T hat is how many signatures MTA members had contributed to the Raise Up Massachusetts tax amendment signature drive as MTA Today
went to press.
In collecting those signatures, the MTA stood as a
leader in the Raise Up coalition, showing that we will
work with our union brothers and sisters and other
community members to make Massachusetts a great
state for public education and for all working people.
This campaign showed us what we can do
when we join in collective action — just as the
educators of Newton
showed what they could
do when they united in
solidarity around their
just as the members
of the Massachusetts
Council are showing
as they band together
to implement work to
rule; just as members
are showing as they join
parents, students and
community leaders in telling our legislators loud
and clear to keep the cap on charters; and just as
educators across the state showed when they used
their voices to pressure Commissioner Mitchell
Chester to back off from his open love affair with
PARCC and hide PARCC inside MCAS.
We are just beginning to feel and use our power.
And it feels good.
Legislators in the State House recognize it.
People on the street recognize it. One of the fun
moments of the fall was marching in the HONK!
Festival — a parade of brass bands and community
educators, but also for the MTA. “Go MTA!” “Go
MTA!” It was thrilling.
We are making a difference.
In the year ahead, our challenges are not going
to shrink. We are committed to legislative priorities
that include a moratorium on high-stakes testing,
keeping the cap on charters and fighting the ballot
initiative that seeks to lift the cap, continuing to work
for the tax amendment, promoting anti-bullying
legislation, and fighting for the rights of adjuncts
and more full-time faculty at our public colleges and
Member participation is key not only to the
success of these efforts, but also to the ongoing
strength of our union. Our statewide initiatives gain
their power when we begin by acting locally. And
acting locally — like all organizing — begins with
conversations, developing relationships, sharing
concerns and asking each other: “How can we
change this situation?”
The MTA will be working with you and your
local leadership to engage in these conversations.
We will continue to support local actions that build
power and achieve victories, and we will connect
our wins to broader statewide efforts from preK- 12
through higher education.
I know that there are critical issues not being directly addressed by our legislative priorities. I hear from members every day about the ways
that District-Determined Measures, student growth
percentiles, performance-based funding and teacher
evaluations have become systems that at best occupy
too much of your time and at worst threaten the core
and security of your work. We need to name these
problems, educate the community and organize
locally to put a stop to bad policies.
Members are raising concerns, for example,
about the loss of seniority about to hit in September
2016 — the result of the “Stand for Children”
compromise — and they are looking to prepare to
These are difficult times to be a union member,
an educator and a person committed to economic and
But they are exciting times as well because we
are teaching each other that we do not have to accept
injustice. We are rekindling memories of standing up
and fighting back — and discovering that when we
join in collective action, we are not only stronger but
happier as well.
You can read about some of your successes in
this issue of MTA Today. You can also read about
how to become even more active in the union by
nominating yourself to serve as a delegate to the
Annual Meeting or run for another MTA position.
Find a way — your way — to participate in the
power we are building.
When I took office about a year and a half ago, it
was with the hope and promise that our membership
would become more involved in the union at both the
local and statewide levels and more involved in the
broader community through alliances and elections.
As we turn the corner into another crucial year for
both our union and our nation, it is more important
than ever for all of us to be informed, engaged and
involved in the issues that matter most to us.
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great
We are rekindling memories of
standing up and fighting back
— and discovering that when
we join in collective action,
we are not only stronger but
happier as well.
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
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Opinions must be clearly identified as belonging to the
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and style. To submit a letter, mail it to MTA Today, 2 Heritage
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please refer to the guidelines posted on www.massteacher.org.
Speakers criticize excessive focus on standardized testing
Continued from Page 3
At a public hearing on the commissioner’s
plan held in Malden on Nov. 16, even supporters
expressed concern about how soon districts will
be expected to have the technological capacity to
administer the tests online.
The needed technology and staff will cost
districts millions of dollars.
Opponents expressed that concern and many
“PARCC is a terrible failure,” said Newton
teacher Kalpana Guttman.
Guttman noted that many test items were badly
written or not developmentally appropriate, that it
took “armies of IT staff” to get Newton’s schools
ready for the test, that computers used for testing
were not available for instruction, and that educators
were provided with no useful information or item
analysis from this year’s PARCC results, rendering
the test useless for informing instruction.
Guttman concluded with a request to the BESE:
“I urge members to take the test before you vote
tomorrow,” she said.
Others, including Madeloni, received loud
applause when speaking broadly against the
excessive focus on testing.
“What troubles me is the narrowness of the
question you are asking — MCAS versus PARCC?
In the hours and hours we’ve spent talking about
testing in intricate detail, what haven’t we been
talking about?” she asked.
“We haven’t been talking about joyful learning,”
Madeloni said. “We haven’t been talking about
creativity and imagination. We haven’t been talking
about the moral courage that we study in literature
and in history. We haven’t been talking about what it
means to be citizens of a democracy.
“Let’s have a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing to have that deeper conversation,” she