Candidate for MTA President: Barbara Madeloni
T wo years ago, when the delegates to Annual Meeting elected me President of the MTA, they signaled their readiness to cast off fear
and reignite collective power to demand the schools
and colleges educators and students deserve. They
voted for a union ready to fight for our values.
For the past 21 months, it has been my honor to
work with you to build that union — a transparent,
democratic organization, where we are gathering the
power of our 110,000 educators in order to demand
the public education our Commonwealth needs.
Here is what I’ve been doing with you to build a
Organizing for Power. Through weekly
e-mails, I keep you informed about issues and
actions relevant to our work. We held 37 forums
last year, tele-town halls, and testing and political
forums this year, creating opportunities for members
to speak with other members about the issues that
matter to them and to develop plans to take action.
MTA held two collective bargaining summits
and an organizing institute and recently kicked off
a campaign to support locals in connecting with
members to identify and develop actions in response
to local concerns. We are building leadership through
the Next Generation workshops and our Just for New
Teachers conference, which had record participation.
The opt-out movement is growing as locals hold
MTA-supported forums on testing.
Amplifying Member Voices. In November of
2014, members shut down Commissioner Chester’s
attempts to connect licensure to evaluations. It was
a resounding signal that the bold voice of the new
MTA was on the scene. Our June 2015 Week of
Action on high-stakes testing brought hundreds of
members and allies to the State House with a united
We carried the strength of our voices to the State
House again for October’s charter hearing.
At the same time, the UMass and MCCC unions
spoke out, stood strong and won solid contracts
in the face of proposed takebacks. Right now, all
across the state, local political action teams are
holding meetings with representatives and senators
to let them know that we demand attention to our
priorities — keeping the cap, a moratorium on
high-stakes testing, an end to workplace bullying,
high-quality public higher education and support for
the progressive tax amendment.
Changing the Narrative. In the past 21
months the MTA has become the author of a new
narrative about public education. We have changed
the conversation about high-stakes testing in
Massachusetts. We are eroding the myths around
charter schools. We are asserting that professional
educators know what is best for students and their
Building Coalitions. The MTA has become
a leader in coalitions to protect public schools and
fight for economic justice. With the Massachusetts
Education Justice Alliance (MEJA) we are building
capacity to take on the charter ballot initiative and
#keepthecap. When I met with Senate President
Rosenberg twice this fall and winter, I did so with
members of MEJA — AFT, BTU, NAACP, Jobs
With Justice, AFL-CIO and parents and students —
by my side. These allies reinforce the message that
our issues are community issues.
We are leaders in Raise Up Massachusetts
(RUM), where we are standing in solidarity with
labor, faith and community organizations in the
effort to win the Fair Share Amendment and raise
$2 billion in new revenue for public education
(K through college) and infrastructure through
an increase in taxes on multimillionaires. MTA
members gathered an incredible 29,000 signatures
for this effort.
Moving Forward. I became an English teacher
in order to share the pleasures of reading and the
power of writing with young people and because
public education is where we build a more just and
democratic community. Like many of you, I found it
more and more difficult to create a classroom where
joy, creativity, imagination and critical thinking
were central. We have started the work of building a
union that can reclaim these ideals for educators and
students from preK through higher education while
asserting our rights for fair wages, benefits, pensions
and workplace protections.
The transformation of our union comes at a
critical time for unions and for public education.
Corporate actors — the Koch brothers, Bill Gates,
the Broad Foundation — are using high-stakes
testing, charter campaigns and attacks on educators
to undermine public education, defund pensions,
weaken workplace and collective bargaining rights
and privatize the public good. Governor Baker
and his Secretary of Education, James Peyser, are
members of this nationwide network whose intent
is to use charter schools and high-stakes testing
to privatize public education and undermine our
Massachusetts has for two centuries been a
leader in public education. That’s why, across the
country, unionists and educators are looking to us,
to our union, to lead the work of preserving and
strengthening our public schools.
This is a critical election. We have come far. We
have further to go. We don’t want to go back.