Positive change occurs when voters
demand action from elected officials
To the Editor:
While there is a process in place for vetting the
candidates that we as a union choose to support,
there is still a great deal of money thrown at
candidates who are hostile to teachers and public
education and who oppose us on issues that strike at
the core of our profession, such as charter schools,
merit pay and high-stakes testing.
The most recent election for MTA president
represented a sea change in members’ thinking. We
rejected the philosophy of “death by a thousand cuts”
in favor of fighting back. We rejected passive trust of
our elected officials in favor of grassroots organizing
The MTA would realize a better return on its
investment by putting more funds into grassroots
organizing on issues that directly affect public schools,
our children and teachers than by putting money into
weak candidates. History shows us that most real and
positive change happens when constituents with a
united voice demand that their elected officials act,
rather than wait for “leadership” to happen.
For all of our spending, we now have a governor
and an education secretary who are friendly to
charter schools and privatization.
If we could get beyond the perception that public
education is on a march to destruction and push back
with a positive vision, we could make it happen.
Let’s do it!
Gateway Teachers Association
By becoming involved in education,
one also becomes involved in politics
To the Editor:
Politics is inherent in the nature of public
education through the establishment and maintenance
of schools, staffing, curriculum, funding, policies and
procedures — you name it. Therefore, by deciding
to become involved in public education, one is also
de facto deciding to become involved in politics. The
two are inextricably linked.
The degree to which one becomes involved
in the politics of public education involves many
variables, but given the broad array of influences
upon and ubiquitous impact of public education, I
In my view, it is the political arena that provides
the lifeblood to the public school system and allows
for it to flourish, or not, as education deals with the
myriad and beautiful fields of human experience.
Neil F. Clarke
MTA should take a different approach
to involvement in electoral politics
To the Editor:
With regard to MTA involvement in electoral
politics, I believe we need to take a different
approach. We often wait until the primaries are
over and then we recommend the Democratic Party
candidate. That’s a mistake. Political party ideologies
have changed since the birth of this nation, so to
always vote the “party” candidate is a mistake.
Barack Obama gave us Arne Duncan, and there
have been issues with Democratic politicians and
officeholders supporting teachers at the state level.
If we plan to stay involved in electoral politics, then
we need to get behind candidates much earlier. We
might even make an effort to cultivate or put forth
our own candidates.
One reason we might want to stay out of the
electoral process, however, is that teachers are
often the focus of criticism of public education in
general. No one looks at school committees, school
administrations or the community. Democrats and
Republicans alike will look to score political points
at the expense of teachers.
No matter what, we should use focused, targeted
lobbying and attempt grassroots actions. The trick is
mobilizing the membership.
I don’t have any great suggestions, frankly.
There are too many factions within a school, a
district and the state. Overall, we need more cohesion
and something — or someone — to rally around.
Lexington Education Association
Take all the PAC money we spend
and put it into a marketing campaign
To the Editor:
Problem: public opinion of teachers.
Twentieth-century learning “solution”: Take a
huge amount of our MTA budget to fund election
campaigns of recommended candidates who are
“friendly” to education. In this state, a vast majority
of those candidates do get elected. Then, as with
open classrooms, cooperative learning and the
whole-language approach that “solved” educational
problems, our elected leaders will take care of us.
Actual results: RETELL, endless mind-numbing
state mandates, inadequate school funding and a
fingerprinting policy that stinks, all of which steal
our money or our time from us.
These MTA-recommended politicians aren’t
friendly to us because they can’t be if they want
to get re-elected. Public opinion says teachers are
overpaid, underworked public enemies, not what we
really are: underpaid, overworked public employees.
If the politicians aren’t willing to help us, we
must help ourselves. We can do this by cutting out
the middlemen — politicians — and change public
Solution: Take all the PAC money we spend and
instead put it into a marketing campaign selling one
simple idea: Teachers Are Good. Done correctly,
this would change public opinion. Then elected
politicians would be friendly to educators anyway.
Mark Juba, President, Blackstone-Millville
Regional School District Educators Association
Democracy is not a spectator sport
— and MTA needs to be in the game
To the Editor,
Democracy is not a spectator sport. The
MTA did not sit on the sidelines cheering on our
recommended candidates during the 2014 election
season; members honed their communication skills,
executed a game plan based on a proactive strategy
and worked as a team to promote our agenda.
Only candidates who chose to participate in
our Candidate Evaluation Team process — which
mandates member-driven participation — were
considered. The roster of recommended candidates
was presented to the members in the Fall 2014
edition of MTA Today.
The MTA invested money and member/staff
energy in the 2014 state election. The dividends
were impressive, with the exception of the result of
the governor’s race. As the chair of the Candidate
Recommendation Committee at the time of the
interviews, I can attest that most of the gubernatorial
candidates chose to participate. The MTA made a
decision to support the winner of the Democratic
Primary based on those interviews. There was no
candidate who had a perfect score on every one of
our major priorities.
To those members who contend that we
shouldn’t settle for the “lesser of two evils,” my
response is that we need to be in the game and at the
table or we will be on the table. Assertive organized
political action is imperative.
Kerry A. Costello
Andover Education Association
Editor’s note: In a recent e-mail to
members, MTA President Barbara Madeloni
invited discussion on this question: “What
should MTA’s relationship be to electoral
politics?” Most of the letters on this page
and Page 6 relate to that subject.