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Newton Teachers Win the Contract We All Deserve

Newton Teachers Win the Contract We All Deserve


Despite strikes being illegal in the state of Massachusetts, 98% of the Newton Public School union (2,000 members) voted to authorize a strike starting Jan. 19. Massachusetts is one of dozens of states where public employees are prohibited from striking. The striking organization can be heavily fined, fired, or in some cases even jailed. 

Quiet Quitting Didn’t Work

The union was bargaining with Newton Public Schools for 10 months leading up to the previous contract’s expiration on Aug. 31, 2023. Even before the start of the current school year, the Newton Teachers Association urged the district to negotiate a new contract by holding rallies and encouraging “work to rule,” where teachers only work the hours stated in their contract and nothing more. Any teacher will tell you that “working to rule” which is also known as “Quiet quitting” breaks down the school machine quite a bit because so much work is done outside of school hours. 

An Illegal Strike Takes Bravery

For two weeks, members of the union stood outside Newton Public Schools administrative offices with signs that said things like, “Schools just want to have funds.” With 98% of their teachers on strike, parents were obviously not happy. Finally, it looked like an agreement was happening. 

A Compromise and an Obnoxious Comment

They had reached a compromise on almost everything except teacher prep time. It was at this time that the chair of the school committee went on the radio and spoke about his concerns over teacher prep time. Apparently he said he was worried that teachers might use the additional prep time for “coffee and yoga classes.” This is clearly a comment from a person who has never had to actually prep for a class. 

It Takes Time and Energy

According to the president of the Newton Teachers Association, it wasn’t just the two-week long strike that helped usher in a fair new contract. “Consistent member participation over the course of a 16-month campaign is what helped the union ultimately secure a favorable new contract.”

The New Contract

Newton Public School employees received the cost of living increase they asked for, along with increased parental and sick leave. A large focus of the strike was mental health. While 

The new deal does not put social workers in every school as requested, it adds about half a dozen social workers to the district and somehow will make district social workers available to students at every school every day. The district and the NTA have also agreed to form a joint task force to address mental health support for the district’s preschools, elementary schools and middle schools.

The head of the union acknowledges that the strike has been very difficult for families and their children. He said, “We are grateful that our community stood behind us to this very moment.”

Heavily Fined

The strike didn’t end without heavy fines against the union. The union now owes $375,000 in total, which was actually reduced from a much higher number. This is more than half of the union’s total assets, and a complete waste of money if you ask this writer!

Fearless Heroes

The teachers and employees in Newton Massachussets are heroes. They took on a daunting and illegal task and put themselves and their students first. If only we all started to stand up for what’s right and refuse to back down, our country’s schools might see real changes!

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Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in Writing and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.