Our 2015-2016 agenda grows from a broad and deep vision that includes supporting the public schools that every child deserves, strengthening educators’ voices and protecting their right to speak, and safeguarding the well-being of children, educators, families and our communities. The issues we address in our agenda and the vision it rests upon will help to guide not only our legislative work but also our organizing efforts.
The Schools our Children Deserve
Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing and PARCC
An Act relative to a moratorium on high-stakes testing and PARCC
Sponsor: Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge)
- Three-year moratorium on the use of PARCC.
- Three-year moratorium on the use of standardized testing to determine:
- High school graduation
- Evaluation of teachers
- Assessing performance of schools or districts
- Establishes a task force of stakeholders to meet during the first 18 months to measure the use of standardized tests as a high school graduation requirement in evaluating educators and in assessing schools and districts against the paramount goal laid out in the Education Reform Act of 1993. Six statewide hearings will be held, with a report issued at the end of this period.
Moratorium on Charters and Licensure Requirement
An Act establishing a moratorium for Commonwealth charter schools
- Requires all teachers hired by Commonwealth charter schools to obtain a teaching license.
- Places a three-year moratorium on charter school expansion.
Sponsor: Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton)
Language Acquisition Programs
An Act for language opportunities for our kids (LOOK)
- Updates law to encompass the latest in academic research and best practices in public schools serving English language learners and allows all districts to choose high quality alternate language acquisition programs based on the needs of students, in addition to Sheltered English Immersion.
- Encourages parent involvement in selecting, advocating for and participating in English language learner programs.
- Recognizes the value of bilingualism and biliteracy skills by establishing a state Seal of Biliteracy that districts can award to high school graduates who demonstrate proficiency in two or more languages.
- Requires no major changes to existing programs or initiatives such as RETELL currently underway through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Sponsors: Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D- Jamaica Plain)
Universal PreK and Mandatory Full-Day Kindergarten
An Act for universal early education and full-day kindergarten
- Requires the Board of Early Education and Care to establish a fully funded early education program for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the Commonwealth, five days a week, year-round. The program would be phased in, first in low- income districts, and fully established and fully funded by Sept. 1, 2020, and would require all early education teachers to be licensed by 2020.
- Requires all children to attend a full-day kindergarten.
Sponsor: Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett)
Invest in Higher Education Faculty and Staff
An Act to invest in higher education faculty
- Increases the number of undergraduate courses taught by full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty at public higher education institutions to at least 75 percent.
- Increases per-course pay for adjuncts so compensation is in line with full-time non-tenure track faculty.
- Adjuncts who work half-time based on a cumulative workload at one or more public higher education institutions would be eligible for the same health care and pension benefits as tenure-track faculty members.
- Adjuncts to receive consideration for teaching assignments and tenure-track positions.
Sponsor: Rep. Paul Mark (D-Peru)
An Act establishing an educational mandate task force
- Sets up an educational mandate task force to review existing state mandates on public schools and districts and to develop recommendations to streamline, consolidate or eliminate such mandates or reporting requirements. Refiling of H3722 from the 2013-2014 session.
Sponsor: Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley)
An Act related to unfunded mandates on public schools
- Requires DESE to conduct an analysis of all new state laws, regulations or administrative directives, including the cost these laws and directives have on school districts and their employees and the impact they have on time on learning in the classroom and overall impact on improving student achievement.
Sponsors: Reps. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) and Dan Donahue (D- Worcester) / Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport)
Amplify and Protect Educators’ Voices
Educator Seats on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
An Act relative to the composition of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Sponsors: Sen. Ken Donnelly (D- Arlington) / Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington)
- Adds two teacher representatives chosen by the governor to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education – one from a list of three teacher representatives submitted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and one from a list of three teacher representatives submitted by the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts.
Protection for Public Employees from Workplace Bullying
An Act prohibiting the bullying of public school employees
- Prohibits public employers from creating or maintaining an abusive work environment (workplace bullying) and
allows affected public employees to obtain legal remedies not currently available.
- Also protects public employees from hostile work environments created by others in the workplace including, for example, in schools, from students, parents or other non-school employees. The public employer would be required to respond to allegations of bullying and to take actions to address such situations.
Sponsor: Rep. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton)
Restoration of Just-Cause Standard for Termination of Teachers
An Act related to just-cause terminations
- Re-establishes the “just-cause” standard in dismissal cases for teachers, consistent with the legislative intent and more than 20 years of case law undone by the 2014 Supreme Judicial Court decision Lexington v. Zagaeski.
Sponsor: Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Harwich)
Protection of Collective Bargaining Rights
An Act promoting collaboration at level 4/5 schools
Sponsor: Rep. Michael Brady (D-Brockton)
- Maintains the employment rights within the district for teachers who are transferred from turnaround schools.
Eliminate the Fee for Fingerprinting
An Act relative to national background check fees
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Stanley (D-Waltham)
- Eliminates the fee paid by public school employees to cover the cost of the national background check and allows employees to deduct the amount of this fee from their next educator licensure renewal. Employees or retired employees who paid the fee and are not subject to educator licensure renewal shall be reimbursed by the state.
Public Employee Right to Strike
An Act to further regulate the right to strike of public employees
Sponsor: Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston)
- Amends the current law by allowing public employees the right to strike free from interference, restraint or coercion should the Department of Labor Relations determine that the action of the public employees has been caused in whole or in part by unfair labor practices committed by the employer.
The Well-Being of Educators, Families and Our Communities
Living Wage for State Employees and State Contractors
An Act creating a living wage for employees and contracted employees of the Commonwealth
Sponsor: Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge)
- Creates a living wage of $15 per hour for employees of the Commonwealth and its contractors/subcontractors and includes indexing for inflation and enforcement provisions based on both the Massachusetts minimum wage and Boston’s living wage ordinance.
Increase the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Retirees
An Act relative to increasing the COLA base
Sponsor: Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington)
- Increases the current base used to calculate the annual cost-of-living adjustment for retirees of the MTRS and MSERS
from 3 percent of $13,000 to 3 percent of $16,000.