The 2013 MTA Summer Conference unfolded under stunning blue skies and ideal temperatures on the campus of Williams
College, featuring professional development
workshops, nightly festivities and leadership and
bargaining training for hundreds of public school and
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was a surprise
guest at the MTA Board meeting on the first day
of the conference, which ran from Aug. 4 to 8.
Massachusetts’ senior senator urged MTA members
to stay active on key issues, including federal
legislation affecting public schools and college
The former teacher thanked the MTA for its
continued support and pointed to progress on some
“We have fundamentally changed the
conversation” on student loans, she said. Warren said
she has found that “one side in Washington is actually
trying to move bills forward. The other is drawing
lines in the sand and filibustering and saying no.”
But she urged teachers to press on for the
good of “all of our children, not just some of our
“This is a fight for what kind of country we want
this to be,” she said.
The annual conference included a wide range
of programs and events in a setting perfect for
networking, socializing and sharing information.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matt
Malone and guest speaker Beth Davies, president
of Britain’s National Union of Teachers, energized
the Opening Session on Aug. 5. MTA President
Paul Toner, Vice President Tim Sullivan and
Executive Director-Treasurer Ann Clarke also
offered words of welcome to the members who
attended the event.
Davies captivated the audience with her
depiction of state-supported education in the United
Kingdom, which has seen a large percentage of
schools put into the hands of private companies
and the erosion of local control, trends that have
continued since the era of Margaret Thatcher, who
became prime minister in 1979 and whose defeat of
striking coal miners defined her political legacy.
Davies said teachers “are under attack as never
before” in Britain and elsewhere. The national
teachers’ union took its first strike action in June and
plans to stage a one-day national walkout in the fall
over pay, pensions and working conditions. Davies
described a public school system in which teachers
will be required to work until age 68 and can be fired
for divulging their salaries to other teachers. She
said school takeovers by private parties “can happen
overnight,” leaving teachers and their students
alarmed and disillusioned.
Malone thanked the MTA for its leadership on
issues ranging from budget priorities and equity to
district-determined measures related to evaluation.
He said the voice of the teacher in the public debate
is more important than ever.
“What you do impacts the children, their
children and their children’s children,” he said. “You
Malone said he learned while working as the
school superintendent in Brockton how important
“working inclusively” with teachers is, and he
praised the collaborative role played by the Brockton
Education Association and its president, Kim Gibson.
The conference’s 115 workshops included multi-
day and daylong tracks on organizing, bargaining
and leadership, professional development tracks and
diverse individual sessions.
Evenings offered the chance to view films
and attend social events. On the last night of
the conference, Jessica Rosenthal of Attleboro
tweeted, “Can’t believe it’s the last night of summer
conference! Having a blast! Who needs sleep?”
“Spending the week in such a beautiful, quaint,
relaxing, warm and safe-feeling town is rejuvenating
Clockwise from top left: Participants in the
New Member Program listen closely to a
presenter; Erika Green, a physical education
teacher in Walpole, unleashes her creativity
during the “Stop Whining and Draw!”
workshop; Christine Boseman, chair of the
EMAC,” which featured music and dancing;
and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren waves
goodbye to members of the MTA Board as
President Paul Toner looks on.
Photos by Bob Duffy, Jean Conley and Jim Sacks
Please turn to Conference/Page 20