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What We Are Reading March 19, 2021

Chris Bilal, the curator of What We Are Reading, is guided by the light of Toni Morrison’s belief that “Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.”

This weekend, the BTU encourages you take political action by cozying up where you can and taking a deep dive into a range of texts that generate knowledge, inspire reflection and create change. *Click our photos to dive in.

What Corey is Reading This Weekend

“Inside a Long, Messy Year of Reopening Schools

Teachers unions were accused of being obstinate and compromising education. The real story is a lot more complex.

“Standardized Testing During the Pandemic is Corporate Welfare Not Student Equity”

This has nothing to do with helping students overcome the problems of a pandemic. It is corporate welfare. Plain and simple. Standardized testing is a multi-million dollar business. States spend more than $1.7 billion every year on testing. In 45 states, assessments at the primary level alone cost taxpayers $669 million.

What Diamonte is Reading This Weekend

“The Memorandum of Understanding Between The BTU and BCPSS”

The BTU was able to secure many protections for teachers and PSRPs, despite the district’s general unwillingness to do little more than it was required to by law. I encourage all members to review it so that you know your rights. This agreement with the district does not mean that the BTU supports expanding in-person learning or members working on site given the current unpreparedness. We remain opposed to expanding in-person learning until it is safe. However, the support that we were able to leverage from you, your colleagues, your comrades and parents speaking truth to the School Board created pressure that yielded important protections for members that we would not otherwise have. Thank you for backing up the negotiations team with your actions!

“Roberts Rules of Order” by General Henry M/ Robert

Robert’s Rules of Order is the recognized guide to smooth, orderly, and fairly conducted meetings. This 12th edition is the only current manual to have been maintained and updated since 1876 under the continuing program established by General Henry M. Robert himself. As indispensable now as the original edition was more than a century ago, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised is the acknowledged “gold standard” for meeting rules.

What Cristina is Reading This Weekend

“Song of Solomon” by St. Toni Morrison

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. As Morrison follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, she introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized Black world.


A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story, this #1 New York Times bestseller is both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times). In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child — not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power — the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

What Natalia is Reading This Weekend

“The Coronavirus Made the Radical Possible”

Last spring, as a poorly understood virus swept the planet­, something remarkable happened: Across the country, all levels of government put in place policies that just a few months earlier would have been seen by most people — not to mention most politicians — as radical and politically naïve.

“Three Feet or Six? Distancing Guideline for Schools Stirs Debate”

Some public health officials say it’s time for the C.D.C. to loosen its social distancing guidelines for classrooms, but the idea has detractors.

What Zach Is Reading This Weekend

“The BTU Teacher Chapter Contract”

The BTU Teacher Chapter contract expires at the end of this school year, and we will begin to negotiate with the district soon. We need to hear from as many members as possible to help us create our initial set of proposals to ensure our district creates the schools that students and staff deserve. Please complete this survey to share your ideas for what should be priorities in our next contract. Complete the survey here:

“The BTU Health & Safety Guide”

The reopening of school buildings requires consistent commitment to health and safety protocols. Zach is making sure that the district is honoring these committments. When we hear anecdotes and reports from our BTU Reporting Tool that our members and the guide are being generally dishonoured, we will take action including but not limited to filing grievances to protect our members and their families.

What We Are Collectively Reading

“The Baltimore Educator Volume 2, Issue 1”

All of these stories have had a major impact on me. It gave me and continues to give me more strength to keep on fighting. I’m fighting so that the members who have to be in buildings in unsafe conditions can get what they need to feel safe. I’m fighting to keep even more people from having to go into unsafe conditions in the first place. -President Diamonte Brown

Yours for liberation,

Chris Bilal, PSRP Member Engagement Team Associate