Members and Community Partners Build Power in New Bedford

Members and Community Partners Build Power in New Bedford

Merrie Najimy

Merrie Najimy, President


Three months of grassroots, member and community organizing led to a spectacular turnout of people for the New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools' speak-out against the proposed charter school expansion in the city.

A multiracial, multiethnic and multilingual group of nearly 300 educators, students, parents and other concerned community members came together at the NBCSOS event to share their positive experiences in the New Bedford Public Schools and to learn about the catastrophic impact that the expansion of the charter schools would produce. So how did it come to be?

Community partners from the Cape Verdean and Puerto Rican communities worked as a team with New Bedford Educators Association leaders and members to revive the NBCSOS. The coalition developed an approach that began with dialogues in schools throughout the city.

As members grew a sense of their own agency, they developed plans for reaching out to families using strategies such as leafleting at pickup times, phone banking, and canvassing both New Bedford No on 2 voters and residents in the neighborhoods. Members used multilingual MTA/NEA organizing staff as a resource in support of their initiatives.

The goal of this outreach was to invite parents to conversations in neighborhoods across the city to discuss what is working in the schools, what obstacles they face and how to fight back against the proposed charter expansion. The coalition organized eight neighborhood forums. These forums provided a critical foundation that led to families feeling a sense of their agency and contributed to turning out residents for the larger citywide community forum. The coalition's next step is to gather, reflect on the progress made and determine future actions.

A powerful community movement has begun in New Bedford, initiated by educators just like you. We must and we can grow local movements like this all across Massachusetts so that we can resist the accountability and austerity policies that have robbed our students of meaningful learning and starved our schools of the resources they need.

Educators throughout the Commonwealth are standing up in record numbers to fight for the contracts they deserve and the funding their schools need. We are building new networks of solidarity across locals. Let's harness this energy in this hopeful moment and build movements as people are doing in New Bedford.

MTA Vice President Max Page and I are with you to support this work. Invite us to visit your local.

Tell DESE: "No More Charter Seats in New Bedford!"
The charter forum in New Bedford was amazing, but now we need to get the word to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that New Bedford doesn't want more charter seats, doesn't need them and can't afford them. Whether or not you teach or live in New Bedford, your voice makes a difference. Please send a message opposing adding new seats to New Bedford charter schools to so your opposition is part of the official record.

Stand With Haverhill on December 3 Against a New Charter
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is holding a public hearing on the Wildflower Charter proposal for a new school in Haverhill from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3. The hearing will be on the third floor of Haverhill's Harbor Place at 2 Merrimack St. Haverhill's schools are already underfunded. Join Haverhill educators in saying "NO" to a new charter school.

Steep Discount on Educational Materials from Beacon Press
Beacon Press has many titles that focus on progressive education, including Lift Us Up, Don't Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement. The press is currently offering MTA members a 30 percent discount on this book and any other educational materials. Enter the code MTA30 at checkout.

In Solidarity,


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