A s Vice President Janet Anderson and I have been traveling the state attending forums, regional presidents’ meetings
and the All Presidents’ Meeting, we’ve heard from
members who are angry, frustrated and fed up about
standardized testing, teacher evaluations, the flood of
mandates and the general tone of mistrust and lack of
respect in too many workplaces.
But we’ve also heard from members that they
are ready to assert their union strength and solidarity
— ready to reclaim a vision of public education that
is about the whole child. There is in these forums a
palpable sense of hope and possibility.
Our work as educators rests on a foundation of
hope, on the belief that we can make a difference and
make the world a better place for individual students
and for the communities
we serve. Teaching is a
profound commitment to
building a better future.
These are difficult
times in which to
remain hopeful. As your
union president, I am
regularly told, directly
and indirectly, that my
hope is misplaced, that
we cannot expect too
much of members or of
policymakers, that we have
to accommodate a brutal pragmatism. Underlying
this message is mistrust: People will let you down.
These cynical messages offend my nature and,
I would suggest, the nature of many educators.
While we sometimes find ourselves discouraged, we
chose this work, and we stay in this work, precisely
because we have a sense of what is possible beyond
what is given.
As we move further into the fall, the election is
ahead of us; union members within the university
system are facing demands for more givebacks; it is
possible that more schools will be designated Level
5; and we face possible new mandates from the
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
M TA Today welcomes letters to the editor from MTA members. Letters should be no longer than 200 words.
Each letter submitted for publication must address a topic
covered in MTA Today, must be signed and must include
the writer’s telephone number for confirmation purposes.
Opinions must be clearly identified as belonging to the
letter-writer. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity
and style. To submit a letter, mail it to MTA Today, 20
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please refer to the guidelines posted on www.massteacher.org.
Vote and then agitate.
Coakley policies ‘would be far better for students, educators and communities’
introduced Steve Kerrigan after he finished first
for lieutenant governor at the Democratic State
Convention. She is Kerrigan’s sister.
Reardon and Kerrigan have shared many
conversations about the aspirations and realities of
Reardon said that she is not supporting Coakley
and Kerrigan just because her brother is running.
Rather, she supports them because she believes
they will best serve the needs of students and
“Many of our conversations have been about
leveling the playing field for all students,” Reardon
said. “The reality is that not all students come to us
with the same background or same levels of support.
Steve understands that this is part of what makes our
jobs as teachers so difficult.”
As MTA members have had conversations about
education issues and how societal pressures affect
their work, their divergence with Baker has sharpened.
MTA President Madeloni said that it is important
to hold elected leaders accountable for their positions
— even those that don’t directly affect educators.
“We believe that Martha Coakley’s commitment
to the public good will translate into support for
public schools, public higher education and the rights
of working families,” Madeloni said. “Her policies
would be far better for students, educators and
communities than Charlie Baker’s.”
For more election information, please visit
Continued from Page 3
It is more important than ever that we nurture
one another’s hope through action. Hope only means
something when it manifests itself in our choices.
These actions might be different for each of
us, but one important way of expressing hope is by
participating in the electoral process: Vote and then
I know some of you have been discouraged
by the electoral process, and I understand why.
But our democratic possibilities rely on our active
participation in elections and in the legislative
We need to help ensure that on Nov. 4, Martha
Coakley and Steve Kerrigan are elected to be our
Commonwealth’s next governor and lieutenant
governor — and we must make our votes count in
the outcome of ballot initiatives such as the one that
would provide earned sick time for approximately
1 million working people in Massachusetts. For a
complete list of MTA election recommendations,
please see the Election Guide that accompanies this
issue of MTA Today.
Let’s get out the vote — and then let’s demand
that politicians hold to their promises and work for
the schools, colleges and universities our students
W hile voting is a solitary action, agitating at the State House or at your local town hall is an act of solidarity. The
MTA Government Relations Committee has been
gathering ideas for legislation and will be working
with our Legislative and Political Action Teams
to tell our stories to legislators so that they will be
more responsive to our demands. Let your voices be
Our stories of struggle and success, from the
classroom to the union hall, are a central part of
reclaiming public education. We need to tell those
stories in a range of places. Write letters to the editor
of your local newspaper. Post stories and information
on Facebook and other social media. Talk with
parents, community members and each other.
Educate them and yourselves about what is
happening in public education, why it is happening,
and what the lessons are from colleagues here and
across the country who have struggled and won.
With eight forums already held as I write
and 20 more scheduled into the winter, we have
an opportunity to build local connections and
capacity and then knit that local strength into
statewide action. If you have not attended a forum,
please do so, or schedule one in your local. Go to
massteacher.org/reclaim to find out more.
If you have attended a forum, please extend the
conversation into your buildings through one-to-one conversations or into the community through
a community forum. Higher education members
should contact me about holding forums on the
issues you are facing.
The student teachers with whom I worked at
UMass Amherst questioned how they could hold on
to their idealism under conditions that denied them
and their colleagues autonomy, respect and creativity.
It is my firm belief that our ability to be our best
selves and live our ideals resides in two places.
First, it resides in the connections we make as
people, the stories we tell each other, the wisdom we
share and the ways we listen. Second, it resides in
the actions we take together — educating, agitating
Thank you for your work as educators and
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great