saturday evening and in pre-Plague times their parking lot was nearly always full. So they’re not paying any waitstaff, some of their food is sitting around for hours or days under heat lamps, and their prices are higher than ever so they can eke by and keep the doors open. If MA shuts the restaurants down again, these establishments are gone.

  2. So let’s say that our entire economy is increasingly based on froth — froth is like inflation, but rather than just a price increase on a clearly defined good/service, froth signals a greater or added value for the formerly clearly defined good or service, while increasing the price. Froth allows for the original understanding of the good/service to be replaced or crowded out by the new definition.

    Froth is LGBTQIA+. Froth is diversity and equity. Froth is “keeping us safe”. So you must continue to pay high taxes to teachers, not to educate your children effectively, but to “keep us safe”. The “us”, in this case, are the “educators – full-time, part-time, hourly and per-diem workers, including teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers “.

    Froth was previously confined to luxury good. You would pay $100 for an ill-fitting pret-a-porter t-shirt at Armani Exchange, rather than pay $10 for the same t-shirt and then $30 to pay a tailor to fit it properly. Froth has to do with the alienation of labour, or rather our increased inability to do anything for ourselves. Most clothing used to be home-made, when women knew how to sew. Consider that a woman used to increase her marriage prospects by practicing her embroidery to show her fitness for useful household tasks. The hope chest is now something you buy on Etsy, and fill with things you buy on Etsy.

    Moral instruction used to be the province of church and family. It was outside of the money economy. Now we relegate moral instruction to the schools, mostly to subvert traditional religion and family culture.

    Froth is a frappacino latte — it is mostly hot air.

    When froth was confined to luxury goods, it was confined to the rich with money to burn. When froth becomes central to government-provided goods and services, funded by government deficit-spending and taxes, the froth corrupts the fundamental value of important things like medicine and education and policing.

    Government froth is about the redistributing of wealth, but it works by paying the rich to provide to the poor mostly hot air.

    Froth destroys real value and replaces it with perceived value.

    A house built on a foundation of rock is stronger than one based on sand. We now deliberately build on frappacinos — and would you like to round up your purchase to donate to preserving the habitat of the endangered albino hooded newt? We are committed to renewable energy to fight climate change. That will be $17. We accept EBT.

  3. Wait until someone tries to do something really insane, like putting a temporary cap on public school system’s budget. That just happened in Medford, where the new mayor announced that the appropriation would remain the same this year at $61,250,000. Since last year, their fixed costs rose by $3.5 million, so it meant they’d have to do some layoffs until the pandemic is over or additional funding sources are identified:

    “Superintendent Marice Edouard-Vincent’s plan to account for the $3.5 million cut includes eliminating four administrators, six non-union staff, four secretaries, 25 teachers, one paraprofessional and seven retirement positions, as well as $700,000 in supply and other non-staff reductions, School Committee member Jenny Graham said last week. Despite this, the superintendent’s plan fell $500,000 short.”

    Protests in the streets!


  4. I believe that two phases have to take place, where (1) the classrooms are prepared for remote teachers, and then (2) remote teachers from around the world are brought in to teach topics relevant to their experiences and struggles. I think that an American teacher from Massachusetts is not qualified to teach about racism, climate change, social justice, sexual orientation, euthanasia, or a myriad of such critical social topics that they cannot understand for reasons ranging from their privilege to their ignorance (due to their limited understanding because of systemic racism, capitalism, etc.). Only with a global education do we have a chance to educate the kind of youth that will be able to finally change the hate and violence and defund the police, and ultimately the military.

    • Sarah! That is brilliant! In a globalized world, why does all of the teaching come from a local white person? Even without going global, students here in Massachusetts could learn a lot more about life in inner-city St. Louis by hearing from someone who actually lives in inner-city St. Louis than having their $100,000/year suburban-based white teacher talk hypothetically about inner-city St. Louis.

    • Actually your post gives me an idea. As long as we have tele-medicine now, we should use doctors from underrepresented regions of the world, such as Bangladesh. They can bring a wider range of knowledge and experiences to us, and so it would be mutually beneficial. To prevent from exploiting them, we should pay a similar fee.

  5. I have an idea that Medford Public Schools could try to balance their school budget: even though Medford (Tufts University) is a predominantly middle-class town, they do have pockets of modest wealth and the high property values associated with it. Every week I see property listings in Medford well over $1M.

    Why not just decree that any property valued over $500,000 in Medford is subject to a tax that recoups 50% of the equity for the school system? That would balance the budget on the backs of the millionaires. After all, Medford’s great public schools must be the reason for the high property values, those homeowners didn’t build that.

    Either that, or they could just raise the property taxes again. They’re going to have to do that anyway if they want to build a new high school (which is in the cards). Here are the current property tax rates and average values in Medford:
    Just kick all the property taxes up by 50% and they’ll be in great shape.

  6. > Every student — and every educator — deserves access to the basic tools of a modern society: a computer and reliable internet access.

    An inner-city teacher xis experience with school computers: “We issued each student a laptop, and it was a pretty small school, about 850 kids. Throughout the year we had to issue about 1000 replacements. The kids kept pawning them, or just destroying them for fun. Several times I caught groups of them just throwing the laptops against the wall or down stairs, cackling and howling while taking turns filming it for Vine. Every single TI83 calculator was stolen from every science and math class.”

    • Oh, this is old news, and the kids are amateurs! In West Riviera, Florida (near Palm Beach) back in 2017, a school principal (salary: $93,200) was caught pawning a MacBook Pro laptop five times in one year. She was placed on **paid leave** while the school system investigated.

      After the local news orgs. dug a little deeper, it turned out that she was doing a lot more with taxpayer funds, like using a school district-issued credit card:

      “Documents obtained by CBS12 Investigates from the Palm Beach County School District allegedly show Lindsey-Latson used a tax-payer funded purchasing card to make what a district investigator termed “questionable transactions” on items like car keys for $238.00, jewelry for $270.00 and accent rugs for $79.00. That doesn’t include hundreds of dollars spent at Publix, Wal-Mart, McDonalds and at Domino’s Pizza.”

      She resigned. She was not fired, AFAIK, and is still employed by the same district as an “ESE Coordinator.” ( ) under “Student Services”

      One good reason, incidentally, for getting the police out of school districts would be to eliminate detectives, because that’s how she got caught in the first place. So you get them out of there, and hey, you know, that stuff will never happen again.

      The kicker:
      “In her place, the school’s assistant principal, Willie Nelson, will lead the campus, Deputy Superintendent David Christiansen wrote.”

  7. Oh, Phil, you need to be fair to those poor teachers about how hard it is to work now. It is that hard for everybody, that’s why you have no electricity at your house, and your water and sewage don’t work, and nobody has picked up your garbage for months, and there is no gas at the gas stations, and the food stores are all closed, and Amazon can’t deliver anything to you. It’s basically impossible for anyone to work in this situation, and it is especially hard if you are a tenured teacher working from your own home.

    These poor teachers have it really hard. They’ll be able to teach classes on “the struggle” at some point in the future (after it is safe to do so, of course).

  8. Not only do public school teachers get paid for no work for weeks on end, my city closed all recreational activities in early March – pools, tennis courts, ball fields, community centers, auditorium and facilities rentals – all ceased for almost four months now. But a staff of over 50 have continued to get full pay w/o any work. No one really knows what these workers have been doing all day. The annual city budget is looking at a $2 MM shortfall for the remainder of this fiscal year and at least that for next FY; which will have to be made up out of reserves and a property tax increases. Unpaid furloughs would be the smart way to reduce expenses, but no talk about that yet.

Comments are closed.