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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

May 10, 2020 EBulletin

I hope all is well, and that everyone is surviving these times. Like all of you, this just seems to go on and on--with no clear end in sight. As we all deal with large concerns and small...I have a small kvetch I would like to share with you: Are you finding that you have never washed so many dishes every day as you are washing now? It's crazy.

Distance Learning Update David Fleishman sent an email to staff last week updating you on the tweaks to the Distance Learning Plan, and linked the Google Doc of the full learning plan. The most recent changes to the plan are underlined. We have created a PDF of the plan with the underlined changes and posted it here, on our NTA website There is one especially important thing to know and understand about the Distance Learning Plan – it exists as the result of an agreement between NPS and the NTA. As a negotiated agreement, we can hold the district accountable for keeping to its terms. Our aim was to set out expectations as clearly as possible, set limits, and provide for consistency. If you or others in your school are asked to do something beyond the scope of this agreement, you can push back. Reach out to your building representative for support. Remember: The Distance Learning Plan is a contract, and we can enforce it as such. Moreover, where the Distance Learning Plan or the Memorandum of agreement are silent, then the Collective Bargaining Agreements between the Newton Public Schools and the Newton Teachers Association remain in effect. Covid-19 Update Many members are asking: What is going to happen next year?  First of all, we want to let you know that the NTA Executive Committee is meeting regularly to discuss plans for the fall. We don't know what will happen, but we will make sure that we plan for all contingencies, and negotiate an agreement with the district that includes educator voices.  Second, as you are probably aware, much of what happens next school year, and especially in the following school year, depends on what happens in Washington in the next few weeks. And that is really scary. Specifically, much depends on the next round of stimulus funding in Washington. Trump, Betsy DeVos, and Mitch McConnell will push for more tax cuts for the wealthy, more privatization, and no additional (desperately needed) funding for states and municipalities. Click here to send a message to your representatives and senators in Washington to support public education, not private gain, in the next stimulus package!  Not convinced to act yet? Remember the last recession, in 2008? Republicans stonewalled additional funding for states and municipalities in the stimulus package that Barack Obama signed into law. The result: layoffs of teachers and other prek-12 educators across the nation, deep cuts to public higher ed that have yet to be restored, and cuts to other municipal and state services. The pain of that recession lasted much longer, and hurt much more, than was necessary. We lived with a narrative of "austerity" and "privatization" that lasted for years and years..a narrative that was just beginning to abate these last couple of years! We can't let them do that to our nation, and our nation's children, again.

This is all happening right now, fast. We must make sure our voices are heard in the debates that will happen for this next round of stimulus. Our allies in congress will speak more forcefully if they know you are listening!  What can you do to help? It takes less than two minutes to make your voice heard in the debate for public education! Click here to send a message to your representatives and senators in Washington to support public education, not private gain, in the next stimulus package!  This opportunity could go by quicker than you can blink. Act now. We do not want to all be looking at layoffs in the fall of 2021. Absences

Many members have asked: What if I must be absent from work? If you must be absent, you should report your absence as you ordinarily would by using AESOP, and by communicating with your supervisor. For example, if you are unable to work because your child is ill, then you would report that you are using a family illness day. If you cannot teach on a particular day because you are attending a "virtual commencement exercise" for your child who is graduating from high school or college, you would indicate you are using an "other" day for commencement exercises. If you need to use one of your two personal days, indicate that. In short, do what you would ordinarily do.  We negotiated one change for absences: If you are out for your own or a family member's illness, HR will not deduct a day from your allocation of sick days to cover that absence. Everything else remains the same. Many members have also asked: Can I be expected to cover for other teachers or make-up classes or services that I miss due to absence? Contractually, you are not obligated to do this. If it is convenient, and you wish to do so, you may...but this should not be an expectation of you from your supervisor. And you should be cautious about doing so if this feeds into expectations that everyone do so. New Member Training Opportunities The MTA is offering webinars targeted to new members, one on loan forgiveness and one on PTS. Space is limited in these offerings. If you are unable to register, or if you have questions, contact NTA New Member Liaison, Ariana Foster, If there is enough local interest in the these workshops, we might be able to schedule a workshop specifically for Newton educators. Loan Forgiveness: The Loan Forgiveness training, conducted by credit expert Todd Friedhaber of Cambridge Credit Counseling,  explains exactly what educators need to do to qualify for federal loan forgiveness.  

Registration link: Wednesday, May, 3:30-5:00pm Wednesday, May 20, 4:00-5:30pm Wednesday, May 27, 6:30-8:00pm Monday, June 1, 3:00-4:30pm

PTS/Rights of pre-PTS educators: The Professional Teacher Status training shows teachers exactly how they earn (or don’t earn) professional teacher status – and also the rights they have BEFORE they earn PTS.  

Tuesday, May 12, 3:00-4:00pm

Thursday, May 14, 3:00-4:00pm

Tuesday, May 19, 3:00-4:00pm

MTA Massachusetts Child Funds Available The Massachusetts Child Fund is making available approximately $4,000 in additional funding to the Newton Teachers Association to support enrichment and educational materials for students in need. You can apply directly to Mass Child electronically. They have set up an electronic application form on the Mass Child page of the MTA website. Make sure that you contact Chris Walsh at before you apply. Tell her: 1) the items you plan to purchase, and 2) approximate cost. She will then be able to let you know whether or not your proposed purchase will be reimbursed before you have spent the money yourself.  Deadlines Unum Disability Insurance Open Enrollment Period Ends May 22 You probably have been inundated with emails announcing the open enrollment period for UNUM disability insurance from MTA Benefits.  NTA recommends that members sign up for long term disability insurance through UNUM. We do not recommend other UNUM plans at this time, including short term disability insurance, UNLESS you plan on using short term disability insurance to extend the length of a maternity leave.  Click here or on the picture below or call the number below to schedule an appointment with an Unum representative to discuss your options. Out-of-Assigned District Application for children of NTA members due June 1 The district has extended the deadline for submitting an application to have your children attend the NPS if you live out-of-district until June 30.  The Google Form for applying can be accessed by clicking here. **** Thank you for reading. "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." Please take care and stay well. Mike  



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