T he state’s new secretary of education, Matt Malone, recently told local association presidents he knows that
trying to keep up with new education mandates is
like “trying to drink water from a fire hose.” He
pledged to focus on implementing a small number
of high priorities well rather than launching new
ambitious and time-consuming initiatives.
That was music to the ears of everyone at
the MTA All Presidents’ Meeting. It is something
that we at the MTA would like to do, too, though
we are often forced to respond to challenges that
come at us whether we like it or not.
We have streamlined our legislative agenda
this year to six priorities. One, in particular,
For the first time in
recent memory, a sitting
governor has proposed
tax increases in order to
provide more funding to
improvements, all of which
are critically important to families, communities
and our economy.
Governor Deval Patrick’s bold revenue plan
— like the Campaign for Our Communities bill,
which the MTA supports — would raise about
$2 billion a year when fully phased in. Both are
progressive, meaning they ask more from the
wealthiest taxpayers by raising the income tax
rate but also increasing the personal exemption.
Predictably, legislators began hearing
negative comments from constituents after Patrick
rolled out his proposal in January. The complaint
that Massachusetts is “Taxachusetts” has been
made again, even though that label has been
inaccurate for more than three decades.
In fact, Massachusetts ranks in the bottom
half of all states when one calculates the
percentage of income paid in all state and local
If more funding for education is to stand a
chance, legislators need to hear from those of us
who can make a compelling case for it. If you
haven’t done so already, please take a minute right
now to visit www.massteacher.org/actnow and
send a message to your legislators via the MTA
website. Please also start talking up this issue with
colleagues, friends and relatives.
When communicating about revenue, don’t
forget to focus on how the additional money will
help. Let others know why increased funding
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matters — not just to you, but to your students
and to the future of our Commonwealth.
If you’re a preK- 12 educator, does your
school need Internet wiring that can handle
today’s data loads? Time for teachers to
collaborate on curricula and instructional
strategies? More paraprofessionals to assist
students with special needs? A longer day or more
staff so art classes can be restored? More social
services for students from troubled families?
And if you’re a higher education member,
does your campus need more full-time faculty so
that your students receive the academic guidance
they need? More financial aid so that your
students don’t drop out because they can’t pay the
The revenue campaign is our highest priority
because so many other priorities hinge on
adequate funding, but there are other important
issues we are facing this year. Most are described
in greater detail in this issue of MTA Today and on
the MTA website.
n Educator evaluation: We are committed
to implementing the new evaluation system
so that it is fair, effective and efficient. If you
haven’t adopted new contract language yet or
are beginning the next phase of bargaining,
your MTA field representative will be your most
n Higher education: In addition to supporting
the governor’s plan to increase funding for public
colleges and universities by 18 percent, the MTA
is promoting one bill to study the higher education
financing system and another to increase the use
of full-time faculty and provide health insurance
and pension benefits to qualifying adjunct
faculty members. A new MTA report relating the
increased reliance on part-time faculty to lower
student college completion rates will be released
in the weeks ahead.
n Early education: We support the
governor’s call to increase spending in early
education. In addition, we are continuing to
promote “An Act Relative to Improving Quality
in Early Education and Care Through Center-Based Child Care Providers,” which would give
the educators of our youngest children more of a
voice in their profession.
n RETELL: The MTA is pressing the
state to make sure the Rethinking Equity and
Teaching for English Language Learners
initiative — which seeks to improve how
English language learners are taught — is
implemented fairly, with ample notice to
teachers, flexibility in scheduling and a chance
for local associations to bargain over the impact.
n Retiree health insurance: As described
on Page 20 of this issue, the association
is joining with other unions and retiree
organizations to safeguard retiree health
insurance benefits for current retirees, those
nearing retirement and the longest-serving
n Special election: The MTA will be
informing members about the track records
and promises of the candidates vying to fill the
U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Secretary of
State John Kerry. Any recommendations will
go from the MTA’s member-run Candidate
Recommendation Committee to the NEA.
The NEA has the final word on association
recommendations in national races.
n Achievement gaps: The MTA has recently
formed or strengthened partnerships with the
VIVA project, the NAACP, the Massachusetts
Institute for a New Commonwealth, Jobs
with Justice and the Union of Minority
Neighborhoods. While each group is different,
we all share the common goal of helping low-income students and students of color do better
We won’t be able to meet our objectives for
any of the issues we work on this year without
you. Thank you for all you do for your students,
your communities and your association.
The revenue campaign
is our highest priority
because so many
other priorities hinge
on adequate funding,
but there are other
important issues we are
facing this year.