Teachers Union Demands Major Changes Before Schools Return

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The largest teachers' union in Massachusetts has announced several demands to the state before schools are set reopen this Fall.

The list of demands from the Massachusetts Teachers Association focuses on issues like staff and student safety after the coronavirus pandemic, rethinking policing in schools, and addressing racial equality in education.

The MTA released its list on Thursday, and according to President Merrie Najimy, the union wants the state to essentially reimagine Massachusetts Public Schools.

"The buildings have to be physically safe," Najimy told WBZ NewsRadio. "And we need to begin to dismantle the systemic racism that is foundational to public education in terms of funding, resources, staffing, and curriculum, which includes getting rid of MCAS."

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is currently enforced throughout the state's K-12 public education system.

However, the MTA says instead of MCAS standards, it wants its teachers to have "the freedom to work with students and families to develop curriculum that is reflective of what the school community values."

The MTA also wants school curricula to be "actively antiracist to reflect and affirm students of color, their cultures and their histories — and fight against xenophobia in all of its forms," and for it to "reflect and affirm our LGBTQ+ students."

According to the MTA, the directives for reopening state schools resulted from "thousands of conversations and dozens of public forums with educators, parents and other community members that have already taken place."

The key directives includes demanding "full funding of the Student Opportunity Act," which especially helps "those from the most vulnerable and most marginalized groups."

It also states that school resources need to "move away from security and policing" and should instead be "directed toward social, emotional, mental health and public health solutions."

In addition, the MTA says going forward, "every school must have a core of multilingual staff and interpreters so that families can be full participants in their children’s education."

Focusing on COVID-19 safety measures, the MTA also said school staff will need "personal protective equipment, testing and all necessary materials for maintaining safety" to be provided by the state.

Read the MTA's full list of demands here.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal reports:

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