Recent rallies in Holyoke and Boston for better education were attended by Valley residents. On September 8 in Holyoke, activists held a rally in support of a public school teacher who the teachers' union says was fired for his union activism. Until he was fired, Gus Morales was a full-time English teacher in Holyoke, and part-time president of the Holyoke teachers' union, which is part of www.MassTeacher.org.
Morales was fired when he spoke out against his school principle's decision to make students' test scores public. The activists and the union want the school board to re-hire Morales.
Barbara Madeloni is president of www.MassTeacher.org. That's a union with about 110,000 members. “We will defend the free speech and due process rights of any member who speaks out about the harmful effects of testing,” she said of the Morales case.
José Bou owns Salsarengue Restaurant in Holyoke. He said, “Agustin [aka Gus Morales] has been an outspoken leader who has vigorously represented and defended teachers and has not been afraid to question and confront administrators when they have attempted to violate their contracts in ways that harmed both educators and students.”
On September 5, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations found there was probable cause to indicate that Morales was illegally fired for his union activism.
“We are angered by these retaliatory actions against a democratically elected union leader,” said Jon Weissman at the rally. Weissman works for www.jwj.org. “This is more than an attack on Gus Morales as an individual. It is an attack on the rights of all workers, including school employees who dedicate their lives to helping students succeed. It is reprehensible,” Weissman said.
Morales was fired in June.
In other education news, on September 5, Valley residents attended a rally in Boston against student debt. It was organized by www.PhenomOnline.org.
Nearly one million Massachusetts residents have student loan debt. The total of student loan debt for Massachusetts residents is more than $24 billion.
U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts recently introduced a bill that would allow student loan borrowers to get lower interest rates. Nationally, people with student debt would save about $14 billion a year if the bill becomes law. The rally was to support the bill.
In the first photo, the man wearing a purple tie standing next to the “Jobs With Justice” banner is Gus Morales. photo by Scott McLennan
The photo of protesters with green signs was taken at the Boston rally. photo by www.PhenomOnline.org.
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