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To the Editor
MTA members should not be lulled
by win over charter school initiative
To the Editor:
Relative to the ballot win last fall against
the charter school initiative: Celebration, though
deserved, should not be excessive or unduly
extended. Let’s not become lax or lulled by victory.
The charter school proponents will return. The recent
vote is no more than a temporary delay in their plans.
They will be back, probably with forcibly made and
reshuffled — if less than credible — arguments.
The profiteers have addicted themselves to the
narcotizing influence of money, power, dominance
and control. They never have enough. They want
100 percent of everything 100 percent of the time —
starting now and continuing indefinitely.
Let’s not take lightly either their avarice or
ambition. The penny-sniffers are relentless. They
compel us to remain constantly alert. Should we fail
to do so, we and the students and our communities
will be at their mercy.
If we sustain the vigilance, internal strength and
unity of purpose that enabled us to turn back their
recent assault, public education can improve and
Gregory K. Maravelas
The fight to win the schools our
students deserve is nestled in the
fight to win the world we all deserve.
Our strength as a union is connected
to the strength of our coalitions.
T his school year marks the last in which I will be serving as president of the MTA. When I took office, we had to play defense.
We helped defeat a charter bill that had passed
overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives
just months before. We stopped the Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education in its tracks
as it tried to connect licensure to evaluations. We
took on Question 2 and resoundingly beat back
the attempt to raise the charter cap. Those were
As I look toward the end of my term, I want us
to be more assertive in playing offense. Our game
plan starts with our legislative agenda. We are calling
for a moratorium on
high-stakes testing. We
are fighting for recess,
fair pay and benefits for
adjuncts, the adjustment
of retiree health benefits,
the Finish Line Grant,
a $15 minimum wage,
paid family and medical
leave and the Fair Share
Amendment. With these
efforts, educators are
saying: We are working
to build better public
schools, colleges and
universities — and stronger communities.
And by activating members through the All In
campaign, the MTA is strategically focusing on the
local struggles that will support educators and our
I am hopeful that we can achieve these goals in
the months ahead, but I think we are more likely to
succeed if we think through and discuss some of the
foundational principles that guide us.
Our knowledge and vision
Our work and the narrative about it are too
often dominated by the voices of those who have no
background in education and who — as in the case
of privatizers — do not share our interests. They ask
the questions and set the frame, then demand that we
It is well past time for us to reject their frame,
ask our own questions and assert our vision,
knowledge and expertise. I am often asked, “If we
get rid of high-stakes testing, what will we replace it
This is a distraction from the real issues at hand.
We know that every child must have an opportunity
to learn. Now we need to ask why we do not ensure
that all children are fed, clothed, safely housed and
secure in their well-being. Why do we allow schools
to have such disparate access to resources? Why are
educators not given more time to build relationships
with students and each other and to share their
professional knowledge? What does it mean to teach
the whole child? And what should classrooms and
schools look like so we could achieve that?
We need to ask why policymakers hold so
firmly to standardized testing — even in the face
of evidence that it does not support meaningful
education and in fact distorts teaching and learning
to a degree that some experience as cruel. Why
are they not listening to educators, students and
Educators do remarkable work every day,
accessing students’ hope and imagination and
letting them see what is possible in themselves and
for the community. Meanwhile, policymakers fret
over rankings and data points. We must assert our
practice, our knowledge and our commitment to the
whole child. We must demand that policymakers
answer our questions.
The power of collective action
In order to meaningfully articulate and win our
vision for public education — to have our questions
answered — we must work together. That might
seem obvious, but too frequently we find ourselves
The larger narratives of accountability, ranking
and scarcity — and the day-to-day struggle to
keep up with work requirements — leave us
overwhelmed. As we will learn with the All In
campaign, however, an intentional focus on talking
to each other to identify and name problems, assert
our vision, develop plans and join one another to
create change will carry us forward.
My hope for the months ahead is that each of
you will reach out to others and give yourself the
opportunity to experience the power of shared vision,
knowledge and action.
Coalitions for the greater good
Just as I hope you will each experience within
your local the power and pleasure of connecting and
winning through collective action, I hope that you
will build coalitions within your communities around
a vision of a more economically and racially just
The fight to win the schools our students deserve
is nestled in the fight to win the world we all deserve.
Our strength as a union is connected to the strength
of our coalitions. Let us extend our circle to achieve
a world in which each is secure and all may flourish.
That is a lot to hope for, and perhaps it seems
irrational to name such a vision of possibility during
the uncertain and scary times in which we are living.
But I firmly believe that it is precisely in times like
these that the road opens for us — that we can and
must commit to our deepest sense of what we want
for ourselves and our students.