W hile some people think of summer as a time of lazy afternoons, I know that many of you have been out knocking
on doors, making phone calls, talking to neighbors
and holding signs at farmers’ markets and grocery
stores as part of our campaign to #keepthecap and
encourage voters to oppose Question 2, the ballot
initiative seeking to radically increase the number
of charter schools in Massachusetts. The energy of
the campaign — seen in Facebook posts, tweets and
conversations — is fantastic.
The ballot question, which would allow up
to 12 new charters to be opened each year in the
state — further depriving public schools of much-
needed funds and destabilizing entire districts — is
a profound threat to
public education. It
threatens union jobs,
school committees and
the very idea that we have
a shared interest in the
The urgency of
organizing to vote down
Question 2 cannot be
overstated. And when
we win, our victory will
assert our strength as
a union. This ballot question offers us a chance to
practice, use and build our collective power.
I know that you know how dangerous the ballot
question is. You know that lost funding means libraries
without certified librarians, students whose individual
needs are not being met, larger class sizes, and fewer
music, art, physical education and science programs in
our schools. But the truth is that I also hear from many
of you that the campaign to keep the cap can seem far
away when you are faced with a bullying principal,
an abusive teacher evaluation system, a lack of safety
and autonomy in your workplace, the ongoing burden
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Letters to the Editor
Commissioner punts question
on pay parity for adjunct faculty
To the Editor:
Thank you for your coverage of the MTA
Higher Education Conference in the Spring edition
and for including information on my questioning
of Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner
Carlos Santiago during the question-and-answer
When I asked the commissioner whether he
supported equal pay for equal work, I was trying
to get him on the record for our upcoming contract
negotiations. I was partially successful.
We adjuncts are seeking pay parity with full-timers, which shouldn’t be much of a stretch for
the Department of Higher Education, as it knows
that our teaching work is identical. (Full-timers also
advise students, serve on committees, etc.)
We meet the same credentialing requirements,
supply comparable syllabuses, use the same
textbooks and teach in the same classrooms. Credits
from our classes count equally, and students can’t tell
an adjunct from a full-timer.
Commissioner Santiago said he does support
equal pay for equal work. Then I asked if he’d help
us negotiate a contract with pay parity. But
he punted that one, saying he doesn’t handle
Gee, you’d think the commissioner would have
some influence on negotiations!
Jeff Seideman, Vice President
Massachusetts Community College Council
of mandates and austerity budgets, and the looming
threat of deprofessionalization through “personalized
For too long, too many of us have felt helpless
This campaign can change that by giving
us a place to use the power of our voices and to
experience the potential of community alliances.
When we win, we will be recognized as a force to be
reckoned with both locally and statewide — able to
take on the bullies in our districts, in the Department
of Elementary and Secondary Education and in the
When I speak to members who have knocked
on doors to have conversations with voters about the
campaign, they say the same thing again and again:
“Talking to voters reminds me that people respect
In a world where policymakers, the media and
too many administrators are disrespectful of our
knowledge and expertise and seek to silence our
voices, the simple act of knocking on a door and
saying, “Hi, I am an educator and I want to talk to you
about public education” undoes all of the nonsense
we’ve heard about our profession and our work.
I n conversation after conversation — in person or on the phone — we are reminded that our communities support us. Fellow residents of
our towns and cities admire our commitment to
something bigger than ourselves. They are interested
in and trust our opinions.
Through hundreds of these conversations,
we build relationships that we can call on for the
struggles that lie ahead — not just the one that looms
on Election Day.
I understand that asking you to reach out to
parents and take action at a time when many of you
already feel beaten down can seem like asking too
much. But I am hopeful.
I am also confident that as more of you try your
hand at participating in the No on 2 campaign, you
will feel your power as educators. And as you build
relationships with colleagues through the campaign,
you will understand your power as union members
so that we not only win in November but are
strengthened to win beyond the election.
Indeed, after the vote in November, we will have
developed the structures and confidence in our power
n Organize in our buildings and end abusive
n Join with our parent and student allies to win
n Bring our confident professionalism
and powerful union voices into the offices
of our legislators and demand an end to
District-Determined Measures and the madness
of high-stakes standardized testing.
From the beginning, I did not want a deal to
be cut on charter schools — in part because we do
not build union power behind closed doors. We
build union power by standing up, speaking out and
stepping out together.
This ballot campaign is a chance to do just that.
Please participate fully.
Contact your local president, field representative,
Senate district coordinator or Save Our Public
Schools organizer for more information — or just
pay a visit to massteacher.org/charterschools or
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great
For too long, too many
of us have felt helpless