W e enter this new school year with both a great deal to accomplish and a stronger foundation upon
which to build our union. Through our
member forums last year, we discovered that
from Pittsfield to Bourne, from preK to higher
education, our issues look an awful lot alike:
inadequate funding, less autonomy and respect,
high-stakes testing/accountability, narrowing
of the curriculum, fear and uncertainty in
the workplace, and
privatization — through
and the outsourcing of
But we also
discovered — from
the Week of Action in
June to the struggles
in Holyoke, from
organizing around the
UMass contracts to
voting at the Annual
Meeting in support of opting out, free public
higher education and rethinking collective
bargaining — that we share a vision and
determination to fight for public education and
From these conversations with members,
we have designed an ambitious plan to assert
our voices as educators, our rights as working
people, and our dedication to public education
and the public good.
This campaign is built on a commitment
to a rank-and-file strategy. That means each of
you, each of us, taking a part: talking to each
other, reaching out to parents and students, and
— through actions small and large — claiming
our power and our vision.
Many of these conversations will begin
with the issues most pressing to you and your
local, whether you are addressing a grievance,
planning your collective bargaining platform
or articulating the destructive consequences
of high-stakes testing. Whatever the issue, it
is important that we help each other see how
our struggles are connected, why we must care
about what is happening in other locals, and
how the decisions we make and the actions we
take at the local level are part of something
The attacks we are under come from the
same place — they are a systematic effort by
corporate interests to dismantle public education
and public-sector unions. We cannot pretend
otherwise; we must not pull back from naming
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the danger we are in. Across the country, we
see public schools being closed as charters are
opened. We see union rights being legislated out
of existence. We see our students and our work
being treated as commodities — as products.
But across the country, we also see union
members standing up with parents, students and
other community members to speak to and fight
for a vision of public education that guarantees
every student an opportunity for a varied and
well-resourced learning environment.
Here at the MTA, we are engaging in this
work through a number of specific campaigns.
Millionaires’ Tax for Schools and Roads
The MTA is a leader in the Raise Up
Massachusetts coalition of unions, community
organizations and faith groups working on a
constitutional amendment to raise taxes on
annual income over $1 million. This amendment
would designate the revenues gained from this
tax for public education — for our schools,
colleges and universities — and for maintaining
our roads, bridges and public transportation
It starts with a signature campaign this fall.
It starts with conversations in your local and
your community about why we need the funding
and why this tax on people who make $19,231
a week or more is the way to get those funds.
Speak to your local leadership and your field
representative about plans to make this part of
our work this fall.
Less Testing/More Learning
Our work on the Less Testing/More
Learning campaign is just beginning. We
encourage locals to get school committees to
sign on to support a three-year moratorium
on the high-stakes use of testing and hold
community forums to educate parents and
students about the origin and impact of
these tests while building a vision for public
education. Through the winter and spring, we
will be sharing information about how to opt
students out of high-stakes testing with the hope
of building the movement in Massachusetts.
Collective Bargaining Summit
At the Annual Meeting in May, delegates
voted to have the MTA work with members
on open bargaining — a process that brings in
more voices and encourages bargaining around
big policy issues that have a great impact on
our schools and communities, but that too often
have been left off the table.
We are holding a collective bargaining
summit on Oct. 3 to share ideas and strategies.
Whether you are bargaining this year or
next, please talk to your union leaders, put
a team together and plan to be a part of the
Keep the Charter Cap
We are proud to be a part of the
Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance —
another coalition of unions and community
organizations working for the schools our
Together we are working to organize our
communities to fight the attempt to use a ballot
initiative and a bill to lift the cap on charter
schools. In the months ahead, we will be
working to dispel the myths from which charters
grow and use the struggle against privatization
to increase support for public education.
Y es, there is a lot to do. These are the times we live in. But as daunting as it can be, please keep in mind that
each step matters, every conversation knits us
together as a union, and history gives us lesson
after lesson about the power of collective action.
Personal experience reminds us of the joy we
feel when we use our strength and act on a deep
sense of purpose.
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many
great things ahead,
The attacks we are under
come from the same place —
they are a systematic effort
by corporate interests to
dismantle public education
and public-sector unions. We
cannot pretend otherwise;
we must not pull back from
naming the danger we are in.