Awards, debate and speeches in the mix
HARNEEN CHERNOW LISA GUISBOND SUSAN LEE WEISSINGER JEFFREY SHEA
‘The more voices that are
heard, the stronger our
union will be.’
— MTA President Barbara Madeloni
By Jean Conley
T he 170th Annual Meeting of Delegates on May 8 and 9 will feature speeches by education activists and tributes to individuals
who have shown a deep commitment to public
education, organized labor and the MTA.
New business items will be debated and
delegates will weigh proposed changes to the
association’s bylaws, standing rules and resolutions.
In addition, elections will be held for seats on the
Board of Directors.
The Annual Meeting will be held at the Hynes
Convention Center in Boston, with MTA President
Barbara Madeloni presiding.
“I am honored and excited to preside over the
democratic debate that is the MTA Annual Meeting,”
Madeloni said. “As this is my first time doing so, I
hope as well that members will take the plunge and
stand to speak to the issues that matter to them. The
more voices that are heard, the stronger our union
The Annual Meeting will be called to order
at noon on Friday, May 8. That day’s session will
include leadership reports delivered by Madeloni,
MTA Vice President Janet Anderson and Executive
Director-Treasurer Ann Clarke.
Also on Friday, 12 public educators will be
recognized for their work on the Teacher Leadership
Initiative, a partnership involving the MTA, the
NEA, the Center for Teaching Quality and the
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
On Saturday, delegates will vote to fill vacancies
on the Board of Directors, see award presentations,
hear the keynote speech and act on other business,
including the budget.
T he keynote address will be delivered by Jesse Hagopian, a Seattle teacher and social activist who edited the book “More Than a Score:
The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing.”
Hagopian was the leader of a 2013 test boycott
at Garfield High School, where he teaches history
and serves as adviser to the Black Student Union.
He argues that the current education “testocracy”
is “killing creativity and teaching our kids that
The boycott “changed my life and ignited a
movement,” Hagopian writes in “More Than a
Score,” which is dedicated to the “test-defiers of
tomorrow who don’t yet know the might of their
The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year —
social studies teacher Jeffrey Shea of Belmont High
School — will also address the delegates on Saturday
Shea is a proponent of the idea that all students
must receive a global education. Working with
colleagues, he searches for ways to create more
authentic learning activities for his students so they
can develop skills and perspectives that are crucial to
success in today’s interconnected world.
The Friend of Education, Friend of Labor and
MTA President’s awards will also be presented.
S usan Lee Weissinger, who retired recently as MTA’s general counsel, will receive the Friend of Education award.
A native of Alabama, Weissinger began her
legal career in the South with a prestigious clerkship
for the Honorable Robert S. Vance, a U.S. Court of
Appeals judge for the Fifth Circuit. Vance, a strong
supporter of civil rights, was killed by a pipe bomb
sent to his home in 1989.
In 1979, Weissinger moved north and was
hired by the City of Worcester Law Department.
She joined the MTA as a staff attorney in 1982 and
eventually handled countless cases.
Her own long-held support for civil rights made
Weissinger an especially determined advocate for
the rights of educators. Over the years, she developed
areas of deep expertise in health insurance, labor
law and retirement rights. After 28 years as a staff
attorney, she was named MTA’s general counsel
Lisa Guisbond, executive director of Citizens for
Public Schools, will receive the President’s Award.
Guisbond became interested in education policy
as a public school parent of two children with special
learning needs. She is an assessment reform analyst
at the National Center for Fair & Open Testing,
known as Fair Test, and the principal author of
reports on educating the whole child and the failure
of the No Child Left Behind law. Her articles on
education and assessment have appeared in a wide
range of national publications.
Guisbond served on former Governor Deval
Patrick’s Readiness Project, studying the MCAS and
other standardized assessments.
The Friend of Labor Award will be presented
to Harneen Chernow, state director of the
Massachusetts 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading
Fund, a labor-management partnership that provides
thousands of health care and home care workers with
training and career opportunities.
She has served as the director of education and
training for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and has also
worked extensively with the public higher education
system to strengthen opportunities for working adults.
A member of the Massachusetts Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education for the past
11 years, Chernow chaired the Proficiency Gap Task
Force and worked on subcommittees addressing the
achievement gap, 21st-century skills, the education
budget and career readiness.
She advocates for a public education system that
engages educators in policy design and alleviates the
impacts of poverty, limited English proficiency and
special needs on educational outcomes. She has two
children in the Boston Public Schools.
The proposed MTA operating budget of
$44,999,435 for fiscal 2015-2016 will also be
presented and voted on. The Advisory Budget
Committee, the Executive Committee and the Board
of Directors have proposed annual dues of $464
for full-time active members, a $5 increase over
the current year. Dues for secretaries, clerks and
custodians would be $279, a $3 increase. Dues for
aides, food service personnel and other education
support professionals would be $140, a $2 increase.
In addition, the proposed Public Relations/
Organizing Campaign budget will be considered.
The general dues assessment for the PR/Organizing
budget would be $30. For secretaries, clerks and
custodians, the assessment would be $18; aides,
food service personnel and other education support
professionals would be assessed $9. The amounts are
unchanged from the current year.
To see a copy of the Annual Meeting schedule
of events and business session agenda, please visit