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Resources for Parents to Help Students During TTA Work to Rule

Parents are sounding off about the effects of an extended contract dispute. When a Tewksbury student sent an email to her teacher last week seeking clarification on an assignment, she received this response, which was shared with the Carnation:

The email was sent during the workday, and the student did not receive a response until the next day, when the assignment was due. Other students complain about very limited extra help, canceled field trips and recommendation letters that are not being written.

The Carnation reached out to the Tewksbury Teachers Association about the situation, feedback from parents and the flyers advocating allowing public-sector employees to strike (see end of article) and received this statement from TTA president Connor Bourgoine:

In regards to our automated message, the TTA Contract Action Team has made clear that all members are to activate the automated response during the hours they are not contractually working; however, there may seldom be a time when there is a technical error, as noted in an excerpt from our automated message: “If, by off-chance, you receive this email during the school day at all, that is a technical error. I will be sure to respond to you.”

Along with this, as many stakeholders understand, even if there is an error and one receives this automated message during a teacher’s work day, the teachers and aides of Tewksbury are certainly at work during their contractual hours, supporting student learning and student social & emotional development.

In regards to community support, letters of recommendation are one of the many tasks teachers accomplish that go above and beyond for the students of Tewksbury. From our conversations with parents, many have expressed support that the TTA must push for a fair contract that will support students and the teachers that assist them day in and day out.

In regards to the photograph you have attached, this flier concerns a Massachusetts State Bill proposed by State Representatives Erika Uyterhoeven & Mike Connolly. This bill, like many other legislative initiatives in the past, is one the TTA gives out to its members to reflect and learn about different potential labor proposals going on in our state and country (i.e. the No on 2 Campaign and the Fund our Future Initiative).

While mediation continues to hopefully resolve the issues that separate the TTA and School Committee and administration — including asking K-4 teachers to cover lunch periods and a request for more money — parents are left to fill in the gaps.

Here are some resources that may help students.

General education

The Tewksbury Public Library provides a variety of homework help resources. Residents may also submit an online request for help from a librarian.

ABCMouse is offering a free 30-day trial. It offers curriculum for kids 2 – 8.

HippoCampus.org is aimed at middle schoolers and above with videos in 13 subject areas.

Khan Academy is a popular resource for help in subjects from math to science to history. While Khan Academy mainly offers video explanations of topics, there are also articles and questions students can work through for additional practice.

While mainly aimed at college students, EdX offers free AP and college prep courses.

Students working on papers can access the free Purdue Online Writing Lab for articles on a variety of grammar topics, including how to create an outline and properly cite sources.

High school students can search for topics in the MIT Open Courseware site.

Tutoring, free and paid

The TMHS National Honor Society offers tutoring to students each Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. until 5:45 p.m., until April 12, 2022. Students can use the link below to access the tutoring; break-out rooms will be established. 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89288049761?pwd=ZUtEaitEbFhJOWJIOE44Z1dDMGhwUT09

Meeting ID: 892 8804 9761
Passcode: P5uC92

The Homework Assistance Program (HAP) is a free after-school service led by Harvard University-trained teen mentors. HAP offers homework help, mentorship and activities for students in grades K–8. Join online; bilingual help in various languages is available.

Founded by Sal Khan of Khan Academy, Schoolhouse.world is a platform for free, online, peer-to-peer tutoring. Students who are at least 13 years old can access live help in sessions with one to10 students. Currently, Schoolhouse’s classes center around math and SAT Prep and are available to students nationwide

Stuck on a math homework problem? Confused about a new math concept you learned today in class? Sylvan Math Prep offers free math help on hundreds of topics.

Learn to Be offers one-on-one free tutoring to low-income families who cannot afford paid services. A parent or guardian must apply online.

Bored of Boredom offers free or by-donation tutoring.

Wave Learning Festival will offer free tutoring sessions beginning on Feb. 7.

K12 offers live one-on-one tutoring for a fee. There is an $18 intro session available, or a five-session package is $90.

Don’t see what you need? Search on Varsity Tutors for more options by grade, subject and price.

Other

Kids want an outing? The Library makes it easy to reserve free and reduced-cost museum passes online.

Finally, college admissions experts note that some schools allow students to submit supplemental letters of recommendation from a coach, work supervisor, religious or community leader or other adult who is not related to the child but knows him or her well. Students who are up against a deadline may consider reaching out to one of these adults and asking that person to note in the letter that the student’s teachers are not providing recommendations at this time due to a contract dispute that is out of the child’s control.

Editor’s note: The flyer below is the attached photograph that Bourgoine references in his response, above. It was sent to the Carnation noting that the flyer is being displayed in the schools. Note that such flyers are expressly prohibited without permission by Tewksbury school policy: “No political activity is to be conducted within any school facility under the jurisdiction of the Tewksbury School Committee without the express approval of the Tewksbury School Committee. Material including but not restricted to posters, handbills, cards, placards, pictures, circulars, any literature, buttons, signs, and/or stickers intended to influence any person within the school facility may not be exhibited, circulated, or distributed.”

Lorna is a 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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