By Scott McLennan
W ith big changes ahead on the state’s political landscape, MTA members are going all out for candidates who will
support students and educators.
The MTA is recommending Attorney General
Martha Coakley in the race for governor and Steve
Kerrigan for lieutenant governor.
The MTA is backing the re-election of U.S.
Senator Ed Markey and eight members of the U.S.
House of Representatives who are on the general
election ballot. Seth Moulton, who is running in the
6th Congressional District, has also earned MTA’s
Others the MTA is supporting include Maura
Healey for attorney general, Deb Goldberg for
treasurer and Suzanne Bump for auditor, as well as
numerous candidates for seats in the Massachusetts
Senate and House of Representatives. All
recommended candidates are pictured in the Election
Guide provided with this edition of MTA Today.
The MTA’s recommendations on statewide ballot
questions appear on Page 11 of the guide.
The race to succeed Governor Deval Patrick has
tightened between Coakley and her main opponent,
Republican Charlie Baker — and members’ votes
could play a critical part in the outcome. Three
independent candidates are also on the ballot.
Over the summer and into autumn, as the
campaigns heated up and policy differences
between the major candidates came clearly into
view, hundreds of activists throughout the MTA
have stepped up — by phone banking, attending
rallies, knocking on doors and having one-to-one
conversations — to express their support for pro-public-education candidates.
Members of the MTA staff have also been in
the thick of the action, participating in phone banks,
producing direct mail and engaging in independent
expenditures for television and digital ads. MTA’s
Division of Grassroots Campaigns has worked to
facilitate the appearance of Senate district coordinators
and Legislative and Political Action Team members
— dressed in eye-catching yellow T-shirts — at
campaign events from the Berkshires to the Cape.
At the annual Retired Members Gathering in
September, Retired Members Committee Co-Chair
Kathleen Roberts encouraged more than 200 of her
colleagues to get involved in the election, and she
used the recent occasion of her 100th birthday to ask
attendees for their gift of volunteerism.
As the election season has progressed, members
and staff have also been organizing around issues.
As part of phone banking, MTA educators are being
asked about their views on standardized testing,
evaluations and charter schools.
MTA President Barbara Madeloni characterized
the Baker campaign as part of a larger movement to
dismantle public-sector unions. She also described
Republican Charlie Baker’s views on education
as falling in line with policies that are draining the
joy from teaching and learning in the classroom
and fostering bureaucratic entanglements that lead
communities to lose control over their own local
Baker has applauded the state takeover of
so-called “underperforming” schools. In interviews, he
has promoted the idea of “creative non-compliance”
by school principals in order to get around contracts
negotiated between unions and school committees.
The Coakley recommendation resulted from the
MTA’s agreement with the attorney general’s clearly
articulated positions on crucial issues, including
her call for universal prekindergarten, her support
for public higher education and her respect for the
collective bargaining process and public-sector unions.
In debates and interviews, Coakley has expressed
views and values in line with those of most MTA
members. These include addressing the overemphasis
on standardized tests to measure the success of
students, educators and schools and speaking up for
arts education as part of a well-rounded curriculum.
“Her advocacy for children has been strong, and
her perception of education is that it is more than
just standardized tests,” said Donald Pecor, a history
professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal
Not all educators get to watch what happens to
their star students, but Pecor has had something of
a front-row seat where Coakley is concerned. Pecor
was Coakley’s history teacher during her senior year
at Drury High School in North Adams, where she
Between Drury and MCLA, Pecor has been
in the classroom for 47 years. He places Coakley
among the “top 1 percent” of students he has ever
Pecor lost touch with Coakley after she graduated
from high school, but the two reconnected when
Coakley called her former teacher — for whom she
wrote a memorable paper titled “Everything You
Always Wanted to Know About Calvin Coolidge
but Were Afraid to Ask” — to invite him to speak
at her swearing-in ceremony when she became
Massachusetts attorney general in 2007.
After that, Pecor said, he watched her stature
rise. He especially admires Coakley’s willingness
to go after powerful Wall Street interests in defense
of average citizens, as she did during the economic
“She really hasn’t been afraid to take on banks
and big business,” he noted.
Along with Pecor’s already deep interest
in history and politics, the crucial issues facing
Massachusetts have focused his attention on this
year’s race. “Baker is not too far from the far right,
and he will do what he needs to do to please his
base,” Pecor said. “That’s scary.”
Another educator, a fifth-grade teacher from the
Lunenburg Public schools named Susan Reardon,
Please turn to Coakley/Page 4
MTA member Donald Pecor, who taught Martha
Coakley in high school, admires her courage.
MTA-recommended candidates Deb Goldberg, Maura Healey, Martha Coakley and Steve Kerrigan,
from left to right, met with Democratic Party activists at Worcester State University on Sept. 28.
Photos by Scott McLennan