T his issue of MTA Today comes to you as we are beginning to gear up for the MTA nnual Meeting of Delegates. It was
at the 2014 Annual Meeting that the delegates
passed a new business item to encourage the
MTA to demand a three-year moratorium on
high-stakes testing and to hold forums across
the state at which members could discuss the
impact of testing and the teacher evaluation
system on their work, their students and their
As of this writing, we have held 31 forums
in locals and regions across the state.
The conversations at these forums have
been moving, unsettling and inspiring. With
shocking consistency — from the east to the
west, in local after local — members have
described the ache
of working under
oppressive mandates, in
fear of speaking out, as
students and educators
are stressed and made
anxious by the focus on
testing and test scores.
In every forum,
we have heard from
members who lack time
to do their work, reflect
meaningfully on their
practice or learn from and with colleagues. In
school after school, they feel constrained in their
ability to use their knowledge and expertise to
make autonomous decisions in the classroom.
But the forums have also given us an
opportunity to hear from each other about
our hopes for public schools as places where
educators would be able to teach to the whole
child and classrooms would be filled with joy
and creativity. They have given voice to a vision
in which schools would be well-resourced and
high academic expectations would combine
with knowledge of students and communities to
help develop critical thinkers and imaginative
At a staff retreat in December, we took time
to reflect on where the MTA has been, what the
members care about and what our next steps
might be. We left with a recommitment to core
principles of organizing. These are:
n Organizing internally, building by building.
n Growing coalitions and alliances.
n Bringing big policy issues to the
n Developing a shared analysis of the
conditions we are experiencing.
Now it is time to more fully bring these
principles into our work, to debate next steps
and to organize and act around the issues that
we care about. We will be discussing these ideas
with the MTA Board and at the All Presidents’
Meeting. We also talked about them in depth at
the MTA Collective Bargaining Summit, which
was being held as this issue of MTA Today went
We need you to enter the conversation and
be part of building our power through state and
High-stakes testing — Our members
have asked for a stop to the data-driven testing
madness, and we will support efforts to achieve
that at the local and statewide levels. We’ve put
together a work team to support and coordinate
actions — from the school committee to the
bargaining table to the State House.
Charter schools — The state’s new
governor, Charlie Baker, has made it clear that
he will look to raise or eliminate the cap on
Commonwealth charter schools. We know that
charters drain our public schools of resources
and hand over decisions about education from
democratically elected school committees to
private entities. The use of test scores to label
schools as “failing” is a weapon that then opens
the door for more charters and the privatization
of our public schools. We are allying with AFT
Massachusetts, the Boston Teachers Union and
Citizens for Public Schools, along with others
across the state, to keep the cap on charters.
The schools our children deserve — We
want to do more than say no to the assault
on public education, our union and our
communities. We want to develop a vision
of public education that names what we are
fighting for — the vision that members spoke
of in the forums. To that end, the MTA’s
Education Policy Committee will be working
with members to develop a draft of a vision
statement to be shared with locals — a
statement that reflects the schools our children,
our educators and our communities deserve.
Local actions for statewide power
Act locally — Members throughout the
state are rejecting mandated kindergarten
and preschool assessments, mainly Teaching
Strategies GOLD. Please check out our MTA
website, www.massteacher.org, to learn about
actions and organizing plans.
Strengthen your local — Attend a building
meeting or call a meeting and organize members
on the issues closest to you.
Build coalitions — Reach out to parents,
community organizations and other unions.
Hold a forum. Tell your stories.
Change policies — Work with your
Legislative and Political Action Team to bring
your state representatives and senators to your
local and ask them to support our legislative
Say no to high-stakes testing — Work
with your school committee to pass a resolution
supporting the moratorium on high-stakes use of
Strengthen our statewide union —
Nominate yourself to be a delegate to the
Annual Meeting; join the debate and help set
our path forward.
O ne thing has become very clear as I have traveled across the state: Our members are committed to our
students, to our schools, and to our union.
Massachusetts educators can and should stand
proud for the work we do every day to make
ourselves our nation’s education leaders.
Let’s take that one step further and be
leaders in taking down the testing regimes and
mandates that are undoing public education and
our unions. Let’s be the leaders in reclaiming
public education. Let’s create the schools every
In solidarity, and in anticipation of many
great things ahead,
One thing has become
very clear as I have
traveled across the
state: Our members
are committed to our
students, to our schools,
and to our union.
can and should stand
proud for the work we
do every day to make
ourselves our nation’s