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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Newton teachers’ strike ends with deal

The Newton teachers’ strike, which began Jan. 19 after an overwhelming majority of the Newton Teachers Association voted to do so, ended with an agreement struck between the NTA and Newton School Committee. 

Striking began after a rally and press conference held outside Newton’s City Hall. According to an article from WCVB, the NTA’s demands were for sufficient funding of Newton Public Schools, including “a living wage for aides and behavior therapists, to offer classroom teachers competitive pay raises, to hire more social workers and support staff to address the student mental health crisis and to establish modern, humane paid family leave for all educators.” [1]

The strike came in the wake of a year of negotiations for a new contract for Newton Public Schools educators. However, teachers were frustrated with Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and the Newton School Committee for not having made any “meaningful movement” in negotiations.

CBS News reports that the new agreement “significantly increased salaries for all aides, made adjustments to salaries for increased cost of living, added additional social workers at the elementary level, additional staff to reduce class sizes at the high school level, expanded parental leave, and adjustments to funding of insurance benefits and healthcare structure.” [2]

While this is doubtlessly a victory for Newton teachers and their students who struggle with mental health, the NTA has been criticized by politicians and even parents for the lengthy strike. The strike, which lasted a total of fifteen days, was the longest in recent history. 

Other Massachusetts teachers’ strikes have been held in areas such as Brookline, Haverhill, Malden and Woburn. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for public employees, such as teachers, to strike. This has not stopped local educators from arguing for livable wages and more funding for schools.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association, a union of teachers from across the entire state, have pushed for the legalization of strikes. MTA President Max Page further explains in an article from Boston 25 News, “What unites some of these places are these high-priced ‘union busting’ lawyers. They heighten the divisiveness, show great disrespect for [union] members and only makes things worse. That is a component school committees need to look at.”

Newton resident and president of the NTA, Mike Zilles, went onto Boston Public Radio to address criticisms of the teachers’ strike. 

Opponents of the strike, such as some parents, have argued that it took learning time away from students, but Zilles told BPR, “[Students] will be going to school for 180 days, so they won’t lose any days. And there is a system put in place by our special ed programing directors to monitor the progress of all the students over the course of the year and design interventions, if they’re needed.” [4]

Page, as the president of the NTA, knows more than anyone on the school committee, or Mayor Fuller, that teachers will benefit from the new agreement. He recalls stories of NTA members who were unable to help their students because of inadequate mental health resources.

As a result of the fifteen day strike, the Newton School Committee chose to cancel February vacation to make up for lost school time, according to the Newton Beacon. The committee is also examining other options, such as April vacation and some weekends. Schools can only be open until June 30 at maximum under Massachusetts law. 

  1. https://www.wcvb.com/article/newton-massachusetts-teacher-strike-vote/46446196
  2. https://www.cbsnews.com/boston/news/newton-massachusetts-teachers-strike-over/
  3. https://www.boston25news.com/news/local/could-more-teachers-strikes-be-horizon-massachusetts/BFTAKUU2DRGZ7CNUEA3LAWPM6I/
  4. https://www.wgbh.org/news/education-news/2024-02-09/newton-teachers-association-president-responds-to-criticisms-over-11-day-teachers-strike
  5. https://www.newtonbeacon.org/school-committee-cancels-february-vacation-and-april-vacation-could-be-next/