EMAC Conference participants to hear from nationally prominent speakers
By Jean Conley
T his year’s Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee Conference will offer participants the chance to discuss some of the most pressing issues
facing educators today, attend workshops to build
their skills, and broaden their professional networks.
“Equality, Activism and the Road Ahead” is the
theme of the conference, which will be held at the
Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center
on Dec. 4 and 5.
EMAC Chair Christine Boseman stressed that
all MTA members are invited to the event. While last
year’s 35th anniversary conference celebrated those
who were the driving force behind ethnic minority
participation and advancement in the association and
built the strong foundation for EMAC, this year the
focus will be on the future.
“We look forward to
hearing from activists in
other parts of the country
who can help inform the
debate on issues such as
equality and fairness,”
Boseman said. “Our keynote
speakers and many of our
workshops will address
those issues directly.
“The important thing
we want to take away from this conference is finding
more ways to stand up and make our voices heard —
as educators, as ethnic minorities and as members of
communities,” Boseman added.
After registration and check-in on Friday,
a dinner will open with welcoming remarks by
Boseman and MTA President Barbara Madeloni,
followed by the evening’s keynote speaker, Jitu
Brown is the national director of the Journey
for Justice Alliance, a coalition of 21 parent-led
organizations across the country demanding
alternatives to the privatization and dismantling of
public school systems.
Brown has been an organizer in the Kenwood
Oakland neighborhood of Chicago for two decades,
bringing parent voices to the table on school issues.
He is an outspoken critic of the elimination of
community voice from the decision-making process
regarding public schools, and last year he became
a lead organizer of the hunger strike for Chicago’s
Dyett High School.
Madeloni said she has been moved and inspired
by Brown’s courage and leadership.
“The Fight for Dyett hunger strike taught me
what passion, conviction and courage look like on
the ground,” she said.
She added that Brown “embodies what it means
to care deeply for our students and communities and
take action in the face of injustice. It is an honor
that he will be coming to share his wisdom and
organizing knowledge with us.”
The dinner on Friday night will be followed by
music and dancing.
Saturday morning workshop sessions include
Community Organizing; Diversity: Challenges in
the Labor Movement; Documented, Undocumented,
and DACAmented: How to Talk About Immigration
Status in Schools; and Working with English
The lunchtime keynote
speech on Saturday will be
given by Clayola Brown,
whose union activism began
in the early 1960s when she
and her mother campaigned
to organize the Manhattan
Shirt Factory in Charleston,
She is the first female
president of the A. Philip
Randolph Institute, which was founded in 1965 by
civil rights leaders fighting for workers’ rights and
The organization is named for Randolph, an
integral figure in the early Civil Rights Movement
who organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping
Car Porters, the first predominantly African
American labor union.
Saturday afternoon workshop sessions include
Destroying the School-to-Prison Pipeline, an
Introduction to iPads, and Minorities in the Media. A
wrap-up session will conclude the conference.
To register for the conference online, please
visit www.massteacher.org/emac. For further
information, e-mail coordinator Jennifer Freeling
in the Division of Training and Professional
Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the
division at 617.878.8153.
Springfield celebrates success of grant effort
By Scott McLennan
O ne year, the Hiram L. Dorman School in Springfield counted 64 out-of-school suspensions. Last year there were three.
Educators and administrators at Dorman credit
the improved school climate to a concerted effort in
helping parents support their children’s education.
Much of that work, the educators say, was
achieved through home visits during which
classroom teachers got to know their students’
families while parents and caregivers grew more at
ease with the school.
“I’m more interested in a dashboard of
indicators than any one standardized test to figure out
how well a school is doing,” said National Education
Association President Lily Eskelsen García, who
visited the school on Oct. 28. “When you look at a
drop in suspensions like that, that’s a good indicator
for school climate and learning.”
Eskelsen García’s visit was in celebration of
a successful collaborative program that enlisted
Springfield educators, parents and administrators in
trying to close student achievement gaps.
The NEA Foundation provided a $1.2 million
grant for the program, called the Springfield
Collaboration for Change, and the city was required
to match the funding. With the five-year NEA grant
coming to an end, the program must now find the
funds to sustain itself.
Five elementary schools participated in the
program, which was shaped in large part by members
of the Springfield Education Association.
The schools reported both academic improvements and better working environments as a result
NEA Foundation President Harriet Sanford,
left, watched teacher Gail Roberts-Reese work
with a student at the Samuel Bowles School.
Photo by Scott McLennan