experience for everyone? How do we engage the
longtime member who isn’t very active as well as
get the new members involved in the union?”
In the framework of the All In campaign,
such questions provided opportunities for
members to engage in one-to-one conversations
with colleagues and develop goals and strategies
for maximizing union power.
During a midday break, MTA President
Barbara Madeloni told the participants that their
organizing work is leading to better day-to-day
learning conditions for students and working
conditions for educators.
And she reminded members that organizing
around passage of the Fair Share Amendment and
other issues will strengthen Massachusetts public
schools and colleges for years to come. “This is
the time to be pushing our agenda and not just
defending ourselves,” she said.
Madeloni noted that the event drew many
new faces and said that was an excellent sign that
locals are working hard to engage more members.
But even veteran union members were
impressed. Mary Lampron-Shepherd, a member
of the Wachusett Regional Education Association,
said that she was pleased with what she took
away from the conference. “It added depth to my
knowledge,” she said.
T he Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-3 on Jan. 29 in favor of Jeffrey Riley being chosen as the next
Massachusetts commissioner of education.
Following the initial vote, the board voted
unanimously to ask BESE Chair Paul Sagan
to recommend Riley for the post. Secretary of
Education James Peyser, who voted
for Riley on the board, has final say
on the appointment and has said he
plans to move it forward.
Angélica Infante-Green, a
deputy commissioner of education in
New York, received three votes for
the post. A third candidate, Penny
Schwinn, deputy commissioner of academics at the
Texas Education Agency, did not receive any.
Riley has served as the state-appointed receiver
of the Lawrence Public Schools for the past six years.
He announced in November that he would be stepping
down from that role at the end of the current school
year. He will be filling a vacancy created by the death
of Commissioner Mitchell Chester last June.
MTA President Barbara Madeloni issued the
following statement on the selection of Riley as the
Our values and priorities don’t change,
regardless of who serves as commissioner.
We hope that Jeff Riley has learned from his
experience in Lawrence about the importance of
respecting the professional knowledge, experiences
and voices of educators and the unions that
It is the job of the commissioner to prioritize
supporting and advocating for the district public
schools that serve more than 90 percent of our
students, not to devote disproportionate energy and
resources to charter schools and other privatization
efforts that deprive educators of their collective
bargaining rights and disempower democratically
elected school committees.
We remain committed to putting an end to the
state’s high-stakes testing regimen and will want
to work with the new commissioner to focus on
supporting students, schools and districts rather than
on punishing them.
We expect the commissioner to identify the
effects of economic injustice on student learning.
That means publicly supporting progressive policies
to reduce poverty and advocating for state spending
to guarantee that students in low-income districts,
most of whom are students of color, receive the same
level of services as students in our affluent suburbs.
Riley has served as the state-appointed
receiver of the Lawrence Public Schools for
the past six years.
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